Communication Advisory Board

The Communication Advisory Board links the communication program at Marist College with the external professional community. Specifically, the mission of the Board is to provide guidance on current industry trends and offer links among faculty, students, and the various professional communities that comprise the communication program at Marist College.

Michael O'Brien, '86, Chair

Partner & Director, New York Client Service, Ketchum, Inc.
Lark-Marie Anton, '99 James Baumann, '90
Executive Vice President of Branding and Communication, Endurance International Experience Architect and Director, First Bourn
Thomas F. Coyne, '91                     Christine Blaine, '88
Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Coyne Public Relations     Senior Vice President, Sweety High
Jessie (Yesenia) Cruz-Troy, '95  
Account Executive, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Discovery Communications Michael O'Looney, '87
  Head of Communications, Hedge Fund Management Firm
 John Gilmartin, '75  
 Senior Producer & Director, NBC Sports                 Alvin Patrick, '86
  Specials Producer, CBS News
 Maria Gordon Shydlo, '87  
 President, Shydlo Communications      Christine Petrillo, '88
  Vice President, Client Solutions, Core Media Group
John Liporace, '88     
 Managing Partner of Taylor Global (formerly Alan Taylor Communications)  Robert Reynolds LaForty, '85
   Producer, CBS Early Show
 H. Gita McCutcheon, '00  
 Founder, Gita Group  J.W. Stewart, '93
    Sports Anchor/Reporter, NBC Connecticut

Lark-Marie Anton

larkemarieLark-Marie Anton is the Vice President, Global Public Relations at The Hertz Corporation.  She was formerly the Senior Vice President of Public Relations & Marketing for Loews Hotels where she managed the overall direction and administration of both internal and external public relations and social media activities for the Loews Hotel Brand which includes 18 luxury hotels and resorts in the U.S. and Canada. Prior to joining Loews Hotels, Lark served as the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for the Miss Universe Organization. She represented an organization that personifies the combination of beauty and intelligence that defines the women of the 21st Century. The Miss Universe Organization, producers of the MISS UNIVERSE®, MISS USA®, and MISS TEEN USA® competitions is a Donald J. Trump and NBC partnership which distributes the shows to international markets in approximately 170 countries. She also worked with MTV on the production of “Pageant Place” which followed the lives of the titleholders during their respective reigns.

Previously, Ms. Menchini was the Spokeswoman for Verizon Communications, Inc. She represented the company in New York City, where the corporation headquarters are located in Lower Manhattan. Verizon is a Fortune 10 Company on the Fortune 500 list with revenues of over $67 billion.

Ms. Menchini has served as Chief of Staff at the Community Assistance Unit for the Mayor of the City of New York, The Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg. She also worked in the Mayor’s Press Office as Deputy Press Secretary where she was responsible for overseeing press and publicity for various city agencies and offices, which included: The New York City Housing Authority, New York City Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol, Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Youth and Community Development, Department of Records and Information, Commission on Women’s Issues, Office to Combat Domestic Violence and The Art Commission to name a few. Ms. Anton was a liaison and spokeswoman for the Mayor.

Of Dominican, Spaniard and Lebanese heritage, Lark was born and raised in New York. She received her undergraduate degree from Marist College with a double major in Communications/Public Relations and Spanish and minor in Psychology. She went on to receive a Master in Communication Studies from West Virginia University in 2000. Following her graduation, Ms. Anton worked as a freelance producer on various projects such as the 2001 MTV Movie Awards and TV Funhouse on Comedy Central.

Ms. Menchini's career experience spans various Communications positions; an internship at WNBC Newschannel 4 for Senior Political Reporter Gabe Pressman, Polling Supervisor at the Marist Poll, and Public Relations Director for Khury Tours and Travel, Inc. Ms. Anton is a strong believer in the power of education and has taught as an Adjunct Instructor at Marist College and as a Teaching Assistant at West Virginia University.

