Our team of senior-level professionals brings skill, experience, and dedication to every program.

  • Chris Smith

    Chris founded SmithSolve in 2006 to offer more strategic and integrated communication and patient engagement programs. His experience in health communications spans more than three decades, with leadership positions in global pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and public relations firms.

    Chris and his teams are at the forefront of developing new strategies and tools to involve patients in the development and commercialization of new therapies. With deep experience in rare diseases and gene therapies, he knows how to address the scientific, medical, clinical, social, and economic aspects of bringing new medicines to patients.

    His work on behalf of dozens of biopharma companies includes corporate branding, pipeline communications, data announcements, media relations, investor events, patient advocacy, and patient engagement across many disease areas, including CNS disorders, hematology, metabolic diseases, oncology, and ophthalmology.

    Chris is a founding member of the Rare Collective®, a group of trusted advisors in orphan drug development; a faculty member of Professional Patient Advocates in the Life Sciences (PPALS); and a creator of Fast Forward for RARE, a partnership to prepare rare disease advocates to visit their legislators on Capitol Hill.

    “It’s a great feeling when clients see how communications can educate and motivate people to achieve a common goal of improved health. It strengthens their relationships, builds their reputation and speeds their success.”
  • Katie Burns

    Katie brings a decade of experience in developing integrated marketing communications programs across healthcare, business-to-business, non-profit and consumer industries. She is passionate about client service and delivering results that exceed expectations. Prior to joining SmithSolve, Katie led the healthcare practice at a boutique public relations agency where she built and executed thought-leadership, disease awareness, corporate communications and media relations programs on behalf of Merck Animal Health, Nice-Pak/PDI, BioReference Laboratories and other clients. She is certified in healthcare regulatory compliance for Public Relations, Digital Promotion, and Advertising/Promotion through the Center for Communication Compliance. Katie graduated with a B.A. in public relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and completed her Master of Business Administration at Montclair State University.


    “It’s rewarding to be part of a team that involves and empowers stakeholders to help drive healthcare forward.”
  • Tina Okun

    Tina brings more than 25 years of experience in client relations and quality management to her role at SmithSolve. She is responsible for assembling the talent needed to exceed each client’s expectations. She helps our teams anticipate problems and solve them proactively. Prior to founding SmithSolve in 2006, Tina held various leadership positions at Honeywell International, where she earned accreditation in Six-Sigma quality management processes.

    “Our teams are passionate about serving clients and giving a voice to patients. It’s rewarding to watch people grow here. It means I’m doing my job right.”
  • Bridget Moran, MPH

    Bridget is a results-driven healthcare strategist who specializes in building corporate reputations and supporting investigational and marketed products. She knows how to synthesize information into actionable insights, and clients rely on Bridget to design communication programs that tie directly to business imperatives.

    At SmithSolve, Bridget leads the corporate communications practice. She helps clients and teams anticipate and navigate defining moments ranging from initial public offerings to clinical data disclosure, product approval, and access messages. Prior to joining SmithSolve, Bridget led business development and strategy at RxMx, a health technology company focused on safety and adherence programs for specialty medicines. Bridget led strong portfolios of large global pharma, biotech, payer, and health technology companies during her tenures at both Syneos Health and Rabin Martin, a global health management consulting firm.

    Bridget holds a B.A. and an M.Ed. from the University of California at Santa Barbara and an MPH in Health Policy and Management from Columbia University. She serves on the Columbia Mailman School of Health Alumni Board.

    “At its best, corporate communications is a true business driver. I love working with our clients to refine their strategy and tackle challenges together.”
  • Alex Van Rees

    Senior Director of Client Service

    He makes it look easy.

    Alex Van Rees

    Alex develops and leads corporate, product, and patient-focused communication programs on behalf of rapidly growing biopharmaceutical companies. Working closely with his clients and teams, Alex defines a clear strategy and brings it to reality through messages, materials, and events that appeal across audiences, including reporters, analysts, physicians, patients, industry, and employees. Depending on the day, Alex may be announcing pivotal data, launching a clinical trial website, preparing for an investor event, or leading a patient panel. A five-year veteran of the SmithSolve team, Alex draws on his experience as a journalist to research and produce content that breaks through the clutter and inspires action.

    Alex is certified in healthcare regulatory compliance for Public Relations, Digital Promotion, and Advertising/Promotion through the Center for Communication Compliance. He is a graduate of James Madison University with a degree in media arts and design with a concentration in journalism and a minor in Spanish.

    “SmithSolve allows me to grow, develop and hone my communications skills in the healthcare field and ultimately reach my goal of affecting and changing people’s lives.”
  • Jim Barton


    He unlocks value for clients.

