GRASSLANDS IS THE FIRST PR FIRM TO EVER CALL ITSELF A

AGENCY

But what does a qualifier like journalism-minded mean for a full-service agency? 

It means showing your work: Choosing direct communication and accountable activation instead of over-promising and under-delivering. It means more active listening and note-taking, creating content and social media calendars, conducting in-depth client interviews, managing relationships with media and target audiences, understanding a brand’s North Star, ideating compatible mission / vision / values, respecting and honoring deadlines, weaving together compelling narratives and managing unforeseen crises, should they arise. 

Grasslands’ seasoned team—well-versed and legit experienced in all sides of the public relations / communications / media paradigm—employs the ethical standards we learned in Pulitzer-winning newsrooms and the expertise we picked up representing Fortune 500 clients as we elevate our clients’ profiles through informed public relations, thoughtful content marketing, contextual social media, savvy thought leadership work, high-level book development, impactful newsletter campaigns and experiential event execution.

GRASSLANDS IS THE FIRST PR FIRM TO EVER CALL ITSELF A

AGENCY

But what does a qualifier like journalism-minded mean for a full-service agency? 

It means showing your work: Choosing direct communication and accountable activation instead of over-promising and under-delivering. It means more active listening and note-taking, creating content and social media calendars, conducting in-depth client interviews, managing relationships with media and target audiences, understanding a brand’s North Star, ideating compatible mission / vision / values, respecting and honoring deadlines, weaving together compelling narratives and managing unforeseen crises, should they arise. 

Grasslands’ seasoned team—well-versed and legit experienced in all sides of the public relations / communications / media paradigm—employs the ethical standards we learned in Pulitzer-winning newsrooms and the expertise we picked up representing Fortune 500 clients as we elevate our clients’ profiles through informed public relations, thoughtful content marketing, contextual social media, savvy thought leadership work, high-level book development, impactful newsletter campaigns and experiential event execution.

Grasslands grew out of a simple idea.

THE FIELD OF PUBLIC RELATIONS HAS A PR PROBLEM

—but what if a team of experienced journalists and passionate communications professionals came together to create a different kind of PR agency? One that brings journalism-level standards together with meticulously crafted content, decades-in-the-making journalist relationships and deadline-oriented strategy that ensures our clients are seen, heard and experienced where it matters most.
Grasslands grew out of a simple idea.

THE FIELD OF PUBLIC RELATIONS HAS A PR PROBLEM

—but what if a team of experienced journalists and passionate communications professionals came together to create a different kind of PR agency? One that brings journalism-level standards together with meticulously crafted content, decades-in-the-making journalist relationships and deadline-oriented strategy that ensures our clients are seen, heard and experienced where it matters most.

Client Criteria

Grasslands is proud to work exclusively with businesses and organizations that:

Align with our agency values of inclusivity, compassion and dignity.

Engage openly with their communities and customers.

Practice transparency in their business relationships.

Respect the important contributions of journalists and the news media.

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.

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.

CHLOE STEERMAN / ACCOUNT DIRECTOR

Chloe Steerman began her career as a PR and Social Media Coordinator with Philadelphia-based agency Brownstein Group. In 2016, Chloe relocated to Colorado to join The Rosen Group as an account executive, where she focused primarily on cannabis industry clients.

She has assisted clients both large and small in a variety of industries including technology, food and beverage and manufacturing. Chloe’s creative energy and passion for PR have contributed to her success in developing and executing publicity programs that have reached the upper tiers of American media. She has secured top-level media placements in national and international media outlets including Forbes, Bloomberg, FoxCanadian Broadcasting Corporation and Entrepreneur.

EM TRIGG / PUBLICIST

Emily “Em” Trigg is a public relations professional dedicated to helping her clients reach their full potential through smart media placements and strategic publicity initiatives. Her experience spans a range of industries, having worked with clients in cannabis, healthcare, food and beverage, travel and tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and more.

Em has secured top-level media placements in national and international publications and media outlets, including International Business Times, The Boston Globe, Forbes, Entrepreneur, MarketWatch, Yahoo Finance and Fox. She began her career as a PR associate at Zehnder Communications in Baton Rouge, Louisiana—her home state. In 2018, she relocated to the beautiful city of Denver and began working with the travel and tourism team at Turner Public Relations before joining Grasslands in June 2018.

ALETA LABAK / COPY CHIEF

Aleta Labak joined Grasslands after a 19-year career with The Denver Post, the largest news organization in the Rocky Mountain region. 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, picking up honors from The Society of News Design and the Colorado Press Association along the way.

In 2014, she joined Grasslands founder Ricardo Baca as he launched The Cannabist, an award-winning online vertical of The Denver Post covering the historic legalization and implementation of adult-use cannabis in Colorado. The beat quickly encompassed other states’ law reform and shifting national policy. 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.

BRITNY KALULE / PUBLICIST

Britny Kalule is a strategic communicator based in Denver working with corporations, agencies and organizations to fulfill their communication needs. Since 2013, she has worked in public relations and creates B2B and B2C media and communications strategies across multiple industries such as food, restaurants, agriculture, tech, SaaS, retail, consumer products, healthcare and more.

