R.D. Sewald | Co-founder & Principal
The co-founder of Sewald Hanfling, RD Sewald works with Josh Hanfling to chart the course for the firm and to ensure every client engagement has the bold, strategic and outcomes-driven approach that has defined Sewald’s 30 years in state and local government. RD’s deep connections in the community and his vision for the possible are key factors in the results he consistently delivers for clients. From efforts to modernize and restructure regional cooperation to support some of Colorado’s most prized community assets to fostering business environments that allow new businesses to thrive and positioning Colorado as a national and global leader for the future economy, RD has led some of the firm’s most impactful engagements. His skills navigating complex political and regulatory environments led 5280 to include him among the Power List’s Rising Stars.
When it came time to look to the future, Adams County officials looked to RD’s expertise and vision as they sought FAA approval for Spaceport Colorado. In August of 2018, with the issuance of its operators license, Colorado became one of only 11th facilities of its kind, setting the stage for continued growth of the robust aerospace industry in Colorado. In 2013, RD was instrumental in the firm’s efforts on behalf of Uber and creating a regulatory environment that allowed the growing business to operate and create jobs for thousands of Coloradans. These successes on behalf of clients come from RD’s understanding of Colorado’s long history of leading the way for the nation through the community’s frontier spirit and his experience navigating complex regulatory environments. RD also understands the value of some of Colorado’s most loved institutions and the need to ensure they have the foundations to grow into the future. In 2018, he worked with the Denver City Council to create the Metropolitan Football Stadium District, navigating the political and financial challenges of crafting the District that includes all or part of the seven counties in the Denver metropolitan area and establishes long-term strategies for the management and growth of the home of the Denver Broncos.
RD’s ability to craft effective strategies that deliver results for Sewald Hanfling clients and his leadership of the firm’s growth is built on his decades of experience inside local and state government. Prior to founding Sewald Hanfling in 2012, he was the Senior Strategic Advisor and Director of Government Affairs for Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper. Drawing on his skills bridging divides between stakeholders and building consensus, RD served as one of the Governor’s primary relationship managers among state and local elected officials, government agencies, community boards and a wide range of stakeholders. RD’s trusted position representing Governor Hickenlooper in the community was a continuation of the role he previously served in as then Mayor Hickenlooper’s Council Liaison where he was responsible for all contracts and ordinances going through Denver City Council, monitored and evaluated legislative actions for the administration and was responsible for the administration’s legislative team. During his time in the Mayor’s office, RD was the Mayor’s lead on the zoning rewrite and redesign, setting the foundation for Denver’s balanced and robust growth.
Sewald has more than 20 years of experience in state and local government with an emphasis on public policy and political management. Before his mayoral appointment, Sewald was the Director of Government and Community Affairs for the Denver Auditor’s Office, appointed by Auditor Dennis Gallagher. He also was the Deputy Director of Denver’s Planning Department and Zoning Enforcement for the Webb Administration and worked as Director of Neighborhood Inspection Services from 1998 to 2002.
Sewald’s political experience includes work on several campaigns, including Roy Romer for Colorado Governor in 1994, Wellington Webb for Denver Mayor in 1995, Denis Gallagher for Denver Auditor in 2003, Hickenlooper for Denver Mayor in 2007 and Hickenlooper for Colorado Governor in 2010 and 2014. In 2014 Sewald was tapped as Political Director for Latino Outreach for the state and ran the “Get Out The Vote” effort in the last 60 days of the campaign.
Outside of the office, boardroom and capitol, RD is an active member of the community and makes giving back to the community part of every week. He serves as the varsity lacrosse coach at Denver East High School and as a volunteer lacrosse with Cherry Creek Youth Sports. RD has served as Board of Trustee of The Denver Academy and on dozens of planning committees, boards and non-profit organizations in his community. RD lives in Denver with his wife Abigail and the two have three sons.
JoshUA Hanfling | Co-founder & Principal
Josh Hanfling is the co-founder of Sewald Hanfling Public Affairs. In this role, Josh delivers results for clients on issues such as the approval of a $1.8 billion, 34-year public private partnership remodel of the Great Hall at Denver International Airport, allowing Uber to operate legally in Colorado, legislation related to marijuana at both the state and local level, local real estate, zoning and licensing issues, allowing Century Link to offer cable service in Denver, and many more high profile issues.
