This is the team at the Grasslands marketing agency

RICARDO BACA / FOUNDER & CEO

Ricardo Baca is a 20-year veteran journalist, keynote speaker, TEDx veteran and thought leader in modern media and drug-policy circles. He served as The Denver Post’s first-ever marijuana editor and founded news vertical The Cannabist, where he extensively covered the advent of adult-use cannabis and related issues across the country and around the world, as seen in the feature documentary Rolling Papers (Netflix).

In 2016, Ricardo launched Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency to work directly with business leaders in highly regulated industries, including cannabis, energy and traditional healthcare. Named Marketer of the Year by AdCann in 2019, Ricardo has received numerous accolades for his trailblazing work covering drug policy, cannabis business and culture, and continues to columnize and host podcasts for a number of top publications.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Denver Post, Vox, The New York Times

Super inspired by: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: The Marshall Project

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Travel. Design. Writing. Feminist. ENFP.

 

DEBBIE McHUGH / CHIEF OF STAFF

Debbie McHugh is a 20-year media publishing veteran and joins Grasslands from Rodale, Inc. (since acquired by Hearst), where she served as Director of People Operations & Strategy across all Rodale brands including Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Runner’s World. Her career overseeing large-scale media operations includes the roles of senior managing editor at Men’s Health and managing editor at Condé Nast Publications, Seventeen and Aspen Magazine.

Debbie additionally helped guide the nationwide launch of Jane magazine, where she also served as managing editor. In addition to her extensive network of national journalists, Debbie also has substantial contacts and experience in the book publishing world, where she was part of the team behind several New York Times bestselling franchises such as, Eat This, Not That!, The Abs Diet, and The Men’s Health and Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises. She has demonstrated exceptional acumen in the media-publicity space throughout her career, spearheading numerous high-profile partnerships and wide-reaching programs.

Three newsletters I check every single day: Marijuana Moment, Entrepreneur, Morning Brew 

Super inspired by: Brené Brown 

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Alzheimer’s Association 

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Skiing. Hiking. Kayaking with @dollythedachshund.

Jesse Burns CMO at Grasslands: A Journalism Focused Agency

JESSE BURNS / CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER

Jesse Burns is a cannabis marketing veteran who served as the longtime marketing director for Sweet Grass—Colorado’s leading edible in the baked goods category—before joining Grasslands as CMO in 2020. He believes that product design and a deep understanding of the customer journey are the driving forces for exceptional brands, and that marketers must strive to understand what emotions customers experience in order to craft a meaningful brand narrative and build lasting relationships. 

Jesse has received multiple awards for marketing and product design, including Colorado’s THC Classic and a Gold Clio. He also serves as a mentor for the CanopyBoulder cannabis startup incubator. He sits on the MBA Alumni Board for the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is co-chair of the programmatic committee for the Cannabis Entrepreneurship Academy, an executive education program at CU Boulder. 

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Indicator from Planet Money (podcast), AdAge, CNN

Super inspired by: Exceptionally well-designed products and sexy brands 

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: West Virginia 4-H Forward Fund

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Skiing. Rafting. Cooking. Sports. Music.

CHLOE STEERMAN / EXECUTIVE ACCOUNT DIRECTOR

Chloe Steerman is a strategic communications professional with a wealth of experience within the cannabis sector and a proven record of client success. Named one of the Rising Stars in Cannabis in 2020 by Marijuana Venture Magazine, she oversees all accounts at Grasslands and guides internal workflows and cross-department communication to meet or exceed client goals. With a steadfast commitment to the cannabis community, Chloe excels at ensuring the agency remains ahead of the curve in the ever-changing industry landscape, and that partnerships are developed and expanded with a calculated, client-first approach.

As a member of the Grasslands leadership team, Chloe channels her distinctive creative energy and passion to continually build relationships and employs an elevated level of strategic thinking and analysis to properly direct agency growth. Her knowledge and tactical PR experience are essential to fostering a team that achieves internal objectives and elevates the success of clients with shared core values. 

Chloe has a degree in Communications and Media Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, and as a public relations specialist has secured top-level media placements in national and international media outlets such as ForbesBloombergFoxEntrepreneur and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, among others. Originally from Philadelphia, she now lives in Denver where she takes advantage of outdoor activities whenever possible.

