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.
Super inspired by: Brené Brown
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Skiing. Hiking. Kayaking with @dollythedachshund.
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.
Super inspired by: Exceptionally well-designed products and sexy brands
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Skiing. Rafting. Cooking. Sports. Music.
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 Forbes, Bloomberg, Fox, Entrepreneur and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, among others. Originally from Philadelphia, she now lives in Denver where she takes advantage of outdoor activities whenever possible.
Super inspired by: Don Draper
When I’m off the clock (in five words): I’m on the road again.
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.
Super inspired by: All of the people I surround myself with
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Outdoors. Fantastic Food. Music. Reading.
Emily Gray Brosious is a marketer and creative storyteller who specializes in cultivating and growing brands within highly regulated and dynamic industries, including cannabis and psychedelics. Formerly the founding digital editor of Extract, a national cannabis news vertical published by the Chicago Sun-Times, Emily has a rich history of shaping impactful narratives and cultivating brand success in competitive markets. She started her career in Chicago, covering politics and crime for publications including Homicide Watch Chicago and the Chicago Sun-Times, before moving her focus to public health, drug policy and the cannabis industry.
At Grasslands, Emily leverages her expertise in digital marketing, content creation, AI integration and growth strategy to drive brand success and innovation for the agency and its clients. She maintains a strategic, results-driven approach and a passion for merging proven marketing and storytelling techniques with new and emerging technologies. Emily holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Roosevelt University and a master’s degree in multimedia journalism from DePaul University.
Super inspired by: My bad@ss mom
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Family. Visual art. Guitar. Tinkering.
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.
Super inspired by: Rumi
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Family. Food. Music. Travel. Love.
Erin Curry is a public relations professional specializing in relationship building, account oversight, 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 began her career and honed her exacting organizational and interpersonal skills in the beauty and fashion industries in London, as well as the music industry in Columbia, Missouri. Erin has also served as a Public Relations Account Coordinator at Webb Strategic Communications where she provided public relations and account management support. She earned a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri (MIZ!)
Super inspired by: Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and my mom
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Enjoying / embracing the little things.
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.
Super inspired by: The plant kingdom—amazingly adaptable and resilient.
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Outdoors. Horticulture. Craft. Cook. Explore.
An award-winning alt-weekly editor and NEA Visual Arts Journalism Fellow, Gretchen Giles is a Northern California native who transitioned to public relations after 15 years in publishing in order to support the Maker Movement and STEM/STEAM modalities for kids. Fascinated by cannabis as an industry emerging from prohibition when California legalized it in 2016, she soon became active in that state’s policy and reform and transformed her practice to support this emerging market. As an activist, Gretchen has served on the citizen panel advising the state's Cannabis Appellations Project, sat on the board of the now-defunct International Cannabis Farmers Association and helped to found several regional organizations. Gretchen is fascinated by all entheogenic plant industries coming into legality and is excited to have the opportunity to support and celebrate those who shape this emerging culture every day.
Three media outlets I check every single day: California Sun newsletter, Letters From an American by Heather Cox Richardson, The Goods by Vox
Super inspired by: Louise Nevelson
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Garlic. Dirt. Mat. Sand. Paint.
Casey Echols is an impactful leader in public relations with nearly a decade of experience repping clients and brands in a variety of sectors: music, film, television, live TV, hospitality and lifestyle. She has a consistent track record of securing coverage in local, national and international media outlets and has worked on campaigns for a wide range of clients, including Paramount Pictures, Hulu, Miss Universe 2019, Netflix, Sony Pictures Classics, Cirque du Soleil, Coca-Cola, The Fox Theatre and Dreamworks Animation, among others. Casey is adept at managing multichannel campaigns—from influencer marketing and red-carpet events to broadcast, print and online media—and is recognized for her skill at fostering positive long-term working relationships with clients and colleagues. She is driven to surpass client expectations and has secured interviews and coverage in tier-one media such as The Associated Press, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, Entrepreneur, The Daily Beast, CNBC, CNN and CBS MoneyWatch. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia, with a minor in Music Business.
