Emma Vaughn

Emma Vaughn, a Vice President with BGR’s Public Relations Practice, has a decade of strategic communications and public policy experience in politics and government. She is known for excelling in high stakes environments and operating at a campaign-level pace with a proven track record of delivering results.

Emma joined BGR following her time at the Republican National Committee (RNC), where she served most recently as the Deputy Communications Director. In this role, Emma oversaw the committee’s communications strategy, working closely with RNC Members, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, elected officials, candidates, and members of the media to drive messaging and narratives in a 24-hour news cycle. Emma was previously the National Press Secretary as the RNC’s chief spokesperson, playing a pivotal role in winning a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Emma cut her teeth in Florida, as the Communications Director and the lead on-the-record spokesperson for Trump Victory, the joint operation between the campaign and the RNC, which ultimately delivered 29 electoral votes, produced extraordinary numbers among minority communities, and flipped two congressional seats in Miami Dade County.

Emma additionally served in several communications roles in the U.S. House of Representatives for Members of Congress from Ohio and New York. During her time as Communications Director, she managed public relations outreach and organized and executed major public announcements and events.

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Emma served on the 2016 Republican National Convention’s communications team in her hometown. Emma holds a Bachelor’s degree from Loyola University of Maryland in Baltimore.

Skylar Rubin

Skylar Rubin is a Policy Analyst for BGR’s Public Relations Practice. With her expertise in graphic design, digital content creation, and strategic communications, Skylar manages BGR’s website and social media platforms, and provides branding and marketing support for the firm.  

In addition to her focus on internal communications, Skylar collaborates closely with other practice groups and their clients, lending her talents to develop impactful one-pagers, dynamic PowerPoint decks, and comprehensive long-form documents. Skylar’s ability to simplify complex ideas into visually engaging and easily understandable content proves invaluable to both her team and BGR’s clients.

Skylar’s creative expertise extends beyond static designs to include short video animations, enhancing viewer engagement and communication effectiveness in alignment with the contemporary preference for short-form video content.

Skylar started at BGR as a Clerk and Researcher in June 2022. Prior to BGR, Skylar interned for Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO-04), where she handled press duties. Skylar received a B.A. in Strategic Communications with minors in both Political Science and Studio Art from Elon University in May 2023. Skylar was born and raised in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and is an alumna of The Holton-Arms School. 

With a background in strategic communications and experience interning on Capitol Hill, Skylar brings a unique blend of communications skills and knowledge of policy to the team.

David Ferguson

David Ferguson is a Senior Director at BGR Public Relations. He draws on his expertise as a strategist and project manager to help clients design and implement customized issue advocacy and grassroots mobilization campaigns.

From 2016 until 2022, his company, Ferguson & Associates, worked with businesses, trade associations, and nonprofits to advance their public policy priorities with more than 80 U.S. Senate offices, countless offices in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Executive Branch, and state legislatures. His portfolio of work includes coalition management and customized advocacy campaigns.

Since 2005, David has worked for political candidates, advocacy groups, and policy organizations in 46 states and Washington, D.C. He served as Director of Coalitions at Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, National Field Director at the Faith & Freedom Coalition, Campaign Manager for the former Governor of Alabama Dr. Robert J. Bentley, Campaign Manager for top legislative races in Virginia and Alabama, and as Executive Director of the Maryland Republican Party.

David is a native of Albertville, Alabama, an Eagle Scout, an avid college football fan, and a graduate of the University of Alabama’s College of Commerce and Business Administration. He resides in the Washington, D.C., area with his wife and two children.

Anna Sullivan

Anna Sullivan is a Policy Analyst with BGR Public Relations. In this role she provides research, graphic design, project management, and content support to clients of the firm. Anna produces and maintains the firm’s website, marketing materials, and social media.

Anna joined BGR as a Policy Analyst in the spring of 2022 after serving as a researcher and clerk at the firm. She was the researcher for Business Roundtable’s definitive history: “Fifty Years of Business Roundtable: The Voice of America’s Leading CEOs in Washington.”

