Our Experts

Our Experts

Paula Conway

Founder, Board Chairman

In 1997, Astonish founder Paula Conway opened up her first office on 42nd Street in the John Houseman Theatre. Still a graduate student at Columbia University — and having served as a Broadway Press Agent with Richard Kornberg Associates and Boneau/Bryan-Brown — Paula began representing creative clients including The Broadway Kids, the Kathie Lee Gifford Christmas Special and The Church of Stop Shopping.

With Weber-Shandwick Paula managed a wide variety of accounts: Microsoft Teletubbies, GE Home Appliances, Renaissance Cruise Line, Sunbeam Grills, and NASCAR events. A Vice President at Rubenstein Associates, clients included technology start-ups, investor relations, Weight Watchers, The Duchess of York, Tony Robbins, Al Roker, The Museum Company, and many high profile New York City events including technology panel discussions at the 2000 International Cannes Film Festival. With her own agency, clients have included a myriad of celebrities including ABC’s Dani Johnson, former Bachelor Lorenzo Borghese and Royal Pet Club, world renowned surgeons, food and consumer goods. Paula has been contracted with ABC Television a client for more than six years.

Initially a freelance writer for Good Housekeeping magazine, Paula has since contributed to The New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, Boston Herald, The Robb Report, and In Style magazine among many. She was a syndicated beauty writer and the travel editor for Fashion Wire Daily, travel editor for Living Fit magazine, and editor-in-chief for Delight! magazine.

The Beauty BUYble: The Best Beauty Products for 2007 was released by Harper-Collins in November, 2006. The Beauty BUYble was featured on Good Morning America, The View, Fox & Friends, and in numerous high profile print publications including People magazine and USA Today. Paula’s second book, The Everything Calorie Counting Cookbook, was published by Adams Media in 2008.  Paula published three consecutive books with Riverdale Ave Books: Throw a True Blood Party,  and two editions of Dead Sexy: The Walking Dead Fan Guide to Zombie Style, Beauty Parties and a Ghoul Lurching UnLifestyle. A celebrity hair styling book with Oscar Blandi and Kelly Ripa, is currently under completion with Wiley Publishing.

For American Airlines, Astonish has produced a web-based TV Show, Secret Spots & Hidden Gems, and unique travel and lifestyle content for AA websites worldwide under Conway Confidential.

Paula was an intern in the White House under George H.W. Bush, and again briefly under the administration of William Jefferson Clinton.  She holds an M.F.A. from Columbia University, and a B.A. from New York University. Astonish is the culmination of years of creative work in entertainment, public relations, publishing, writing, and producing. Although Astonish may look like a PR firm, in reality it is a strategic media agency.

John Conway

John Conway


John Conway is an author and attorney with more than fifteen years experience with media, advertising,entertainment, publishing and intellectual property law. John worked for private firms and major corporations such as General Electric, Time Warner, Subway Restaurants, Pernod Ricard, Sanofi-Synthelabo Pharmaceuticals,Bristol Myers Squibb, Pfizer, American Airlines, Nestle and Barnes & Noble. John drafted and negotiated production, licensing, merchandising and advertising deals with such industry players as A&E/The History Channel Networks, ABC/Disney, Hallmark Entertainment, Sony, Warner Brothers, Paramount, NBC, PBS, HBO, Fox, and numerous independent production companies.

John focuses upon the strategic development, organization, branding, protection, licensing and commercialization of corporate intellectual property assets both for domestic and international markets. He has been involved in all aspects of the design or redesign and execution for such brands as PLAVIX®, AMBIEN®, SEAGRAMS®, CHIVAS REGAL®, SUBWAY®, LIFE®, REAL SIMPLE®, GERBERS®, EDISONLEARNING® and the PORTABLE PROFESSOR™.

As a writer, John published several books on history, as well as published several titles about constitutional law. He has served as a historical consultant for several History Channel/A&E Networks and Discovery Networks programs specializing in medieval history and the British military from the seventeenth through the early nineteenth centuries. He has published articles on travel, history and politics. He lectures on law, media and ethics.

