About Us


Martin Kaplan, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator, Hollywood, Health & Society

The founding director of The Norman Lear Center, Martin Kaplan has been Principal Investigator of Hollywood, Health & Society since its inception in 2001. He was associate dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism for 10 years and holds the Norman Lear Chair in Entertainment, Media & Society. A Harvard summa cum laude in molecular biology, he has an M.A. in English from Cambridge University where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a doctorate from Stanford in modern thought and literature. He was Vice President Walter Mondale's chief speechwriter and deputy national campaign manager of Mondale's 1984 presidential bid. He was vice president of motion picture production at the Walt Disney Studios; as a screenwriter and producer, his credits include The Distinguished Gentleman, starring Eddie Murphy, and the screen adaptation of Michael Frayn's play Noises Off, directed by Peter Bogdanovich.

Kate Folb
Director, Hollywood, Health & Society

Kate Langrall Folb, M.Ed., is director for Hollywood, Health & Society, a program of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, and a veteran for more than 20 years in the entertainment education field. After an early career in television and music production/management at Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, Shep Gordon’s Alive Enterprises and Borman Entertainment, Kate joined the Scott Newman Foundation as director of special projects. There, she worked with top TV shows and films on portrayals of alcohol and other substance abuse, developed a media literacy program for middle and high school students and produced the foundation’s annual public service announcements. Later, she spent nearly 10 years as director of The Media Project, a partnership of Advocates for Youth and the Kaiser Family Foundation, which addressed portrayals of adolescent reproductive health in the media, working with dozens of primetime and daytime television shows on storylines featuring HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy prevention, condom use and sex education among other topics. She also produced the annual SHINE Awards for sexual health in entertainment and developed a cutting edge media campaign for Viacom to normalize condom use and encourage healthy relationships. From 2001-2012 Kate led Nightingale Entertainment, an independent consulting firm working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the multi-year Cover the Uninsured Week and Covering Kids and Families campaigns, and with Planned Parenthood Federation of America on Birth Control Matters and I Stand with Planned Parenthood garnering celebrity involvement, producing PSAs and coordinating national media events. She joined Hollywood, Health & Society in July of 2012 as senior program manager, and became director in the fall of 2013. Kate speaks fluent Spanish, holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver, and a master’s degree in education from UCLA. Contact her at kate.folb@usc.edu.

Chris Dzialo
Program Administrator, Hollywood, Health & Society

Chris Dzialo manages the global centers, working with partner organizations in India, Nigeria and beyond in order to inspire and inform scriptwriters around the world interested in producing storylines on health and development topics. He holds a Ph.D. in film and media studies, with an emphasis in global studies, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a master's degree in critical studies from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. His Ph.D. dissertation on media reception analyzes the practices of medical diagnosis, narrative medicine and global entertainment education, and he has published on screenwriting theory and media reception studies. Previously, he served as a program specialist at Hollywood, Health & Society, and worked with Hollywood writers and digital content creators to create unique transmedia experiences. Earlier in his career, Chris worked in both the London and Hollywood film industries. Contact Chris at dzialo@usc.edu.

Erica Rosenthal
Research Specialist, Hollywood, Health & Society

Erica Rosenthal evaluates the impact of health-related television storylines on viewers' knowledge, attitudes and behavior, and manages the HH&S TV Monitoring Project. An applied research professional specializing in research design and quantitative analysis, Erica's interests center around the social-cognitive mechanisms underlying the influence of media messages. Her dissertation research, for which she received the Arthur Brayfield Outstanding Dissertation Award, examined the role of emotion-based messages in relation to media literacy approaches. She has also conducted research on the "digital divide" in obtaining health information online and the effects of stereotypical portrayals in reality television. Erica has nearly 10 years of experience designing and implementing evaluation studies in the education, health, and human services domains. She holds a Ph.D. in social psychology from Claremont Graduate University (CGU), and a B.A. in psychobiology (concentration in women's studies) from Swarthmore College. Contact Erica at erosenth@usc.edu.

