Our Team at Benchmark Strategies  

Benchmark Strategies is a Boston-based public affairs firm led by Patrick Bench. Benchmark Strategies provides strategic counsel and public affairs services to international and domestic businesses, large corporations, small businesses and non-profits. Benchmark clients include: multi-national corporations, foreign governments, Massachusetts companies, trade associations, and technology start-ups.


Benchmark Strategies specializes in economic development and strategic growth opportunities for companies looking to expand their business locally or globally.

Meet Our Team 

Patrick Bench


Patrick Bench is the Founder of Benchmark Strategies. In this role, he provides public affairs and lobbying counsel to clients. Patrick specializes in economic development and procurement advisory services. Prior to launching Benchmark Strategies, Patrick served for five years as a Vice President of Public Affairs at Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications.


Preceding Rasky Baerlein, Patrick served for five years in economic development roles in Governor Mitt Romney’s and Governor Deval Patrick’s Administrations, primarily as the Director of Business Development for the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment (MOITI). During his tenure at MOITI, Patrick managed an $800M foreign investment pipeline and collaborated with over 60 foreign companies to open their North American offices in Massachusetts. In his role, Patrick facilitated bilateral economic partnerships with more than 50 countries.  


Earlier in his career, Patrick held positions at the John Kerry 2004 Presidential Campaign as a National Advance Staffer and at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a Mutual Funds Pricing Analyst.

Patrick served as the Chairman of the 10th Annual WorldBoston Consul General Reception with Keynote Speaker, Former Ambassador to United Nations, Susan Rice. Patrick was the former president of WorldBoston Board of Directors and currently serves on the boards of Commonwealth Children’s Center and the Boston Irish Business Association. 

Patrick has been recognized as “US 40 under 40” by the Irish Echo and is an American Council of Young Political Leaders Fellow.


Patrick is a Bachelor of Political Science graduate from Providence College, with a Master of Public Administration from Suffolk University. He lives with his wife and daughters in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Aaron Saunders

Senior Vice President 

As Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Aaron Saunders focuses on the legislative, regulatory, and municipal needs of clients.
His work draws on experience in government working for Senator John Kerry, serving as Chief of Staff to State Senator Gale Candaras, and Chair of the Ludlow Board of Selectmen.  In addition to his government work, Aaron brings private sector experience in the telecommunications and brewing sectors.
In addition to his work at Benchmark, Aaron sits on the Legislative Steering Committee of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce. 
Aaron is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and resides in Western Massachusetts with his wife and three daughters.

Joseph Rull

Senior Vice President 

As Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Joseph Rull focuses on business development, real estate development, and government/community affairs. (Read his expert file here.)

Joseph is a seasoned government, political, development and operations advisor with two decades of experience at all levels. He began his career as a liaison with the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, advancing to become a Special Assistant to the late Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Joseph also worked for the Massachusetts Port Authority and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, prior to serving as the Director of Legislative Affairs for the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance for Governor Deval Patrick’s administration.

Joseph has advised on a number of political campaigns, ranging from municipal to federal government positions, including: Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Governor Deval Patrick, Lt. Governor Tim Murray, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Ed Markey, Congressman Stephen Lynch, and City Councilor Bill Linehan, among others.

Joseph served as the Field and Political Director for Martin J. Walsh’s successful run for Mayor of Boston. He was a key advisor guiding the transition from the departing Menino Administration to the Walsh Administration. Joseph joined the Walsh Administration in January 2014, when Mayor Walsh appointed him Chief of Operations for the City of Boston. In this role, Joseph was responsible for the development and maintenance of relationships, procedures and strategic operations necessary to implement the Mayor’s goals for his administration.  He also supervised the Property and Construction Management Department, Labor Relations, the Mayor’s Offices of Neighborhood Services, Intergovernmental Relations, Human Resources and Health Benefits, and the Retirement Board.

In February 2015, Joe was named the Chief Administrative Officer for the Boston 2024 Partnership, the organization seeking to bring the Olympics and Paralympic Summer Games to Boston. Following the closure of the Boston 2024 Olympic bid, Joseph founded MJR Consulting in August of 2015, a full-service general consulting firm specializing in government and community relations, real estate development, permitting, licensing, and political strategy. With his deep knowledge of Boston Planning and Development Agency and its permitting process, Joseph has had successful projects in neighborhoods across Boston. Joseph joined Benchmark Strategies in July of 2020 as a Senior Vice President.


