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.

Mark S. McNulty, Chief Financial Officer (Turning numbers into dollars and sense) Personal: Springsteen devotee, Philly sports fanatic, father of three boys, dedicated to all-things Cathleen (his lovely wife) On the Bookstand: Any narrative that provides behind-the-scenes stories of great successes and failures in the business world Quote to Live by: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson “Dedication [and hard work] are not the enemy of enthusiasm and fun.” — Doug Collins “Stay thirsty my friend.” — The Most Interesting Man in the World aka the Dos Equis pitch man

Mark S. McNulty is Taft & Partners’ (Taft) Chief Financial Officer and also serves in an advisory capacityto Taft Communications / Communicas, Taft’s marketing communications company. Mark provides Taft with expertise in leading young, growth-stage companies in establishing business strategies with financial acumen to deliver successful results. Most recently, Mark served as a trusted advisor in the sale of Taft’s PharmApprove LLC business to NDA Group. Prior to establishing his consulting practice, Mark led the market introduction of new color technology into the microscopy market as General Manager of Datacolor, Inc.’s ChromaCal business. Prior to Datacolor, Mark was Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Xylos Corporation, a venture capital start-up delivering innovative biomaterial solutions to the life sciences industry. Mark’s foundation with startup organizations was built over a span of 15 years during which he led the finance, information technology and administration areas at Exogen, Inc. (a company focused on the non-invasive treatment of musculoskeletal injury and disease) and Osteotech, Inc. (a worldwide leader in tissue transplant technology). Mark’s career stated at Johnson & Johnson, Inc. after graduating with a B.S. in Business Administration from Bucknell University. He also holds a Masters in Business Administration from the Rutgers Graduate School of Management.

Mark S. McNulty

Meet our team.

Connie Ludwin, Senior 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.

Jon Shure, Director Personal: Love to read and travel; I play at golf; fantasy baseball fanatic On the Bookstand: "The Grapes of Wrath," Alan Furst novels, P.G. Wodehouse, Jane Smiley On the iPod: Lucinda Williams, Motown, Beach Boys, Link Wray Quote to Live by: "I hate writing. I love having written." — Dorothy Parker

Jon Shure has spent his career communicating about policy and public affairs as a journalist, in state government, and in the nonprofit arena.

Shure started as a reporter for The Record newspaper of Bergen County, New Jersey, where his assignments included the paper’s State House and Washington bureaus. After leaving The Record, Shure served on the staff of the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commerce, Competitivenessand Consumer Protection. He was communications director for New Jersey Gov. Jim Florio’s term in office, 1990-1993.

Shure was a vice president at the Twentieth Century Fund (now The Century Foundation) in New York, a nonprofit engaged in research on national policy issues. In 1997, he founded, and until 2009 served as president of New Jersey Policy Perspective, a state research organization based in Trenton.

In 2009 Shure returned to Washington, D.C. to join the staff of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a national think tank. There, he served as director of state communications, developing messaging and providing media-related guidance for the State Priorities Partnership, a network of 42 state research and advocacy organizations.

He has been a visiting associate at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, and previously taught two courses in the political science department at Rutgers in New Brunswick: New Jersey Politics and Mass Media and US Democracy. He served on the boards of the Center for Non-Profits in New Jersey and the Maryland Center on Economic Policy.

Shure has a BS in Industrial & Labor Relations from Cornell University and a master’s in Journalism from the University of Missouri. His interests include travel, reading and maintaining three fantasy baseball teams. A native of Syracuse, New York, Shure and his wife live in Ewing, New Jersey.

Read Shure’s New Jersey policy essay, Taxaphobia: The High Cost of Low Expectations.

Jon Shure

Meet our team.