Three media outlets I check every single day: AdAgeFast CompanyThe New York Times

Super inspired by: Don Draper

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: National Parks Conservation Association

When I’m off the clock (in five words): I’m on the road again.   

pam_lipshitz

PAM LIPSHITZ / EXECUTIVE PR DIRECTOR

Pam Lipshitz is a seasoned PR and marketing expert with 20 years spearheading integrated communications strategies from inception to execution. Starting with her first job in the music industry, Pam has channeled her enthusiasm for experiencing the world into a career that follows her passions and curiosities including food & beverage, travel, innovative businesses, health & wellness and non-profit organizations.

 Pam is an effective leader, teacher and team player who successfully navigates multi-channel projects, counsels clients and executive leadership, and works side-by-side with her team to produce results that matter. Constantly searching for big ideas, poignant stories and PR-able moments to shape into a holistic approach, Pam has led best-in-class creative PR campaigns for Ketel One Vodka, Marriott International, Katz’s Deli, Boulevard Brewing Co., Al Green, Songwriters Hall of Fame, The Plaza Hotel and more.

Three newsletters I check every single day: Fast Company, The New York Times, New York Magazine

Super inspired by: All of the people I surround myself with

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Colorado Freedom Fund

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Outdoors. Fantastic Food. Music. Reading.

emily gray brosious

EMILY GRAY BROSIOUS / CONTENT MARKETING DIRECTOR

Emily Gray Brosious is a storyteller, brand builder and marketer with a background in digital content and multimedia journalism. She specializes in communicating key brand messaging through innovative strategy, compelling narrative and optimized content development. Her expertise centers around new and emerging sectors, including the highly regulated cannabis, hemp and psilocybin industries.

Prior to joining Grasslands, Emily served as founding digital editor and chief reporter for Extract, a national cannabis news vertical operated under the Sun Times Network, where she produced in-depth coverage of cannabis news, industry, politics and legislative issues. Emily cut her teeth in the Chicago news market, covering politics, activism and crime for outlets including Homicide Watch Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times and The Red Line Project. She holds a master’s in journalism from DePaul University, where she graduated summa cum laude.

Three media outlets I check every single day: AdWeekThe New York TimesWBEZ 91.5FM (Chicago Public Radio!)

Super inspired by: My bad@ss mom

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: ProPublica

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Family. Art. Music. Civics. Tinkering.

Lindsay Hoffman

LINDSAY HOFFMAN / ACCOUNT DIRECTOR

Lindsay Hoffman brings 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, strategy and event production to the Grasslands family. Highlights of her varied career include serving as the executive director of Grounded in Music; managing Festival Marketing for C3 Presents, where she created and executed year-round marketing campaigns for Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits Music Festival; as well as launching and building the Austin Food + Wine Festival and Music City Food + Wine Festival brands, among others. 

Prior to joining Grasslands, Lindsay provided business leaders holistic support and guidance in everything from company culture and customer service, to communications, events and experiences. She worked with phenomenal clients, including the Austin Music Office, Music Publishers Canada, Paper to Table’s Bonfire and The Panacea Collective, as well as offering white-glove services to multiple PR firms who engaged her across large portfolios. She was referred to Grasslands while on a trip home to visit family in Denver, and landed a gig producing The Grasslands Party in Las Vegas in 2019. The rest is history.

Three media outlets I check every day: The New York Times, VICE, The 19th

Super inspired by: Rumi

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: LifeSet Network

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Family. Food. Music. Travel. Love.

Business development manager of Grasslands John Svoboda

JOHN SVOBODA / BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

John Svoboda is a sales and marketing professional with over 15 years of experience leading business development organizations. His expertise centers around the highly regulated cannabis industry, with a specialization in technology, operational efficiency and compliance. Prior to joining Grasslands, John served as the head of sales and marketing for top cannabis software platforms Trellis, Green Bits and Flowhub. John has spent time living in Colorado, Oregon and California, experiencing the distinct nuances of each market. He draws from this experience to help license holders, investors and ancillary brands build successful businesses.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The AthleticMarijuana Business DailyThe Oregonian

Super inspired by: My mother

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Sound Equine Options

When I’m off the clock (in five words):  Music. Animals. Nature. Grilling. Soccer.

a photo of Erin Curry the project coordinator at Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency

ERIN CURRY / ACCOUNT MANAGER

Erin Curry is a public relations professional specializing in relationship building, account management, media relations, strategy and design. As an Account Manager at Grasslands, she merges purpose, passion and fresh energy to deliver seamless, world-class service to every client account. 