Lark also devotes much of her time to her community. She is the Co-Chair of the ‘Cielo Latino’ Gala to benefit the Latino Commission on AIDS and serves on the Communication Advisory Board for Marist College. She was a Board Member of the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill, currently serves on the Junior Committee of Prospect Park in Brooklyn as well as the Junior Board of Repertorio Español and is proud to be a Founding Member of the New York Chapter of the Wheelchair Foundation. Lark was honored in 2003 with the AYUDA ‘Guiding Star’ Award. In 2004 she was included in El Diario / La Prensa as a ‘Distinguished Female of the Year’. Lark lives in Brooklyn with her husband, three children and their Havanese dog, Lola.


James Baumann

jbaumannJames Baumann is the Director of Marketing and Brand Management for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American.

James' background includes over 20 years of advertising agency and marketing experience ranging from media planning and buying to the account management of Fortune 500 accounts with clients from a variety of industries including computer hardware, software, global communications, oil & gas, fast food, retail, packaged food, travel, home furnishings, corporate insurance, and even rocket science and space technology. James’ past successes come from focusing on the client’s bottom line and delivering marketing solutions that produce results.

James is a graduate of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he earned a degree in communications and advertising and currently serves as Chairman of the Advisory Board for the School of Communication & the Arts as well as a member of the Graduate and Adult Enrollment Advisory Board. His post-graduate work includes an Advanced Advertising Strategies Certification from the University of Maryland as well as various program certificates from the American Management Association.

James lives in Patterson, New York with his wife Jessica and son Brennan.


Thomas F. Coyne

tomcoyneAs founder and chief executive officer of Coyne Public Relations, Tom Coyne has created a strategic communications firm offering a full range of marketing services to worldwide interests. Tom’s vision and dedication have helped a wide variety of organizations and individuals successfully deliver their specific messages to strategic audiences through creative communications, ranging from launching new products nationwide to managing the most delicate crisis situations.

Tom has spearheaded successful projects for some of the world’s most successful brands and numerous Fortune 500 companies including The Walt Disney Company, Shell Lubricants, Kraft Foods, The Campbell Soup Company, Verizon, Medco Health Solutions, Newell-Rubbermaid, General Mills, Cendant and Hard Rock International.

However, it is Tom’s focus on his employees that has allowed it to compete for blue-chip clients with the world’s most respected multi-national agencies. Traditional philosophy dictates that the best employees seek out agencies with the best clients; however, Coyne’s philosophy is counterculture: Attract the best people, and the best clients will seek us out. Tom’s employees are his passion; by creating the best possible work environment for all employees, the agency produces the best possible results for clients, and becomes a trusted resource for media.

The firm has grown in reputation, size, profits and spirit without losing what has made it great: the focus on the people. Tom’s philosophy can be best reflected by the agency’s mission statement: “Our mission is not to be the best agency in America, but the best one to work for. If we are the best place to work, we will get the best people. If we have the best people, we will get the best clients. If we have the best people and clients, how can we not be the best agency in America?”

Under Tom’s strategic direction, Coyne PR has garnered more than 100 industry awards for communications excellence in the past two years, including being named PRWeek’s 2009 Midsize Agency of the Year and runner up in 2011, 2009 Consumer Agency of the Year and 2009 Best Agency to Work For by The Holmes Report and PR News Midsize Agency of the Year. Additionally, Tom was recognized as a finalist for PRWeekPR Professional of the Year in 2011, a PRWeek 40 Under 40 in 2008, a finalist for PR News’ Agency Executive of the Year in 2007, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year NJ finalist, a NJBiz Top 40 Under 40 Executives, and PR Person of the Year in 2003 by the New Jersey Public Relations Society of America.


Jessie (Yesenia) Cruz-Troy

jessiecruzJessie Cruz-Troy is a Senior Account Executive in Advertising Sales at OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. The Oprah Winfrey Network is a joint venture between Discovery Communications and Oprah Winfrey, which launched in January 2011. Jessie has been with Discovery Communications for almost 17 years. In that span of time, she has had the opportunity to work on various networks from Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, and the formerly Discovery owned networks such as, BBC America and Travel Channel.