    Jim Barton

    Jim brings more than 20 years of experience in senior accounting positions for leading consulting and advertising firms. In his role at SmithSolve, Jim supports teams and clients by managing finances and analyzing data to inform decisions and maximize results. Throughout his career, Jim has guided the growth of multiple organizations through business planning, benefits administration, insurance, and more. He has a knack for understanding the story behind the numbers. Jim graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a B.B.A. in finance, and from Suffolk University with a Master of Science in accounting. He is an active member of the Institute of Management Accountants.

    “When you join SmithSolve, you quickly realize the agency is more than a business – it’s a mission to improve the lives of patients. Solid financial management makes this possible.”
  • Lisa Savitt

    Lisa brings more than a decade of experience in strategic development and execution of medical communications programs involving healthcare professionals, patients, and advocacy organizations. She thrives on providing her clients with thoughtful, exceptional service by understanding their needs and offering creative solutions to meet their strategic objectives. Lisa is passionate about details, energized by science, and motivated to help patients and their families.

    Prior to joining SmithSolve, Lisa led the editorial team at a medical communications agency where she managed advisory boards, competitive intelligence workshops, disease state education, commercial launch activities, and publication planning for medical and scientific affairs, marketing, advocacy, outcomes research, and other client teams. Past clients include Amgen, Celgene, Gilead, Pfizer, and Relypsa, among others. Lisa graduated from Dickinson College with a degree in biology and concentration in education.

    “Patients are not their disease. They are people. It is an honor and a privilege to communicate people’s stories, advocate on their behalf, and ultimately improve their lives.”
  • Rommie Carnevale

    Rommie joins SmithSolve with more than a decade of experience in marketing communications and patient engagement. He works seamlessly with patient communities, clients, and colleagues to find common ground and speed the development and acceptance of innovative new medicines. In recent years, he has empowered hundreds of patients and caregivers to share their journeys through advocacy training, story development, insights gatherings, and content creation. His intentional and caring approach to these relationships drives meaningful outcomes and successful results.

    Rommie has worked in numerous disease states including beta thalassemia, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, hemophilia, multiple sclerosis, head and neck squamous cell cancer, psoriasis, and more. His past clients include Bristol Myers Squibb, EMD Serono, Merck, and UCB.

    “Listening is the first step to understanding and improving the lives of the people we serve.”
  • Matt Pera

    Matt is a public relations and communications professional with more than 10 years of experience leading strategy and achieving measurable results for clients in the healthcare, technology, and non-profit industries. At SmithSolve, Matt works with his clients to hone their message and tell their stories in a consistent and compelling way.

    Matt draws on his experience as both a seasoned PR professional and an award-winning journalist to engage media and secure coverage of important milestones and announcements, thought leadership, and more. He is an experienced writer who has created a diverse range of content for clients, including thought leadership articles, white papers, case studies, press releases, infographics, and website copy. He has represented clients across a variety of healthcare specialties and was responsible for raising awareness and achieving industry and top-tier media placements to support researchers, entrepreneurs, and biopharma companies within the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, University of Chicago’s startup incubator and tech transfer arm. Matt earned a B.A. in journalism and English from Indiana University.

    “Our clients are dedicated to developing ways to improve – and often save – people’s lives. I’m passionate about telling those stories to advance that mission.”
  • Megan Milano

    Megan brings a decade of experience developing marketing and communications campaigns for leading health organizations such as Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, Abbott Nutrition, and Church & Dwight. With a passion for client engagement and project management, Megan is known among her peers as “pleasantly persistent” as she navigates any curveballs that come her way. She leans on data and insights to inform solutions for each client’s business challenges.

    Megan has been formally recognized for her communications work, most notably, the New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America named her one of their “15 Under 35,” the industry’s leading list of rising stars in public relations.

    Before joining SmithSolve, Megan led day-to-day planning and activations for Band-Aid Brand®, IMODIUM®, PEPCID®, and The Vitamin Shoppe, handling everything from corporate media relations and patient communications to managing KOL and influencer partnerships from conception to execution.

    Megan is certified in healthcare regulatory compliance for public relations, digital promotion, and advertising/promotion through the Center for Communication Compliance. She received her B.A. in Communications from Hunter College in New York City.

    "The secret sauce is finding the intersection between relevant cultural conversations and each client's communications objectives. From there, we create strategic programs that connect them with the communities that matter most.”
  • Erin Hering

    Drawing from a rich background in public affairs, Erin harnesses strategic communications, media relations, stakeholder engagement, policy analysis, and government affairs to advance biomedical research and improve public health.