Prior to working at BGR, Anna graduated from the University of Iowa majoring in International Relations and minoring in Spanish and International Business. Throughout her time in undergrad, Anna held internships with the Biden for President campaign and the Office of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. She also worked as the Communications Associate for Bricks to Bread International, a non-profit that supports women entrepreneurs in Costa Rica. At Bricks to Bread she honed her global communications and public affairs skills while working and communicating exclusively in Spanish. She has experience in research and policy analysis through the Iowa Policy Research Organization focusing on women’s access to healthcare and international peace treaties.

Anna is originally from Minnesota and moved to Washington in January 2022.

Jo Maney

Jo Maney, Chief of Marketing and Engagement and a firm Principal, joined BGR in July 2012. She helps clients manage complex messaging challenges and execute issue advocacy campaigns that achieve results. Working with her BGR colleagues, Jo also helps manage coalitions in support of policy objectives. Additionally, she serves as President of the BGR Foundation and helps lead the firm’s marketing and public engagement efforts.

Prior to joining BGR, Jo served as the longtime Communications Director for the House Rules Committee, the influential panel that serves as the traffic cop for all significant legislation that moves through the House of Representatives. As the chief spokeswoman for the committee and Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) from 2000 to 2012, Jo provided strategic advice to members of Congress and staff and interacted daily with national and international television, print, online and radio reporters.

She also drafted op-eds, speeches and press releases, and organized hearings and press conferences for one of the most active committees on Capitol Hill. Additionally, as a member of the House Republican leadership staff, Jo had a role in developing communications strategies for major legislative battles including health care in 2010, the economic stimulus package in 2009 and anti-terrorism measures following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Jo came to Washington in 1997 and worked for two years for former representative Dan Miller (R-Fla.) and the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Census, which successfully fought against attempts to use sampling as the basis for the 2000 Decennial Census. She was a volunteer for the Bush-Cheney 2000 press advance team.

Liz Fontaine

Liz Fontaine serves as Digital Director at BGR Group. She focuses on helping clients increase and improve their digital presence. This includes changing the clients’ narratives online, boosting their social media reach and revamping websites to promote clients’ presence and leadership in their sectors. She is also experienced in targeted advertising, brand creation and digital marketing.

Before joining BGR, Liz served as Director of Communications and Programming at the McCain Institute for International Leadership in Washington, D.C. She led a five-member team that positioned the Institute as a thought leader in foreign policy. She oversaw all print and electronic communications including newsletters, brochures, event invitations, annual reports, e-newsletters and the Institute’s online presence. The McCain Institute’s social media following more than tripled under her leadership.

She was also responsible for all Institute events, including the Sedona Forum – an annual, high-level, invitation-only foreign policy discussion. Speakers have included leaders in industry, government and philanthropy such as Tony Blair, Howard Buffett, James Clapper, Elon Musk and numerous U.S. Senators.

Prior to the McCain Institute, Liz was the Creative Director at the Center for a New American Security. She was responsible for brand management, overseeing and implementing the design and production of numerous reports and promotional materials; and coordinating events, media relations and congressional outreach.

Earlier in her career, Liz worked as a journalist in Washington state.

Alex Ellis

Alex Ellis, a Senior Associate at BGR, is a seasoned professional in public relations and strategic communications, bringing a decade of experience to the firm. Since joining BGR’s Public Relations team in 2015, Alex has been instrumental in developing and executing comprehensive public relations strategies for a diverse clientele, including individuals, corporations, trade associations, and foreign governments.

Drawing on his deep understanding of media landscapes, Alex adeptly navigates political media, industry publications, and global news outlets to identify strategic opportunities and mitigate potential risks for clients. He is skilled in crafting compelling narratives, securing high-profile media placements, and effectively managing clients’ reputations during times of crisis.

Before joining BGR, Alex gained invaluable experience on Capitol Hill, serving in roles for Representative Richard Neal (D-MA) and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS). His tenure in government provided him with firsthand insight into legislative processes and policymaking, enriching his ability to navigate complex issues on behalf of clients.

