Meet the team

Landon Rhodes

Founder & CEO

Landon started Grindstone on the floor of his apartment in 2018. He wanted to find a way to help companies promote their products and services beyond the traditional door-to-door sales model. He also wanted to take the work ethic he developed on his family farm near Exeter, Nebraska and grow his own successful business. 

To keep himself sharp, Landon listens to podcasts and reads books focused on entrepreneurship and personal development. He even hosts his own podcast called Spark to Fire where he interviews other successful business leaders. He’s a firm believer in the mantra: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying,” and applies that mentality to everything he does. 

Fun fact: Landon’s impressions are impeccable. Ask him to do anyone and he won’t disappoint.

Tristen Metcalf

 Agency Manager & Account Executive

Tristen is a proud graduate of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where she double majored in marketing and management. She started her career in social media, including content creation and strategy, digital marketing analytics, and live event marketing. As Agency Manager, Tristen supervises and coordinates all aspects of Grindstone to ensure client satisfaction and internal team cohesion. She is the driving force behind the day to day operations within the agency. Tristen also serves as an Account Executive where she builds relationships and communicates with each client regarding every element of their contract. She collaborates with the entire Grindstone team to create client campaigns and projects from the initial development stage to the final product. 

Fun fact: If you caught the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you might have seen Tristen performing.

Jenna Rhodes

Business Development Manager

Jenna graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2011 with degrees in History and Spanish. She spent the last ten years working for Stanley Black and Decker in various sales and marketing roles. As the Business Development Manager, Jenna works with prospective clients to determine how Grindstone can best serve their needs. Passionate about the details, Jenna is committed that Grindstone delivers the best quality work for each client, no matter the project scope.

Fun fact: Jenna lived in Costa Rica for six months to study Spanish.

Meredith Q. Killion

Account Executive

Meredith received her BFA from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  She has over a decade of experience as a graphic designer, creative director, project manager, and organizer of all things that need to be organized.

As Account Executive, Meredith will be the point of contact for clients and help them solidify their brand on videos, podcasts, and social media platforms.   She loves problem solving and puzzles.  These passions give her the upper hand when faced with challenges.  You may see her on her lunch break doing Sudoku in the break room.

Fun fact: Meredith has a mean poker face.  She plays texas holdem as often as she can with friends and acquaintances. 

Connor Ernst

Account Executive

Connor is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelor of Journalism in Broadcasting and a Minor in Business. His career has encompassed both multimedia work in the agency world and account management in the banking industry.

As Account Executive, Connor will be the liaison between the client and Grindstone. Connor is passionate about people and believes that building strong relationships is the key to delivering the best service. He is your reliable resource for social media, videography, and podcasting.

Fun fact: Connor once compared arm injuries with professional skateboarder and mid-2000’s heartthrob, Ryan Sheckler.

Patrick McCarthy

Executive Producer

Patrick’s career in visual mediums started over a decade ago with a cable access sketch show called “Nerds with Birds” in Lincoln, Nebraska. What started as a high school passion-project has turned into a full-time career. Patrick is a full-time video editor at Grindstone Media. Patrick finds inspiration in nature and the work of film directors like Andrei Tarkovsky and Stanley Kubrick. When he’s not working on perfecting his video editing or finding creative ways to shoot, he loves to spend time writing music.

Fun fact: Patrick once owned a hot air balloon and was learning to fly.

AJ Cruz

Director of Photography

Dealing in good feelings is what he knows, and working with people is what he loves. AJ has been working in the filmmaking industry for 2.5 years and has found a way to intertwine his love for people and cameras to create lasting impressions on our clients.

Fun fact: Despite what fellow mortals may think, AJ is a warlock and can breathe fire and is trained in the art of healing…kind of. Ask him about it.

Collin Mccarthy

Audio Engineer

Collin started his deep dive into the audio production world back in high school when he began building a home studio in his parent’s basement. After high school, Collin moved out to Seattle to pursue music with his band. Since then, he has recorded 2 EP’s & 1 full-length album with the group, & is currently working on a solo project under the name CP/M, where he has released 2 songs thus far. After moving back to Lincoln, Collin became increasingly interested in the growing popularity of podcasts. His first production for a podcast was the title theme song for the show “Tech Refactored” at UNL’s College of Law, Nebraska Governance & Technology Center.

Fun fact: Collin’s been on tour from California to New York… & everything in between!

John Valeriani


John has enjoyed a variety of roles, from animator, illustrator, assistant photographer to now, a full-time video editor at Grindstone. John aspires to do work that is collaborative and meaningful, opens up new worlds, and tells different stories. When he’s not shooting or editing, he can usually be found biking on the trails.

Fun fact: John and his mother were almost on ‘Judge Judy.

Sam Trocki

Lead Social Media Manager

Sam has a passion for contributing to the growth of a business and building connections by developing savvy strategies and compelling content for social media campaigns. Her creative mind and constant curiosity help her think outside the box and bring any vision to life. Sam found her calling through extensive experience in Account Management and earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. She finds joy in the little things, and can usually be found outside tending to her garden or exploring a new hiking trail.

Fun fact: Sam attended Tony Robbins first-ever Virtual Unleash the Power Within event and is excited to be a future fire walker at the next in-person event!

Cassie Sleicher

Social Media Manager

Cassie is passionate about helping local businesses thrive. Through content creation, event planning, and networking, she has helped several business owners sharpen their online presence. Cassie graduated in 2020 from the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a degree in Advertising and Public Relations. Today she uses her skills to create compelling social media content for Grindstone’s clients. When she’s not building content, Cassie can be found at a local coffee shop, the public library, or on the Lincoln bike trails.

Fun fact: Cassie has extensive knowledge of true crime cases. Ask her about any podcast or documentary series because she’s probably already binge-watched it.

Julia Evertson

Social Media Manager

Julia is a senior Advertising and Public Relations major at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Her love of videography, editing, content creation, and connecting with people creates a wide variety of interests, so she’s down to learn just about anything. 

Fun Fact: Julia has to have dessert every day. The doctor prescribed it.

JT Martin

Host of Nebraska Made

JT Martin is a 5th generation Nebraskan who spent the majority of his life in the San Francisco bay area. He worked for venture-backed media and advertising firms in San Francisco and New York City for the past 8 years before joining the Grindstone team in 2020 to host the Nebraska Made podcast and grow the Grindstone podcast network.

Fun fact: JT is an avid joggler (juggling + jogging)! 

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