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January 2020

Veteran Public Affairs Professional Joins Triad Strategies 

Longtime campaign strategist and advocacy professional Jennifer Riley has joined Triad Strategies’ growing public affairs and communications practice.

Jennifer brings two decades of high-intensity public policy campaign experience, as well as additional reach into the Philadelphia market. Coupled with deep political competency, her expertise spans advocacy campaigns, grasstops/grassroots organizing, media relations, crisis communications and event management for a variety of industry sectors.

Jen Riley Headshot 3

“Having built my career at the intersection of public policy and advocacy, I recognize and appreciate the impressive skills and talent found at Triad,” said Riley. “But most importantly, I am inspired by Triad’s creative and collaborative company culture.”

Prior to joining the team at Triad, Jennifer spent nearly 20 years at a Pennsylvania-based public relations firm, where she led the public affairs practice and served as the managing director of their Philadelphia-area office. 

“As Triad continues to grow, we are constantly looking for good talent that supports our business goals and those of our clients,” said Roy Wells, Triad president and managing partner. “Jennifer’s public affairs experience, coupled with her expertise managing business and growth in the Philadelphia market, made her a great fit.”  

Jennifer will also continue to serve as the state director for Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania, a position that she has held for nearly two years. Marsy’s Law seeks to amend the Pennsylvania constitution to include rights for victims of crime. Under her leadership, Marsy’s Law passed nearly unanimously in two consecutive legislative sessions and garnered overwhelming voter support during the 2019 general election. 

“Triad has had an exciting year of growth in public affairs, and we are looking forward to continuing that trajectory in 2020,” said Doug Rohanna, vice president, public affairs. “Jen’s background and experience complement our dynamic team, and we are thrilled she is joining us.” 

Jennifer joins the diverse team of government affairs, public affairs and strategic communications professionals at Triad who have decades of experience managing public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels.

Jennifer is a cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and resides in Malvern, PA with her husband and two children. 

Friday Happy Hour: Raining Lizards Edition


The Senate impeachment trial hit full stride this week as both sides basically retreated into their echo chambers and dutifully recited their scripted talking points. Some played with fidget spinners.

PA’s Democratic Sen. Bob Casey said the impeachment evidence, as presented, begs for calling witnesses, while Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said he hasn’t decided yet.

Topping Pennsylvania’s political news of the week, House Speaker Mike Turzai announced he will not seek reelection this year. The Allegheny County Republican was first elected to the House in 2001 and has served as speaker since 2015. He said he would assess new career opportunities as they present themselves and did not take questions during a Pittsburgh news conference.

A first-time candidate for a western PA House seat has solved the vexing challenge of name recognition. Meet Danny DeVito, a 27-year-old self-described working-class conservative who is seeking the Republican nomination in a traditional Democratic district. Spoiler alert: he looks nothing like Louie DePalma.

In a move aimed at eliminating the Democratic majority on the Pa. Supreme Court, the Republican-controlled General Assembly is advancing legislation that would put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot requiring that justices to be selected from geographic districts rather than running statewide. You can bet this will be a battle royale.

State lawmakers this week introduced bills designed to put the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education in better position to adapt to changing demographics and job markets, tight budgets and new teaching technologies. The State System schools are among many facing challenges stemming from declining enrollments.

Speaking of colleges, Penn President Amy Gutman tops the compensation list of PA private college presidents at $2.9 million. Click here to see how the rest of the PA list shakes out.

Members of the state House voted overwhelmingly to allow governmental units to charge additional fees when they get Right-to-Know requests for records intended to be used for commercial purposes. The ball is now in the Senate’s court.

Gov. Tom Wolf said he will follow through on his plan to close Retreat state prison in northeastern Pennsylvania , announced originally in August as a cost-cutting step amid a declining inmate population and rising prison costs.

Sigh. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that flu-related medical visits cost Americans about $10.4 billion annually. In Pennsylvania, there have been 40,000 confirmed flu cases so far this season. Yet, 43% of respondents to a nationwide survey said they won’t get a flu shot due to concerns about effectiveness, whether it would make them sick or about what is in the vaccine. For the record, practically every medical professional on the planet says they’re a good idea, with rare exceptions.

If the threat of flu isn’t enough to get your attention, how ‘bout that coronavirus? In China, 17 have died, and several cities have imposed travel restrictions. In the U.S., airports and health agencies are on high alert, watching for people who may have a fever and severe cough. Spring cannot arrive soon enough.

Among the country’s 100 largest metro markets, our own Steel City has been anointed the fifth best for people who work in STEM fields (that’s science, technology, engineering and math). Only Seattle, Boston, Austin and Atlanta were deemed better.

