Our Staff

Lori Dorfman, DrPH, Director, was BMSG's first associate director in 1993 and became director in 1998. She earned her doctorate in 1994 from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, where she studied how television news frames health issues. Dorfman oversees BMSG's research, media advocacy training, strategic consultation, and education for journalists and consults with programs across the U.S. on a variety of public health issues, helping them apply the principles of media advocacy. Her research examines media portrayals of public health issues, including children's health, food and beverage marketing, nutrition, breastfeeding, violence, and alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. She co-authored the major texts on media advocacy: Media Advocacy and Public Health: Power for Prevention and News for a Change: An Advocate's Guide to Working with the Media; she edited Reporting on Violence: A Handbook for Journalists, which encourages journalists to include a public health perspective in violence reporting and led an interdisciplinary team that conducted workshops on violence reporting for newspapers and local TV news stations. She teaches a course on mass communication at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health. Dorfman co-chairs the Food Marketing Workgroup, a national coalition dedicated to eliminating harmful food marketing.

Angela Burke, Deputy Director, provides oversight and internal management for BMSG. She has been working in the non-profit sector for over a decade with a focus on organizational and financial management. She joined BMSG in 2011 from another program of the Public Health Institute, Partnership for the Public's Health, where she held the position of Finance, Operations and Grants Manager and served on PPH's management team. Before joining PHI in 2008, she was the Program Coordinator for the China Program with Holt International Children's Services, working to serve children in China through foster care and HIV family preservation programs, vocational programs, nutrition programs, financial and medical assistance. She has a B.A. from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and a certificate in non-profit management from San Jose State University.

Research team

Pamela Mejia, MPH, MS, Head of Research, leads qualitative and quantitative analyses of how the media portray public health and social justice issues, and the implications of those portrayals for communicating strategically. Many of her projects focus on identifying messages that build support for sexual violence prevention policies and analyzing how issues like gun violence, criminal justice reform, and child abuse appear in news coverage. Pamela's research has informed communication strategy for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, among others. She has been published in the American Journal of Public Health, Critical Public Health, and the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. She holds a bachelor's degree in human nutrition from Washington State University, as well as master's degrees in biochemistry and public health from the University of California at Berkeley.

Laura Nixon, MPH, Senior Media Researcher, has analyzed media coverage of public health issues for BMSG since 2012. Her research has included analyses of news coverage and social media conversations about sugary drink taxes, violence prevention, tobacco control, abortion and many others. As the Research Team's resident "methods guru," she has a particular interest in study design and data analysis. Laura is interested in using programming and data science tools to collect and analyze news coverage and other forms of media. She graduated from Pomona College with a bachelor's degree in sociology and earned a master's degree in public health at U.C. Berkeley. Prior to joining BMSG, she worked at the California Department of Public Health, the U.C. Berkeley School of Public Health and the United States Census Bureau. She also worked in public health in Ecuador for several years and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

Sarah Han, Research Associate, graduated from Scripps College with a bachelor’s degree in human biology with an emphasis in public health and a minor in media studies. Her thesis examined the obstacles physicians face to providing nutritional counseling in primary care. After graduating, she collaborated with Open Door Community Health Centers in Northern California to organize a wellness program that provided home gardens to at-risk patients and developed nutritional counseling tools for primary care physicians. Prior to joining BMSG, she worked in San Francisco at Learning for Action, a social sector consulting firm. She is interested in examining issues of reproductive and women’s health and racial justice.

Training team

Michael Bakal, M.Ed, MPH, Strategic Communications Specialist, is passionate about helping BMSG partners use the tools of media advocacy to achieve their social change and health promotion objectives. Prior to joining the BMSG team, Michael completed a Fulbright scholarship in Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala, where he worked as a science teacher and researcher studying youth empowerment. Before that, Michael received his master's degree in public health from U.C. Berkeley's Maternal and Child Health program. A fluent Spanish speaker and certified bilingual science teacher, Michael has taught high school and middle school in Los Angeles, Berkeley and rural Guatemala, where he has also developed culturally responsive science and leadership curricula. Michael is co-founder of Voces y Manos, a nonprofit organization that facilitates youth-led advocacy and sustainable development projects in rural Guatemala.

Shaddai Martinez Cuestas, MPH, Strategic Communication Specialist, joined BMSG in 2018 to help advocates learn how to use the media to advance their policy goals. She holds a master's of public health from U.C. Berkeley, with an emphasis on health and social behavior. Shaddai comes from Mission Neighborhood Health Center (MNHC), where she was the director of HIV Services, overseeing the HIV care, pyschosocial support, and prevention programs serving low-income and Latino communities in San Francisco. Prior to this role, Shaddai filled various direct service and managerial positions at MNHC, which informed her understanding of disease and prevention at individual, patient population, and system-wide levels.

