OUR TEAM

We are battle-tested strategists with a broad array of experiences. We don’t give cookie-cutter answers to questions no one is asking.

We get smart quickly to understand the challenge and plot a successful course. We’re directed by facts, shaped by insights, and execute at the right moment for maximum impact.

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  • Arik Ben-Zvi

    Arik Ben-Zvi

    PRESIDENT,
    CEO & FOUnder

    Arik is the President, CEO and founder of Breakwater Strategy (BWS), a boutique strategic communications firm specializing in helping clients navigate the complex conversations of today’s turbulent environment.

    An experienced strategic advisor, Arik partners with client’s leadership teams and boards to solve critical business challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities. That work includes developing and communicating compelling enterprise-level narratives, managing complex issues and crises, and building strong two-way relationships and coalitions with diverse stakeholders.

    Formerly, Arik was an Executive Managing Director and a member of the founding team at The Glover Park Group (GPG). Arik’s clients included some of the world’s largest and most dynamic businesses as they undergo periods of historic change in their industries, markets and regulatory environments. Past and current clients include Disney, Anheuser-Busch, USAA, Verizon, Ford Motor Company, UnitedHealthcare and 21st Century Fox.

    Over the course of a his nearly twenty years of professional experience, Arik has helped dozens of clients secure key business objectives, including landmark legislative and regulatory outcomes, successful navigation of potentially damaging crises, and measurable improvements to reputation among consumers, opinion leaders, investors and employees.

    In addition to his client-facing responsibilities, as President and CEO, Arik is responsible for developing the firm’s growth strategy with a focus on innovation, new business partnerships, knowledge management, and continuous improvement of client service.

    Prior to founding Breakwater, Arik worked on domestic and international political campaigns, including the Gore-Lieberman campaign and Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s 2001 campaign in Israel. Arik holds a BA in History and Political Science from Tel Aviv University. Arik serves on the board of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Victoria, and three children.

  • Jackie Cannon

    Jackie Cannon

    Vice
    President, Head of Research & Insights

    As Head of the Research and Insights team at Breakwater, Jackie leverages research to better understand people and ensure communication and business strategies are grounded in deep insight. She fuses approaches from consumer, political, social listening, and design research to find opportunities for clients across categories, especially tech, health care, CSR, and energy/sustainability.

    Jackie’s background blends experiences both on the client and agency sides. Before joining Breakwater, Jackie led Verizon’s Consumer Insights team. At one of the largest advertisers and in a fast-paced and ever-evolving tech and telecom sector, she advised marketing teams and business units and uncovered insights that drove advertising, CSR, and experience strategy.

    In addition, Jackie previously worked at the Glover Park Group (GPG) for six years. As a Grouper, Jackie collaborated across divisions using research to help solve messaging and reputational challenges for corporate, non-profit and NGO clients. She got her start working at some of DC’s most prominent strategic communications firms, including Edelman and Penn Schoen Berland (PSB).

    Jackie received her BA in Sociology/Anthropology from Colgate University and completed her MA Communications/MBA from Johns Hopkins University. A New Jersey native, Jackie now lives in Maryland with her husband, dreaming about her next international getaway or yoga retreat.

  • Abbie McDonough

    Abbie McDonough

    Vice
    President

    Abbie McDonough has more than 15 years of experience in strategic and political communications, and crisis management. She worked for 11 years on Capitol Hill for three different U.S. senators and members of Congress, constantly juggling the communications challenges that come with working for Democrats from “red” states.

    Before joining Breakwater Strategy, Abbie served as communications director for U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) for five and a half years. She crafted and executed strategic communications plans to build Sen. Heitkamp’s brand in North Dakota while developing her national profile. Abbie amplified Sen. Heitkamp’s efforts on key issues including supporting energy development during the height of the state’s energy boom, boosting and protecting access to health care, supporting working families, and standing up for Native American children. Abbie also handled the strategic communications around significant crises during her tenure with Sen. Heitkamp, including in the aftermath of a major crude oil derailment in North Dakota and during the tumultuous nomination fight of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

    Prior to working for Sen. Heitkamp, Abbie served as national press secretary for U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) where she crafted and delivered messages on key policy areas, particularly health care, energy, and job creation efforts.