In her current position, Jessie is responsible for leading and executing the networks on-air sales and integrated marketing initiatives for clients such as, General Motors, Chase, Macy’s, Nestle, Toyota, Pfizer, and IKEA.

Her collaborative spirit earned her an Integrated Marketing Award in 2013 for the Total Integrated Lifestyle Program of IKEA’s: Life Improvement Project across all Oprah properties. This award saluted the campaigns and innovative people who’ve raised the bar on multi-platform marketing programs. This program was testament to the fact that the Oprah brand is eminently capable of working across platforms to create effective programs with great engagement.

In the Advertising community, Jessie is highly involved with organizations such as, Advertising Women in NY, the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications, and Women in Cable Telecommunications. Closer to home, Jessie is highly involved at her children’s elementary school by volunteering her time and resources on both the PTA and the School Action Team.

Jessie received a BA in Communications with a concentration in TV and Film from Marist College in 1995. Lastly, she is also a proud former HEOP student and a founding sister of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and her 2 children.


John Gilmartin

jgilmartinJohn Gilmartin has spent the majority of his career at the National Broadcasting Company. After a few months in Sales at Hyde Park radio station, WHVW, he was hired at NBC as a Page in January 1976. The responsibilities of that entry level position included giving tours of the NBC studios and seating audiences for various shows, the most exciting being Saturday Night Live, in its debut season. Experience in various departments within Radio and Television included everything from Scheduling to Sales Account Executive. In 1979, he arrived in the Sports Department beginning as a Sports Unit Manager, responsible for the financial and logistical needs of a show. John progressed through each position of the production ranks, working in edit rooms and mobile production trucks, all which prepared him for the position he holds today, Senior Producer and Director of NBC Sports and Olympics. John's credits have included work on 6 Super Bowls, 2 World Series, 12 NBA Finals, 20 Wimbledon Championships and variety of sports that have taken him around the world. He can be found on weekends directing most of the NBC Sports studio shows. He is currently preparing for his 9th Olympics, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where he will direct the Late Night Show as well as be the Senior Producer of Central Videotape in the Broadcast Center. John is a 12-time Sports Emmy winner.


Maria Gordon Shydlo


For more than 20 years, Maria has worked with clients across a wide range of business sectors to help address their communications challenges. She currently runs her own consultancy – Shydlo Communications – providing strategic consulting, implementation and on-going support for healthcare companies and professional services firms in such areas as corporate communications, community relations, internal communications and marketing.

Maria has worked in both agency and corporate environments. While she spent almost 10 years with UnitedHealthcare/Oxford Health Plans, her diverse agency experience includes senior-level executive positions at Edelman Worldwide, Ruder-Finn, Padilla Speer Beardsley and G.S. Schwartz & Co., Inc., working with clients ranging from Fortune 10 companies to venture capital-funded start-ups.

Maria graduated magna cum laude from Marist College with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, making the valedictory speech at commencements, and completed certification programs in investor relations at New York University and the University of Connecticut – Bridgeport.

Today, Maria is a Reynard member of the Marist College Alumni Board, having served as president from 2000 to 2002, is a member of the Lincoln Center Business Council and is a mentor in the New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) mentoring program. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, NYWICI, the International Association of Business Communicators, the National Investor Relations Institute, the National Association of Professional Women, the Business Council of Westchester and Women in Healthcare Management.

Committed to giving back to the community, Maria is on the board of directors of and provides marketing and communications support to Dance Forum/BodiBalance and is active in such organizations as the American Red Cross – Westchester County, the Pajama Program, the Bridgeport Rescue Mission and Charter Oak Health Center.

In her free time, Maria and her husband like to stay active by traveling, hiking, bicycling and kayaking. Maria continues to play volleyball – a passion that grew while she was at Marist – and is currently on a club team. She also is an avid movie, theater and ballet guru.

Maria lives in Pelham, N.Y., with her husband.


