Meet our team.

In the end people buy people: Not services, not methodologies, not solutions, but professionals who have the creativity, skills, experience and dedication to get the job done right the first time — and to leave a lasting legacy behind.

That’s exactly the kind of team we’ve assembled at Taft: Seasoned professionals with a minimum of 15 years’ experience who manage our projects with precision and dedication.

Meet our team.

Pete Taft, CEO (Cheerleading Captain) Brands/Clients Include: AT&T, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Prudential Financial, Takeda Pharmaceuticals Personal: Drummer, Husband, Dad and rabid Python fan On the iPod: Beatles, Zappa, Brubeck, Sinatra, Spamalot Quote to Live by: "So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." – Mark Twain

Messaging and presentation guru Pete Taft developed his skills over three decades of experience as a teacher, journalist, public speaker, and communications chief in both the public and private sectors, where he advised politicians, government officials and business leaders on creating and delivering mission-critical presentations. Pete began his career as a writer for major newspapers (The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer) and magazines (Readers’ Digest), then served as a senior communications deputy for New Jersey governor Jim Florio and, finally, marketing and creative chief for a corporate events firm, where he produced international events for Intel, Turner, Bell South, and others. Whether he’s writing a speech, producing a high-stakes presentation to European regulatory authorities, or creating a high-visibility press event (like the inaugural run of Amtrak’s Acela), Pete and his staff know how to pull it all together and help our clients win.

Pete Taft

Meet our team.

Mara Connolly, Executive VP, Strategic Director (The Visionary) Brands/Clients Include: Splenda, Nutella, Max Factor, Clairol, Lockheed Martin, Curiosity Kits, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a host of non-profits Personal: Stone wall builder, dog walker, Food not Bombs supporter, Mom to an interesting college student On the Bookstand: A Kindle, The New Yorker, and The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton Quote to Live by: “Dwell in possibility.” – Emily Dickinson

Nationally-recognized branding consultant Mara Connolly helps create transformational brands and identities that have launched or turned around products and businesses and made them household words. Think Splenda. Poland Spring. Nutella. In her three decades of innovative problem-solving for Taft’s and agency clients, she has won every award from advertising and marketing to videos and promos; worked on every service from financial to airlines; and sold every product category from soup to nuts. From naming to positioning to articulating the words and visuals that help a brand become the precise identity it needs to be, she’s got the knack. And recently, she has been leading Taft in applying learning from the for-profit world of marketing towards the advancement of our non-profit clients, as well.

Mara Connolly

Meet our team.

Ted Deutsch, President (Comms Counsel with a Conscience) Brands/Clients Include: AbbVie, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Sandoz, Families and Work Institute, Avis-Budget, US Chamber of Commerce, Personal: Batted against John Tudor, played at CBGB… each a decade too late On the iPod: Buddy Holly, Mark Knopler, Faure, Paul Weller, Gipsy Kings Quote to Live by: "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen” – Winston Churchill

It has become trite to talk about companies doing well by doing good, but Ted Deutsch has spent nearly two decades breathing life into that ideal from nearly every angle. He began his career helping companies and nonprofits tell their “good” stories at a Washington public affairs firm. There he promoted a post-apartheid South African development agency, helped a US multinational tackle hunger in Europe, and toiled in the trenches during the first push for healthcare reform. Next stop was a nearly decade-long move to Cendant Corporation, where he served as VP of Communications helping tell the story of major consumer brands like Century 21®,, and Avis® and Budget®, while also earning his PhD in crisis communications. During four subsequent years building a boutique agency, Ted cut his teeth consulting directly for major nonprofits like Points of Light Foundation and the Business Civic Leadership Center before spending two years as VP of Communication & Public Affairs for Sandoz Inc., the US generics arm of Novartis. Speech writing, media training, employee engagement, corporate social responsibility, promoting products, and business strategy… they all amount to storytelling, and Ted is excited to bring his craft to Taft clients.

Ted Deutsch

Meet our team.

Jayne O’Connor, Vice President, Communications Personal: Proud mom, news addict, beach lover, Pilates enthusiast On the Bookstand: The Bully Pulpit, RealWoman magazine, everything Ernest Hemingway On the iPod: Amy Winehouse, Adele, Andrea Bocelli Quote to Live by: "It always seems impossible until it's done.” — Nelson Mandela

Taft’s vice president for communications, Jayne O’Connor is an award-winning communications professional who has advised CEOs and political leaders in the private, public and non-profit sectors. She did time in the hot seat as press secretary to former New Jersey Governor and national political figure Christie Whitman, engaging in daily banter with the media, managing crisis communication and planning strategy. As a member of the governor’s management she played a role in all major decisions.