John studied management at the Yale School of Management, intellectual property and entertainment law at the University of Baltimore School of Law, and history at Southern Methodist and Oxford Universities.

Our Experts

Stacy Callahan

Senior Vice President

Stacy Callahan brings nearly 20 years of public relations experience, including media placement, event management, strategic planning and creative development. She spent 11 years at Sony Pictures Entertainment, most recently as director of East Coast Field Operations, where she was responsible for all east coast publicity and promotional campaigns for major films. There she managed all east coast publicity and promotional campaigns for all studio film debuts.

Over the past 11 years as a publicist consultant, Stacy has represented clients in the entertainment, food and beverage, health and wellness, lifestyle and non-profit sectors with many successful national placements, most recently including Fox Business News, USA Today, Fast Company, Forbes and Cosmopolitan. Stacy is also a freelance writer with the New York Daily News and working on her first book about the best practices for small businesses and startups with media.

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J.P. Hoornstra

Executive Editor

J.P. Hoornstra has written about sports and travel for many newspapers and national periodicals. He is the author of "The 50 Greatest Dodger Games of All-Time," and was credited as a musician on the same LP as two of the original Doors.

Over the years, J.P. has interviewed a range of subjects in entertainment, sports, medicine, architecture, psychology, business, and politics.

Currently living and working in Los Angeles, J.P. covers the Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball for the Southern California News Group. He curates AllPuck.com and edits content for other Astonish properties, including Conway Confidential.

Our Experts

Dana Swinney

Senior Account Director

Prior to joining Astonish Media Group in 2007, Dana Swinney worked as a media relations expert for nearly 10 years. Dana has sharpened her skills working with the top media outlets on both the east and west coast, and every market in-between. Dana's relationships with the media are steadfast and continue to thrive. Dana has diverse clients and broad expertise including food, culinary arts, home and consumer goods, healthcare, law offices and authors.

Dana is a highly skilled practitioner; her clients regularly appear in ForbesThe Huffington PostLA TimesRedbookGood HousekeepingPreventionUS News and World Report, and on national radio, such as Bloomberg Radio and NPR, to name just a few.   She is also an expert in digital media and boasts a national roster of social media influencers whose areas of expertise span a range of topics, including: fashion, home and DIY experts, beauty, mom bloggers and many more.

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Halle Nieves

Associate Publicist

Halle started her career in publicity as an Astonish intern and was quickly promoted to an Assistant Associate Publicist.  She now serves as an Associate Publicist with Astonish where she is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of account management, including client media reports, agendas, strategy, and pitching. 

Her media placements have included results in NPR, USA Today, the New York Post, and Buzzfeed.  Already a superstar with Astonish, Halle will be with us for ten years, or likely never leave.  Why would she want to?  Oh, and she is an applauded graduate of the University of Connecticut.

Our Experts

Paula Rizzo

Media Trainer

A best-selling author and Emmy-award winning television producer for nearly 20 years, Paula Rizzo has produced health, wellness, and lifestyle segments with a range of top experts, including JJ Virgin, Jillian Michaels, and Deepak Chopra. Most recently she served as the senior health producer for Fox News Channel in New York City for more than a decade. Today, she works with experts, authors, and entrepreneurs on how to position themselves for media (traditional as well as blogs and podcasts), build their lists, and engage customers and fans for their brands, books and businesses.

Paula’s also the co-creator of Lights Camera Expert - an online course geared towards helping entrepreneurs, authors and experts get media attention.

Paula’s the founder of the productivity site ListProducer.com and best-selling author of Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed, which has been translated into 12 languages and has been featured on many media outlets including Fox News, Fox Business, Prevention, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Brides and made it on Oprah.com’s list of “Self Help Books That Actually Help.” For more go to PaulaRizzo.co.

Our Experts

Stephen M.


Stephen M. is an award-winning editor. He has also written many high-profile screenplays and books.

He prefers not to be seen, or heard, but when content needs to be edited, he’s the man. The only man.

Hoornstra discusses the top priorities for the
Los Angeles Dodgers' next general manager on "Access SportsNet LA"

Our Experts