Senior Staff

  • Amy Cradic, Chief of Staff

    Amy Cradic has more than 20 years of experience working in state government, serving most recently as the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff of Policy and Cabinet Liaison since 2013. In that capacity, she managed a 15-person policy team in Trenton and Washington, D.C. and has advised the office on state and national policy matters.

    Cradic has participated in the development and ongoing oversight of several major administration initiatives, including taking the organizational and policy lead on the Governor’s international trade trips to Mexico, Canada and the United Kingdom. She also helped launch and manage the Governor’s Facing Addiction Task Force and advanced the administration's success in providing greater access to drug treatment.

    In her capacity as Senior Policy Advisor between 2012 and 2013, Cradic supervised policy teams covering a wide range of issues, from energy and the environment to transportation and homeland security. Cradic’s major priorities included a focus on clean energy initiatives to advance Governor Christie’s Energy Master Plan goals, as well as serving as policy liaison for Atlantic City leading the launch of a public/private partnership to better deliver social services to the homeless. She was the policy lead for major agency projects, including post-storm utility infrastructure policies, statewide information technology upgrades, behavioral health delivery improvements and workforce alignment strategies.

    Cradic served in various capacities within the Department of Environmental Protection and the Commission on Higher Education. In her leadership role as Assistant Commissioner of Natural and Historic Resources, she oversaw programs ranging from coastal engineering and flood control to natural resource stewardship and management. She helped launch an energy efficiency statewide capital initiative and a sustainable funding effort to expand public amenities.

    Cradic holds Masters of Arts from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts from The College of New Jersey.

  • Gregory Acquaviva, Chief Counsel

    Gregory Acquaviva is rejoining the Christie Administration as Chief Counsel from UnitedHealth Group where he was Vice President, State Government Affairs.  Prior to joining UnitedHealth Group, Acquaviva served in several high-level positions in the Christie Administration, including Chief of Staff for Lt. Governor  Kim Guadagno and Assistant Counsel in the Governor’s Counsel’s Office. In these positions, he advised the Governor and Lt. Governor on myriad legal and policy matters including environmental, economic, energy and constitutional issues.

    Immediately prior to being Chief of Staff for Lt. Governor  Guadagno, Acquaviva served as an Assistant Counsel to Governor Christie where he provided the Governor legal advice on a wide range of constitutional, environmental, utility, agricultural, and alcohol beverage control issues.  Acquaviva joined the Christie-Guadagno Administration in March 2011, serving as the Lieutenant Governor’s Legislative and Regulatory Analyst where he advised the Lt. Governor on policy, legislative, and regulatory matters.

    Before joining the Administration, Acquaviva worked at Latham and Watkins, LLP and Gibbons, P.C. where he worked on complex commercial litigation.  Acquaviva also served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Maryanne Trump Barry of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Honorable James R. Zazzali, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

    Acquaviva received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Monmouth University, summa cum laude, and his Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall University School of Law, summa cum laude.

    A native of Middletown, Acquaviva resides in Neptune with his wife and three daughters.

  • Lisa A. Puglisi, Deputy Chief Counsel

    Lisa A. Puglisi was named Deputy Chief Counsel in March 2017.  Prior to her current mobility to the Office of the Governor, she was an Assistant Attorney General in the Division of Law, where she supervised litigation and appeals for State law enforcement agencies and personnel.  Puglisi has argued significant cases before the New Jersey Supreme Court, Appellate Division and Third Circuit concerning prosecutorial immunity, corrections and parole law.  She previously served as Chief of the State Parole Board’s legal unit and, prior to that, as a Deputy Attorney General in the Division of Law for ten years.

    Puglisi previously worked for the Office of the Governor as an Assistant Appointments Counsel in 2011 and as the Director of the Governor’s Task Force for Recidivism Reduction in 2012.

    She graduated from Rutgers College in 1992 and Widener University School of Law in 1997, and served as law clerk to the Hon. Patricia M. Richmond, J.S.C.

  • Amy Melick, Deputy Chief Counsel

    Amy E. Melick has worked for the State in various areas dealing with the Legislature since 1987. She initially worked in the Office of Legislative Services and then joined the Attorney General’s Legislative Affairs Office in 1999.  Since 2010 she has been on mobility to the Office of the Governor where she currently serves as Deputy Chief Counsel.  She graduated from Wellesley College and has a cum laude law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law.