John Liporace

johnliporaceJohn Liporace is Managing Partner at Taylor, one of the world’s leading consumer public relations agencies. Headquartered in New York City with offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Charlotte and London, Taylor represents category-leading consumer product brands that build their business through sports and entertainment platforms.  John’s knowledge and insight has been instrumental in creating award-winning marketing communications campaigns for consumer product brands at some of the world’s leading corporations, including Proctor & Gamble and Diageo.  In 2004, John founded the JLS Foundation (, a non-profit corporation providing networking opportunities and awarding grants for college scholarships to high school students from his hometown of Hoosick Falls, NY. The Foundation was created to honor the memory of his father, John Liporace, Sr. John graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Communication Arts from Marist College. He resides in Greenwich Village.


H. Gita McCutcheon

hgmccutcheonH. Gita McCutcheon (formerly Heather Gita Sweeney) founded Gita Group with the philosophy that public relations and marketing is most successful when executed with a quality-driven strategy that genuinely aligns with each brand’s unique identity. An experienced perspective matches her intuition for public relations and marketing. Having worked at Nike Communications and Susan Magrino Agency, two of New York’s leading PR agencies, Gita had the opportunity to work with some of the most exceptional and renowned brands, paving the way for her to start her own company. Among them; Alain Ducasse, Charlie Trotter, Jacques Torres, Sirio Maccioni, The South Beach Wine & Food Festival, TurboChef Ovens, Moet & Chandon, Chambord Liqueur as well as Michelin’s inaugural guide in the United States – the launch of The Michelin Guide New York City 2006.

Since founding the company in 2006, Gita McCutcheon has created a team of passionate and creative “Supertasters,” who share the company’s philosophy. Based on the success and reputation built within the first four years, Gita Group will expand in 2010 into niche markets that are abundant with local culinary business, lifestyle and tourism. This expansion will allow businesses in these markets the benefits of working with a national PR company on a regional scale.

Gita is an advocate for the humane treatment of animals who are raised for food and handles publicity on behalf of Humane Farm Animal Care. She is also the founder of “The Lemonade Project,” a program that partners restaurants with children to teach them fundamental lessons about business from an early age.


Michael O’Brien

obrienMichael O’Brien is a Partner and Director Client Service at Ketchum. In this capacity, he focuses on enhancing and expanding client relations with an emphasis on supporting one of the agency’s longest-standing global client relationships, FedEx, among others. In addition he coaches and mentors client directors and serves as a member of the New York Executive Team.

This is Michael’s second stint with Ketchum. Previously he headed Brand Marketing at Ketchum New York. Some of the accounts under his direct leadership included the Eastman Kodak Company and Visa USA. During his tenure, Michael’s teams won every major public relations industry award including four Silver Anvils and the PRSA NY Big Apple “Best of Show”.

Most recently Michael spent four years at Cohn & Wolfe, as the Director of the Global Consumer and B2B Practice and the General Manager of the agency’s New York office. He served as a senior counselor to many clients including Nike, Ford and Panasonic.

Michael also served as the Director of Global Communications at MasterCard International. In this position Michael managed global communications strategy and implementation for consumer credit, business payments and e-commerce products. He also spent five years in various account roles at Ogilvy Public Relations.

He received a B.A. in Communications from Marist College.


Michael O'Looney

michale olooneyMichael earned a BA in Communications from Marist in 1987.  Michael currently serves as a managing director and head of corporate communications for Barclays PLC in the Americas.  Prior to Barclays, Michael ran corporate communications for Merrill Lynch.  From 2002 to 2004, Michael was deputy commissioner for public information for the New York Police Department. In that role he was the department’s chief spokesperson and a senior advisor to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Michael began his career in broadcast journalism and was an Emmy-nominated reporter for WCBS Television and a correspondent for the CBS Evening News where he covered a range of domestic and international stories.  He also worked for New York 1 News, CNBC, the Financial News Network, the Money Radio Network and WIBX News Radio. Michael serves on the board of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship at Columbia University and the advisory board of the Coalition for the Homeless.  In 2003 he was inducted into the NYPD’s Honor Legion and has appeared in the feature film City Hall and the HBO series The Sopranos.