Alex holds a Master of Arts with Honours in History from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, with a focus on the Islamic world and Russia. Complementing his academic pursuits, Alex has also attended the University of Mississippi and Le College International de Cannes. A graduate of Choate Rosemary Hall, Alex is an avid explorer and a devoted fan of Scottish football.

Jeffrey H. Birnbaum

Jeff Birnbaum, a principal at BGR, heads its public relations practice. He leads a team in Washington that gives strategic advice to coalitions, companies and governments about issue campaigns, earned and paid media, data-driven audience identification, and crisis communications. An award-winning journalist, Jeff has worked for several premier news outlets in the United States.

Jeff, who joined BGR in 2010, has helped run issue campaigns, design digital communications, manage coalitions, and protect and improve clients’ reputations. On behalf of a wide range of clients, he has worked with international, national and regional media.

His experience prior to joining BGR includes serving as a White House, congressional and tax reporter for the Wall Street Journal, a senior political correspondent for Time Magazine, Washington bureau chief for Fortune Magazine and a columnist for the Washington Post. He is also the author of five books about Washington including the award-winning “Showdown at Gucci Gulch,” which he wrote with Alan S. Murray, and “Fifty Years of Business Roundtable: The Voice of America’s Leading CEOs in Washington,” for which he led a writing team. In 1994, he won the Aldo Beckman Memorial Award for his coverage of the White House.

“Showdown at Gucci Gulch” won the American Political Science Association’s Carey McWilliams Award in 1988. In 1992, Jeff’s second book, “The Lobbyists,” was a Washington Post bestseller. “Madhouse,” Jeff’s third book, about President Clinton’s White House, was published in 1996. His fourth book, “The Money Men,” examines campaign fundraising and was published in 2000. For his fifth book, Jeff was hired by Business Roundtable in 2022 to write the prestigious organization’s definitive history.

Jeff was chairman of the Bryce Harlow Foundation, Washington’s leading organization of government affairs professionals, and was a longtime member of the board of the National Press Foundation.

A native of Scranton, Pa., Jeff is married with three children. He graduated with honors as an English major from the University of Pennsylvania where he was a member of the class of 1978.

Frank Ahrens

Frank Ahrens, a Principal and Head of BGR Analytics, joined the firm in 2014. He uses data analytics to help individuals, corporations and governments identify winning strategies and employs the full range of earned- and paid-media tactics to improve clients’ profiles and protect their reputations. Working with terrific BGR colleagues, Frank builds relationships with top-tier U.S. media, creates print, digital and video content and deploys the latest SEO tactics. He helps clients land high-profile op-ed placements, score coveted TV news show bookings and produce positive, fact-based content designed to win Page 1 of Google search – an indispensable skill when crisis hits. Working with BGR’s Data Science Team, Frank established BGR Analytics in 2023, which creates data-based rankings of countries and states that give clients the intelligence they need for the most important decisions they make.

Frank has arranged client interviews with Fox News, CNN, The Washington Post and major wire services. Client op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Frank’s clients have included the governments of South Korea, Panama and India, top-tier brands such as CJ Group, Bose and LSG Sky Chefs; and high-net-worth individuals in Hollywood, Europe and the Middle East.

Before coming to BGR, Frank was Vice President of Global Corporate Communications for Hyundai Motor at the automaker’s Seoul, South Korea, headquarters. He worked closely with Hyundai Motor government affairs offices in Washington and Brussels on breaking and long-range issues including labor, energy and trade. During Frank’s tenure, Hyundai was named “Fastest Growing Brand” by Interbrand in 2011 and 2012.

Frank is the author of “Seoul Man: A Memoir of Cars, Culture, Crisis, and Unexpected Hilarity Inside a Korean Corporate Titan,” the story of his three years as the only American at Hyundai Motor headquarters. It was named a Best Book of 2016 by the New York Post.

Prior to Hyundai, Frank worked for 18 years as an editor and reporter at the Washington Post. He covered the global financial crisis of 2008-2010 as well as the media and entertainment industries. Frank appeared frequently as a media industry expert on CNBC, MSNBC, PBS and other networks. He continues to write on international and industry matters, with articles appearing in Foreign Policy, Forbes, Automotive News, PR News and The Diplomat.