Fernando Quintero, Strategic Communications Specialist, joined BMSG to provide media advocacy training and strategic consultation. Prior to joining BMSG, he worked as a print journalist for several newspapers including the Orlando Sentinel, Rocky Mountain News, San Jose Mercury News and Albuquerque Tribune. He is also the former managing editor of Latino.com, an online content portal. Fernando has covered a variety of beats including health, immigration and demographics. He has served as a communications strategist for the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California's Office of the President as well as several nonprofit organizations and private enterprises. He is also former director of NewsWatch Project, a media watchdog organization based at San Francisco State University that promoted fair and accurate media coverage of the LGBT community and communities of color. Fernando received his B.A. in journalism and public relations from California State University, Fresno, and is a proud alumnus of the Institute for Journalism Education at U.C. Berkeley.

Ingrid Daffner Krasnow, MPH, Strategic Communications Specialist, has provided media advocacy training and strategic consultation at BMSG since 2008. She bridges her media advocacy expertise with 15 years of experience in reproductive justice policy change, grassroots communications and marketing strategy, fund development, and nonprofit management. Ingrid earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science from U.C. Berkeley and her Masters of Public Health from UCLA. She is based in Jackson, Wyoming, where she serves on the Teton District Board of Public Health and is a strategic adviser to several local nonprofits.


Heather Gehlert, MJ, Senior Manager of Communication and Digital Strategy, is a writer, editor and project manager at BMSG, where she leads the organization's communications strategy and brand management and oversees its online presence. She holds a master's degree in journalism with an emphasis in new media from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor's degree in English and communication from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, where she also taught journalism and advised the school's student newspaper in 2015 and 2016. Before coming to BMSG in 2009, Heather was a managing editor for AlterNet.org, an online news magazine in San Francisco. She has also served as a multimedia journalism coach for San Francisco State University. Her work has appeared in many publications including the Los Angeles Times, the Oakland Tribune and The Boston Globe.

Daphne Marvel, Communications Research Associate, supports BMSG's digital and social strategy, helps conduct daily news monitoring, and analyzes media on a range of public health and social justice issues. Daphne graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a bachelor's degree in psychology and Spanish. Prior to joining BMSG, she worked at the London office of Ketchum, a global communications agency. She is particularly interested in exploring issues of reproductive justice, equity, structural inequalities and food justice.

Katherine Schaff, DrPH, Health Equity Coordinator, joined BMSG to help build the organizational and communications capacity of local health departments, government agencies and community-based organizations working to advance racial and health equity. Prior to joining the BMSG team, she spent 11 years at the Alameda County Public Health Department, where she helped foster racial, social and health equity through policy change, community partnerships, and building institutional and staff capacity within the health department and the county. Before moving to the Bay Area, Katherine supported local health departments through her position at the National Association of County and City Health Officials in Washington, D.C. She received her B.A. in sociology and international studies from the University of Denver and her master’s of public health and doctor of public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Her doctoral research focused on how local health departments addressed and communicated about the foreclosure crisis as a driver of health inequities.


Katrina Hollins, Administrative Assistant, provides administrative support for BMSG. Prior to joining BMSG in July, she spent two years at the University of California, Berkeley, in Central Human Resources. While at U.C. Berkeley, Katrina provided administrative and logistical support for the Learning and Development team, as well as the Strategy and Operations team. She also started a campus blog called “Keeping Up with the Admins,” which was featured on the university’s social learning community, Wisdom Café. Katrina earned a certificate in Human Resource Management from Cal State East Bay in 2015.


Lawrence Wallack, DrPH, Senior Fellow, recently stepped down as Dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University after serving for the past nine years. He is also Emeritus Professor of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, where he served on the faculty from 1983 to 2000. In 1993, he was the founding director of BMSG and is one of the architects of media advocacy. He has published extensively and lectures frequently on news media and public health policy issues. Dr. Wallack is the principal author of News for a Change: An Advocate's Guide to Working with the Media, (Sage, 1999) and Media Advocacy and Public Health: Power for Prevention (Sage, 1993). He recently completed his tenure as president of the Board of Trustees of the World Affairs Council of Oregon. In the past, he has served on the Boards of Directors of the Institute for Portland Metropolitan Studies, City Club of Portland, and the national Policy Consensus Initiative. He currently serves on the board of the Praxis Project. He was also a member of the Oregon Health Improvement Plan Committee of the Oregon Health Policy Board and has served as a member on several Institute of Medicine committees. Dr. Wallack has been honored with several awards, including the Innovators Award (2000-05) from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which recognized lifetime achievement and innovation in the area of prevention.

Larry has started a sabbatical as a Senior Public Health Fellow at the Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness at Oregon Health and Science University and a Senior Scholar at the Berkeley Media Studies Group. At the Moore Institute, he will work on synthesizing, translating and applying the biological and social science findings on the developmental origins of health and disease at the community, regional and state level. Working with BMSG, he will focus on framing this knowledge to enhance effective communication about the significant policy implications.


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