Sheila Cort, Director Personal: Mom, wife, adventurer, avid traveler, thespian On the Bookstand: The Bible, The Purpose Driven Life, Make it Stick, Into the Wild On the iPod: Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Aerosmith, Cyndi Lauper, Whitney Houston Quote to Live by: “Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Saint Francis of Assisi

Sheila delights in getting to know “you,” and it is this drive that has afforded her a long and valued career as a communications professional with a strong background in corporate and executive communications management and training. 
Over the years, she has successfully created and/or executed initiatives to support and market corporate brands, products and services, tackled brand crisis and issues management and led communications and media relations training.
Sheila first joined Taft Communications as a consultant, through BrightStar Group LLC, a strategic marketing consultancy, and helped support and manage client assignments and coaching engagements for both Taft and its leadership communications division, ClearPoint.
As an independent consultant, Sheila provided freelance and consulting services in the areas of corporate and marketing communications, public relations, business plan research and development and corporate and executive writing. Prior to that, Sheila worked at DiversityInc as a vice president of consulting, responsible for managing accounts and providing diversity management and metrics consulting to a mix of pharmaceutical, retail, chemical, insurance and manufacturing corporations. Sheila has served as vice president of corporate communications for Jackson Hewitt — the nation’s second largest tax preparation service — working closely with the C-suite and serving as corporate spokesperson, where she led national communications programs, managed brand reputation and crisis communications and conducted media and communications training for franchisees nationwide. She has also held various roles at Cendant Corporation and Burson-Marsteller.

Sheila Cort

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.

Alanna Jamieson, Communications Manager Personal: Hiking enthusiast, equestrian, spontaneous trip-taker, environmentalist, car rock star On the iPod: Aerosmith, Queen, Foo Fighters Quote to Live by: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” – Mark Twain

Alanna Jamieson is an award-winning professional with nearly a decade of communications and PR experience in highly regulated, scientific and technical industries. Alanna brings to the Taft team a diverse business background that spans a variety of settings, include corporate, agency, consulting, and start-ups. In addition to delivering creative, high-results PR support, Alanna specializes in applying a highly strategic and rigorously planned approach to the creative forays of storytelling, branding, and reputation management. For five years she served at Novartis in corporate communications and commercial operations roles, where she was responsible for media relations, digital platforms, internal communications, and philanthropy/ community relations activities. Prior to this she spent three years at MCS Public Relations in client-facing roles of increasing responsibility. She counts among her accolades a USA Today cover story and a company-wide award from Novartis for managing the communications for a division merger. Alanna enjoys translating complex technical topics for a variety of audiences. She holds an MBA from Rutgers University and a BA in English from The College of New Jersey, as well as a certificate in Project Management. Alanna is a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient and a longtime volunteer with Habitat for Humanity; she recently participated in a two-week build in Portugal with the organization’s “Global Villages” program.

Alanna Jamieson

Meet our team.

Jesseka Kadylak, Social Media Manager 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.

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 Communications 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.

Anne Wallentine, Senior 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.

Ian McGeown, Account Coordinator (Air Traffic Controller) Personal: (in-home) chef, politics nerd, sports nut On the iPod: Tame Impala, Kendrick Lamar, Cage the Elephant Quote to Live by: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul” – William Ernest Henley

As an Account Coordinator at Taft, Ian oversees a number of clients and projects, ensuring all “planes” take off on time and that there’s no congestion on the runway. Guaranteeing that deliverables deadlines are met, facilitating meetings and maintaining effective communication between Taft and its clients, are all important parts of keeping projects moving and clients happy.

A recent summa cum laude graduate of Rutgers University, Ian received a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science, minoring in Digital Communication, Information and Media. He’s used that knowledge, along with experience gained interning at Princeton Public Affairs Group and McGeown Associates (a renewable energy consulting firm) and jobs at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and the Aresty Research Center at Rutgers University, to bolster the Taft team and help its clients “win the day.”

Having worked on projects ranging from facilitating renewable energy investments in the Caribbean, to social media’s role in public interest polling, Ian brings a range of skills and experience to his work at Taft Communications.

Ian McGeown

Meet our team.

Candace Cook, Executive Assistant (Head Factotum) Personal: Wife and mother to two of the best daughters on the planet, avid reader, psychologist-wannabe On the iPod: EWF, Michael Jackson, Hall & Oates, anything with a good beat that gets you moving! Quote to Live by: "One cannot help but be in awe when contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” ~Albert Einstein

Candace joined Taft Communications in 2013, bringing 20+ years of corporate and office administrative experience. She is the behind-the-scenes partner to the CEO and senior level management, contributing both on the administrative side and day-to-day business  operations.

Candace Cook
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