    Prior to joining SmithSolve, Erin oversaw science communications and advocacy for the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), where she worked across disciplines and collaborated with opinion leaders, government, and industry partners to promote eye and vision research worldwide. Through these programs, she brought together diverse stakeholders and equipped them with clear messages and compelling content.

    Earlier in her career, Erin consulted for federal clients within the environmental health and public health domains on issues including indoor air quality, asthma, diabetes, digestive and kidney diseases, and HIV/AIDs. These projects focused on health and science communications strategies to curate valuable, accurate content, enhance accessibility, and optimize health outcomes.

    Erin holds a B.A. in International Studies from American University.

    “A thoughtful leadership strategy empowers clients to look beyond individual products and deliver solutions with the potential to transform lives and healthcare itself.”
  • Samantha Slaughter-Mason

    Account Director

    She’s successful by design.

    Samantha Slaughter-Mason

    Samantha brings over a decade of experience in health policy, strategic communications, and stakeholder engagement on behalf of private and public health organizations. By combining clear evidence with fresh ideas, she designs and implements strategies that can transform healthcare and improve health equity.

    Through her diverse work with regional health systems, non-profits, and government agencies, Samantha has earned a reputation as “the Leatherman” of communications professionals, because she has a tool for every situation or scales up quickly to meet the need.

    In her role at SmithSolve, Samantha partners with her teams to anticipate challenges, identify creative solutions, create compelling stories that inspire action, and bring each client’s vision to life. She is equally comfortable crafting a new corporate identity or explaining complex science.

    Before joining the agency, Samantha worked to improve customer experience for a regional private payer. Prior to that, she spent a decade helping decision-makers translate evidence into policy for high-need, low-resource populations. This included working on PCORI’s methodology for patient engagement in research, CMS’ Comprehensive Primary Care initiative, and AHRQ’s Effective Health Care program.

    As a consultant for state, federal, and private entities, she helped researchers and policymakers create and package stories to catalyze change, designed processes to engage stakeholders in decision making, and facilitated large-scale learning collaboratives on topics such as primary care transformation and medical cannabis policy.

    A serial learner, Samantha is completing her Ph.D. in health systems and policy through the Portland State University-Oregon Health & Science University School of Public Health. Her research is focused on newborn screening policies. She is certified in human-centered design through the LUMA Institute and received her B.A. in psychology and health communication from the University of Southern California and her MPH in international health from Oregon State University.

    "Being transformative doesn’t mean adding to the work we already do – it’s about fundamentally changing the way we approach the work to truly engage and empower patients.”
  • Peter Steinberg

    Director of Scientific Content

    He translates science with precision.

    Peter Steinberg

    For more than 20 years, Peter has provided specialized editorial services and strategic counsel to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medical device manufacturers, managed care organizations and professional societies. As part of the SmithSolve team since 2010, Peter researches and produces medical content for news releases, websites, corporate messages, slide presentations, review articles, newsletters, patient materials and more. Peter takes difficult scientific concepts and makes them easier to understand for a variety of audiences. He works with speed, accuracy and integrity, and has earned the respect of investigators, thought leaders, medical affairs colleagues and management teams.

    "SmithSolve represents clients with compelling research and breakthrough innovation. It’s a privilege to explain what this science means for physicians, patients and society."
  • Kathleen Hayes, MPH

    Senior Account Manager

    She does hard things well.

    Kathleen Hayes, MPH

    Kathleen brings over a decade of public health experience, drawing on a rich background in federal government, healthcare, and non-profit organizations. Her diverse background allows her to bring a unique perspective to health communications and cultivate enduring relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

    Kathleen translates complex science into stories and messages that can be easily understood by patients, advocates, the public, and other audiences. Her project management and forward-thinking strategic planning skills earned her a reputation of doing hard things well.

    Prior to joining SmithSolve, Kathleen worked at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a Designated Federal Officer (DFO) managing two high-profile advisory committees. This work involved adhering with regulatory directives and communicating appropriate information to the public to maintain transparency and support education.

    Before her tenure at FDA, she worked as a health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In her roles in the Office of Science and in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, she coordinated and managed data quality initiatives and helped to bring the latest technologies to address public health needs across the CDC. She organized and executed a variety of health communication activities, developed communication materials, and disseminated communication tools and public health messages to multiple audiences.

    Kathleen earned a Master of Public Health (MPH) in international health and a B.S. in Human Development from Oregon State University.


    “By exercising empathy, you connect with people and create opportunities to inspire and empower them.”
  • Katie Stockfisch

    Katie is an experienced event planner with a strong background in analytical writing. She is skilled at organizing programs and rallying people to bring them to life. At SmithSolve, Katie wears many hats to support clients and account teams. Depending on the day, Katie may be briefing participants in a patient advisory panel, preparing social media content, or organizing production schedules for a video shoot.

