University Relations

UCSF’s Office of University Relations is charged with directing strategic communication and public affairs for the campus and clinical enterprise. The University Relations team is skilled at leading integrated, outcome-driven communications to strengthen awareness of UCSF’s excellence in patient care, research and education through brand marketing, media relations, digital communications and internal communications. It also leads the University’s community relations programs and its local, state and federal government relations efforts.

Led by Vice Chancellor Barbara J. French, the office comprises the following units:

Barbara J. French
Vice Chancellor, Strategic Communications and University Relations
[email protected]

Develops and implements communications programs to champion the University’s mission and to raise awareness and visibility of UCSF’s excellence in discovery, patient care and education. Serves as lead counsel to the chancellor on issues related to communications, governmental affairs and community relations. Advises the Marketing Committee and the Government Relations Committee of the UCSF Foundation board of directors. Read her full bio »

Mike Fortes
Director of Office Operations

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Manages all administrative tasks and responsibilities for the Vice Chancellor, oversees the administrative team, provides support and counsel to the Vice Chancellor’s Leadership Team, serves as University Relations’ financial control point, and is the liaison to Human Resources for policy implementation, personnel actions and initiatives.

Portrait of Edward Samayoa

Edward Samayoa
Operations Manager

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Serves as University Relations’ lead financial administrator, serves as the general office manager for University Relations, supports the Director of Office Operations and all other University Relations supervisors with tactical HR actions, and provides general administrative support to all of University Relations’ staff.

Portrait of Sophia Labeko

Sophia Labeko
Digital Resource Specialist

[email protected]
Manages news and information distribution via online mass distribution and other digital resources. Responsible for news tracking and compiling media coverage reports. Works closely with the Brand Communications team to uphold brand compliance.

Susie Kuo

Susie Kuo
Meeting & Event Coordinator

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Leads event coordination for meetings with local community members, government officials, and internal UCSF audiences. Provides general administrative support and resource management to all of University Relations’ staff.

Jim Hunger

Jim Hunger
Administrative Coordinator

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Assists the Operations Manager with purchasing transactions. Provides backup support to the Digital Resource Specialist for online information distribution. Provides general administrative support and resource management to all of University Relations’ staff.

Strategic Communications

Advances UCSF's strategic priorities and initiatives by developing, driving, implementing and tracking integrated communications plans that maximize University Relations' expertise and leverage communications and advocacy efforts across the campus and clinical enterprise. Leads a consistent project management approach for University Relations's strategic communications initiatives and manages its portfolio of projects to advance its strategic plan.

Portrait of Lisa Cisneros

Lisa Cisneros
Senior Director

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Brand Communications

Stewards the UCSF brand at the enterprise level. Empowers internal constituents with the tools, platforms and frameworks to communicate and grow the UCSF brand. Inspires and educates internal audiences with a clear understanding of how brand impacts their respective constituents and core disciplines. Supports internal partners with their efforts to grow brand awareness with key external audiences through integrated enterprise communications.

Portrait of Nada Hansen

Nada Hansen
Executive Director, Brand Communications

[email protected]

Portrait of Christine Omata

Christine Omata
Assistant Director, Brand Communications

[email protected]

Portrait of Kathleen Hennessey

Kathleen Hennessy
Art Director & Photography Manager

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Portrait of Susan Merrell

Susan Merrell

[email protected]

Russ Robinson

Russ Robinson
Brand Manager, UCSF Health
[email protected]


Portrait of Taryn Ibach

Taryn Ibach
Assistant Brand Manager

[email protected]

Community & Government Relations

Oversees UCSF’s local, state and federal governmental relations, working in partnership with campus and medical center leadership, as well as faculty and staff. Coordinates state and federal governmental relations with the University of California Office of the President. Leads UCSF’s efforts, in collaboration with the UCSF Community Advisory Group, to build strong and constructive relationships with neighbors, community groups and civic organizations.
More about Community & Government Relations »
More about the Community & Government Relations team »


Portrait of Paul Takayama

Paul Takayama
Assistant Vice Chancellor, Community & Government Relations

[email protected]
Oversees the Community and Government Relations (CGR) department, which is responsible for cultivating and maintaining relationships with campus neighbors as well as elected officials at the local, state, and federal level, on behalf of UCSF. CGR also coordinates the University’s response to a wide range of political and policy issues, and advises administrators and faculty on strategies to facilitate dialogue with government and community leaders.

