Leadership Team

Chempetitive Group has nearly 50 super-dynamos, each of whom craves world domination as it relates to science communications. But, when we win bouquets or awards, these are the folks who accept the credit.

Murad Sabzali, Founding Partner

Finding it difficult to make up his mind, Murad studied biology, finance and marketing. In fact, still restless, he talks about going back to study advanced physics to prove Einstein wrong. Putting aside his thirst for greater knowledge, Murad has extensive marketing communications experience from working with both start-up and well-established companies. Prior to founding Chempetitive Group, Murad held key marketing communications positions with specialty chemical companies, including Kaltron-Pettibone, fobchemicals.com, and MSDSonline. Murad also held account management, public relations and analyst relations positions at Chicago agency Slack Barshinger. Murad is skilled in developing effective advertising, PR and customer generation programs. In addition to writing a book, experimenting with acrylic paints, figuring out fly fishing, and learning to play the guitar (in an effort to revive his defunct band, Bass Pairs), Murad serves on the board of local non-profit the Geneva Foundation. He also co-founded a craft beer company, a record label, and a cleantech marketing communications agency. He has been named one of "40 under 40" by Crain's Chicago Business. He earned his B.S. from Northern Illinois University.

Jeff Bergau, Founding Partner

Jeff is the firm's chief morale officer since he is not bothered by much. Unless, that is, it involves the exploitation of the trite, like the word "solution" in marketing materials. He offers Chempetitive Group clients a solid mix of corporate and agency experience and has significant experience in strategic marketing, issues management and crisis communications in the life sciences. Before co-founding Chempetitive Group, Jeff held corporate communications positions with life science companies Monsanto Company and Calgene and marketing agency positions with Slack Barshinger and Cramer-Krasselt. Jeff also served as vice president of communications for the Illinois Biotech Industry Organization (iBIO). He is a past contributor to various trade publications and has served as a company spokesperson in both print and broadcast media. He is a co-founder of Bass Pairs and hopes to travel the world playing Zeppelin, man. He received his B.A. from Columbia College in Chicago, and his M.A. from Syracuse University.

Steve Johnson, Managing Partner

Steve is that guy that you want on your squad. Not because of his .470 OBP in high school baseball, but because he’s that ego-free guy who always seems to have the right answer. Steve brings a depth of experience to his role managing Chempetitive Group day-to-day and leading the firm's strategy and insight team. He understands what it takes to create strategic marketing programs that generate high returns on clients’ marketing investments, but he also has an uncanny ability to find the simple and effective solution to any challenging situation. Before bringing his skills to Chempetitive Group, he spent 18 years at Slack Barshinger, where he was a partner, directed a host of client services and played the role of staff psychiatrist. He earned a B.S. in Public Relations & Business Administration at Illinois State University a very long time ago.

Erik Clausen, Managing Partner

Don't get Erik talking. He's a professional storyteller. With two decades of communications and international experience under his belt, he manages Chempetitive Group day-to-day and helps clients find the right strategy for using communications to influence audiences and achieve business results. When he's not out speaking at conferences and industry events, Erik also serves as CEO of the Life Science Network, which he founded, and as an advisory board member to MendelsPod. Previously, he led the U.S. team for European PR firm College Hill Life Sciences. Prior to that, he served as vice president at international PR agency Schwartz MSL (now MSL Group), where he worked for a decade and led the firm's West Coast Life Science and Healthcare group. He once served as Chief-of-Staff and Press Secretary for a Massachusetts senator in Boston's State House and began his career on the legislative communications team at California lobbying firm L&M Law Corp. When he's not telling stories, you can find Erik running trails, working on his Jeep or playing his Fender Stratocaster... poorly. Erik earned his B.S. in Environmental Science from California State University and picked up German language skills while studying in Cologne, Germany.

Jeremiah Worth, Vice President, Client Strategy

Jeremiah has a healthy obsession with the mixture of creativity and technology, and he's successfully channeled this obsession into a passion for marketing. Having spent more than fifteen years in communications and marketing, he utilizes his experience to develop brand strategies and concepts that apply to the life sciences sector. He leads the strategic direction at the Chempetitive Group, working directly with the agency's account teams, designers, writers, developers and digital marketers to deliver impactful programs for the agency's clients. Before joining Chempetitive Group, Jeremiah held management positions within the online user experience team at Sears Holdings, working directly on Sears.com and Kmart.com. Prior to that, he spent time at mStoner, an agency in which he created and implemented digital and content marketing strategies for use exclusively in higher education. He also has extensive experience in the non-profit sector, both as a strategist and as a designer. He earned his B.S. in Computer Graphics Technology from Purdue University and was the founder of the Robot Club when he was five years old.