Super inspired by: Gram Parsons, Dolly Parton, my mom
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Snowboarding. Concerts. Outdoors. Music. Dawgs.
Meghan O'Dea has honed her skills as a writer and content strategist for over a decade. She cut her teeth writing film and music reviews and a weekly opinion column on the 20-something experience. Early success in personal essay led Meghan to earn a Master's degree in Creative Nonfiction at UT Chattanooga, during which she attended the international MFA program at City University in Hong Kong as a visiting scholar. She has served as a digital editor for Fortune Magazine and Lonely Planet and earned bylines in The Washington Post, Playboy, Bitch magazine, Yoga Journal and Subaru Drive Magazine, amongst others. Meghan began writing cannabis stories for Willamette Week, Nylon and Different Leaf while working in the travel and outdoor media industries in Portland, Oregon. In addition to covering the intersection of travel, hospitality and cannabis, Meghan's work as a travel journalist took her from Los Cabos to Yellowstone, from San Francisco to Jamaica. She has also taught composition and travel writing at the college level and guest lectured on topics such as literary citizenship, urban history and professional development at conferences and universities throughout the United States as well as Madrid, Spain.
Super inspired by: Women like Isabella Bird, Uschi Obermaier and my maternal grandmother, who dared to travel the world even in eras when global adventures went against the grain.
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Books. Long walks. Architecture. Mixtapes.
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.
Super inspired by: Lilian Thuram
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Kids. Soccer. Music. Food. Travel.
Leland is a public relations and marketing communications pro with a decade of experience in cannabis across social justice, behavioral change, advocacy, governmental relations and CPG campaigns that have won CLIO and Stevie awards and a finalist for a Bronze Anvil award.
Leland has supported local, state and national cannabis campaigns, including decriminalizing cannabis in New York City by closing NYPD’s “in public view” arrest loophole in 2014, passing New York’s medical marijuana program in 2015, the 2016 national campaign to legalize cannabis in several states across the country and the 2017 Proposition M ballot initiative in Los Angeles which passed with 79.4% voter approval.
Before Grasslands, Leland led marketing-communication efforts for nearly every vertical of the cannabis industry—supporting IPOs, launches for brands and products, investor fundraising, M&A activity, public awareness campaigns and more. His clients have been featured in top-tier national publications, including The New York Times, Forbes, Bloomberg, Esquire, Entrepreneur and CNN, among many others. In his free time, he enjoys long walks to brainstorm and ponder the next World’s Largest Pot Brownie stunt idea.
Super inspired by: The badass women who are, or have been, in my life.
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Video Games. Horticulture. D&D. Daydreaming.
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.
Super inspired by: LaDainian Tomlinson (NFL Hall of Famer)
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Music. Cooking. Sports. Gaming. Friendship.
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.
Super inspired by: Katharine Graham
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Chairlift-networking enthusiast & high spirits
Lauren Finegan started at Grasslands as a Diversity-in-Marketing 2022 intern. That internship was her first post-college position. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a bachelor’s in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. She also earned a minor in Mandarin Chinese; her family's cultural background is something she enjoys learning about.
Her passions converge in growing as a person and professional at Grasslands. Seeing cannabis change people’s lives every day has had a huge impact on her life, especially in recognizing the plant’s potential to enhance daily life and wellness. In her work with the agency, she strives every day to help business leaders develop their brand messaging and marketing strategy to make meaningful connections with their audience. She relishes the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and take cannabis marketing to the next level.
Super inspired by: My grandmother, who I call my Nay-Nay. Darryl, who pushes me to be the best version of myself—every second of every day.
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Best friends. @babysilly_ . Self-growth. Food-trucks.
Breanna Lopresti is a writing and communications professional with a background in content creation and financial services. She has a passion for storytelling and creating strong professional and personal relationships with anyone and everyone. Breanna recently graduated from Colorado State University, having completed a major in Communication Studies and a minor in Business Administration. During her time at CSU, she immensely enjoyed working as a boat captain on Horsetooth Reservoir during the warmer months here in Colorado. This taught her crisis management, networking skills and how to have a great time! Breanna is looking forward to being an asset to the Grasslands team and learning all the ins and outs of the cannabis industry.