    She is admitted to the bars of the State of New Jersey, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, and the Supreme Court of the United States.  She currently resides in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

  • David M. Reiner, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy & Cabinet Liaison

    David M. Reiner serves as the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy & Cabinet Liaison.  Prior to his current role, David most recently served as Deputy Commissioner of the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA).  In this role, Reiner led the Department’s Sandy Recovery initiatives and oversaw the monitoring of recovery operations of other State agencies receiving recovery funding from the federal Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).  Managing a federal grant budget of over $4 billion and a staff of approximately 300, he was responsible for all aspects of the recovery initiatives including organizational management, policy development, program operations, budgeting and finance, constituent and media relations, and monitoring and compliance.  Reiner previously served as Assistant Commissioner and as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Commissioner at DCA.

    Prior to joining DCA, Reiner served as Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Christie. In this role, he advised the Governor and his Senior Staff on various policy issues, including education, economic development, urban initiatives, and vulnerable populations.  Along with his team of Policy Advisors, Reiner oversaw the operations and policy development at the Departments of Education, State, Human Services, Children & Families, Corrections, and Labor & Workforce Development, as well as the Economic Development Authority, Schools Development Authority, and State Parole Board. 

    Reiner previously served as Assistant Counsel in the Governor's Authorities Unit, overseeing operations and reform initiatives at multiple State authorities and commissions.

    Prior to working in the Governor's Office, Reiner was an attorney at Lowenstein Sandler handling a variety of litigation matters. He graduated from William Paterson University magna cum laude and Rutgers School of Law in Newark. Upon graduating law school, Reiner served as a Judicial Law Clerk in the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division.

  • Jacqueline L. Halldow, Deputy Chief of Staff of Communications

    Jacqueline Lewis Halldow was named Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Christie on May 9, 2016 and  is a seasoned public sector executive with nearly 20 years experience in multiple settings.

    Immediately prior to her appointment, Ms. Halldow served as Chief of Staff at New Jersey Transit where for the past four years she was responsible for overall strategic direction, construction of a customer satisfaction measurement system, and operational oversight of rail, bus and capital programs.   In her capacity, Ms. Halldow was also charged with daily interaction with the communications team and providing leadership to both internal and external messaging.

    Prior to that Ms. Halldow was Vice President of Communication for the Rochester, New York Transportation Authority where she led a team charged with managing customer communications, internal messaging and capital program leadership.

    Ms. Halldow also served the New York State Association of Counties, working with 62 New York counties on communication, event coordination and legislative support.

    Ms. Halldow is a graduate of the College of Saint Rose (Albany, New York) and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History/ Political Science.

  • Amanda DePalma, Deputy Chief of Staff, Programming and Planning

    Amanda M. De Palma (née Gasperino) was named Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Christie on May 2, 2016.

    Immediately prior to her appointment, De Palma was the Director of Budget, Human Resources and Special Projects for Christie for President.  She returns to the Governor’s Office after having previously served as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in 2010, where she was tasked with various constituent outreach and community relations initiatives including building support for the historic Cap 2.0 property tax reform.

    Mrs. De Palma has extensive experience in organizational and structural operations over the last fifteen years, including senior-level campaign and political leadership roles at the New Jersey Republican State Committee (Executive Director); Christie for Governor (Political Director, 2009; Deputy Campaign Manager, 2013); Transition Office of the Governor-elect, Rudy Giuliani for President (N.J. Executive Director, 2008), and Tom Kean for U.S. Senate (Statewide Field Director, 2006).

    Mrs. De Palma received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Seton Hall University in South Orange.

  • Ray Brandes, Deputy Chief of Staff, Finance

    Raymond Brandes began serving as Deputy Chief of Staff for Finance for Governor Christie in December 2014. Immediately prior to that, he provided policy guidance as a Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Christie, serving in the policy office since March 2012. His policy portfolio focused on Education, Treasury, Economic Development, Labor & Workforce, Law & Public Safety and Transportation issues.  From January 2010 to March 2012, Brandes served as an Assistant Counsel in the Office of Chief Counsel to the Governor.

    Prior to joining the Christie Administration, Brandes worked as an associate in private practice for the law firm of Wolff & Samson and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Helen E. Hoens, Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.

    Brandes graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics in 2004 and also earned his law degree from Rutgers University in 2007.

    A Middlesex county native, Brandes currently resides in Morris county with his wife.

  • Bob Garrenger, Senior Special Counsel, Finance

    Robert Garrenger most recently served as Special Budget Counsel to Governor Christie. Among his duties, Mr. Garrenger was a member of the Governor's budget team and oversaw the legal sufficiency of the structure and contents of the annual State budget.