Jen Clancy, Vice President, Marketing

Jen brings a dynamic mix of creative and strategic marketing experience to her role overseeing and directing agency operations for our Boston office. A sponge for background knowledge in her clients’ businesses, Jen will spend hours poring through market data, delve deeper than you’d ever expect into underlying business strategy, and generally make you crazy asking “how” and “why”. But at the end of the day, she’ll have uncovered a slew of meaningful insights and strategic marketing opportunities that’ll knock your socks off. Prior to joining Chempetitive Group, Jen was a Principal at Baldwin/Clancy/Rogan Advertising where she developed the agency’s life science focus, managed overall agency operations and led strategy, planning, and implementation of integrated marketing programs for clients like PerkinElmer, Phillips Genomics, Bruker and Tecan, to name a few. When she's not creating amazing campaigns for her clients, she can be found chauffeuring her two children to an endless array of sporting and social engagements, or on the occasional game-free weekend hanging out at the MFA in Boston.

Karen Sparks, Senior Account Director, Marketing

Karen is a rare breed. Not only is she one of the very few living San Diego natives walking the Earth, but she is also an exceptional life science marketer. Karen is also our resident ray of sunshine who juggles strategy, tactics and process armed with 15 years of account management experience, a "can do" attitude, and a passion for definitive guidance and efficient project management. She joined Chempetitive Group in 2009 having previously served as an Account Supervisor at Mentus Life Science and other agencies in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In an odd departure, she admits, Karen even did a stint as Associate Publisher of trade magazine written for the construction industry. She received her B.A. in Theater from Denison University, and has found this to be applicable academic training for an account manager over the years. In fact, you might even recognize Karen from her highly memorable one line performance in an episode of TV's '7th Heaven' in 1998.

Todd Kuna, Senior Account Director, Marketing

If Chempetitive Group ever forms a volleyball team, Todd would get set a lot. Not only can he spike, but he knows his science. In a previous life, Todd analyzed cancer clinical trial samples at a University of Chicago core lab. We plucked him up and have been able to leverage his experience and turn it into valuable marketing insights. He continues to fuse the worlds of science and marketing in a way to add serious value to our clients and help them achieve their business objectives. Todd also sits on the board of Biologue Chicago and can be found around town at the beach, chasing food trucks or checking out a concert. He earned his B.S. in Biology from Calvin College.

Ken Li, Account Director, Public Relations

Ken escaped from a lab several years ago by disguising himself as a public relations professional. Since then he has been delivering award-winning programs for startup and Fortune 500 companies. Ken offers Chempetitive Group's clients media relations expertise coupled with a science background. Prior to joining Chempetitive Group, Ken headed the technology/B2B practice at public relations agency Dome HK. Ken has a strong track record generating both trade and national media. He started his career as a research scientist who studied cholesterol metabolism and development of innovative pocket protectors. He received his B.A. in Chemistry and B.S. in Biochemistry from Cornell University.

Maurissa Messier, Account Director, Public Relations

As a child, Maurissa had no idea that reading a book about the French scientist Louise Pasteur may later ignite her passion for science and a career in Public Relations with a focus on health, medicine, and science. She's held a variety of in-house, agency, and freelance positions as a PR practitioner, most notably with public, private, and non-profit organizations including Illumina, Pathway Genomics, and the Association for Molecular Pathology. Maurissa truly believes that knowledge is power – when new health and medical genetic tests were launched by 23andMe and deCODE, she quickly volunteered herself (along with her fiancé and family) to participate in early-access programs to learn more. Maurissa received her B.A in Marketing and Management with a minor in legal studies from the University of Delaware. She is a New Jersey native and currently resides in San Diego with her husband and three children.

Robin Franceschi, Director of Inbound Marketing

Robin is a master of the digital marketing dark arts with more than a decade of experience in online and life science marketing. She has been with CG since 2012 and specializes in Inbound Marketing and using great content to transport audiences through the Buyer's Journey. AdWords and Hubspot certified, proficient in a wide range of automation, advertising, design and email platforms. And, she loves California burritos and data viz. Robin is a Wildcat having earned her degree in Business Economics from the University of Arizona.

Jane Kollmer, Content Editor

Jane brings a depth of expertise in publishing, social media, editing, writing, and journalism - mostly in the medical and healthcare fields, and specifically in diagnostic imaging and oncology. For nearly five years, prior to joining Chempetitive Group, Jane has served as assistant director of communications for the University of Chicago's Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she researched, wrote, edited and managed a wide variety of content. She also served as communications manager for the Society of Nuclear Medicine and was editor of rt image, a weekly national radiology newsmagazine. She earned her B.A. in English from Immaculata University.

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