Our team

Allegra Poggio Rector

Head of Operations

Allegra is Head of Operations at Message Lab. She has more than a dozen years of professional experience building operational success within agencies. Her focus on people and process, and experience in communications, technical project management, business development, and integrated marketing, has helped create high-performing cultures and grow long-term partnerships. She is also a lover of trail running and a comprehensively certified pilates and yoga instructor.

Ben Worthen

CEO

Ben is CEO of Message Lab. He has spent the last several years combining journalism, data and design to help organizations create content that resonates with real people. In 2007, he joined The Wall Street Journal, where he covered the tech industry and wrote more than 50 Page One stories. Before Message Lab, Ben was editor-in-chief at Ready State and head of content at Sequoia Capital.

Derek Korte

Editorial Operations Director

Derek leads editorial operations at Message Lab. With a background in journalism, marketing, and communications, he brings more than a decade of experience developing content and brand strategy programs for companies large and small. In a previous life, he worked as an editor and writer at various digital media properties and Midwestern newspapers (with a pit stop at the Minnesota State Senate).

Elaine Choi

Head of Growth

Elaine is an ad industry veteran, with stints at Blitz, JWT, and Atmosphere under her belt. Throughout more than a decade of experience in client services, digital marketing, production, and brand strategy, she has worked closely with numerous marquee brands, including Airbnb, FX Networks and Starbucks. Her work developing branded content at MTV Networks, in particular, gives her a unique perspective on content marketing.

Jeffrey Davis

Editorial Director

A veteran of tech journalism and branded media, Jeff leads premium editorial programs for technology brands and media partners. In his first gig on the “dark side,” he was editorial director for tech PR firm LaunchSquad and led its content marketing practice. Jeff covered bubbles and busts for nine years as a founding editor of Business 2.0 magazine; was an executive editor at CNET; wrote features for The New York Times Magazine and other publications; and worked on the staffs of Harper’s, Esquire, and Mother Jones.

Jeff Jensen

Senior Digital Marketing Strategist

Jeff is a digital marketer with a wide berth of skills. Working at various agencies he’s helped all sizes of companies, from mom and pop shops to fortune 500 corporations, drive growth in traffic. With experience in SEO, analytics, content marketing, and social media he uses the best tools at hand to help his clients be successful. When he’s not running marketing campaigns, Jeff enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.

Justina Huang

Account Manager

Justina is obsessed with the client experience. With an interdisciplinary background spanning tech sales, customer success, and content strategy, she has assisted Fortune 500 companies and Big 4 consulting firms in creating compelling messages for audiences, driving stakeholder communications, and hitting sales targets. In her spare time, she probably has her face buried in a book or nuzzled next to her dogs, Millie and Nutmeg.

Kassandra Zuanich

Design Director

Kassandra is an award-winning designer with over a decade of experience in editorial and advertising. She specializes in visual storytelling and her work spans media formats from video to interactive to print. She has worked with brands such as IBM, Google, Adobe and Starbucks, and has been recognized by a variety of organizations, including Cannes, Clios, Lürzer’s Archive, Ad Age, Addys, and the Webby’s.

Kevin Gray

New York Bureau Chief

Prior to joining Message Lab, Kevin served as Executive Editor of Popular Science, overseeing coverage of hundreds of topics, including nuclear energy, cancer research, molecular science, aerospace, and consumer technology. He has deep experience producing high-impact narratives and growing audiences. As an editor, he has overseen diverse newsrooms of print, digital, video, and podcast creators. His work has appeared in Wired UK, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He has also created strategic messaging for Google, Nissan, and Symantec.

Michelle Jacobs

Visual Designer

Michelle is a multidisciplinary visual designer with a passion for exceptional digital experiences. With a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a stint in the Peace Corps, followed by a few years in IT consulting, Michelle brings a unique technical background and wide-ranging perspective. Her career has included crafting design solutions for brands like Apple, Samsung, and Clorox. In her free time she enjoys hitting the trails with her tripod pup, experimenting in the kitchen and exploring the East Bay.

Miguel Helft

Editorial Director

Miguel is an award-winning journalist who has covered the tech industry since the birth of the internet era at publications including The New York Times, Fortune, the Industry Standard and the San Jose Mercury News. Most recently, he was the Technology Editor at Forbes. Before becoming a journalist, Miguel was a software engineer at Sun Microsystems. He also worked as a professional mountain guide, leading climbing expeditions around the world.

Miles Johnson

Editorial & Activation Strategist

Miles is a writer who cut his reporting teeth in newsrooms like Mother Jones and NPR. He transitioned into public policy communications, including an appointment to the Obama-era SBA press office, where he explored new ways to tell policy stories using text, short video, and other ephemera. Upon moving to the Bay Area, he continued working in communications for UAW Local 5810, where he crafted a comprehensive communications strategy that best served the union and its stakeholders.

Peter Burrows

Editorial Director

Peter covered many of Silicon Valley’s biggest stories and personalities for Business Week and Bloomberg News. Since 2015, he has written for publications including MIT Technology Review and Wired, while also helping a range of companies hone their content marketing efforts. Peter wrote Backfire: Carly Fiorina’s High-Stakes Battle for the Soul of Hewlett-Packard.

Samantha Tyrrell

Internal Operations Manager

Samantha is a New York City transplant who specializes in business operations. She has worked in events focused public relations, planning fashion shows for NYFW, celebrity product launches and movie premieres; all while maintaining the agency operations. Following PR, Samantha joined an international BioTech start-up to cultivate and develop its east coast branches. After some astounding growth, she opened two new offices and was promoted to lead the internal communications department. Upon moving to the Bay Area, Samantha joined the Message Lab team as the Internal Operations Manager.

Sarah Frei

Account Manager

Sarah has a multidisciplinary background in business, design, and media production. She is an organized, creative problem solver and an entrepreneurial thinker eager to collaborate and take on new challenges. As a college grad she co-founded a small web design studio where she learned first hand client services, project management, content strategy, and more. In her spare time she’s learning something new to cook at home or running with her dog in one of the East Bay Regional Parks.

Will Sullivan

Head of Strategy & Activation

Will is head of strategy and activation for Message Lab. He has 17 years’ experience in brand positioning, content strategy, and digital marketing. He directs Message Lab’s efforts to focus strategic narratives, identify and grow audiences, and align improvements to customer experience with measurable business outcomes. Previous positions include Vice President and Editorial Director at global communications firm Fleishman-Hillard, and Chief Editorial Strategist at cause-marketing agency Visceral. He earned his master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.