Meet the Media Team

Executive Director, Communications 

Duke Helfand serves as executive director of Communications at Cedars-Sinai. Prior to joining the health system in 2011, Duke worked as a reporter at the Los Angeles Times for 20 years, covering healthcare, education, religion, City Hall and other beats. He earned his master's degree in journalism from the University of Southern California. 


Editor-in-Chief, Newsroom
Associate Director, Media Relations, Communications

Before joining Cedars-Sinai in 2009, Sally Stewart was a journalist for USA Today. After covering the first O.J. Simpson trial, Sally became a public relations consultant and authored a communications how-to book called Media Training 101: A Guide to Meeting the Press (Wiley). 

Manager, Science Communications

Denise Heady oversees research, including the Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute. Prior to joining the Communications team, Denise has spent the last decade in healthcare communications where she led the development and implementation of communication strategies for renowned cancer research and treatment organizations. She earned her master's degree in communications research from California State University, Fullerton.


Manager, Broadcast News 

Soshea Leibler is the manager of our Broadcast News operation. In that role she oversee production of videos for the Cedars-Sinai Newsroom and for media. She also covers the Cedars-Sinai Community Benefit programs ,Pediatrics the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and the Women’s Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills. Prior to joining Cedars-Sinai, Soshea was a senior TV News producer at CBS News.

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Lead Communications Specialist

Cara Martinez covers the Smidt Heart Institute and Cedars-Sinai Cancer. Prior to her current position, Cara served as associate director of communications at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) and held other communications positions at the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Orange County United Way. She earned her master's degree in strategic public relations from the University of Southern California.



Deputy Newsroom Editor, Lead Communications Specialist

Marni Usheroff covers innovations related to the quality or value of healthcare, infectious diseases, Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, the Cedars-Sinai Medical Network, insurance, Geriatric Medicine and Pharmacy Services. Prior to joining the Communications team in 2016, Marni was a reporter at the Los Angeles Business Journal and The Orange County Register. She earned her master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she won the Horgan Prize for science writing.


Senior Communications Specialist

Laura Coverson supports the departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Medicine (gastroenterology, pulmonology, endocrinology, nephrology and hepatology), the KAO Autoimmunity Institute and the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute. She is an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist and medical news producer who previously worked in the news divisions of ABC and CBS networks and at KCET.


Senior Communications Specialist 

Christina Elston covers the Departments of Neurosurgery and Neurology and Cedars-Sinai Cancer. Before joining the Cedars-Sinai Newsroom team in 2021, Christina Elston was editor of L.A. Parent magazine, providing information on education, health and parenting to families across Los Angeles County. Her decades-long career in journalism also includes an Annenberg Health Journalism Fellowship and authorship of two books on children’s health and safety.


Senior Communications Specialist

Sarah Lichtman covers precision health, the Comprehensive Transplant Center, Blood Donor Services, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Spiritual Care, Cedars-Sinai International and the Department of Computational Biomedicine. Prior to joining the Communications team in 2019, Sarah spent more than a decade in federal government communications and public affairs at the national level, covering topics that included defense, federal policy, public health and epidemiology.


Senior Communications Specialist

Melissa Vizcarra covers the departments of Orthopaedics, Surgery, Emergency, Trauma, Nursing and Spanish-language requests. Prior to joining the Communications team in 2019, Melissa spent more than a decade in healthcare communications at one of the nation’s premier pediatric hospitals. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and is fluent in Spanish. 

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Project Associate, Communications

Stephanie Cajigal covers research at Cedars-Sinai. She previously worked as a freelance writer who specialized in health and parenting, and as an editor at Medscape from WebMD where she oversaw women’s health features and enterprise reporting projects. She currently is pursuing a master’s degree in health communication from Johns Hopkins University.


Senior Communications Specialist 

Nilou Salimpour-Davidov writes for the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center. A senior communications specialist at Cedars-Sinai for the past two decades, she also provided communications support for the Medical Genetics department. Nilou earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles.



Communications Specialist  

Camille Meggs is a communications specialist on the Development Communications team in the Advancement Department at Cedars-Sinai, supporting donor-related projects and services. Prior to joining Cedars-Sinai, Meggs was an Emmy Award-winning journalist, who worked in the broadcast news divisions of NBC and Superstation WGN.