Our team is comprised of smart, inventive professionals with years of expertise in the cannabis industry — who honed their skills at Fortune 50 companies, agencies, The White House, entertainment firms, tech and startup companies, advocacy organizations, and at political campaigns. Powerplant’s team is big enough to execute on large ideas and campaigns and small enough to stay nimble and tailor our strategies to each client.
Chief Executive Officer
Michael Huttner is a corporate and political strategist, attorney and entrepreneur. He is the current Political Director and immediate past CEO of Fenton, the global social change agency. Michael initiated the first meeting in Colorado to decriminalize recreational cannabis which led to the drafting and passage of Amendment 64. He previously served as President of the Huttner Group, Inc., a Boulder-based firm which helps solve complex financial, communications and public policy problems in a variety of industries. Michael has helped launch over 40 different political organizations and has led communications ‘war-rooms’ for political and private clients. Michael also is the Founder of ProgressNow, a network of state-based communications organizations that moves people to action through communications and digital media. Described as the “crown jewel” of progressive investors’ efforts to build messaging power in the states, ProgressNow continues to expand with more than 3.4 million members in 23 states
Previously, Michael was a founding partner in the Denver law firm of Foster, Graham and Huttner where he headed the firm’s political, nonprofit and lobbying practice. Prior to his private practice, he worked as Policy Advisor to Governor Roy Romer and clerked at the Clinton White House for the Office of the Counsel to the President. Michael also has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver College of Law. He earned his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings Law School, where he served on the Hastings Law Journal, and his B.A. from Brown University.
Alex brings more than 15 years of experience working in corporate strategy and marketing/communications for cannabis, consumer, technology, Fortune 50 and sports and entertainment companies and has helped launch dozens of companies and build brands. He also co-founded and launched Rebel Coast, the world’s first alcohol-removed, cannabis-infused Sauvignon Blanc, which will be in California dispensaries this year. He was named one of Marijuana Venture magazine’s “40 Under 40” in 2018.
Prior to joining Powerplant Alex was a Director at fama, North America’s premier boutique PR firm for technology companies where he launched startups and developed thought leadership campaigns for enterprise companies in the B2C and B2B spaces. Some of his clients included DraftKings, SailPoint, Flyp, BetterCloud, Cybric and Recorded Future. Before fama, Alex was a vice president at Global Strategy Group in New York City, where he provided digital, traditional and crisis communications and produced award-winning campaigns for Google, Formula 1, UFC, Nestle Waters, Time Warner, Inc. and the New York Road Runners. From 2004 to 2010 Alex was a director of media relations at Fenton Communications in their Washington and New York offices. Select clients included ONE.org, G.E., Greenpeace, MoveOn.org and The Gates Foundation. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Virginia and completed a course of study at the McIntire School of Commerce.
Senior Vice President
Ellen is a senior communications strategist and operative with more than 20 years of strategic communications, messaging, branding, media relations, social media, crisis communications, issues management and serving in the West Wing of the White House during the Clinton Administration, at Comcast-NBC Universal, General Electric, The North Face and Office of the New Jersey Governor, on three presidential campaigns, and as a partner at Collective Consulting. Ellen has worked with clients and organizations such as Weedmaps, Vicente Sederberg, DCMJ, Weed for Warriors, DNC Convention, GE, ABC-Disney, CNN, BBC, MGM, 20th Century Fox, Big Machine Records and others.
Senior Communications Associate
Leland is a long-time cannabis legalization activist and public relations professional experienced in social justice, behavioral change, and advocacy campaigns. He has worked on local, state and national cannabis campaigns such as 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, passing adult-use regulations in several key states in 2016, and is currently working to pass adult-use regulations in the state of New York.
Previously, he founded a local New York City chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Through SSDP, he organized a local campaign implementing language from New York State’s Good Samaritan/Medical Amnesty policy at CUNY Baruch College.
Our network of experts is unmatched in the industry.
Expertise: Public Relations (Toronto)
Expertise: Public Relations & Strategic Communications (New York) Over four decades David pioneered the use of PR, social media, branding and advertising techniques for social change. David has worked with governments and international NGOs in Africa, Israel, Europe, Japan, Latin America and the Caribbean. David is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 1976 he was an Editor at High Times, and then became Director of Public Relations for Rolling Stone magazine. He also co-produced the No-Nukes concerts in 1979 with Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, Jackson Browne and other artists. In the early 1970s, David helped run the campaign that freed John Sinclair from his ten-year for two joint prison sentence. He was active in passing Ann Arbor’s $5 marijuana law in 1972 and in getting the first legalization initiative on a state ballot, the Michigan Marijuana Initiative in 1973.
Expertise: Marketing (San Francisco)
Expertise: Advocacy & Strategic Communications (Washington, DC)
Expertise: Strategic Partnerships & Business Development (New York) James is an experienced entrepreneur, investor and private equity professional. He has founded, invested in or led companies in many different industries through periods of intense growth and development. Notable current holdings include Honor Capital, a $200 million national firm in the specialty finance industry; Fenton, a pioneer in the cause-driven agency field and Collegium, a rapidly growing professional services holding company. He co-founded Watershed Company and 3BL Media and served as senior advisor to Donor Trends and True Givers. James received his MBA from Harvard and is a nonpracticing CPA and former investment banker. He is a regular speaker/panelist at industry conferences and has been published, quoted and interviewed on: CNN, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, New York Times, Fortune, Red Herring, Financial Times, Ad Week and other leading publications. James currently resides in Westchester with his wife and three daughters.
Expertise: Public Relations (Seattle)
Expertise: Public Relations (Los Angeles)
Expertise: Business Development & Strategic Partnerships (New York)
Expertise: Branding & Messaging (Chicago) Sparky is a 25-year veteran of the branding and design industry with deep domain expertise in the legal medical and recreational cannabis industry. Sparky is the former Executive Director of Compassionate Caregivers, an Oakland, California based medical cannabis company, which was forcibly closed by the Federal Government in 2006 although it operated legally within the State of California with permission to operate in seven different incorporated areas of the state. Sparky has consulted numerous cannabis clients operating in California, Colorado, Washington, Idaho, and Illinois including Sacred Mind & Body, Cannabis Training Institute, Papa & Barkley, ebbu, and PharmaCann.
In addition, Sparky has consulted with non-cannabis clients including Chanel, DDB, BBDO, Ogilvy & Mather, DirecTV, PepsiCo and Fox Sports Networks. He has also served as the Creative Director for the Discovery Channel’s Digital Cable Networks and Advanced Television Studio.
Expertise: Operations & Strategic Counsel (Las Vegas)