Martin Kaplan holds the Norman Lear Chair in Entertainment, Media and Society at the USC Annenberg School, where he was associate dean for ten years. He is the Founding Director of the school’s Norman Lear Center, whose mission is to study and shape the impact of media and entertainment on society. He was Vice President Walter Mondale’s chief speechwriter and deputy campaign manager of Mondale’s presidential bid. He worked at Walt Disney Studios for 12 years, where he was first a feature films vice president and then a screenwriter/producer. His movie credits include The Distinguished Gentleman, starring Eddie Murphy, and the film adaptation of Michael Frayn’s Noises Off. A summa cum laude in molecular biology from Harvard College, where he was president of The Harvard Lampoon, he won a First in English as a Marshall Scholar at Cambridge University, and he holds a Ph.D. from Stanford in modern thought and literature. Read more.
Johanna Blakley is the Managing Director at the Norman Lear Center, where she performs research on global entertainment, cultural diplomacy, celebrity culture, fashion, digital media and intellectual property law. She received a Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she taught courses on popular culture and twentieth-century literature. She has held a variety of positions within the high-tech industry, including Web producer, Web site reviewer, digital archivist and research librarian. Read more.
Kate Folb is the Program Director for the Lear Center’s Hollywood, Health & Society program. Kate comes to HH&S after a career in television and music production/management, followed by more than twenty years in the entertainment education field. As Director of Special Projects at the Scott Newman Center, Kate worked with top TV shows and films on issues of alcohol and other substance abuse. Kate was 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. More recently, Kate lead Nightingale Entertainment, an independent consulting firm working with organizations including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Planned Parenthood Federation of America on entertainment education and celebrity involvement in national media campaigns.
Kate holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Denver, and a Master’s degree in Education from UCLA. Contact Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org
Josh Kun is Director of the Lear Center’s Popular Music Project as well as a writer, curator and professor in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC. In Fall 2016, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship; in Spring 2017, he garnered the prestigious Berlin Prize. His work focuses on the music and politics of cultural connection, and he is the author of 2005’s Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America, which won a 2006 American Book Award, and co-author (with Roger Bennett) of And You Shall Know Us By The Trail Of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past As Told Through The Records We Have Loved and Lost. Read more.
Laurie Trotta Valenti
Laurie Trotta Valenti, PhD., is a veteran communications executive and strategic thinker specializing in media, education and health issues in entertainment. She is thrilled to join the Norman Lear Center as Program Manager for the Media Impact Project. Laurie has served elite nonprofits, including Yale, University of Southern California and Arizona State University as a public relations advisor. She was Executive Director of the media policy organization Mediascope (now defunct), which sought to increase dialogue between the creative community, social scientists and government officials regarding public health issues in entertainment. Mediascope’s research arm published the National Television Violence Study and other numerous works on social and health issues in entertainment, including those surrounding substance abuse in film, film ratings, and effects of gaming on viewers. Research interests focus on media effects on viewers and social issues in entertainment, children’s media, the culture of celebrity and the role of media literacy in shaping attitudes of young filmmakers.
Erica Watson-Currie is excited to join the Norman Lear Center as a Research Associate on the Media Impact Project, where her current projects include investigating the effectiveness of podcast and transmedia projects in journalism, and expanding effective usage of audio-visual interviews and testimonies as primary research sources for use by educators, scholars, and community groups.
Erica previously spent 2 years as a Senior Evaluator at a private firm, whose projects included NASA and NSF grant-funded STEM education projects, and educational films. She has worked as an instructor, researcher, and experiential learning trainer at the University of Southern California. Erica received her Ph.D in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC, along with Masters degrees in both Communication Theory and Communication Management. Contact Erica at email@example.com
Susan Gutman is the Business Manager for Norman Lear Center, handling finance, budgeting & grant management. She has an extensive background in university finance, procurement and human resources. Susan joined the Center after working twenty-five years at UCLA. During that time she served eight years as the Director of Financial Services for the Anderson Graduate School of Management, prior to that she served as Manager of Administrative Services for Anderson Computing & Information Services. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English & American Literature from Brandeis University and a JD from Chapman University.
Veronica Jauriqui is the Special Projects Manager at the Norman Lear Center where she oversees all center publications and events and assists in the management of projects on entertainment, politics and media. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Whittier College and a Master of Arts in communication from USC. Prior to joining the Lear Center, she worked in health communication and journalism, spending several years as reporter and assistant editor for the Los Angeles Independent newspaper where she won a L.A. Press Club award for newspaper design. She has also done freelance writing for a variety of lifestyle publications and websites including Los Angeles magazine and Performing Arts magazine. Contact Veronica at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Armine Kourouyan is Project Manager for the Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S) program at the Norman Lear Center. She has experience working at the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters, specializing in risk communication, where she worked to teach public health professionals how to effectively communicate risk to the public and media in the event of an emergency or disaster. She has a background in entertainment education through her work with The Media Project, a program of Advocates for Youth, providing the entertainment industry with the latest facts, research, and script consultations on sexual and reproductive health issues for adolescents. Armine holds a Master of Public Health from UCLA, from the department of Community Health Sciences. She received a B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley and is certified as a Community Health Education Specialist (CHES). Contact Armine at email@example.com.
