John S. Kiralla

Vice President, Marketing and Communications (CMO/CCO)

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John S. Kiralla has 20 years experience in marketing, digital strategy, communications and strategic planning, primarily focused in higher education. He was appointed the university’s first vice president for Marketing and Communications on September 1, 2016. Reporting to the president, Kiralla is the university’s chief marketing and communications officer, as well as the university spokesperson. Kiralla is responsible for the university’s communications, marketing, branding, and public relations strategies. He leads the MarComm team, responsible for elevating the university’s reputation, advancing the university’s visibility efforts, and positioning its brand for global impact, including: communications, marketing, media, and public relations, crisis communications, internal communications, web and digital solutions, and creative and design. Kiralla and the MarComm team have been honored for their work on, LMU Magazine, and other productions by the Webbys, CASE, Graphis, W3, AMA, SPD, UCDA, and other international awarding bodies.

Prior to this post, Kiralla served as LMU’s executive director for marketing and communications and led several major initiatives: the comprehensive redesign of, the LMYOU internal communications campaign, The University of Silicon Beach™ marketing campaign, and the public dimensions of hosting world leaders on LMU’s campus. Kiralla also led the university’s centennial communications and marketing efforts from 2010-2012, the most significant promotional campaign in the university’s history. Prior to that, he held marketing and communications positions at Collegis Eduprise, Sungard Higher Education, and Apple. At Sungard, Kiralla served as a regional director, overseeing the operational aspects and strategic planning for communications and web teams at 22 client universities and colleges. Kiralla is active in various professional organizations and speaks on topics related to brand development, change management, leadership and perception management, and technology policy.

Contact John’s Assistant, Dawn Yoshinaga (310.338.3063 or


Ben Alkaly

Assistant Director, Social Platforms

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Arriving at LMU in 2014, Alkaly leads the strategy and oversees daily content creation for the school’s primary social media channels – collectively reaching over 75,000 followers – while collaborating with social media managers across campus who oversee an additional 150+ accounts. An ardent traveler, Alkaly has visited 32 countries and will one day achieve his goal of attending a basketball game at all 345 NCAA Division I schools (53 and counting…).


Kristin Agostoni

Assistant Director, Public and Media Relations

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Kristin Agostoni joined LMU in 2015 after working for nearly two years with the K-12 Inglewood Unified School District, where she handled communications and media relations in the Office of the State Trustee. She wrote and edited stories about students, faculty and staff members in IUSD’s 18 schools for the website and a print newspaper. Prior to that, Agostoni worked as a staff writer at the Daily Breeze, a Los Angeles News Group publication in Torrance. She joined the Breeze newsroom in 2004 after earning her master’s degree in journalism with an emphasis on public affairs reporting from the University of Maryland, College Park. Agostoni was raised in Maryland. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in art history from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh..

Office: 310.338.2389
Cell: 424.789.2515

Marissa Contreras

Associate Director, Digital Production

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Marissa Contreras came to LMU in 2006 with experience in communications, branding, project management and teaching. Her clients include the William H. Hannon Library, Enrollment Management, and various offices under Academic Affairs. This year she’s most excited about leading the redesign of the William H. Hannon Library website, as well her role in creating the next iteration of MYLMU. Off campus she is an avid flamenco aficionado and dancer (although she can often be caught stomping in the Marketing & Communications kitchen as well), and is also a singer and digital media manager with the Torrance Civic Chorale.


Eileen De Alva-Gonzalez

Communications Manager

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Eileen De Alva-Gonzalez has been at LMU since 2007 and is the Communications Manager for alumni and development. She has more than 15 years of marketing and communications experience, and is currently enrolled in an Advanced Social Media Strategy course. In January 2015, De Alva-Gonzales was one of 11 LMU community members selected to go to the first faculty/staff immersion trip to El Salvador. And to deepen her understanding of the Ignatian heritage, she is a member of the 2015-16 cohort of Companions in Mission. Between work and a little sleep, De Alva-Gonzales enjoys an active and (relatively) healthy lifestyle with her two daughters and husband.


Celeste Durant

Director of Public Relations and Media

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Celeste Durant is the director of communications and media relations at LMU. She manages external communications for the university and develops media strategies for campuswide issues and crisis communications, as well as publicity and media requests for the College of Business Administration and the School of Education.
Durant earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Grinnell College and a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Before coming to LMU, she spent more than 20 years in news in the Los Angeles-area; first as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and then as a producer and news executive at several local television stations. She won 11 Los Angeles-area Emmys and a national Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for her news coverage and documentaries. She also worked as a freelance producer for both NBC and CBS network news divisions.

Durant held several public relations posts including senior public information officer at UC Riverside. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America.

Office: 310.338.7708
Cell: 424.225.0836

Sean Goldthwaite

Digital Media Manager

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Sean Goldthwaite arrived at LMU in 2009 as a graduate student and became a Digital Media Manager in 2013. He serves as web manager for the School of Film and Television, College of Business Administration, Student Affairs, and the Graduate Division. He also leads the web quality assurance initiative and manages and organizes video on campus. A graduate of the SFTV screenwriting program, Goldthwaite works on film projects in his spare time and also enjoys playing music.


John Kissell

Writer / Editor

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Writer/editor John Kissell joined LMU in 2009 after 25 years on the news desks of the L.A. Times and The Daily Breeze. He puts his experience as a writer, copy editor, news editor and production editor to work on a variety of tasks as part of the marketing and communications team, shaping the university message to be as sharp, vibrant and accurate as possible. Kissell has been the fulcrum for the annual Fact Card, the official statistical look at LMU, and has spearheaded the university’s annual presence at the L.A. Times Festival of Books and the Leimert Park Village Book Fair. He also teaches news writing and editing for the Journalism Program in LMU’s Department of English.