    Katie is certified in healthcare regulatory compliance for Public Relations, Digital Promotion, and Advertising/Promotion through the Center for Communication Compliance. She is a recent graduate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a B.A. in communication and a specialization in media and culture studies.

    “I love being a part of a team where I can grow personally and professionally while helping industry improve healthcare for patients, families, and physicians.”
  • Ellie Leick

    In her role at SmithSolve, Ellie draws on her experience in scientific writing and digital media to conduct research, prepare messages, and support account teams. Prior to joining the agency, she worked for a medical publisher to communicate disease and clinical trial information to oncologists. Ellie knows how to produce high-impact videos and digital content, and she tackles projects with creativity and enthusiasm. She graduated from Rowan University with a B.A. in public relations and writing.

    “I enjoy using digital media as a powerful and evolving tool to meet the needs of patient and physician communities.”
  • Nick Romano

    At SmithSolve, Nick drafts content, conducts research, tracks projects, and coordinates social media on behalf of account teams and clients. He brings a positive outlook and strong work ethic to each project and task.

    Nick joins the agency with practical experience in public relations, client communication, content development, research, and social media. Previous responsibilities include mental health advocacy and sports information for college athletics.

    He is certified in healthcare regulatory compliance for Public Relations, Digital Promotion, and Advertising/Promotion through the Center for Communication Compliance. Nick graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University, with a M.A. in communication studies, and from Seton Hall University with a B.A. in public relations and journalism.

    “Informing and inspiring patients requires a combination of teamwork and clear, compelling information.”
  • Emily Wrzos

    At SmithSolve, Emily supports clients and account teams through content development, project management, and research. She draws on her attention to detail and interpersonal skills to understand project goals and deliver positive, measurable results for clients.

    She brings to the agency experience in organizational communication, marketing, strategic public relations, and content writing in the arts and education fields. Emily also spent time in her childhood as a cardiology patient, which helps her relate to the needs and concerns of people living with serious and rare diseases.

    She graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in communications and a specialization in strategic public communication and public relations, as well as a B.A. in visual arts.

    “I combine my technical communication skills with my personal experiences to help our clients engage and empower patients and their families.”
  • Michael Sebesto

    Michael brings a wealth of hands-on experience in administration, operations, and event management to his role at SmithSolve. His responsibilities include event planning, scheduling, office management, and supporting the agency’s leaders, account teams, and clients.

    Prior to joining SmithSolve, Michael worked in the performing arts non-profit sector as an administrator of the Miami City Ballet, where he managed contracts and budgets, executed schedules for dancers, artists, and guests, and arranged extensive national tours.

    Michael is a graduate from Rider University with a Bachelor of Arts in arts administration and a minor in public relations.

    “Any great performance requires detailed planning before the curtain goes up. It’s fulfilling to work with a team that shares a common goal of transforming lives through communication and education.”
  • Wendy Overstreet

    People and Culture Manager

    She’s all about growth.

    Wendy Overstreet

    Wendy brings more than a decade of experience in talent management and employee relations to her role as people and culture manager at SmithSolve. She has a proven ability to create rewarding employee experiences for organizations in diverse industries across multiple geographies. Her skills including managing internal communications, fostering professional development, and streamlining processes.

    At SmithSolve, Wendy manages human resource programs to challenge, reward and support our teams, while promoting a workplace culture of energy and enthusiasm. By focusing on what matters most to people, she builds a foundation for SmithSolve teams to interact and collaborate in a supportive environment.

    Wendy graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business from the CUNY School of Professional Studies.

    “I am so proud to see our people and our teams combine their professional and personal missions to deliver stellar results for clients and patients.”
  • Jean Campbell

    Jean is a nationally recognized advocate for patients with rare diseases. She served the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) for nearly two decades, generating an impressive record of success in membership development, fundraising and corporate relations. As part of her consulting practice, Jean provides the SmithSolve team with valuable perspective and hands-on support. She applies her deep knowledge of non-profit governance to facilitate productive relationships between patient organizations and industry. Her counsel has helped SmithSolve introduce highly effective patient advocacy programs and tools.

    "Sometimes industry engages advocates for the sake of a concept or project. SmithSolve connects with the patient community first and foremost as people, with the goal of understanding and helping. It’s a huge difference that builds trust. We laugh a lot, too. That’s important."

“What sets SmithSolve apart is the level of strategic thinking …”

Paul G. Chaney
President and CEO
PanOptica, Inc