Prior to joining Grasslands, Erin served as a Public Relations Account Coordinator at Webb Strategic Communications where she provided strategic public relations and account management support. She earned a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri (MIZ!)

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Daily (podcast), The Colorado Sun, Marijuana Business Daily

Super inspired by: Strong, intelligent women such as my mother, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Michelle Obama, Greta Thunberg… the list goes on!

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Enjoying / embracing the little things.

geoff-caldwell

GEOFF CALDWELL / CONTENT MARKETING SPECIALIST & COPYWRITER 

Geoff Caldwell is a writer, researcher and marketing specialist with experience in everything from cannabis and crisis management to academia, sports marketing, publishing and the music industry. Before joining Grasslands, he wrote extensively about cannabis history, legislation and products for Where’s Weed. He also co-founded Yardarm Media, which provided editing, writing and consulting services for academic institutions and first-time authors. His professional background gives him unique insight into the ways impactful storytelling can elevate media relations and business growth. Among his diverse roles: he served as a trusted aide to the president of Duke University; was a key figure in the rapid growth of Chicago-based independent record label Thrill Jockey; a sports marketing television broadcast expert; a courier for the U.S. Army; and an intern at National Public Radio. A native of Alexandria, Virginia, he received a bachelor’s in History and Latin American Studies from Oberlin College.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Guardian (global news and European soccer), The Washington Post, The Athletic

Super inspired by: Lilian Thuram

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: SOME (So Others Might Eat)

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Kids. Soccer. Music. Food. Travel.

MACKENZIE METER / MARKETING SPECIALIST AND COPYWRITER

MACKENZIE METER / MARKETING SPECIALIST & COPYWRITER

Mackenzie Meter is a marketing and writing professional who has worked with clients from craft beer to law to banking. By combining research- and data-driven insights with creative approaches to business problems, Mackenzie is able to help businesses and clients reach the right audiences and grow. 

Prior to joining Grasslands, Mackenzie worked in the craft beer industry and in a Denver-based marketing agency. She also provided freelance marketing and writing services to select clients. Originally from Michigan, Mackenzie earned her bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and her master’s in marketing from the University of Colorado, Denver. She is HubSpot-certified for Inbound Marketing, Software, Social Media and Content Marketing. 

Three media outlets I check every single day: Colorado Public Radio (print and radio), Wonkette, Vox

Super inspired by: Dream-chasers and creators like Jimmy Chin; steadfast leaders like Gretchen Whitmer; anyone with creative solutions to climate change. 

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Environmental Defense Fund

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Hiking. Yoga. Running. Cooking. Family.

meghan-odea

MEGHAN O’DEA / CONTENT STRATEGIST & COPYWRITER

Meghan O’Dea is writer and editor with over 10 years experience, focused primarily on travel and cannabis journalism as well as digital and content marketing. Prior to joining the Grasslands team, Meghan has worked for publications including Fortune magazine, Uproxx and Lonely Planet. She has also earned freelance bylines in The Washington PostPlayboyBitch magazine, Nylon, Different Leaf and Subaru Drive, amongst others.

Meghan holds a master’s in creative nonfiction from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and was a visiting participant in the international MFA program at City University in Hong Kong. She has also taught writing at the college level and guest lectured on topics such as literary citizenship, urban history and professional development for writers.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The CutThe AtlanticThe Washington Post

Super inspired by: Alice Paul

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: PEN America’s Prison Writing Program

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Books. Long walks. Architecture. Mixtapes.