Alvin Patrick

apatrickAlvin Patrick is a 23-year veteran of broadcast and cable network television. He has produced news, sports and entertainment programming at ABC, HBO, MTV and ESPN. He is currently a specials producer for CBS News.

Mr. Patrick was a senior producer of ABC News Nightline from 2009 to 2011. He was executive producer of ESPN First Take (formerly Cold Pizza) from 2005 to 2009. He served as a vice president and executive producer for MTV from 2001 to 2004. He was a broadcast producer for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, and a producer for ABC News’ World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Good Morning America and ABC Sports. Mr. Patrick has won numerous awards, including three national Emmy nominations, five National Association of Black Journalists awards and a Gabriel award.

Mr. Patrick holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in television production from Brooklyn College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. He lives in the New York City area with his wife of 23 years, Beverly Jocelyn-Patrick. They have two children: Arielle, a Princeton University student, and Andrew, a Yale University student.


Christine Petrillo

christine petrilloChristine Petrillo is the VP, Client Solutions, for Core Media Group. As VP of Client Solutions, Christine develops and drives CORE's sales strategy across the portfolio of branded content as well as promotional and partnership opportunities.

Christine was most recently the SVP East Coast Sales at Alloy Digital focusing on branded entertainment and content development for Fortune 500 advertisers like Revlon, Macy’s, LG, L’Oréal and Unilever. Prior to Alloy, Christine spent 20 years in ad sales at some notable publishing companies such as Condé Nast, Time Inc. Hearst, Meredith and Hachette on titles such as Glamour, Sunset, Traditional Home, Town & Country, Premiere, and TV Guide. She began her advertising career in the media department of Grey. Christine also worked for a brief period on Wall Street serving as a clerk on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Without realizing it at the time, Christine got her sales fundamentals while representing Marist as a college recruiter her senior year. It was then that she recognized her public speaking and presentation skills.

One of Christine’s passions is comedy and she used to perform in clubs throughout Manhattan. She is currently writing a book which will be a culmination of her comedy routines and humorous experiences.

A recent breast cancer survivor, Christine is dedicated to several fundraising organizations like the EIF Revlon Walk and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. She lives in Manhattan with her husband Kevin and 13 month old son Charlie.


Robert Reynolds LaForty

lafortyRobert LaForty is currently a Producer on the CBS Early Show. He works mainly on the network’s extreme weather coverage; winter storms, floods, tornados and hurricanes. He has covered approximately 15 US hurricanes, including Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ike.

In 2008 Robert broadcast live from the USS Theodore Roosevelt CVN-71 with Early Show anchor Harry Smith while the ship was at sea for Operation Enduring Freedom in the North Indian Ocean. In 2006 he also broadcast live from Iraq with Early Show weather anchor Dave Price.

Prior to CBS News he worked for 13 years at MTV Networks on such projects as the Video Music Awards, MTV’s Spring Break and MTV’s 1992 Choose or Lose election coverage where he was a recipient of the George Foster Peabody award for the ground breaking campaign.

Robert graduated from Marist in 1985 with a BA in Communications. At home he is an avid chef and collector of wine. He lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey with his wife Meredith Bennett and two sons, Colin Reynolds LaForty,  and Ryan Patrick LaForty.


J.W. Stewart

jwstewartJ.W. Stewart joined ESPN as an ESPNEWS anchor in January 2000 from Sports 1 Regional Television in New York's mid-Hudson Valley where he worked as an anchor/reporter from 1997 to 1999. He has also appeared on Sports Center - ESPN's flagship sport news and highlights program. Prior to Sports 1, Stewart was a sports writer/columnist for the Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal from 1993 to 1997.

Over his print and television career, Stewart has covered the World Series, the NCAA baseball tournament, NIT post-season tournaments, the NFL's Jets and Giants, and New York's two Major League Baseball teams, the Yankees and Mets. He also covered college football, college basketball and minor league baseball games. A native of Middletown, R.I., Stewart is a 1993 graduate of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in communications.