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OUR TEAM

Celeste Leroux
President and CEO

Celeste founded Virgil Group in 2020 after 11 years of experience advancing environmental policy in Washington, DC within the federal government.  She has worked extensively with advocates, businesses, Congress, the U.S. and foreign governments and donors to advance science-based policies that further responsible Arctic development, promote aquaculture and trade, protect natural resources and ecosystems and combat climate change, among others.  As Deputy Associate Director for Ocean and Coastal Policy at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Celeste oversaw the Presidential Task Force on Combatting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud and led all aspects of development and implementation of the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program from 2016-2020.  Celeste studied Biology as an undergraduate and Marine Biology as a masters student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Heather Brandon
Vice President

For the past 20 years, Heather has worked on ocean and coastal conservation topics and has a masters in marine policy. She has experience at various levels of government – local, state, federal – and has worked session at three state legislatures (Oregon, Hawai’i, and Texas). Specializing in fishery topics, Heather led salmon conservation work in the Russian Far East for a large non-profit, provided international outreach on seafood trade for the federal government, directed a university extension program, and coordinated Alaska’s natural resources agencies on coastal issues. 

Wei Qiu
CTO

For over 20 years, Qiu has provided his expertise in information technology and technological trends and advancements to various clients. He has delivered solutions through effective use and application of the latest and most effective technology.  Qiu has also worked extensively on business analysis, product design, technology R&D, software architecture, database design and application implementation. He has successfully developed a wide variety of complex and mission-critical software systems, including the U.S. interagency seafood trade data integration and analysis system, enterprise asset prioritization, allocation and scheduling system, various enterprise data consolidation and reporting systems, online event ticketing systems and more.

Austin Clack
Research Analyst

Austin is a third year undergraduate student at UCLA, studying Geography and Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Geospatial Information Systems and Technology (GIS). He interned for Virgil in the Fall of 2020 as a Data Mapping Specialist focusing on data management and analysis related to seafood harvest and trade and the visualization of this data using spatial analysis and the construction of maps. Austin is continuing his work as a Research Analyst supporting engagement with international partners, funders, staff, and contractors. Austin’s interests are centered at the intersection of marine issues and management consulting as an opportunity to demonstrate the consequence of environmental change in a corporate setting. In his free time, Austin enjoys spearfishing and hiking in the Santa Monica mountains.

Brendan Lawlor
Policy Analyst
Focus: Political influence on science policy and forced labor victim support

Brendan is interning as a Policy Analyst for the Winter 2020-2021 term.  His work focuses on
the impacts of partisanship on science policy and advancement through periods of transition.  Brendan is also researching forced labor within commodity supply chains to identify best practices for victim reintegration  into society. He has experience within the political science field and brings a governmental lens to contemporary environmental issues. His interests focus on international development and global governance. Brendan is pursuing a BA at American University. 

Birch Synnott
Policy Analyst
Focus: UK and EU implications of Brexit

Birch is an undergraduate student at American University who is interning as a Policy Analyst for the 2021 spring semester. His work focuses on UK fishing rights after the country’s departure from the European Union, as well as EU and UK efforts to combat illegal fishing. He has a strong interest in environmental policy, and experience with governmental studies. Birch is currently working towards a BA in political science with a minor in economics, and loves hiking and skiing.

Paul McManus
Senior Adviser

Paul is a startup and environmental expert who's worked with several early-stage companies on the go-to-market side from building water sustainability, to aquaculture to more traditional business to business software as a service. His data-driven approach to finding and retaining the highest fit customers helps make early-stage companies more focussed and scalable. He has worked closely with CEOs and General Managers to make strategic, customer-first decisions in 3 venture-backed companies. 

He has a Masters of Environmental Engineering from Utah State University and loves to scuba dive. 

Skye Lawrence
Senior Adviser

Skye has led strategic partnerships and fundraising at numerous organizations. She helps organizations leverage existing and create new networks to garner financial support and build supportive long-term ecosystems. She is the former Director of Enterprise Club and Development at the American Enterprise Institute and led Strategic Partnerships for the University College London's Department of Science, Technology and Public Policy.  At Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and Technology, she built strong cross-sector networks to support science and technology investments, conservation, outdoor education and agriculture.  She holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University College of London and a B.A. in Government from Smith College. 

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