This week’s installment of We Can’t Make This Up takes us – as it so often does – to the Sunshine State, where it seems there has been quite a cold snap recently. How cold, you ask? So cold that it could cause iguanas to fall from the trees, according to weather forecasters. So, be sure to dress warmly, and consider taking an umbrella, or possibly a hard hat.

And on a sad note, we bid farewell to our friend, colleague and mentor, Tony May, who passed away on Monday. If you didn’t catch our tribute, you can find it here.

And that’s what passes for news ‘round these parts this week! Don’t get bonked by flying reptiles, and have a great, albeit essentially football-less, weekend!

Remembering Tony May

Tony May

With profound sadness, the Triad family mourns the passing of one of our own. Tony May, colleague, mentor and friend, died yesterday at the age of 77.

Tony could legitimately lay claim to multiple successful careers – news reporter and editor, spokesperson, political strategist, consultant and pundit, to name a few. Yesterday, PennLive’s Joyce Davis did a nice job of detailing Tony’s career, which you can read about here.

Today, we’d like to tell you what he meant to us.

Tony was unfailingly honest, with himself and others. It earned him immense respect, even when the truth was not kind. He didn’t invent the idea of always doing The Right Thing, but he adhered to that principle.

He was generous with his time and attention, always willing to coach up younger colleagues. His legacy is a legion of mentees.

He had a keen eye for win-win solutions. He once explained that he didn’t ask for favors, but rather presented opportunities. Today, that is one of Triad’s core values.

He was a lifetime learner, keeping up not only with news and current events, but with the evolution of the channels that distribute it. Tony stayed relevant as the art and science of communication was transformed by technology.

He was never one to hog the limelight or the credit. With an insatiable desire to educate, instruct and provide context, he made hundreds of television appearances despite his preference for being more of a listener than a talker.

He made time for and wrote checks to a variety of nonprofit organizations, promoting public broadcasting, economic education and social services. There was no friend more reliable, supportive and willing to lend a hand.

Whoever or whatever he touched is better for the experience. That includes members of the Triad family. We will miss his counsel and coaching, but we’ll honor his memory by always striving to do The Right Thing.

Friday Happy Hour: Parrothead Edition


We start out this week on a somber note, sending our most sincere condolences to the friends and family of former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, who succumbed to cancer this week. He was taken far too soon. 

Despite the fact that December job creation numbers failed to hit expectations (what, we ONLY created 145,000 new jobs? What the hell do you people want, anyway?) the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 29,000 for the first time in history yesterday. President Trump trumpeted the news on Twitter by asking how everyone’s 409(K) is doing. 409, 401, tomato, tomahto…

As tensions escalated in the Middle East this week, we all learned that is was, in fact, not simply a coincidence that a Ukraine-bound plane crashed outside of Tehran at roughly the same time the Iranians were showering the desert with missiles. Very rarely do planes simply fall out of the sky.  

Meanwhile, GOP and Democratic U.S. senators emerged from a briefing on the Iran crisis with markedly different opinions on what they just heard. And by “GOP” we mean “all of the GOP except for Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.”  

Central Pennsylvania news outlets spent the entire week camping out at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, drinking milkshakes and petting livestock. Notable this year, however, was the array of hemp-based products for sale, ushering in a new age of hemp-ness in Pennsylvania. 

And while hemp was the belle of the ball, the same cannot be said for the dairy industry, which has hit quite a rough patch in Pennsylvania. Note to readers: almond milk is not milk. As our good friend and Senior Consultant George Wolff often says, “I’ve never seen teats on an almond.”

Elected leaders across Philadelphia rallied this week to try and pry loose about $170 million from the state to remove asbestos from the city’s public schools. Yeah, that’s a pretty steep price tag, but the health of children and teachers shouldn’t be judged on how much it might cost. Ever see a hospital bill for treating a child with pediatric cancer?

Like swallows returning to Capistrano, the General Assembly will reconvene next week after a short holiday respite. And like every year since the dawn of time, there will be a new bill introduced to reduce the size of the legislature. You can set your watch by it. 

A lawmaker in Vermont has proposed legislation that would ban the use of handheld phones for anyone under the age of 21. Great idea, except that people under 21 spend a lot of time teaching those over 50 how to use their handheld phones. What will Boomers do without these handy-dandy tutors? 

The booming shale industry is getting a small taste of its first bust in Pennsylvania, as gas drillers are shedding jobs in western Pennsylvania. According to industry experts, the culprit is not a lack of demand, but rather the lack of pipelines to get said gas from point A to point B. And we know how easy it is to build pipelines around here. 

We ran across an interesting tidbit this week that should help put Pennsylvania’s infrastructure crisis in perspective for you. Lehigh Valley officials this week put pen to paper for all the projects they intend to build in the next decade, and the price tag is just north of $500 million. That’s just for the Lehigh Valley.  Now multiply that by, um… a lot. See where we are going with this?

