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.

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AMANDA LOWELL / PR MANAGER

Amanda Lowell is a public relations professional with over 10 years of agency experience. She has assisted clients of all sizes in industries including talent, fashion, food & beverage and health & wellness, and has been a large part of the tactical planning and strategizing for the accounts she has overseen.

Prior to joining Grasslands, Amanda spent three years in Los Angeles as a senior account executive at coded{pr} working on accounts including TechStyle, Watters and Naturalizer. Before that, Amanda spent nearly seven years in New York at Identity Talent + PR where she learned the industry through high-level contracts with Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated. She has secured top-level media placements in national outlets including CNN Travel, E! News, Forbes and People Magazine.

kit

KIT MARKGRAF /
ACCOUNT MANAGER

With over 20 years in business management, Kit Markgraf maintains a deep knowledge of organizational processes and best practices for agency and in-house marketing, advertising, quality control and consumer goods. Her broad-ranging expertise includes relational database management systems, event planning, exhibitions and trade shows, as well as certification in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. She has assisted numerous individuals and organizations in improving hiring processes, staff development and achieving organizational cohesion through a better understanding of how interpersonal traits affect team dynamics, job fit and project outcomes.

alex

ALEX GNIBUS / PUBLICIST

Alex Gnibus is a public relations professional with versatile experience across a range of industries including tech, beauty, wellness and retail. She has supported Fortune 500 companies and scrappy startups alike to drive impactful B2B and B2C media strategies. She lives for telling the stories of game-changing brands, and approaches communications strategy from a journalistic and research-centric perspective.

Prior to joining Grasslands, Alex worked with InkHouse Media + Marketing and Ketchum, where her client experience included Ulta Beauty, Whirlpool, Eaze, Strava, Nutanix, Confluent and more. She built her foundation in journalism at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and sharpened her research skills with her Master of Arts in Journalism.

MADDY-NEW

MADISON WARE / ACCOUNT COORDINATOR

Madison Ware is a Denver-based public relations professional focused on creating brand stories and sharing them on the world stage. She is passionate about collaborative storytelling and building strong client and media relationships. Madison previously served as an account coordinator at MAPRagency, where she assisted clients in the tech and healthcare sectors with B2B communications efforts. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder, where she earned a bachelor’s in public relations with a minor in business.

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.

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.

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.
TM_circle headshot

TREVOR MANISCALO / JUNIOR PUBLICIST

Trevor Maniscalo is a Denver-based public relations professional focused on utilizing story-driven strategies to secure all levels of client media coverage. Since joining the Grasslands team in January 2019—first as an intern, then accepting a full-time position upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in journalism—Trevor  has worked to support the communications efforts of nonprofit organizations, as well as companies in the cannabis and restaurant industries.

sean

SEAN BILLISITZ / ACCOUNT COORDINATOR

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.”

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.

AL_circle headshot

AMANDA LOWELL / PR MANAGER

Amanda Lowell is a public relations professional with over 10 years of agency experience. She has assisted clients of all sizes in industries including talent, fashion, food & beverage and health & wellness, and has been a large part of the tactical planning and strategizing for the accounts she has overseen.

Prior to joining Grasslands, Amanda spent three years in Los Angeles as a senior account executive at coded{pr} working on accounts including TechStyle, Watters and Naturalizer. Before that, Amanda spent nearly seven years in New York at Identity Talent + PR where she learned the industry through high-level contracts with Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated. She has secured top-level media placements in national outlets including CNN Travel, E! News, Forbes and People Magazine.

kit

KIT MARKGRAF /
ACCOUNT MANAGER

With over 20 years in business management, Kit Markgraf maintains a deep knowledge of organizational processes and best practices for agency and in-house marketing, advertising, quality control and consumer goods. Her broad-ranging expertise includes relational database management systems, event planning, exhibitions and trade shows, as well as certification in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. She has assisted numerous individuals and organizations in improving hiring processes, staff development and achieving organizational cohesion through a better understanding of how interpersonal traits affect team dynamics, job fit and project outcomes.

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.

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.
alex

ALEX GNIBUS / PUBLICIST

Alex Gnibus is a public relations professional with versatile experience across a range of industries including tech, beauty, wellness and retail. She has supported Fortune 500 companies and scrappy startups alike to drive impactful B2B and B2C media strategies. She lives for telling the stories of game-changing brands, and approaches communications strategy from a journalistic and research-centric perspective.

Prior to joining Grasslands, Alex worked with InkHouse Media + Marketing and Ketchum, where her client experience included Ulta Beauty, Whirlpool, Eaze, Strava, Nutanix, Confluent and more. She built her foundation in journalism at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and sharpened her research skills with her Master of Arts in Journalism.

TM_circle headshot

TREVOR MANISCALO / JUNIOR PUBLICIST

Trevor Maniscalo is a Denver-based public relations professional focused on utilizing story-driven strategies to secure all levels of client media coverage. Since joining the Grasslands team in January 2019—first as an intern, then accepting a full-time position upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in journalism—Trevor  has worked to support the communications efforts of nonprofit organizations, as well as companies in the cannabis and restaurant industries.

sean

SEAN BILLISITZ / ACCOUNT COORDINATOR

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.”

MADDY-NEW

MADISON WARE / ACCOUNT COORDINATOR

Madison Ware is a Denver-based public relations professional focused on creating brand stories and sharing them on the world stage. She is passionate about collaborative storytelling and building strong client and media relationships. Madison previously served as an account coordinator at MAPRagency, where she assisted clients in the tech and healthcare sectors with B2B communications efforts. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder, where she earned a bachelor’s in public relations with a minor in business.

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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