Super inspired by: My parents and two older sisters
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Family. Friends. Books. Snowboarding. Music.
Danna Tabachnik is a communications professional specializing in storytelling, strategy and relationship building. Since finding her way into the journalism program in high school, she has always worked to find and tell stories that people need to hear. After taking an introductory PR class in college, Danna realized working behind the scenes to reach as many people as possible was exactly where she wanted to be. She has worked with clients in a variety of sectors: music, television, film, events and business, among others.
Prior to joining Grasslands, Danna began her PR career as an intern turned publicist in the entertainment industry, working with and placing clients in regional and national broadcast, print and online publications such as Men’s Health, Teen Vogue, Billboard, People Magazine, US Weekly, Good Day New York, Business Journal and more. Currently based in Chicago, Danna graduated from Drake University twice—most recently with a masters in Communication on a Brand Communication track.
Three media outlets I check every single day: Chicago Tribune, Billboard, The Washington Post
Super inspired by: My Mom, Lily Tomlin and Sophia Bush
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Family. Dogs. Books. Live Music.
Lauren Garrow is a vibrant, relationships-oriented public relations professional with a keen interest in wellness, cannabis and innovative technology industries. Her agency background has afforded her the opportunity to strengthen her skills in strategic storytelling, client leadership and integrated cross-functional communication. Lauren takes pride in her adaptability, proactive approach and commitment to seeing projects to completion.
When Lauren lived and studied mass communications in Uppsala, Sweden, she immersed herself in lagom culture. Lagom roughly translates to “just the right amount” and promotes a balanced lifestyle. Lauren looks forward to bringing her positive attitude, journalism-mindedness and dynamic determination to her Grasslands team and clients.
Super inspired by: My family and friends. Strong leadership. LOVE!
When I am off the clock (in five words): Plants. Yoga. Thrifting. Vinyl. Gratitude.
Clarissa Colondo is a dynamic PR and strategic communications expert with a deep-rooted passion for the cannabis industry. Armed with an agency background, she brings adaptability and storytelling prowess to the Grasslands team.
Clarissa graduated from Temple University in 2021, where she majored in Public Relations. As part of her degree program, she served in an internship with The Calm, Cool & Collected, supporting the cannabis company’s B2C communications and education initiatives while gaining hands-on experience working within state medical cannabis regulations.
With several years of experience in tech PR, Clarissa's career has been a testament to her ability to quickly adapt to shifting strategies and her talent for cultivating strong client relationships. She brings a fresh perspective to the cannabis industry, blending her tech insights with a positive attitude and an unwavering passion for people.
With her expertise, drive and enthusiasm, Clarissa strives to support the growth and success of the cannabis industry, one story at a time. She currently resides in Woodbury, New Jersey.
Super inspired by: Taylor Swift, my family and friends, and all of the cannabis advocates before me
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Music. Cannabis. Sunshine. Cats. Food.
Olivia is a communications and branding-focused professional who specializes in organizational strategy and relationship building. As Grasslands’ Operations Assistant, she brings emotional and logistical intelligence to ensure seamless agency performance from behind the scenes. Prior to joining Grasslands, Olivia started her career in digital media in Madrid, Spain, where she earned a degree in Communications from IE University: Instituto de Empresa.
Olivia’s prior experience includes internships in advertising strategy at a Denver-based agency and in copywriting with the Financial Times. In addition to her time in Madrid, Olivia has also spent time in Hamburg, Germany, and Boulder, Colorado, contributing to her adaptability and ease in a variety of cultures and professional environments—all key to navigating the diverse and constantly evolving cannabis industry.
Super inspired by: Lisa Barlow, for being an entrepreneur and a real one
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Techno. Scandinavian thrillers. Yoga. Cooking.