Power couples: ROI-NJ’s unique Valentine’s Day list

The only thing more powerful than power — is love.

That’s why, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we are doing our first ROI Influencers: Power Couples list.

Like love, the selection process was random and far from scientific: It was a feeling thing. We put the idea out there to a number of folks and gathered a list of couples based on the responses.

Our hope was to have a nice mix of couples from not only a wide range of ages, but also from a variety of sectors and regions of the state.

Our wish was to send each couple to Mount Airy Lodge — where some will remember that “all you need to bring is your love of everything” — but, then, we learned the couples’ resort from those famed TV commercials from years gone by closed down more than two decades ago.

The couples are presented in alphabetical order. And, when they did not share a last name, they were listed by whichever last name came first alphabetically.

With that, the 2024 ROI-NJ Valentine’s Power Couple list:


Natasha Alagarasan and Raj Mukherji
Up and coming: She’s the communications director for Princeton Strategic Communications; he’s a rising star in the Democratic Party who won a spot in the state Senate after five terms in the Assembly — and he’s still under 40.


Paulina Banasiak and Brady O’Connor
Honeymooners: They are the newest entrants into the group, having just tied the knot. She’s the executive director of the New Jersey Offshore Wind Alliance; he’s the chief of staff of Choose New Jersey.


Justin Braz and Stephanie Lagos
On the rise: He’s now the top lobbyist for MAD Global Strategy after a stellar career in numerous government roles; she’s been the chief of staff for first lady Tammy Murphy the past six years.


Georgette and Bill Castner
South Jersey stars: She is a sitting judge on U.S. District Court of New Jersey; he is a partner at Connell Foley and a key adviser to the governor on gun issues.


Alixon Collazos and Brendan Gill
Government go-getters: She’s a newly sworn-in member of the General Assembly; he’s the head of a powerful government and public affairs firm — and a key adviser to the governor.


Sean Darcy and Laura Matos
Wise with words: Advice, strategy, consultation? Dear Abby has nothing on them. He’s the president of Round World Consulting; she’s a partner at MAD Global Strategy.


Francisco Javier Del Toro and Lilia Rios
Importing perfection: Together, they own and operate La Providencia, which brings high-quality authentic and ethnic handmade artisan products from Mexico to the U.S. — and they operate Nuuku, a jungle boutique hotel in Puerto Morelos, Mexico.


Christian Fuscarino and Aaron Williams
Love is love: Fuscarino is the executive director of Garden State Equality; Williams, a Marine veteran, is an aide to Gov. Phil Murphy.


Vin Gopal and Christina Zuk
Rising stars: He’s a state senator and key Democrat in the Legislature; she’s a lobbyist with the powerful Princeton Public Affairs Group.


Josh Henne and Jeanette Hoffman
Equal space: Guessing both sides of the aisle were filled on their wedding day. He runs Whitehorse Strategies (a Democratic-leaning government affairs firm); she runs Marathon Public Affairs (a Republican-leaning GA firm).


Jim Kehoe and Liz Thomas
South Jersey superstars: He’s the president of Tonio Burgos and Associates; she’s the CEO of Thomas/Boyd Communications.


Laurie and Kevin McCabe
It’s the couple with the most side hustles: He’s the Democratic Party chair of Middlesex County, a commissioner on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a partner at River Crossing Strategy Group; she’s the chief of staff and senior adviser to Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Sen. Joseph Vitale and Asw. Yvonne Lopez.


Monica Martinez Milan and Mark Milan
Extraordinary entrepreneurs: He’s a key leader at CenturyLink; she’s the chair of the Somerset County Business Partnership. Together, they own and operate a number of companies, including Stumpy’s Hatchet House in Green Brook.


Tammy and Phil Murphy
Power move: He’s the governor; she wants to be a U.S. senator — the potential is there for this to be the most powerful couple in state history.


Mary and Kevin O’Dowd
They figure to be the healthiest couple on list: He’s the co-CEO of Cooper University Health Care; she’s the executive director of health systems and population health integration for Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (and a former state health commissioner).


Carrie and Raj Parikh
Here’s hoping there aren’t any legal squabbles: She’s the chief privacy officer and assistant general counsel at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey; he’s a partner at Genova Burns and an influential adviser to many organizations.


Christina and Mike Renna
Figurative and literal power players in South Jersey: He’s the CEO of South Jersey Industries; she’s the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey.


Tahesha and Charles Way
They are giants in New Jersey: He’s a former NFL star and league exec turned managing member of a hedge fund (Purple Bridge Management); she’s the lieutenant governor and secretary of state of New Jersey.


Nina and Ted Wells
Still going strong: She’s still an influential attorney and leading philanthropist — and the former secretary of state under Gov. Jon Corzine; he’s one of the best white-collar lawyers in history (he’s co-chair of Litigation Department at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison) and a chair emeritus at the NAACP.