She specializes in driving company growth through media relations, community outreach, stakeholder engagement, email marketing copy, website content creation, internal communications and professional writing services.

PETER MOORE / CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Peter Moore has spent more than three decades as a magazine writer and editor. Prior to his relocation to Colorado in 2017, Peter worked for Men’s Health for 20 years.

Most fun writing projects: Hanging out in India with Matt Damon for a January 2014 cover story, and two cover-story / interviews with Barack Obama. Peter topped out as VP / editor of Men’s Health, and won National Magazine Awards as a writer, article editor and top editor, including two General Excellence awards. Before that, he was articles editor for Playboy. Since moving to Fort Collins in 2017, Peter has been active on the green scene, profiling former Colorado cannabis czar Andrew Freedman for Men’s Health, and Love’s Oven chef Hope Frahm for 5280. Peter has ghost-written or co-authored four books, three of which became New York Times bestsellers.

SARAH THORSON /
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

Sarah Thorson is a public relations professional with more than 15 years of agency and in-house experience. She specializes in blending disciplines for effective media communications, from content development and storytelling to identifying compelling industry trends and practicing adept crisis management.

Sarah has executed numerous publicity campaigns that have reached the upper echelon of American media, securing placements for her clients in top-flight news and trade organizations such as The New York Times, TechRepublic, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Reuters, ESPN, NBC News and TechCrunch, among others.

Before joining Grasslands, Sarah served as account director at 10Fold Communications, a nationally recognized B2B agency focused on the technology sector. During her tenure at 10Fold, she launched the agency’s Denver regional office, developed marketing and communications initiatives for global companies and managed more than $1 million in account revenue. Sarah also has experience representing companies on the national stage, as a spokeswoman for Vermont-based Killington Resort on NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America.

EMILY GRAY BROSIOUS / CONTENT DIRECTOR

Emily Gray Brosious is a multimedia communications professional with a background in journalism, digital media and public affairs. Her expertise centers around the highly regulated cannabis industry, and she specializes in communicating key messaging through innovative editorial strategy, resonant storytelling and compelling content development.

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 national cannabis business news, politics and legislative issues. She cut her teeth in the Chicago news market, covering politics, activism and crime as a multimedia reporter for Homicide Watch Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times and other local news publications.

JENNIFER BOEDER / CONTENT SPECIALIST

Jennifer Boeder is a writer and editor who has covered cannabis, politics, music, arts and culture. Prior to joining Grasslands, she was politics editor at The Tylt and writer-at-large for Cuepoint, the premier music publication of Medium. Her work has appeared in High Times, Cannabis Culture, The Weed Blog, Oxygen, Chicagoist, Wonkette, Built In Chicago and The Urbaness.

MAUD ALOBAWONE / PUBLICIST

Maud Alobawone is a biological scientist turned PR professional, whose true passion revolves around telling brand stories and helping people. Prior to joining Grasslands, Maud was an assistant account executive with New York agency ICF Next, working on brands including PepsiCo, Carvana and Screenvision Media.

Maud also has a diverse working background in digital marketing, spanning different areas including law, nonprofits and event management. She is happiest when she successfully secures the full spectrum of media placements for her clients—local, national and international. She enjoys new challenges and is not afraid to take chances with creative narratives backed by extensive research.

BEN GELT / BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATE

Ben is an entrepreneur and consultant focused on public affairs and business development. A respected political strategist and policy expert, Ben co-founded the Organic Cannabis Association in 2015. Ben has been at the forefront of cannabis policy in Colorado since 2011, when he worked with the University of Colorado Toxicology Lab to advocate for higher standards of testing in the cannabis industry. He currently serves on the City of Denver Industry Stakeholder Group, The State of Colorado Pesticide Stakeholder Committee, The Denver Cannabis Sustainability Working Group and serves as the board chair of the Cannabis Certification Council. In addition to his efforts in cannabis, Ben works in real estate, public affairs and general business development.

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.

SARAH THORSON /
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

Sarah Thorson is a public relations professional with more than 15 years of agency and in-house experience. She specializes in blending disciplines for effective media communications, from content development and storytelling to identifying compelling industry trends and practicing adept crisis management.

Sarah has executed numerous publicity campaigns that have reached the upper echelon of American media, securing placements for her clients in top-flight news and trade organizations such as The New York Times, TechRepublic, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Reuters, ESPN, NBC News and TechCrunch, among others.

Before joining Grasslands, Sarah served as account director at 10Fold Communications, a nationally recognized B2B agency focused on the technology sector. During her tenure at 10Fold, she launched the agency’s Denver regional office, developed marketing and communications initiatives for global companies and managed more than $1 million in account revenue. Sarah also has experience representing companies on the national stage, as a spokeswoman for Vermont-based Killington Resort on NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America.

CHLOE STEERMAN / ACCOUNT DIRECTOR

Chloe Steerman began her career as a PR and Social Media Coordinator with Philadelphia-based agency Brownstein Group. In 2016, Chloe relocated to Colorado to join The Rosen Group as an account executive, where she focused primarily on cannabis industry clients.