Jayne specializes in healthcare communications and marketing and philanthropy communications. She led Capital Health’s successful rebranding and reputational transformation to become a regional healthcare destination and market share leader and positioned it for the new era of healthcare reform and population management. Understanding the critical role relationships play in the selection of healthcare options, she created and published Capital Health’s RealWoman magazine, website and social media channels to facilitate engagement with the healthcare system by women in its market. RealWoman has received several national awards.

A recognized community leader with a history of service on local non-profit boards, Jayne managed Capital Health’s strategic community relations and giving.

As director of corporate communications at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Jayne supported internal and external communications and issue management for the human resources, real estate and medical imaging organizations and public relations for the company’s foundation. She also managed community relations and corporate philanthropy in the northeast region.

Jayne helped to found the Mercer County affiliate of Dress for Success and continues to serve on its board. She served on the board and executive committee of the MidJersey Chamber of Commerce and on the boards of the Trenton YWCA and Hopewell YMCA.

Jayne O’Connor

Meet our team.

Oliver Quinn, Esq. (Ethics Ace) Prior Experience: Lawyer, judge, law school administrator, state and federal government official, corporate executive Personal: Sports buff, music lover, travel enthusiast, chocoholic On the iPod: Jazz, R&B Quote to Live by: “...the tragedy in life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy is having no goal to reach.” – Dr. Benjamin E Mays

Oliver Quinn, Esq. has advised leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors on matters of law, ethics, public affairs, and management for more than 30 years. Before joining Taft and Partners, Oliver served as Corporate Vice President and Chief Business Ethics Officer at Prudential Financial where, among other things, he promoted an ethical business environment by creating communications-based solutions on topics such as ethics, conflict of interest, sales practices, employment disputes, and financial reporting. Prior to Prudential, Oliver held a variety of leading legal, policy and administrative positions in the public and private sectors, including Deputy Solicitor, United States Department of Labor; Deputy Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Labor; Administrative Law Judge, State of New Jersey; Assistant Counsel, Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives; and Assistant Dean, Rutgers School of Law. Oliver has served on numerous state and national boards, including the Ethics & Compliance Officer Association; the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey; the New Jersey Public Policy Research Institute at Rutgers; Newark Public Radio, Inc. (WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM); the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School; the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution at Cornell University; and the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. As Principal and Senior Counselor at Taft, Oliver directs the Corporate & Public Affairs Group and advises clients on compliance; ethics; dispute resolution; and risk, diversity, and conflict management.

Oliver Quinn

Meet our team.

Connie Ludwin, Operations Director Personal: Gym rat, food addict, music lover and Mom to rescue dogs Max and Maggie. On the iPod: Lucinda Williams and a little of everything else… Quote to Live by: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

We have all met people who have “type A” personalities but have you met anyone with a “type AAA” personality?

Blending skills in marketing, community relations and community relations, Connie Ludwin has been a tireless advocate and fundraiser for children for more than 25 years. Among her accomplishments is architecting an award-winning model for the only statewide collaboration of Boys & Girls Clubs in the country. As New Jersey CEO, she positioned the charity as the premier youth development agency in the State. With experience forging relationships with celebrities, athletes, political leaders and corporate executives, Connie brings instinctive public relations skills to Taft clients to create and implement strategic alliances, partnerships and cause marketing initiatives.

Born into an Air Force family in Paris, France, Connie has lived everywhere from Selma, Alabama to Tokyo, Japan. The constant moving developed her excellent interpersonal skills, which she has leveraged as a Lead New Jersey fellow and one of NJ’s most recognized leaders in corporate-nonprofit partnerships.

Connie Ludwin

Meet our team.

John Reuland, Communications Director (rhythm section [prose], choreography [presentations]) Personal: Avid runner, occasional scholar, Italophile On the Bookstand: Frank O'Hara, Montaigne, Susan Howe, I.A. Richards On the iPod: James Brown, Funkadelic, Tower of Power Quote to Live by: The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action. —John Dewey

As a Communications Director with Taft, John unities commercial experience and humanities training to transform clients’ business strategies into persuasive stories. He specializes in internal communications related to diversity and inclusion, strategy clarification, and employee engagement. Before earning his Ph.D. in English from Princeton, where he specialized in 19th- and 20th-century American literature, he worked as a Research Associate in the consulting arm of BlueCross BlueShield Association. He built on this healthcare experience in his role with the consulting firm Hay Group, in which he refined strategies for biopharmaceutical market access. Whatever the form—white paper, presentation, or social media post—John helps clients articulate strategic goals with precision. John also supports ClearPoint, the division of Taft focused exclusively on leadership communications, as a writing coach.

