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 storyteller, brand builder and communications professional with a background in digital content marketing and multimedia journalism. Her expertise centers around the highly regulated cannabis industry, and she specializes in communicating key messaging through innovative strategy, compelling brand narratives and optimized 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 cannabis news, industry, politics and legislative issues. Emily 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. She holds a master’s in journalism from DePaul University in Chicago.
Super inspired by: My bad@ss mom
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Family. Art. Guitar. Reading. 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.
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.
Super inspired by: My mother
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Music. Animals. Nature. Grilling. Soccer.
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!)
Super inspired by: Strong, intelligent women such as my mother, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Michelle Obama, Greta Thunberg… the list goes on!
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Enjoying / embracing the little things.
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.
Super inspired by: Unfiltered human interactions
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Belly. Memes. Naps. Roku. Walks.
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.
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.”
Super inspired by: My father
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Bud. Beer. Boarding. Bass music.
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 was on staff at publications including Fortune magazine, Uproxx and Lonely Planet. She has earned freelance bylines in The Washington Post, Playboy, Bitch magazine, Nylon and Civilized, 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.
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.
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.
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Hiking. Yoga. Running. Cooking. Family.
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
Dane is an experienced public relations professional who was born in the Show-Me State of Missouri but quickly relocated to Denver, where he grew up loving the outdoors. Early on, Dane developed a knack for storytelling which he has parlayed into a nearly decade-long communications career. As a kid, he was inspired by the likes of David Attenborough and Steve Irwin, leading him to study Biology and TV / Film Production at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Prior to joining the Grasslands team, Dane spent time in various newsrooms, award-winning marketing departments and PR firms sharpening his storytelling tools and developing an eye for compelling content.
Super inspired by: Taylor Swift (seriously)
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Family. Music. Sports. Climbing. Breweries.
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.
Super inspired by: Danny Davis (professional snowboarder), Marc André Leclerc (Alpinist) and my grandmother (Nonny)
When I’m off the clock (in five words): Snowboarding. Friends. Music. Having fun!
Lauren Finegan is a recent graduate from The University of Colorado at Boulder, where she graduated with a BS in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. She also earned a minor in Mandarin Chinese, which, owing to her personal cultural ties to the language, she had been studying since high school.
This internship is Lauren’s first post-college position. She was intrigued by working for a company like Grasslands that works to advance the industry by helping professionalize cannabis PR and marketing, and she is gratified to apply the skills she earned through her degree to her work at Grasslands.
Her passions converge in growing as a person and professional. 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.
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.