ALETA LABAK / COPY CHIEF

Aleta joined Grasslands after a 19-year career with The Denver Post, the largest news organization in Colorado. During her time at the Post, Aleta worked as a copy editor, page designer and digital producer in several departments, including local and national news, business, features and sports. In 2014, she joined Grasslands founder Ricardo Baca as he launched The Cannabist, the Post’s award-winning online vertical covering the historic legalization and implementation of adult-use cannabis in Colorado. Together they helped establish The Cannabist as a go-to national resource for serious cannabis journalism, a platform that ultimately overtook High Times and Marijuana.com in digital traffic.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The New York Times, The Denver Post, Montrose Press (support local journalism!)

Super inspired by: The plant kingdom—amazingly adaptable and resilient. 

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Outdoors. Horticulture. Craft. Cook. Explore.

Martha N Marshall

MARTHA N. MARSHALL / SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

Martha N. Marshall is a results-driven public relations professional who is highly skilled in developing and executing strategic earned media campaigns. She taps into years of on-the-ground experience working with companies across the cannabis, entertainment, healthcare and technology industries to create timely, compelling narratives around business and cultural trends. 

Prior to Grasslands, Martha supported marketing-communication efforts for several notable organizations, including Alarm.com, Cisco Systems, Forescout and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She also worked in California’s medical cannabis sector between 2010 and 2017 in both dispensary and in-house production roles. Martha is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, where she earned a bachelor’s in journalism with a specialization in public relations. She currently resides on the East Coast with her beagle, Belly.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The Associated PressForbesGanjapreneur
 
Super inspired by: Unfiltered human interactions
 
 
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Belly. Memes. Naps. Roku. Walks.
sean

SEAN BILLISITZ / SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

Sean Billisitz is an advertising and public relations professional who excels in media relations, strategic campaign development and social media messaging. Prior to joining Grasslands, he served as an associate account executive with Michigan-based communications firm Truscott Rossman, assisting clients in a range of industries including healthcare, insurance, energy and biomedical research. Sean earned his Bachelor of Science in advertising and public relations from Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in 2018. His work in the Advertising and Public Relations program for the GVSU Department of History and the American Cancer Society garnered multiple awards. In May 2019, the West Michigan Public Relations Society of America named Sean the “Newcomer of the Year.”

Three media outlets I check every single day: Denver 9News, Leafly, Rolling Stone

Super inspired by: My father

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Little Kids Rock

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Bud. Beer. Boarding. Bass music. 🤘🏼

Brian Bock Grasslands

BRIAN BOCK / SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

Brian Bock believes in marrying data and storytelling for his PR clients. He knows that a good dataset can become a compelling news hook. In addition to Brian’s more analytical skills, he also enjoys writing creative copy to highlight the intrinsic values and cultural touchstones that make his clients unique. 

Currently based in Chicago, Brian started his career in public relations in 2015 working with businesses specializing in legal, consumer packaged goods and pharmaceuticals before expanding into the nonprofit and arts & culture sectors. In addition to his traditional PR agency work, Brian also spent time gaining a better understanding of media engagement data and reporting while working at Cision, a national business wire and media analytics service. He’s helped place clients in media outlets such as Forbes, People and the Chicago Tribune, and broadcast programs like Good Morning America.

Brian graduated summa cum laude from Governors State University in Illinois, where he served as the assistant editor of The GSU Phoenix and university library marketing intern, and received the Leo & Margaret Goodman-Malamuth Endowed Scholarship in Media Communications.

Three media outlets I check every single day: Chicago Tribune, Mother Jones and The Advocate

Super inspired by: Ina Garten, Thich Nhat Hanh and Moss H. Kendrix

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Plum Village

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Stargazing. Concerts. Cooking. Yoga. Camping.

Andre Hascall, Grasslands Marketing Intern

ANDRE HASCALL / ASSOCIATE Account executive

Andre Hascall is a public relations professional who is passionate about making connections both personal and professional and serving as an asset to the Grasslands team. Andre earned his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism Mass Communications and Public Relations from Humboldt State University (HSU) in 2020. During school, Andre worked for the university’s newspaper, serving first as a writer and then as the Life and Arts editor. He also spent time on the school’s student-run radio station, where he was the co-manager of the sports talk team. Andre hopes to harness his experience as a communicator to continue sharpening his skills in the public relations world.