Matt Rose
Program Manager, Hollywood, Health & Society

Matthew Rose, who manages the Climate Change Initiative, joined HH&S from the U.S. National Park Service Climate Change Program in Colorado, where he led a greening initiative. He later collaborated with the Global Business Network and the Monitor Group to develop a simple method for communicating climate change science using storytelling and scenarios. Matthew holds a master's degree in Environmental Management from Duke University, a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Richmond, and is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional. Contact Matthew at matthew.rose@usc.edu

Armine Kourouyan
Project Manager, Hollywood, Health & Society

Armine Kourouyan joined HH&S from the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters, where she specialized in risk communication. In this role, she designed, managed and evaluated full-scale disaster preparedness exercises for federal, state and local public health agencies. Prior to that, she worked at the Media Project, a partnership of Advocates for Youth and the Kaiser Family Foundation, which addressed portrayals of sexual and reproductive health among adolescents in the media. She produced the SHINE Awards (Sexual Health IN Entertainment), which recognized media professionals for responsible messaging in this area. Armine holds a master of public health (MPH) from UCLA and a B.A. in English from UC Berkeley. Contact Armine at akourouy@usc.edu.

Roberta Cruger
Program Specialist, Hollywood, Health & Society

Roberta Cruger, who's with the Climate Change Initiative, has written on environmental issues for Discovery Network’s treehugger.com and Planet Central channel, and has contributed to Smithsonian, Salon, The Believer, National Geographic Traveler and MSNBC. She has worked in the entertainment industry as director of special programming at MTV Networks and Time Warner’s Manhattan Cable TV. She also headed the U.S. office of MCA Music International and served as co-executive director of the Grammy Host Committee. Roberta holds a B.F.A. in film and television from New York University. She’s taught at the School of Visual Arts and at Universidad de las Americas when pursuing her master’s in visual anthropology. Contact her at cruger@usc.edu

Yasmine Zavahir
Program Coordinator, Hollywood, Health & Society

Yasmine Zavahir comes to HH&S from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, where she worked as a health scientist in the Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services. She holds a bachelor's degree from Johns Hopkins University in public health and natural sciences, and a Master's of Health Science Degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in international health and nutrition. Yasmine lived and worked in Egypt and Malawi, Africa on school health and nutrition interventions, including a television and radio campaign on iron-deficiency anemia, as well as on vitamin A deficiency and school-based malaria treatments for Save the Children. Yasmine received a Best Paper Award for her presentation at the 2013 Association for Marketing and Healthcare Research Conference, and worked on a Breast Cancer Awareness radio campaign in 2009 that was recognized by the National Public Health Information Coalition as one of the top three radio campaigns in the country. She was also involved in the development of a multimedia CD-ROM on infant and maternal health in Georgia, which received a Best Practice Recognition award by the Association of Maternal and Child Health programs in 2004. Contact her at yasmine.zavahir@usc.edu

Russell DeVita
Web writer and editor, Hollywood, Health & Society

Russell DeVita's role also includes designing the program's communication in print and online, and overseeing all social media outreach. Before joining the Lear Center, he worked as a graphic designer, award-winning magazine art director and journalist, and spent several years as an editor, writer and designer at the Los Angeles Times, where he was part of an editorial team that shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from SUNY College at Buffalo, and a bachelor of fine arts from Art Center College of Design. Contact him at devita@usc.edu.

Elliott Scher
Program Assistant, Hollywood, Health & Society Global Centers and The Norman Lear Center

Elliott Scher is a Baltimore native whose professional background consists of a career in the entertainment industry, having worked for several bi-coastal talent agencies and management companies. He also has professional experience working in brand development, social media and public relations. Elliott is a graduate of Wagner College where he studied theatre arts. In his spare time, Elliott is also a professional dance teacher and acting coach and has taught at studios throughout Los Angeles, New York City and Baltimore, MD. Contact Elliott at elliott.scher@usc.edu.

Rachel Lipari
Administrative Assistant, Hollywood, Health & Society

Rachel Lipari was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California and holds a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in pre-law studies. Rachel assists Kate Folb, director of Hollywood, Health & Society. In this role, Rachel organizes the administrative aspects of the office of the director. Contact her at rlipari@usc.edu