Our team of senior-level professionals brings skill, experience, and dedication to every program.
President and CEO
He sees what’s possible.
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, MBA
Executive Vice President and Managing Director
She’s seriously motivated.
Katie Burns, MBA
Katie is the executive vice president and managing director of SmithSolve and is a six-year veteran of the agency. She is responsible for directing the agency’s operations to ensure it achieves its objectives effectively and efficiently. Katie brings almost two decades 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 marquee clients. She is a faculty member of the Professional Patient Advocates in Life Sciences (PPALS) and a frequent speaker on communications and patient advocacy and engagement topics.
Katie is certified in healthcare regulatory compliance for Public Relations, Digital Promotion, and Advertising/Promotion through the Center for Communication Compliance. She 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.”
Chief Operating Officer
She inspires teams to greatness.
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.”
She’s two steps ahead.
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.”
Alex Van Rees
Vice President of Client Service
He makes it look easy.
Alex Van Rees
Alex is the Vice President of Client Service at SmithSolve and a nine-year veteran of the agency. He is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing internal programs, processes, and resources to ensure high performance teams and overall agency performance. In his role in client service, Alex maintains excellent client relationships through delivery of superior insights and provides access to all network resources to ensure successful delivery against business objectives. In addition, he supports and manages business development efforts.
Prior to his role in client service, Alex developed and lead corporate, product, and patient-focused communication programs on behalf of rapidly growing biopharmaceutical companies for SmithSolve. He has extensive experience announcing pivotal data, launching corporate and clinical trial websites, preparing for investor-related events, moderating patient panels, among other activities.
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.”
He brings out the best.
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.”
He unlocks value for clients.
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.”
Wendy Overstreet, SHRM-CP
Director of People and Culture
She’s all about growth.
Wendy Overstreet, SHRM-CP
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.”
Senior Account Director
He helps clients shine.
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.”
She's real, and it works.
Susan brings 20 years’ experience working with communities and healthcare clients in communications, advocacy, policy development, and consulting to improve outcomes for individuals affected by disease. At SmithSolve, she partners with clients to tell their stories and advance their work in developing therapies for devastating and life-threatening diseases.
Before joining the agency, Susan helped a variety of clients reduce health disparities and improve the patient experience in healthcare delivery. She worked with researchers to integrate the patient voice in clinical research and development and to increase diversity in clinical trial participation. Part of this work included engaging communities in education on the research process and leading them through their own community-based research projects.
In the state of Oregon, Susan has worked with rural health practices to improve health and health care delivery and reduce urban-rural health disparities. She helped healthcare centers incorporate shared decision making and comprehensive primary practices into their patient interactions.
She has also worked on federal, state, and local drug and alcohol addiction research, policy, and communications advocating for evidence-based treatment and prevention. Susan is certified in healthcare regulatory compliance for Public Relations, Digital Promotion, and Advertising/Promotion through the Center for Communication Compliance. She earned her B.S. in Psychology and Sociology and an M.S. in Communications both from Boston University."We work on important issues for real people. It means that every success is one that really counts."
He listens, engages, and delivers.
Corey brings corporate communication skills gained through years of experience designing integrated communication and media relations programs on behalf of healthcare, consumer, and startup organizations. Prior to joining SmithSolve, he directed executive communication for a variety of healthcare clients, helping to define corporate strategies and advance innovative new therapies.
As an account director, Corey leverages this experience to develop integrated strategic communications plans that anticipate potential risks and build maximum support for companies and their products. He’s previously worked at a boutique public relations agency advising a variety of clients from publicly traded companies to startups. While at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Corey led multiyear media relations campaigns to increase the visibility of the hospital’s translational research, clinical trials, and patient stories. At Tivity Health, he helped increase awareness and utilization of population health tools for older adults through brand development, product marketing campaigns, corporate messaging, and executive visibility strategies.
Corey is certified in healthcare regulatory compliance for Public Relations, Digital Promotion, and Advertising/Promotion through the Center for Communication Compliance. He is a board member of the Public Relations Society of America Nashville chapter and graduated with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Memphis.“It’s our privilege to partner with clients who are changing the world, and it’s our priority to let people know about their positive impact on patients and society.”
He gets it done.
Ryan brings 25 years of experience in commercial communications and marketing in the life sciences industry. His work on behalf of biopharma companies includes, advisory boards, branding communications, data analytics, market access campaigns, product launches, patient advocacy and engagement, and sales force training.
Ryan’s experience spans many therapeutic areas including addiction, diabetes, neurology, oncology, and pain management. As an Account Director at SmithSolve, he partners with patient communities, clients, and teams to develop integrated programs that lead to commercial success. He is passionate about developing trusted relationships, solving problems, and delivering results.
Prior to joining SmithSolve, Ryan implemented innovative payer and patient access solutions for marketed products. He has worked on several brand launches over the course of his career on behalf of clients such as Allergan, Amgen, Novartis, Pfizer, and Sunovion.
Ryan holds an associate degree in Humanities from County College of Morris in New Jersey. He is certified in healthcare regulatory compliance for public relations, digital promotion, and advertising/promotion through the Center for Communication Compliance.“Every day is filled with challenges that can be overcome with a calm demeanor and a positive, can-do, attitude.”