Roberta Cruger is Program Specialist for the Climate Change Initiative in the Lear Center’s Hollywood, Health & Society program. She 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. Roberta 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott McGibbon is the Webmaster at the Norman Lear Center, where he also is project manager on the Popular Music Project. He joined the Lear Center after working as the MIS at Harmonia Mundi and many years writing comedy for television. He’s a WGAw Award Winner for HBO’s Not Necessarily The News, and among the many shows he wrote for are America 2Nite, Alice, and Archie Bunker’s Place. He’s thrilled to be in an environment that unites his love of entertainment with his passions about culture and politics.
Adam Amel Rogers is a Project Administrator at the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center. His research interests include gay media representation, sports as entertainment and the impact of entertainment on politics. Adam has been a contributor to the NFL Network and Huffington Post. He joined the Lear Center after working in communications for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and serving as Director of Alumni for Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY). He completed two terms of AmeriCorps service to the American Red Cross, where he responded to national disasters. Also, he has interned with Congresswoman Linda Sanchez. Adam has a Masters of Communication Management from the University of Southern California and he graduated magna cum laude in Political Science from California State University, Los Angeles.
Erica Rosenthal is the research specialist for the Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S) program at the Norman Lear Center, where she evaluates the impact of health-related television storylines on viewers’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior, and manages the HH&S TV Monitoring Project. She has a PhD in social psychology from Claremont Graduate University (CGU), with an emphasis in applied research methods and quantitative analysis. Her research 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 potential barriers to media literacy. Erica has also conducted research on the “digital divide” in obtaining health information online and the effects of stereotypical portrayals in reality television. She holds a B.A. in psychobiology (concentration in women’s studies) from Swarthmore College, and an M.A. in psychology from CGU. Contact Erica at email@example.com.
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.
Russell DeVita is the web editor and writer for Hollywood, Health & Society at the Norman Lear Center. In addition, he oversees all social media outreach for HH&S and designs its communication publications. 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 BA in journalism from SUNY College at Buffalo, and a BFA from Art Center College of Design. A Brooklyn native, Russell still considers New York his true home. Contact Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zach Gonzalez-Landis joins HH&S as Transmedia Specialist 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. He also holds an MFA in screenwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, writes TV pilots and features, and watches a tremendous amount of NBA basketball (go Bulls!). Contact him at email@example.com.
Kristin (Eunjung) Jung is a Research Specialist for the Media Impact Project at the Norman Lear Center, focusing on evaluating the efficacy of public diplomacy and developing best practices for the use of qualitative and quantitative methods in studying impact of media in social services. Kristin previously worked as a research intern at Norman Lear Center where she analyzed entertainment media content and used her background in public diplomacy to evaluate cultural diplomacy programs. She holds two bachelor’s degrees in International Studies and Media & Communications from Korea University and a Master’s Degree in Public Diplomacy from USC.
Camille Saucier is a Research Specialist for the Media Impact Project at the Norman Lear Center, focusing on identifying best practices for the application of social science theory and research techniques to analyze media content. Before joining the Lear Center, Camille used her background in social psychology and communications in the renewable energy sector to develop marketing content, training materials, and return on investment analyses with a Solar Battery startup. Camille holds a B.A. in Psychology from USC and a Master’s in Communication Management with an emphasis in Social Marketing and Data Analytics.
Tony Pham worked at the USC Libraries, Science & Engineering Library as the Assistant Library Manager and also worked as a Computer Consultant for a joint venture between USC Libraries and USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Science computer technology help desk. Tony previously worked as well for USC Information Services Division as assistant procurement specialist. Tony is an alumni of the University of Southern California, and has studied Computer Science in Computer Security and Civil Engineering Building Science, with a Minor in Architecture.
Elliott Scher is the Program Coordinator for Hollywood, Health & Society Global Centers and the Norman Lear Center. A Baltimore native, Elliott has worked in the entertainment industry for several bi-coastal talent agencies and management companies. He also has professional experience in brand development, social media and public relations. A theatre arts graduate of Wagner College, Elliott continues to teach dance and acting at professional studios in Los Angeles, New York City and Baltimore. Contact Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. She has also worked as a production assistant for CBS’ The Good Wife and Person of Interest. Her internship experience includes working at MTV2 and MTVU as well as a variety of production companies in Los Angeles and New York City. She has her bachelor’s degree in Television, Radio & Film from Syracuse University. Contact Melissa at email@example.com.
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. Contact Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org.