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.
Kate Folb comes to Hollywood, Health & Society after working for over 20 years in the entertainment education field. After an early career in television and music production/management, Kate joined the Scott Newman Center as director of special projects. There, she worked with top TV shows and films on issues of alcohol and other substance abuse. 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.
Armine Kourouyan joined HH&S from the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters, where she designed, managed and evaluated full-scale disaster preparedness exercises for federal, state and local public health agencies. She trained county health departments and hospitals on earthquake response through the Joint Information Center (JIC) and effective press and media outreach in the event of an emergency or disaster. Armine created a communication kit for children with special health care needs in Los Angeles County, focusing on children with asthma and diabetes.
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.
As the research analyst, Lauren evaluates how health storylines are portrayed in popular television shows focusing on audience's knowledge, attitudes and behavior. Originally from northern Virginia, Lauren worked as a research associate in Bethesda, Maryland, teaching military doctors effective communication skills. She has her master's degree in communication from Texas State University, and relocated to Los Angeles in 2016. Before coming to HH&S, she worked as a production assistant on Disney's Stuck In The Middle, Project Runway and Home Free.
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.
Russell DeVita's role also includes designing the program's communication in print and online, and contributing to its 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.
Zach Gonzalez-Landis joins HH&S from NBC where he worked as a content writer in the digital marketing department and helped develop and maintain online content for well over a dozen NBC series and specials. His handiwork included language and concepts for branded apps, weekly blogs, recaps, social media campaigns, video mashups, and interactive digital experiences. Prior to NBC, Zach lived in Chicago where he worked in nonprofit marketing at the Steppenwolf Theatre and the Art Institute of Chicago while he wrote and performed sketch comedy and improv.
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.
Melissa Gattuso joined HH&S after working at Silverlining, a vocational training center run by The Help Group, which prepares students with autism and other special needs for a successful career after graduation. She previously worked as an assistant at 3 Arts Entertainment, a management and production company located in Beverly Hills, before deciding to pursue opportunities in the nonprofit world.
Kevin is the administrative assistant for The Norman Lear Center. Previously, he was the writer’s assistant for “Raging Bull” scribe Mardik Martin and at the Fox Writers Studio. He has also worked as a documentary researcher, script reader and production assistant. A graduate from the University of Southern California, Kevin earned a B.F.A. in Writing for Screen & Television, and a B.A. in economics. When he’s not writing, he’s either surfing, watching a Frank Capra film, or reading an Ernest Hemingway story.