She puts insights into action.
Emily joins SmithSolve with more than a decade of experience securing insights that drive drug development and commercialization for biopharma companies. At SmithSolve, she works closely with clients and teams to engage patient communities, boost disease understanding, meet critical needs of patient communities, and ultimately improve health outcomes.
Emily specializes in research projects such as needs assessments, burden of illness studies, and patient journeys. Her work includes qualitative and quantitative methods, spans global markets, and focuses on rare disease, autoimmune disorders, and oncology. Prior to SmithSolve, Emily was vice president at Fulcrum Research Group and a consultant with the primary market intelligence groups at Trinity Partners (now Trinity) and Quintiles (now IQVIA).
Emily holds a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and a minor in the history of science and medicine from the University of Michigan. She received a certificate in patient advocacy training from the Professional Patient Advocates in Life Sciences (PPALS) and Sanford Research Institute, and she is certified in healthcare regulatory compliance for Public Relations, Digital Promotion, and Advertising / Promotion through the Center for Communication Compliance.“I listen for how I can help, and strategically connect the dots between needs and solutions for both patient communities and clients.”
Director of Scientific Content
He translates science with precision.
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."
Logan Ruppel, MA
Senior Account Manager
He covers every angle.
Logan Ruppel, MA
Logan brings more than 10 years of experience in health policy research, consumer experience strategy, and public affairs. In his work across multiple industries and with dozens of state governments, Logan provides clients with data and insights that guide informed decisions, drive progress, and improve patient care.
At SmithSolve, Logan dives into complex aspects of science and healthcare to identify clear solutions and develop engaging, persuasive content. He sees the bigger picture and leverages communications to empower people to be active participants in their healthcare.
Prior to joining SmithSolve, Logan worked at the Oregon Health and Science University conducting research on behalf of state Medicaid programs. He studied health policy issues including Medicaid enrollment, Medicaid pharmacy benefits, COVID testing, and telehealth provision. Before this, Logan worked in the research and advisory practice of Gartner to help clients center the customer in their strategy and at AARP researching Medicare drug policies, private insurance coverage, and long-term care financing.
He earned a B.A. in Political Science from American University and an M.A. in Public Management from Johns Hopkins University.“Great ideas, even those that can save lives, don’t speak for themselves. They need to be given a voice.”
She cares and it shows.
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.”
She knows her audience.
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.”
She engages with empathy.
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.”
She cares about making a difference.
At SmithSolve, Lauren drafts content, conducts research, tracks and manages projects, and coordinates social media on behalf of account teams and clients. She brings a strong work ethic, good listening skills, and a positive attitude to every project. She seizes the opportunity to ask incisive questions, strengthen relationships, and deliver positive results.
Lauren joins the agency with experience in customer relations, problem solving, and marketing development. She previously managed all social media, digital content, and leasing for her firm and has experience working with healthy consumer food, beverage, beauty, and lifestyle clients. She has had experience working at home health care providing services and working within providing customer relationship management services to life science companies. Lauren has always been interested in being involved in healthcare from some people close to her suffering from rare disease.
With a passion for working to help others, Lauren values the opportunity to work in making a difference in healthcare and rare disease. She is certified in healthcare regulatory compliance for Public Relations, Digital Promotion, and Advertising/Promotion through the Center for Communication Compliance.
Lauren graduated from Rowan University with a B.A. in public relations and advertising with a minor in communications studies.“I love being a part of a team where our work is making a difference in people’s lives.”
She works from the heart.
Melanie expresses her passion for healthcare and demonstrates a sensitivity to diversity, equity, and inclusivity while working with clients. At SmithSolve, Melanie develops content, conducts research, and collaborates with her team to meet and exceed client expectations. She joins the team with healthcare experience in a skilled nursing facility where she had a role in admissions and marketing. No matter the challenge, Melanie applies equal parts critical thinking, creativity, and positivity to any project that comes her way.
She graduated from Rowan University with a B.A. in writing arts and a B.A. in sociology.“I love working with different people of diverse backgrounds and experiences. I enjoy looking at complex situations from all points of view to find the most appropriate solution.”
He shows and tells.
Drawing on his creativity and passion for helping others, Ray translates complex information into clear and compelling visuals. With experience working across a variety of design mediums, Ray believes good design can inform people, inspire action, and solve seemingly intractable problems. He finds this is particularly true when explaining science and medicine through meaningful messages that are easily understood and shared.
Ray approaches every project with a curious mind and applies his knowledge of design to deliver high-quality content.
Prior to joining SmithSolve, Ray was part of a New York Emmy-nominated team, as well as lead designer at INAGREAT, a New Jersey-based multi-media company. Ray graduated with a BFA in graphic design from Kean University.“Great stories inspire great design, and it’s a privilege to work with clients and teams with such powerful information to share.”
Manager of Workplace Experience
He's a step ahead.
Michael brings a wealth of hands-on experience in administration, operations, and event management to his role at SmithSolve. His responsibilities include employee engagement, people and culture, 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.”
Patient Advocacy Counselor
She finds common ground.
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