Josh’s client industry experience includes real estate/construction, telecom, technology/software, disruptive businesses, professional sports, retail, financial services, restaurants, private equity, non-profits, and more.
As a passionate and active supporter of the community, Josh frequently donates time and resources to non-profits, political organizations and candidates. He currently serves on the boards of the Friends of the Denver Fire Department, Imagination Library Denver, AMP the Cause, and Democrats for Education Reform. Additionally, Josh is the chairman of the board of The Denver Health Foundation.
Josh founded his first business in college and has worked with many other companies in Colorado, Washington D.C. and London. Josh was the founding CEO and current trustee of the London based Mohammed S. Farsi Foundation, an international foundation focused on health, education and culture globally. Josh spent 2012 living and working in London to focus on the foundation while working with a private-equity firm based there. In 2008, he ran for the Colorado State House of Representatives.
He was named one of Denver’s 25 most powerful people by 5280 Magazine, elected to the "40 under 40" by the Denver Business Journal, named one of Colorado’s “Hottest Politicos” by Face the State, voted one of Denver’s “Movers & Shakers” by the Colorado Statesman and identified as one of Colorado’s top philanthropists by Colorado Company Magazine.
Additionally, Josh is also the Consul General to the Kingdom of Morocco for Colorado.
Josh grew up in Washington, D.C. and has a BS in management with a major in entrepreneurial studies from Babson College.
Brittany Morris Saunders | President of Local Affairs
Brittany Morris serves as the head of the local affairs division at Sewald Hanfling. She specializes in the representation of businesses, developers, corporations and non-profits before local governments, including cities, counties and special districts.
Prior to joining Sewald Hanfling, Brittany had been involved in Colorado and Denver politics for over 20 years, with experience in the private and public sectors. She was previously the Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Economic Development for the Downtown Denver Partnership, Director of Economic Development for the City of Commerce City, and Senior Vice President of CRL Associates, Inc.
With a passion for local government politics, Brittany enjoys working on projects and initiatives that have a direct impact on people’s lives, positively changing the course of Denver. She believes that through strategic investments in infrastructure, policies and programs, Denver has become a city of the rise.
In her personal time, she loves spending time with her husband and two sons. Together they enjoy hiking, camping and taking advantage of all Colorado has to offer.
Brittany graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from CU Boulder in 2002 and a Master of Arts in Political Science from CU Denver in 2007.
Dan pabon | vice president
After serving eight years in the Colorado House of Representatives, Dan brings a national level of expertise of policy and political insight into a variety of issues. He served in House leadership for seven of those eight years as Deputy Whip, Assistant Majority Leader, Speaker Pro Tempore, and Chair of the House Finance Committee. During his tenure he served on Appropriations, Business Affairs and Labor, Finance, Judiciary, Redistricting and Amendment 64 Committees. As a recognized Colorado leader, Representative Pabon has championed thoughtful technology legislation, voting rights expansion, consumer protections for senior citizens, equal access to quality education for all Coloradans, and transparency and efficiency in government.
In 2012, the voters of Colorado voted to allow recreational marijuana in that state. Pabon was appointed to Governor Hickenlooper’s task force for implementation. Dan chaired the regulatory framework working group which established the first regulated cannabis system in the world. Pabon chaired the Joint Select Committee on the Implementation of Amendment 64 and authored and sponsored the first three bills that put the system into law. He has since worked on dozens of tweaks and changes to the model which has been adopted by most jurisdictions in the U.S., Canada, and the world.
As a result of his work, Representative Pabon has been recognized as a rising star by MSNBC, has been named the People’s Choice Legislator by Colorado Law Week, named as a Rising Star by Colorado Super Lawyer magazine, named Democrat of the Year by the Denver Democratic Party, and served on of President Barack Obama’s Presidential Transition Team in 2008 and 2009. He was named a Rodel Fellow by the Aspen Institute in 2016. In 2018, Pabon also received the National Legislator of Year Award presented by the National Hispanic Conference of State Legislators.
Originally from North Denver, Pabon has been honored to represent the community he grew up in and will still have a residence there. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Heather, and two children, Alec, 5 and Arica, 3. A graduate of the University of Colorado, Pabon received degrees in both mechanical engineering and law.