Joseph is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Boston and resides in Norwell, Massachusetts with his family.

Elysia Rodriguez

Vice President 

Elysia joins Benchmark Strategies after more than 15 years in television news.  She worked across the country but most of her work has been in New England - with the CBS station in Providence, RI and the NBC station in Springfield, MA.  She also spent the last 6 years in Boston at NECN/NBC10 Boston then Boston 25 News.

She has covered a wide variety of topics and provided continuing coverage of events that shaped local history - including the Boston Marathon bombings and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Elysia won two New England Chapter Emmy Awards related to coverage of the 2011 Springfield, MA tornado. She also won two Associated Press Awards, as a reporter in 2009 and as an anchor in 2011.

Elysia is passionate about animals and dedicates a lot of her time to animal-based charities and organizations.  She even spent time as a volunteer penguin aquarist at the New England Aquarium.  

Elysia is a graduate of Roger Williams University, where she earned degrees in communications and political science, and lives in Southern Massachusetts.

Nicole Herendeen

Senior Public Affairs Associate

Nicole Herendeen serves as a Senior Public Affairs Associate at Benchmark Strategies. Since joining Benchmark in 2017, Nicole has managed public affairs campaigns for startups, local companies, and multinational corporations and helped facilitate a variety of international business delegation visits to Boston. Currently Nicole leads the firm’s Massachusetts public policy reporting practice, providing updates to clients on legislative committee action and bill hearings as well as news from the state Legislature, Supreme Judicial Court, and Executive Departments and Agencies.


Outside of work, Nicole is committed to staying politically engaged in the community. In 2017, she volunteered for Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s re-election campaign, working the phone banks and canvassing. Two years later, Nicole participated in the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Boston's Future Leaders (BFL) Program, a year-long program for emerging leaders under the age of 40, where she participated in sessions and workshops in management, inclusive leadership, and effective communications. She is also a member in the Young Professionals group of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (MWPC), a nonpartisan organization committed to increasing the number of women elected to public office and appointed to public policy positions.


Prior to joining Benchmark, Nicole interacted with the political system on a local level through an internship in the Office of Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5). Here, she researched legislation for the member and legislative staff on a range of topics, including immigration, cybercrime and education issues, federal laws such as No Child Left Behind Act, federal agencies (e.g., EPA), and nonprofits (e.g., ICANN). In addition, Nicole served as an intern in the Rhode Island State House with Representative Robert E. Craven, where she assisted in research and review of legislation, oversaw the passage of Representative Craven’s revenge porn and sextortion legislation by the House of Representatives, and attended bill hearings and sessions for the House Committee on Judiciary.

Nicole is a proud graduate of Providence College, where she received a degree in Political Science and English and completed the Liberal Arts Honors Program. Originally from Melrose, Nicole currently resides in South Boston, Massachusetts.

Sarah Hong

Operations Manager

Sarah Hong serves as the Operations Manager at Benchmark Strategies. As Operations Manager, Sarah focuses on operational systems, processes, and helps support the team to meet all goals set by clients. Since joining Benchmark in Fall 2020, Sarah has supported the team operationally for projects involved in transportation, real estate development, and public relations marketing while also being lead for compliance and administration. 


Prior to joining the Benchmark team, Sarah worked as an early education teacher and research assistant for different labs and centers. Sarah is a Northeastern alum with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and minor in Criminal Justice. Previously a resident of Boston for 10 years, Sarah currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Jessica Enes

Public Affairs Associate

Jessica Enes serves as a Public Affairs Associate at Benchmark Strategies. Since joining the team in the summer of 2020, Jessica has supported our team of experts through her research for local, national, and global clients and drawing essential insights from it.


Before joining the Benchmark team, Jessica interned doing marketing consulting work for a staffing and recruiting agency in Boston. She is a proud 2020 graduate from Suffolk University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing with an honors concentration in Product Innovation and Brand Marketing that she has a passion for. Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Jessica currently resides in Revere, MA.

© 2014 by Benchmark Strategies