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Mountain States Spotlight with Board Member Ean Seeb

  • September 1, 2015


On his 40th birthday, Mountain States ADL board member Ean Seeb shares why he’s passionate about civil rights – including those that are green in nature.


How did you first become involved in ADL? How are you involved now?

I first became involved with ADL when I went to a four-course dinner for $36 held at an upscale restaurant in Cherry Creek North for young professionals. [Former CO Speaker of the House] Terrance Carroll was the keynote speaker. I met other young professionals and decided to get on board.  I participated in the Glass Leadership Institute (now Sturm Fellows) and joined the Board in 2008. I was mentored by [former Board member] Roz Ash, who was an excellent mentor. She took me to everything – every event, every board meeting, and out for lunch. Now that I’m on the Board, I serve on the membership committee, the annual meeting committee and I used to serve on the social media committee.

What do you do in your professional life?

I’m in the cannabis industry. I own and operate Denver Relief, the oldest dispensary in Colorado, and I own a national consulting firm (Denver Relief Consulting). We serve all adults ages 21 and older. I’m also on the Governor’s marijuana oversight committee, and on the board of directors of the National Cannabis Industry Association. I just completed a term as chairman of the board of that group. I also own and serve on the board of directors of several other companies that provide lighting, technology and packaging for the cannabis industry.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an actor. I was a member of the Denver Center Theater Company from 1990-1992. My favorite role was playing Lucius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

Where were you born? From where do your ancestors hail?

I’m a third generation Denver native. My ancestors come from Poland and Russia.

What’s your favorite holiday?

Passover. It’s an opportunity to see my family, and the theme of freedom resonates with me both personally and professionally.

How does it resonate with you professionally?

Cannabis gives people freedom from pain. Making people feel better is a basic Jewish tenet. I want to improve the quality of life for people who are ill. There’s also a lot of racial disparity from the failed war on drugs. Mass incarceration of minorities for the same crime that have low incarceration rates for whites is unjust. It’s a civil rights issue.

What’s your favorite food?

Sushi and schnitzel.

What are you reading?

I just finished reading The Haj.  It was really relevant for me to read while in Israel recently; it’s a timeless book that has a lot to say about how little things have changed from the 1800s and the days prior to the founding of the State of Israel to where we are now. The issues then are the same issues we’re facing today.

What’s a special place you have visited?

There are two: Peru and Israel.

Going to Peru was the first trip I took with my wife Abby. We hiked an overlook above Machu Picchu. It reminded me of Masada in Israel and made me think about how ancient people used the land – even desolate land – to survive. No matter where you are in the world, there are people who have done similar things to survive. Even though we’re geographically far apart, as humans, we’re pretty similar.

I also just came back from visiting Israel on the Wexner Heritage Program trip. It was an incredible opportunity, and a true gift to go with my Wexner colleagues, some of whom I’ve known for my whole life. It was meaningful and magical.

What was the most magical part?

We had a private meeting with President Shimon Peres at the Peres Center for Peace. We were told it was going to be a quick visit, just a photo opportunity, but then Ashleigh Miller, fiancee of my Wexner colleague Seth Wong (and a 2015 Sturm Fellows graduate), started singing Hatikvah. The entire group joined in, and President Peres stood at attention and did not leave until the anthem was finished. It was amazing and moving.

What’s one thing every person should know or experience?

Love. The importance of love – human touch, human emotion – can’t be overstated. I just read an article about “cuddle clubs” that someone started in Utah. There are people who go for non-sexual contact, just to hug someone. The writer interviewed a woman who said that participating in the cuddle club was the first time in fifteen years that she had touched someone, other than accidentally bumping into them. It was heartbreaking.

What teacher or class stands out to you the most in your education and why?

My elementary school librarian, Bev Robbin, at High Plains Elementary School, was such a big influence. We’re still in touch. She was a truly inspiring teacher, and was a champion of getting me to read. I was even the read-a-thon winner. That was 35 years ago, and I still look up to her.

What are you passionate about personally? What can’t you stop talking about?

Making the world a better place than when I got here. I try to do that with all aspects of life – business, pleasure, fun. We all have an obligation as humans to leave the earth in better condition than we found it. That goes for civil rights, changing unfair laws, helping the homeless to eat. We have an incredible opportunity as humans to do things for good. That drives me every day.

Where can we find you when you’re not working?

On an airplane, in a restaurant, at a cultural event or on the dance floor! I used to be a hip hop dance teacher.

If you had to teach something, what would you teach?

Philanthropy. It’s really easy and not enough people do it at the level I think they should.

Tell me a story that immediately pops into your mind that was a defining or significant moment for you.

It’s actually the reason I got involved in ADL in the first place. During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school I took a driver’s ed class in which the teacher explained how insurance companies will try to “Jew you down.” I stood up and called her out on the injustice of her words. I got kicked out of class, went home and told my parents, and they called the ADL. The teacher was removed. I never forgot it.

Why do you choose to make a financial investment in ADL?

Because ADL can’t operate on good thoughts and rainbows alone.

Complete this sentence: For me, the ADL is …

The world’s leading civil rights organization. ADL sets an example for how other organizations should act. ADL recognizes that when you see an injustice, you should stand up and say something.