Christine Gasparac
Senior Director, Community Relations

[email protected]
Manages the community relations team and is the primary community relations liaison and advisor at UCSF.

Amiee Alden
Director, Local & State Government Relations

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Serves as UCSF’s primary liaison to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Mayor’s office, the San Francisco legislative delegation, and various local and state agencies. Responsible for planning and implementing the university’s local and state government relations and advocacy efforts in San Francisco and Sacramento.

Portrait of Natalie Alpert

Natalie Alpert
Director, Federal Government Relations

[email protected]
Serves as UCSF’s primary liaison to Congress, the Administration and federal agencies. Responsible for planning and implementing the university’s federal government relations and advocacy efforts in Washington, DC.

Doreen Moreno
Director, Community & Government Relations, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland  

[email protected]
Manages community and government relations for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Serves as UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital’s primary liaison to the community and elected officials in Oakland and Alameda County.

Portrait of Michele Davis

Michele Davis
Associate Director, Community Relations

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Addresses UCSF project issues in the eastern side of town, especially the neighborhoods around the Mission Bay Medical Center.

Leah Pimentel
Assistant Director, Community Relations

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Serves as a liaison to the community in the UCSF project areas of Mount Zion and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.


Portrait of Lily Wong

Lily Wong
Assistant Director, Community Relations

[email protected]
Manages community relations for Parnassus Heights campus.

Benita Benavides
Community Construction Outreach Program Manager  

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Responsible for developing and implementing innovative strategies, in conjunction with our community partner, CityBuild, for UCSF’s Community Construction Outreach Program (CCOP). UCSF’s CCOP is a voluntary program that aims to promote the opportunity for qualified San Francisco trade workers to help in the construction and renovation of UCSF facilities. 

Digital Communications

Leads web communications and digital marketing for UCSF. Manages and other UCSF primary websites, as well as UCSF’s main social media channels, to raise the visibility and awareness of UCSF’s excellence in discovery, patient care and education, and to build community among internal audiences. Partners with UCSF’s Information Technology Services and other IT units across campus to strengthen UCSF's overall digital presence, facilitate access and improve usability.

Louise Chu 
Executive Director, Digital Communications

[email protected]

Portrait of Mike Billings

Mike Billings
Managing Editor

[email protected]

Portrait of Arezu Sarvestani

Arezu Sarvestani
Assistant Director, Social Media

[email protected]

Portrait of Nina Bai

Nina Bai
Web Writer

[email protected]

Portrait of Sara Shaffer

Sara Shaffer
Digital Production Manager

[email protected]

Nancy Tao
Digital Engagement Specialist

[email protected]

Public Affairs

Raises the visibility and awareness of UCSF among external audiences by working with all media – traditional and new media. Responsible for all University campus and UCSF Medical Center media relations. Partners with UCSF leadership and faculty, as well as medical center leadership, to identify and promote significant advances in biomedical research, patient care, and the education of health sciences students, trainees, residents and fellows. Provides communications counsel and training.
More about the Public Affairs team »

Jennifer O’Brien
Assistant Vice Chancellor, Public Affairs

[email protected]

Kristen Bole
Director, Clinical Communications

[email protected]

Pete Farley
Director, Research and Education Communications

[email protected]

Portrait of Elizabeth Fernandez

Elizabeth Fernandez
Senior Public Information Representative

[email protected]
Covers the cancer program, breaking news, emergency medicine, tobacco, and obesity.

Laura Kurtzman
Senior Public Information Representative

[email protected]
Cover digital health, global health and translational science.

Portrait of Suzanne Leigh

Suzanne Leigh
Senior Public Information Representative

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Covers UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay

Portrait of Scott Maier

Scott Maier
Senior Public Information Representative

[email protected]
Covers cardiology, orthopaedics, transplant medicine, the School of Dentistry, and the School of Nursing.

Portrait of Nicholas Weiler

Nicholas Weiler
Senior Public Information Representative

[email protected]
Covers new developments in basic biological research, including stem cell biology and neuroscience.

Jason Alvarez
Senior Public Information Representative

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Covers basic biomedical research, including cancer biology, immunology, and genetics.