John Reuland

Meet our team.

Rachel Darwin, Communications Manager (Town Crier) Personal: formerly nocturnal, amateur aerialist, juggler's wife On the Bookstand: Tales of the City, Love Story, Marjorie Morningstar, Entertainment Weekly Magazine On the iPod: 80's synthpop, girly folk, dark alternative, The Cure, The Smiths, Tori Amos. Quote to Live by: “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rachel has been working in the communications business most of her life, starting with the school newspaper in Middle School. She progressed to working as a morning news producer for Fox 29 in Philadelphia, with stops along the way at Fox News Channel, 20/20, and MTV News. While working at Fox 29, Rachel filled many roles including writing, guest-booking, and updating the website. She produced a portion of the Emmy-Award-Winning newscast “Good Day Philadelphia” for six years, helping to launch a new early morning show, and improving the ratings in key demographics. Her years in TV news production have made her highly knowledgeable about what moves the media and how clients can best generate attention from the press and position their message on camera. Rachel’s role with Taft & Partners includes media relations, copywriting, social media strategy and content development and account management.

Rachel Darwin

Meet our team.

Lisa Williams, Operations Manager (Chief Sanity Officer) Personal: Mother, wife, sister, aunt, best friend, event planner, music lover and aspiring chef On the iPod: R&B, Gospel, and House Music Quote to Live by: "Courage allows me to fail and learn powerful lessons from my failures so that in the end I really didn't fail at all." – Maya Angelou

Lisa is responsible for providing operations support to the Taft and Partners team and the firm’s clients, which includes project administration, human resources, as well as marketing and business development.

Lisa brings 15 years of administrative and operations experience working within the marketing industry where she was able to garner her expertise in event management and logistics.

Lisa Williams

Meet our team.

Jesseka Kadylak, Social Media Administrator Personal: Dog snuggler, music lover, amateur curler, Food Network & HGTV aficionado On the iPod: The Beastie Boys, Dawes, Bob Marley…mostly anything but country Quote to Live by: “I like my sugar with coffee and cream.” —The Beastie Boys

Jesseka Kadylak has been working in digital media for nearly a decade, focusing much of that time on social media management, SEO best practices and community building. Her smart strategies have resulted in increased engagement, brand awareness and impressions—with social media campaigns that have resulted in up to a 400 percent increase in engagement and as many as 10 million impressions for one event.

Jesseka has an MA in Public Policy Print Journalism from American University’s School of Communication. Her past experience includes USA Today,,, Pittsburgh City Paper, (Philadelphia region), hibu, and most-recently KIWI Magazine.

In addition to staying on top of the latest social trends and platforms for her professional and personal use, Jesseka takes her passion for social media and uses it to shape young minds while teaching Multimedia Journalism at the University of Delaware. Jesseka’s role at Taft includes managing various client social media accounts, advising clients on social media strategies, setting up new accounts, and performing audits of existing accounts.

Jesseka Kadylak

Meet our team.

Anne Wallentine, Communications Coordinator (Singer with the band) Personal: traveller, art historian, sometime poet On the Bookstand: bell hooks, ee cummings, Woolf, Wilde, and Wilder On the iPod: Sufjan Stevens, Josh Ritter, Lauras Mvula and Marling Quote to Live by: “As soon as you trust yourself you will know how to live.” – Goethe

As a Communications Coordinator with Taft, Anne develops strategies and stories for our clients using her strong research, writing, and analytical skills. She holds a master’s degree from the Courtauld Institute in London, where she studied Northern Renaissance art. Having worked in environments ranging from the museum to the research lab, she brings a diversity of experience to Taft that enables her to draw unexpected connections between ideas. Anne also supports ClearPoint, the leadership communications division of Taft, as a writer and project manager.

Anne Wallentine

Meet our team.

Amy Dinger, Finance Coordinator (Adding Sense and Subtracting Senseless Money Matters) Personal: Living a wonderful life as a mother of two, nature lover, art and music enthusiast, and workout phonetic Quote to Live by: The mantra “I think I can, Yes! I can”. Sky is the limit. Teach and learn and grow! Here and now, that’s all that matters.

Amy manages all Taft finances and serves as tax liaison. She has been an successful independent accounting consultant for several years, with clients including Saint Peters University Hospital, Wells Fargo Financial Advisors and Cross Current Research. Amy received her B.S. in economics from the M.S. University in India and MBA and post-masters certification in taxation from Philadelphia University.

Amy Dinger
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