Three media outlets I check every single day: Bleacher Report, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Lumberjack (HSU Newspaper)

Super inspired by: LaDainian Tomlinson (NFL Hall of Famer)

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Promises2Kids

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Music. Cooking. Sports. Gaming. Friendship.

Madison Mullis

MADISON MULLIS / ACCOUNT COORDINATOR

Madison Mullis is a passionate PR practitioner who strives to spotlight equality and promote diversity within the cannabis industry. She has a multitude of experiences spanning the nonprofit, corporate and academic sectors. As a strategic storyteller and relationship cultivator, there is nothing Madison enjoys more than using her communication skills to elevate marginalized voices and dismantle the negative stigma surrounding cannabis consumption. 

Before joining Grasslands, Madison served as a graduate assistant at the University of Memphis while pursuing her master’s degree in Integrated Strategic Media. Her thesis analyzed #StonerMom discourse on TikTok. It was presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) national conference. 

Madison also held the role of community relations intern for national auto parts retailer AutoZone, where she helped plan corporate events, wrote monthly newsletters, designed infographics and curated social media posts. Prior to grad school, Madison received a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Georgia Southern University.

Three media outlets I check every single day: Leafly, The New York Times, Forbes

Super inspired by: Dolly Parton, Jackie Bryant, Alice Moon and my mom

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: English Springer Rescue America (ESRA)

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Friends. Food. My fur baby!

shane-healey

SHANE HEALEY / ACCOUNT COORDINATOR

Shane Healey comes from a journalism background and is a communications professional who focuses on creating in-depth personal and professional relationships through his everyday life. Shane is a recent graduate of Colorado State University, where he completed a major in Communications and a minor in Technical Science Communications. During his time at CSU he worked for the journalism department, where he managed the department’s equipment assets, and he wrote about local culture, including the surprisingly robust Fort Collins pizza community. He is always striving to put a smile on people’s faces through his passion for storytelling and relationship building.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The New York Times, Covering Climate Now, ESPN

Super inspired by: Danny Davis (professional snowboarder), Marc André Leclerc (Alpinist)  and my grandmother (Nonny) 

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Protect our Winters (POW)

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Snowboarding. Friends. Music. Having fun!

monique-macias

MONIQUE MACIAS / HR GENERALIST

Monique Macias is a seasoned human resource professional who is committed to employee satisfaction and engagement. She first put her business management degree to good use at MoneyGram, where she held multiple positions including customer service, auditor and account manager. With a keen interest in helping others in their career development, she then took an HR role at Aurora Mental Health, where she aided in all areas of people operations for more than five years. Prior to joining Grasslands, Monique spent more than a year as an HR Senior Analyst at Tennyson Center for Children, where she oversaw equity and inclusion training, onboarding and recruiting. Monique’s passion lies at the intersection of people, mental health, and diversity and inclusion. She has helped many early career and seasoned professionals alike find their dream roles. Outside the office, Monique enjoys helping her husband grow his towing business, along with photographing (and attempting to train) her feisty blue heeler hounds.

Three media outlets I check every single day: CNN, MJBizDaily, Westword

Super inspired by: My mom

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Tennyson Center for Children

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Family. Friends. Gardening. Pets. RVing.

molly-sposato

MOLLY SPOSATO / ACCOUNT COORDINATOR

Molly Sposato is a communications and writing professional with a strong journalism background. She has a range of experience in professional communication, project management and in-depth reporting with a focus on social justice and storytelling. In college, Molly worked for four years as the program coordinator of a tutoring program, managing student-employees and collaborating with local schools and partners. After graduating from Elon University in May of 2021 with a BA in journalism, she completed and published her research on the duality of emotionality and objectivity in feature journalism. 

Molly’s work in journalism has taken her everywhere from a lifestyle and food magazine in Portland, Maine, to a research feature in Hawaii, to an immigration-focused newspaper in Dublin, Ireland. With a strong passion for storytelling and creative thinking, she could not be more excited to enter the world of journalism-minded PR with Grasslands and help re-contextualize the way people understand cannabis and its industry.

Three media outlets I check every single day: The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR

Super inspired by: Katharine Graham

My monthly #GrasslandsGives donation: Stop Ecocide International

When I’m off the clock (in five words): Chairlift-networking enthusiast & high spirits 😉

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