    Abbie also served as communications director and spokesperson for U.S. Representative Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), while he served as a subcommittee chairman on the House Financial Services Committee during the 2008-2010 financial crisis and during the passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. She led communications efforts to amplify Rep. Kanjorski’s work as he held the first congressional hearings on the Madoff scandal and highly publicized proceedings on AIG, and as a he was a key negotiator and writer of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.

    Earlier in her career, Abbie worked at the New York public relations firm, RF|Binder; the strategic research firm, Benenson Strategy Group; and on former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles’ U.S. Senate campaign.

    Abbie graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in history. She played varsity squash. The team won the NCAA championship her senior year. Abbie lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, Jeremy, and daughters, Ruby and Hazel.

  • Lydie Neill

    Lydie Neill


    Senior Associate

    As a Senior Associate at Breakwater Strategy, Lydie assists co-founders and senior staff in the development and execution of strategic communications campaigns. Main responsibilities of her role include content development, media monitoring and analysis. Additionally, she works as a project manager, providing organizational support for the boutique firm. Prior to Breakwater, Lydie worked as a strategic communications assistant at The Glover Park Group (GPG) where she provided administrative support and assisted client teams with media monitoring and other client deliverables.

    Originally from North Carolina, Lydie is a graduate from UNC Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in Media and Journalism and a minor in Hispanic Studies. While in Chapel Hill, Lydie worked as a Public Relations and Marketing Intern for the Family Enterprise Center at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and a Public Relations Intern for Largemouth Communications, a boutique PR agency. Within both roles, Lydie assisted with social media monitoring, press releases and brand building.

  • Carina Sacchi

    Carina Sacchi

    Associate

    Carina supports the Research and Insights team in developing, executing and analyzing consumer and public opinion research. In addition to coordinating and managing research projects across the agency, Carina develops messaging materials and creative campaigns.

    Carina brings an array of experiences to the Breakwater team. She interned at Ernst & Young, managed internal and external communications for Towards a Better Latin America, and has worked in user experience and human resources.

    Originally from Lima, Peru, Carina graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in Media Studies and a minor in Psychology. She now lives in Downtown DC and enjoys exploring different areas of the city.

  • Nora Wahlbrink

    Nora Wahlbrink

    Associate

    Nora aids senior staff and founders at Breakwater in developing and executing communication strategy. Her main responsibilities include creating client deliverables and monitoring media, as well as providing administrative support to senior staff.

    Prior to joining the Breakwater team, Nora worked as an account coordinator at LEVICK, a D.C.-based crisis communications firm, where she developed strategy and content for clients in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, energy, professional services and finance, cyber security, and more. She has experience communicating around litigation, mergers and acquisitions, executive transitions, data breaches, and other issues.

    Originally from Rockville M.D., Nora graduated with honors from the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a minor in Business. During college, Nora interned at Siemens Government Technologies, the government contracting arm of the German tech giant, where she managed internal communications channels and assisted with media relations and crisis matters.

  • Jim Wyderko

    Jim Wyderko

    Associate

    Jim assists senior staff and founding members in creating strategic communications campaigns and developing impactful messaging materials. His main responsibilities include producing content, tracking and analyzing media, and providing administrative support for clients and accounts.

    Prior to joining Breakwater, Jim interned in the Obama-Biden White House, US Department of State and British Parliament, where he developed policy, messaging, and media content in a wide range of issue areas.

    Originally from Rockville, MD, Jim graduated with honors from Washington University in St. Louis with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. He also studied at the London School of Economics as part of the Hansard Society Scholars program, where he completed an undergraduate thesis analyzing the effects of the 2018 Chinese waste import ban on the infrastructure of the UK recycling economy.