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.

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Michael Huttner
Michael Huttner 

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 Howe

Alex Howe 

Managing Director

Alex brings more than 16 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, sold throughout California dispensaries. 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. 

Ellen Mellody

Ellen Mellody 

Senior Vice President

Honed across the corporate, political, government, entertainment, technology and cannabis industries, Ellen brings clients more than 20 years of strategy, communications, public affairs, issue/change management and crisis communications experience.

Prior to joining Powerplant, Mellody worked in strategy, communications and media relations positions with two White House administrations (Clinton and Obama), at Comcast-NBC Universal, General Electric, The North Face and as a co-founder and partner at Collective Consulting. Mellody also brought her strategy and communications expertise to three presidential campaigns (Gore 2000, Kerry 2004 and Obama 2008) and the Office of the New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey, where she served as a primary spokesperson and as liaison to the 9-11 Families and memorial. Throughout her career, Ellen has served in various locations around the globe, including in Sydney, Paris, and Baghdad and has worked with clients such as HBO, ABC-Disney, Sony, WarnerMedia, Big Machine Records, Harvest Health & Recreation Inc., Merida Capital Partners, Vicente Sederberg, and others.

Ellen holds certificates of achievement from the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and a degree in Communications from the University of Scranton.

Ellen Mellody

Leland Radovanovic 

Senior Communications Associate

Leland is a long-time cannabis legalization activist and public relations professional experienced in changing market behaviors. He’s trained countless cannabis c-suite professionals to craft and better tell their stories, which help shape and move the industry forward responsibly. Leland also sits on the board of directors of the Cannabis Cultural Association, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to helping marginalized and underrepresented communities engage in the legal cannabis industry, emphasizing criminal justice reform, access to medical cannabis, and adult use legalization.

In the past, 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. 

Our network of experts is unmatched in the industry.

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David Fenton
David Fenton 

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.

Joellen Ferrer 

Expertise: Marketing (San Francisco)

Joellen has spent the last 10+ years brand-building for a mix of consumer and B2B startups, wearing many hats and connecting the dots between marketing, communications, partnerships, and product. 
While in-house, she spent seven years legitimizing and mainstreaming a brand in a once-highly-regulated industry (StubHub) and three years reshaping brands going through pivots (Ustream, Mode Media). She’s currently helping companies elevate their brand awareness as a consultant for integrated marketing, communications, and content strategy. In the cannabis space, Joellen recently worked with PAX Labs to help the company develop a new corporate identity and the communications strategies to support this. 
Steve Fox 

Expertise: Advocacy & Strategic Communications (Washington, DC)

Steve is the co-founder and director of VS Strategies, an advocacy and media relations firm based in Denver. Since 2002, Steve has been a leader in using messaging and strategic communications to advance the movement to create a legal, regulated marijuana market in the United States. In 2005, Steve conceptualized and co-founded the “SAFER” campaign in Colorado for the express purpose of educating the public about the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. The goal, eventually realized through the 2012 Amendment 64 campaign, which he managed, was to change the mindset of voters in order to make marijuana legal through a ballot initiative. In 2010, he initiated efforts to launch what became the National Cannabis Industry Association, in order to convey to Congress that the regulated cannabis market was creating jobs, generating tax revenue, and taking sales out of the criminal market.
James Marcus
James Marcus 

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.

Tahira Rehmatullah 

Expertise: Business Development & Strategic Partnerships (New York)

Tahira previously served as General Manager of Marley Natural and now serves as Managing Director at Hypur Ventures. She also works as a strategic advisor to entrepreneurs and early stage venture leaders, utilizing her cannabis, startup, and finance experience. Tahira is particularly interested in assisting female leaders further develop in the cannabis industry, increasing diversity throughout organizations, and supporting social justice initiatives empowering communities most affected by the war on drugs. Tahira earned a B.S. in Business Administration from The Ohio State University and holds a MBA from the Yale School of Management.
Sparky Rose
Sparky Wilson Rose 

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.

Mara Sheldon 

Expertise: Public Relations (Denver)

Mara Sheldon has 20 years strategic communications experience serving as a political strategist, press secretary, communications director and spokesperson for elected officials, corporations and non-profits.  She most recently ran statewide communications and served as a spokesperson for Jared Polis’ historic gubernatorial campaign where he was elected by 10.6 percent. Mara also served as communications director and spokesperson for Polis’ transition team and inaugural committee. She has extensive experience in writing, listening and discerning critical issues, then translating them to targeted audiences. Mara is particularly skilled in crafting cogent, high-impact messages to elevate brand. She has also run numerous ballot initiatives in several states with a 90% success rate. Having closely worked with and run special elections in Colorado around cannabis, Mara has the media savvy to capture the public’s attention on industry developments and ongoing breakthroughs both at the state and national levels. 
Shane Terry 

Expertise: Operations & Strategic Counsel (Las Vegas)

Shane Terry is currently the CEO and a co-founder of TapRoot Holdings, Inc, a cannabis production and cultivation company headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada and President of TapRoot Consulting Group. Shane is also on the Board of Directors of GB Sciences, a publicly traded biopharma company focused on developing innovative, pharmaceutical-based cannabis therapies. Shane was also the former President of the Nevada Dispensary Association, which has proven instrumental in paving the way for Nevada’s nascent recreational market. Shane’s vast operational experience includes founding and managing multiple dispensaries and vertically integrated operations, while consulting in multiple domestic and international markets. Prior to joining the cannabis industry, Shane served as a Flight Commander and F-16 instructor at the Air Force’s TopGun school while earning two Air Medals for combat action over Iraq and Afghanistan.

Powerplant is a sister company of Fenton, the social change agency with a national footprint and offices around country. Fenton has access to an unrivaled number of socially conscious partners the firm has worked with over the course of its 35-year history.

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