Dear Clients and Friends,
It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of our friend and founder Keegan Peterson. Keegan will be remembered for his fierce advocacy in the cannabis space and the company he built to support the industry that he cared about deeply.
I’d like to share with you some of his story, so that you can know him and be inspired by his life like so many of us. He grew up in Florida where his mom was a social worker and his dad a software engineer. So it was natural for him to apply technology to a community that he saw thrive over the past seven years. Being in Colorado for ten years, Keegan witnessed the state legalize recreational marijuana and all of the good it did for the community. He became deeply passionate about building technology solutions for the industry that could help businesses grow and stabilize in order that they could maximize their impact.
Keegan founded Wurk in 2015, growing it into the leading payroll and HR solutions company solely for cannabis companies with over 60 employees and clients across 33 states. As a CEO, Keegan led the company with a people-first attitude, taking care of his employees and clients by staying attuned to their needs.
For the industry, Keegan was a vocal and active supporter. After a chance encounter with Ricki Lake at an event in Utah, he signed on as an associate producer for the popular documentary about the medical benefits of cannabis Weed the People. He received Marijuana Venture’s 40 under 40 awards and was named in MG Magazine’s Top 50 Cannabis Employers. In February 2019, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) recognized Wurk with an Innovation in Technology award in the category of Business Strategy & Innovation.
Keegan promoted the growth of other entrepreneurs in the cannabis space, mentoring them at Canopy Boulder and Canopy San Diego, a mentorship-driven, early-stage investment program for startups in the cannabis industry. Keegan also gave back to the community where he lived with his family. He was an active member of Denver Relief’s Green Team, volunteering his time to garden and grow vegetables for those in need in the Denver community. He also volunteered with Project Homeless in Denver and sponsored children in Africa through Compassionate International.
Undoubtedly, we lost an amazing entrepreneur and trailblazer who led with compassion and kindness. In August, Keegan was interviewed by Authority Magazine and shared his hopes for the future of our industry:
Legalizing cannabis is the obvious first move. People are still being incarcerated and lives are being ruined over something natural, with evidence that it improves people’s quality of life. We need to get to a point where no one’s lives are negatively impacted by this plant. Also, fair and equitable work environments would change the world. We are currently operating with a fraction of the intelligence available in the world by putting certain people in positions of leadership. The quicker we can achieve more diverse perspectives, especially within the leadership team, the sooner we will recognize the full potential of human intelligence.
Striving for legalization and social equity are good fights, but they aren’t easy. Keegan believed that all of us had to go through hard things in order to get what they wanted. When he played football in college, he pasted this quote in his locker: “The one who endures until the end will be delivered.” We here at Wurk are all committed to keeping Keegan’s legacy alive through his company, but also in striving to achieve the vision he had for our industry. As leaders and players in this space, we all are part of the change, and I hope that all of you will join us in helping to fulfill his vision.
Please consider making a monetary donation via the GoFundMe link below to assist his family as they navigate this tragedy. Donations will go directly to his wife, Lily Lucas, to help with end of life costs and future expenses. Lily will disseminate funds to the Peterson family. The Board of Directors at Wurk have generously offered to match all donations up to $20,000.
In honor of Keegan, we are welcoming messages to the memory board via the link below. We invite you to post photos and stories, which mean so much to his family and friends.