    Beginning in 1995, Mr. Garrenger served as a Deputy Attorney General and an Assistant Attorney General in the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety.  In the Attorney General’s Office, Mr. Garrenger represented the State of New Jersey and various State officials, including the Governor and the State Treasurer, in a wide variety of civil litigation. Since 1999, Mr. Garrenger has served in various legal positions in the Office of the Governor, including Senior Associate Counsel, Deputy Chief Counsel, Assistant Counsel, and Special Budget Counsel.

    Prior to his service as an Assistant Attorney General and in the Governor's Office, Mr. Garrenger worked as an associate in the Washington, D.C. firm of Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan, LLP, and served as a law clerk to the Honorable John C. Lifland of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

    A native of New Jersey, Mr. Garrenger received his Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Yale University in 1989, and earned his Juris Doctorate degree, cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School in 1992.

  • Jennifer Duffy, Appointments Director

    Mrs. Duffy was named Appointments Director on March 2017. Prior to this position Jennifer served as a Special Advisor to the Commissioner at the Department of Human Services.

    Jennifer was named Chair of the School Employee Health Benefits Plan Design Committee, and member of the State Health Benefits Plan Design Committee, where she worked successfully to negotiate a $300 million budget savings in the design of the health benefits plans for more than 300,000 active and retired public employees.

    In 2012, Mrs. Duffy was promoted to Chief of Staff at the Department of Treasury, where she led the implementation of the Governor’s Performance Budgeting Program and contributed to the development of statewide pension and health benefits reforms.

    Prior to joining the administration, Jennifer oversaw the election law compliance of major political campaigns and party committees for state and federal candidates.

    Jennifer is an honorary member of the National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration, she is also a mentor at the Center for American Women in Politics and guest lecturer at the School for Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University.

    A native of Burlington County, Jennifer is a graduate of Rutgers University with a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy.  Jennifer resides in Pennington with her husband Mark, and German Shepard, Nina.

  • John Spinello, Director of Authorities

    John Spinello serves as the director of the Governor ’s Authorities Unit, which oversees New Jersey’s independent state and bi-state authorities and commissions. Prior to joining the Governor’s Office, Spinello practiced law for more than a decade with K&L Gates, where his practice focused on regulatory counseling, project development, and appellate advocacy for clients in the energy, transportation and manufacturing industries.

    Spinello previously served as associate general counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) where he provided legal counsel to the Administrator and other agency decision- makers in Washington, D.C. and in ten regional offices.

    Prior to joining the EPA, Spinello served as assistant counsel to Governor Christie Whitman. He also held several senior positions in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

    Spinello earned a juris doctor degree from the Temple University School of Law’s evening division while working for the New Jersey State Legislature. He holds a bachelor ’s degree from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Spinello also served for six years in the United States Navy Reserve, including three years providing intelligence support for an electronic attack squadron.

  • Dennis R. Robinson, Chief of Staff to the Lt. Governor

    Dennis Robinson serves as Chief of Staff to Lt. Governor Guadagno.  As a senior member of the Christie-Guadagno Administration, he is responsible for the management of both the Office of the Lt. Governor and the New Jersey Department of State.  His work focuses on managing and implementing statewide economic growth and job creation initiatives across cabinet and executive branch departments, agencies, outside business partners and the higher education community.

    Immediately prior to his appointment, Robinson served as Chief Operating Officer of the Formula 1 Grand Prix of America organization, whose goal was to bring Formula 1 Racing to the banks of the Hudson River on an annual basis.  The Formula 1 World Championship races are televised worldwide in over 175 countries.

    Prior to his tenure at the Grand Prix of America, Robinson was President & CEO of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, where he was responsible for managing the Meadowlands Sports Complex consisting of Giants Stadium, IZOD Center, and the Meadowlands Racetrack.  In addition, the Sports Authority also managed Monmouth Park Racetrack, site of the 2007 Breeders Cup, and oversaw the operation of the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall and the Wildwood Convention Center.

    Prior to returning to the Sports Authority, Mr. Robinson was Senior Vice President, Business and League Operations for the National Basketball Association.  Mr. Robinson also served as Assistant Commissioner of the Southwest Athletic Conference as well as Assistant to the Athletic Director at the University of Houston.

    Mr. Robinson is a graduate of Wesleyan University.  He received a Master’s in Sports Management from the University of Massachusetts and an MBA from Harvard.  Most importantly, Mr. Robinson is the proud father of three wonderful children and resides in Ridgewood.

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