Now we would like to introduce you to our Women on the Move 2020 section, where three deserving folks are in the news. First off, our good friend, former lawmaker and all-around awesome person Cherelle Parker was sworn in as Philadelphia City Council majority leader this week! Go get ‘em, Cherelle!

The Philadelphia Tribune this week also spilled a little ink for our own Brandi Hunter-Davenport, making her move to Team Triad!

Finally, we give a shout-out to Danielle Farber, who this week became the first-ever female Pennsylvania National Guard member to complete Army Ranger School. Congratulations, Sergeant!

And as long as we’re giving shouts out, here’s one for the longtime Senate staffer formerly known as Drew Crompton, who was sworn in this week as a judge on the Commonwealth Court. Congratulations and good luck, Judge J. Andrew Crompton!

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you back to – where else? – Florida, where police responded a distress call only to find out that the woman who was repeatedly screaming “Let me out!” was actually a parrot. In addition to wanting out, the parrot also wanted a bowl of Froot Loops.      

That’s what passes for news around here on a lovely Friday in your seat of state government. Come back next week where we will once again regale you with tales of yore. Until then, from all of us at Team Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Gas Pump Edition

Gas pump

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Friday Happy Hour 2020! We pick up where we left off in 2019, with tensions between Iran and the U.S. reaching a boiling point yesterday after our military dispatched of one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. For those worried that this action might spark a broader war with Iran, it is probably a good time to remind everyone that Iran has been at war with pretty much the entire free world since 1979.

The new year brought with it several new state laws that went into effect on Jan. 1. Among the more notable ones are raising the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21, and for the first time, the legalization of mail-in voting in Pennsylvania. And hey, speaking of voting…

After Dauphin County elected officials finally relented at the 11th hour and 59th minute, all sixty-seven counties will officially have new voting machines just in time for the 2020 elections, which, we have been told, will shatter turnout records from here to Kingdom Come.

A new federal overtime rule also kicked in on Jan. 1, guaranteeing 60,000 or so Pennsylvanians overtime pay should they work more than 40 hours a week. Which, to be fair, seems pretty fair and reasonable.  

And what would January be without the kickoff to the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, where despite the misleading name, one cannot walk in and buy a farm. There will be a delightful spread of food, and as an extra added bonus this year, a massive butter sculpture of the Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot Gritty, which will haunt your children for months to come. 

2020 will also see the kickoff to the state’s implementation of automated speed enforcement in construction zones. So if you are the type of chowderhead who speeds in work zones, the eye in the sky (or more aptly, in the Grand Cherokee) is gonna get you. 

Gov. Tom Wolf opened the new year by announcing a new multi-agency effort called Reach Out PA to help combat the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Kudos to him and his team for this new initiative, which should truly be a bipartisan effort. Wolf is getting really good at this “bipartisan” thing as his second term kicks into high gear. 

And if you have not yet watched Wolf and his second-in-command, John Fetterman, reading mean tweets about themselves, please do yourself a favor and watch. It is pure gold. 

Out in Allegheny County, health officials are planning a series of initiatives to combat climate change on the heels of a spike in poor air quality days over the last year. Maybe everyone can breathe a little easier in 2020.   

Out in Philly, Mayor Jim Kenney finished up the year by vetoing six – yes, six – bills passed by City Council, among them a community benefits bill championed by Council President Darrell Clarke and a popular wage tax rebate plan. Well now, that’s gonna leave a mark.   

Despite the vetoes, President Clarke has doubled down on his bid to cut the poverty rate in the city, with a pledge to pull 70,000 residents out of poverty over the next four years. We wouldn’t bet against him. 

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and several members of the state’s congressional delegation have signed an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to “reconsider” Roe v. Wade. You know, it was a pretty safe bet that the 2020 elections were gonna be a tad acrimonious BEFORE they signed this brief. Nothing like dumping a little gas on the electoral fire.  

As lawmakers continue to battle over the future of the fossil fuel industry, often times folks forget what the energy sector has meant to some southwestern Pennsylvania communities. Here is one such story from Beaver County, just up the Ohio River from Pittsburgh and home to the new Shell cracker plant.   

In our first We Can’t Make This Up installment of the year, we take you to – where else? – Florida, where a man was arrested this week for trying to beat up a gas pump. No matter how many times you punch it, the price is not going down, pal. 

The whole episode reminded us of a scene from the Steve Martin classic film, The Jerk. Die, gas pumper!

That’s what passes for news around here at the dawn of the decade in Harrisburg. Thanks for making us a part of your Fridays, and from all of us at Team Triad, have a great weekend!