She has assisted clients both large and small in a variety of industries including technology, food and beverage and manufacturing. Chloe’s creative energy and passion for PR have contributed to her success in developing and executing publicity programs that have reached the upper tiers of American media. She has secured top-level media placements in national and international media outlets including Forbes, Bloomberg, FoxCanadian Broadcasting Corporation and Entrepreneur.

EMILY GRAY BROSIOUS / CONTENT DIRECTOR

Emily Gray Brosious is a multimedia communications professional with a background in journalism, digital media and public affairs. Her expertise centers around the highly regulated cannabis industry, and she specializes in communicating key messaging through innovative editorial strategy, resonant storytelling and compelling content development.

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 national cannabis business news, politics and legislative issues. She cut her teeth in the Chicago news market, covering politics, activism and crime as a multimedia reporter for Homicide Watch Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times and other local news publications.

EM TRIGG / PUBLICIST

Emily “Em” Trigg is a public relations professional dedicated to helping her clients reach their full potential through smart media placements and strategic publicity initiatives. Her experience spans a range of industries, having worked with clients in cannabis, healthcare, food and beverage, travel and tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and more.

Em has secured top-level media placements in national and international publications and media outlets, including International Business Times, The Boston Globe, Forbes, Entrepreneur, MarketWatch, Yahoo Finance and Fox. She began her career as a PR associate at Zehnder Communications in Baton Rouge, Louisiana—her home state. In 2018, she relocated to the beautiful city of Denver and began working with the travel and tourism team at Turner Public Relations before joining Grasslands in June 2018.

JENNIFER BOEDER / CONTENT SPECIALIST

Jennifer Boeder is a writer and editor who has covered cannabis, politics, music, arts and culture. Prior to joining Grasslands, she was politics editor at The Tylt and writer-at-large for Cuepoint, the premier music publication of Medium. Her work has appeared in High Times, Cannabis Culture, The Weed Blog, Oxygen, Chicagoist, Wonkette, Built In Chicago and The Urbaness.

ALETA LABAK / COPY CHIEF

Aleta Labak joined Grasslands after a 19-year career with The Denver Post, the largest news organization in the Rocky Mountain region. 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, picking up honors from The Society of News Design and the Colorado Press Association along the way.

In 2014, she joined Grasslands founder Ricardo Baca as he launched The Cannabist, an award-winning online vertical of The Denver Post covering the historic legalization and implementation of adult-use cannabis in Colorado. The beat quickly encompassed other states’ law reform and shifting national policy. 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.

MAUD ALOBAWONE / PUBLICIST

Maud Alobawone is a biological scientist turned PR professional, whose true passion revolves around telling brand stories and helping people. Prior to joining Grasslands, Maud was an assistant account executive with New York agency ICF Next, working on brands including PepsiCo, Carvana and Screenvision Media.

Maud also has a diverse working background in digital marketing, spanning different areas including law, nonprofits and event management. She is happiest when she successfully secures the full spectrum of media placements for her clients—local, national and international. She enjoys new challenges and is not afraid to take chances with creative narratives backed by extensive research.

BRITNY KALULE / PUBLICIST

Britny Kalule is a strategic communicator based in Denver working with corporations, agencies and organizations to fulfill their communication needs. Since 2013, she has worked in public relations and creates B2B and B2C media and communications strategies across multiple industries such as food, restaurants, agriculture, tech, SaaS, retail, consumer products, healthcare and more.

She specializes in driving company growth through media relations, community outreach, stakeholder engagement, email marketing copy, website content creation, internal communications and professional writing services.

BEN GELT / BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATE

Ben is an entrepreneur and consultant focused on public affairs and business development. A respected political strategist and policy expert, Ben co-founded the Organic Cannabis Association in 2015. Ben has been at the forefront of cannabis policy in Colorado since 2011, when he worked with the University of Colorado Toxicology Lab to advocate for higher standards of testing in the cannabis industry. He currently serves on the City of Denver Industry Stakeholder Group, The State of Colorado Pesticide Stakeholder Committee, The Denver Cannabis Sustainability Working Group and serves as the board chair of the Cannabis Certification Council. In addition to his efforts in cannabis, Ben works in real estate, public affairs and general business development.

PETER MOORE / CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Peter Moore has spent more than three decades as a magazine writer and editor. Prior to his relocation to Colorado in 2017, Peter worked for Men’s Health for 20 years.

Most fun writing projects: Hanging out in India with Matt Damon for a January 2014 cover story, and two cover-story / interviews with Barack Obama. Peter topped out as VP / editor of Men’s Health, and won National Magazine Awards as a writer, article editor and top editor, including two General Excellence awards. Before that, he was articles editor for Playboy. Since moving to Fort Collins in 2017, Peter has been active on the green scene, profiling former Colorado cannabis czar Andrew Freedman for Men’s Health, and Love’s Oven chef Hope Frahm for 5280. Peter has ghost-written or co-authored four books, three of which became New York Times bestsellers.

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