Maureen Pacino

Senior Director, Communications and Creative

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Maureen Pacino graduated from LMU in 1993 with an English degree and briefly left both her senses and this campus to try on the lives of glamorous trade magazine managing editor and high-rolling corporate communications executive. In 1997, she came back home to the bluff and started getting dangerous with Quark Xpress and other sundry Adobe products. Things really took off in 2003 when Pacino was integrally involved in the major institutional initiative to redesign LMU’s graphic identity and, to this day, she guides the program from a set of rules and standards that are often both uninteresting and incomprehensible to other human beings. The love of her professional life is unquestionably LMU Magazine. She is a striving digital immigrant with a respect for good design, special paper and inks, and extremely small type.


Taylor Polk

Digital Media Manager and Mobile Architect

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Taylor Polk joined our team in February 2016. Prior to LMU, Taylor worked on major web projects for DIRECTV before moving to Excela Creative. There he led a team of designers, developers and content managers in producing more than 1,000 promotional websites that were featured on “The View,” “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Wendy Williams,” “EXTRA TV,” “E! News” and more. He worked with our team for four years as an undergraduate in the College of Communication and Fine Arts and earned his bachelor’s degree in studio arts.


Jon Rou

Assistant Director for Photo and Video

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Jon Rou has been at LMU since 2009. Prior to joining the LMU Marketing & Communications Department as the university photographer, he was the assistant director of photography at Emory University in Atlanta. Rou has photographed everyone from heads of state and high profile actors to athletes and musicians. He’s been recognized for his work with numerous awards including both Gold and Silver in the Graphis Design Annual, as well as Silver in the CASE Circle of Excellence Photographer of the Year.


Mason Stockstill

Assistant Director, Public and Media Relations

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Mason Stockstill joined LMU in 2009, after a stint in communications at SEIU and a brief career as a newspaper reporter, during which he covered wildfires, prison riots, and the Academy Awards ceremony — but not at the same time. At LMU, he is the media relations representative for the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, the School of Film and Television, and the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles. He also manages the university’s online Newsroom. A native of Southern California, he lives in Westchester with his wife, son, dog, and library card.
Office: 310.338.5133
Cell: 310.426.0878

Ben Sullivan

Associate Director, Digital Solutions

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Ben Sullivan has been at LMU since 2005. He is the web manager for Bellarmine College, Seaver College and has primary responsibility for the university’s content management system (CMS). Sullivan is spearheading LMU’s move away from the FTP-based MyWeb service for personal faculty websites to a WordPress-powered solution. In his spare time he runs the science blogging network, and is a Saturday crew member at the L.A. Catholic Worker soup kitchen.


Joseph Wakelee-Lynch

Editor, LMU Magazine

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Joseph Wakelee-Lynch began working at LMU in 2006 and is editor of both the print and online versions of LMU Magazine. He has worked on university magazines for almost 20 years at three higher education institutions. His freelance book reviews have appeared in the Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Jose Mercury News, and in Commonweal and Sojourners magazines. He has loved magazines ever since he appeared in Sports Illustrated at the age of 10.


Lesley Wheeler

Design and Digital Specialist

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Lesley Wheeler began working at LMU in 2012. She manages design and digital media for the creative team, including LMU Magazine. Before coming to LMU, she worked in media relations for Cerritos College. She earned her B.A. from Cal State Long Beach and is currently working toward a master’s degree in higher education from LMU. Wheeler is also an exercise buff who kicks butt in triathlons. In her free time, she enjoys meditating, running, music and riding her motorcycle. On her days off, she can be found hanging out with her husband, three kids and two dogs.


Dawn Yoshinaga

Administrative Specialist

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Dawn Yoshinaga came to LMU in 2010 as an administrative specialist for the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. She made her move across University Hall to join the Marketing & Communications team in 2014. In her free time, Yoshinaga enjoys gardening, baking, and spending time with her family.


Yoshikazu Ysa

Video Production Associate

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Yoshi Ysa is the newest member of the MarComm team, having joined us in April 2016. Originally from Peru, Yoshi attended Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, as an NCAA scholar-athlete in tennis. Before coming to LMU, Yoshi was the freelance director of photography at Praetorian Digital in St. Louis and also worked as an editing lab tutor and camera operator for Lindenwood University TV. Yoshi has directed a short piece featuring St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and was the Spanish supervisor for 2014’s “Sleep with Me,” directed by Sundance award-winning director Brian Jun. Yoshi’s films have appeared in festivals across the country including the St. Louis Film Festival Showcase. Yoshi graduated with double major in digital cinema arts and advertising/PR/corporate communications from Lindenwood University. In his spare time, Yoshi likes to coach tennis and dance; salsa and bachata are his favorites.


Xiaoyan Zhang

Web Developer

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Xiaoyan Zhang joined LMU in the summer of 2015 as our web manager for systems and development. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, she lived in Philadelphia while completing her M.S. in computer science at St. Joseph’s University. Her main responsibilities at LMU include developing websites and maintaining the various systems that power, including the SiteManager CMS, Google Search appliance and more. Born in Shanghai, China, Xiaoyan previously worked at the Shanghai International Airport and for the technology company Insigma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, watching movies and playing badminton.