v-Fluence Leadership Team

Jay Byrne, president


Jay Byrne’s career spans more than 25 years with experience in public relations, campaign communications and government affairs. He has held senior communications positions at the White House, U.S. State Department, Monsanto Company and for the City of Boston. Jay has directed communications and media relations for various U.S. political campaigns, global activist campaign responses, complex litigation challenges and other international public relations initiatives.


Nina Helgeson, chief operations officer

As senior vice president and head of operations, Nina is responsible for creating and enhancing v-Fluence’s intelligence and community tools and systems. Nina has more than 15 years of experience in journalism, product development and research and has worked as a freelance writer and contractor for several website development, search engine marketing and research projects. She graduated with honors from the University of San Diego with a B.A. in Business Administration and a minor in Philosophy.


Chris Phillips, chief financial officer

Chris has more than 25 years’ experience in business, government and politics. He has held senior management, finance and policy positions with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Wilson Associates and with the United States Senate. Chris is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. He has run dozens of political and initiative campaigns throughout the U.S. and overseas. Chris is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and holds a MBA from the Wharton School of Business and a MA from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).


Erin Borrini, vice president

Erin has more than 10 years of experience in research and analytics covering online reputation management issues, marketing strategies and Web usage trends. She has worked for multiple public relations agencies serving well-known companies in the food-ag, pharmaceutical and telecom industries. Erin graduated magnum cum laude from Saint Louis University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.


Shae Johnson, vice president/senior counsel

Shae serves as vice president and senior counsel leading v-Fluence’s biotechnology practice area. Shae has over a decade of experience in public affairs and scientific communications. Prior to joining v-Fluence, Shae worked in public policy communications for Astrazeneca, where she led efforts to efficiently track and respond to online policy and corporate reputation issues. Shae also covered online media and social media culture for Mainichi Newspapers’ New York Bureau. Shae graduated with a Master of Arts degree in journalism from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Journalism from the University of Delaware.


Shawn Clubb, vice president

Shawn Clubb is a veteran print media journalist with years of experience in writing, editing and management. He brings his experience and insights to bear on areas of animal agriculture and crop protection.


Joe Scott, director

Joe Scott has more than 15 years of experience in journalism, working as a reporter and editor for St. Louis area newspapers and Patch.com. He also worked in public information for six years with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and was an information specialist in the U.S. Navy.


Steve Whitworth, director

Steve Whitworth has degrees in English from the University of Iowa and mass communications from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He covered college and professional sports and news for seven years with United Press International in New Orleans and St. Louis, and also has done free-lance reporting and writing for Bloomberg Business News and the Daniel J. Edelman PR firm. Steve worked 17 years as a reporter and city editor for The Telegraph, the daily newspaper in Alton, Illinois.


Dave Benson, director

After graduating from the University of Dayton with a B.A. in English and a minor in Psychology, Dave Benson spent 15 years as a sports journalist in the St. Louis metropolitan area. He returned to school to earn a B.S. in Secondary Education and taught middle school English for three years before joining the v-Fluence team.

Ashley Garvey, director


Ashley began working for v-Fluence in 2021 and currently focuses on monitoring issues related to crop protection and PFAS. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Communications. While there, she was a member of the Division I softball team. Ashley recently went back to school at Maryville University in St. Louis to earn her MBA with a concentration in marketing.

William Rapp, director


William began working for v-Fluence in 2022 and monitors biotechnology issues. Prior to joining the team, he earned a B.A. in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis and worked as a teaching assistant for fifth and sixth graders.

Amanda Moore, senior associate


Amanda is a senior analyst with v-Fluence and monitors issues related to crop protection. With a background in team leading and client relations, she brings a strong work ethic, thoroughness and strong communications skills to v-Fluence team.

Olivia Bradley, associate


Olivia graduated DePauw University summa cum laude with a B.A. in English and a minor in Communications. Prior to joining v-Fluence, she served as an award-winning copy editor for The DePauw newspaper and held a role specializing in project management and marketing research for a boutique advertising agency in St. Louis. Olivia joined the v-Fluence team in 2023 with a primary focus on PFAS and microplastics.

James Wachai, senior counsel


James has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, strategic communications, and user experience design research. He has worked as a strategic communications and research consultant for the African Biotechnology Stakeholders’ Forum (ABSF), PANOS Institute and Science & Development Network (SciDev.net). James has also worked as a science and technology writer and editor for publications in Kenya and abroad. In 2003, James won a press research fellowship at the prestigious Wolfson College, University of Cambridge – UK, where he researched the role of alternative media in promoting democracy in Africa. He holds a Bachelor of Education in English and Literature, Egerton University – Kenya; Postgraduate Diploma in Mass Communication from the University of Nairobi – Kenya; Master of Art in Communication, Wichita State University – USA; Master of Science in Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington – Seattle, USA.


Christopher Jones, senior counsel

Christopher Jones serves as senior counsel within the agricultural biotechnology practice group at v-Fluence. He has engaged in the research, analysis and writing of a wide range of industry and topic-specific intelligence analysis deliverables, as well as the procurement and management of external client work. Christopher has experience in management consulting, customer relationship management, strategic digital marketing, supervisory team building, business writing and project management. He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (Cal) and holds an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management (T-bird) and an MA from the School of International Service (SIS) at American University.