Sami Davis | Senior Associate for State Affairs
Ms. Davis is now going into her fifth session in the Colorado General Assembly. For the first two sessions, Ms. Davis served as the caucus director for the Colorado Senate Majority Office under the leadership of President Bill Cadman. While there, she was an active leader on the Senate Majority Staff, charged with overseeing legislative aides and interns as well as outreach and office operations.
After serving two years there, Ms. Davis was actively recruited to join a top public affairs firm in Denver, Sewald Hanfling Public Affairs. Because of her extensive knowledge of policy, the legislative process and deep relationships, Ms. Davis has successfully passed several key pieces of legislation impacting higher education, law enforcement, financial literacy and cannabis. She has been involved in, supported, defeated, or amended numerous bills. In addition to her highly successful lobbying experience she also excels in public engagement, managing complex stakeholder relationships, and working with decision makers. She is well-versed in corporate communications, public relations and event management.
Davis graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado Denver. Upon graduating, she began her career as an associate at Novitas Communications, where she worked on media relations, corporate communications and issue management. In her spare time, she enjoys anything involving sports and the Colorado outdoors.
Wes Friednash | Associate for Local and Municipal Affairs
Wes Friednash joined Sewald Hanfling as an Associate for Local and Municipal Affairs. He is responsible for supporting the Lobbying and Strategic Communications teams on issues as they relate to local government.
Wes enjoys being actively involved in projects and policy that impacts the future of Colorado. Since joining the Sewald Hanfling team, Friednash has worked on a variety of projects that directly impact the day to day lives of local citizens, from securing funding for the e-Tuk to mitigating signage issues in Jefferson County.
Prior to joining Sewald Hanfling, Wes completed a year-long internship with the City of Denver at Denver International Airport (DEN), supporting the communications and marketing teams on campaigns including the Hotel Transit Center Project, employee events, the brand launch, and social media campaigns. In addition, he also interned for the Denver Broncos, and worked for the University of Colorado football team.
Friednash is an active member of the community, serving as the Co-Chair of the Denver Health Young Professionals Committee. He previously served on the Invest In Kids young professional board and the Mile High Young Professionals Communications Committee.
A graduate from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Wes earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication, with a minor in Technology, Arts, and Media.
Mariah Linton | Associate for State Affairs
Mariah Linton serves as an Associate for State Affairs at Sewald Hanfling. After completing an internship with the firm Mariah joined the team full-time, taking the lead on healthcare clients. Coming from a family of Colorado lobbyists, politics run in Mariah’s blood.
Mariah is passionate about representing her clients and fighting for causes that positively impact the future of Colorado. She represents Sewald Hanfling at several events and maintains working relationships with Colorado legislators for the benefit of her clients.
Mariah participates in philanthropic events benefiting St. Baldricks in raising money for children’s cancer research. She also takes part in several events throughout the year to benefit Alzheimer’s research.
A graduate from the University of Northern Colorado, Mariah graduated with a degree in Political Science and a double minor in Legal Studies and Sociology.
Mariel Snyder | Executive Assistant + Office Manager
Mariel Snyder joined Sewald Hanfling as Executive Assistant and Office Manager. She is responsible for supporting the team and maintaining the office.
Prior to joining Sewald Hanfling, Mariel worked as a Development Associate at BodeTree where she assisted senior team members in sales, as well as marketing projects and campaigns for multiple franchise brands. In addition, Mariel interned for the Starboard Group, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and U.S. Senate.
A graduate from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Mariel graduated with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Geological Sciences.
Alex silver | Executive Assistant
Alex Silver serves as an Executive Assistant at Sewald Hanfling. He is responsible for all executive/administrative duties for Josh Hanfling along with Social Media management.
Prior to beginning at Sewald Hanfling Alex worked at Thorn Run Partners, a federal policy consulting firm based in Washington D.C., where he acted as the Executive Assistant to the CEO of the health policy team. He moved to Denver in 2015 after working on a successful campaign for Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island’s current Governor.
Additionally, Alex interned for the U.S. House of Representatives prior to graduating for the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Business Administration and Spanish Language and Literature.