University Communications

In every area of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) - from the classrooms to the laboratories to the clinics – there are stories of innovation and ingenuity. The University Communications Team takes great pride is sharing those stories with its internal and external audiences through publications, media relations, social media and video. Members of the team also serve key roles in the marketing and branding of Houston’s Health University.

Deborah Mann Lake

Deborah Mann Lake

Director, Media Relations 
Phone: 713-500-3304

Key contact for: Cardiology; Cardiothoracic Surgery; Consortium on Aging; Emergency Medicine; Medical Genetics; Neurology; Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences; Pediatrics; Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; and UT Physicians

Deborah Mann Lake spent two decades writing for Texas newspapers including the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, The Houston Post and the Houston Chronicle, where she was the correspondent for its weekly "Health/Medicine" page. She has won awards from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors, the Houston Press Club and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Deborah joined Public Affairs in 2006.


Leisa McCord

Phone: 713-500-3045

Key contact for: Editing, proofreading

Leisa McCord joined the Office of Public Affairs in November 2018, and serves as the chief editor of content produced in Public Affairs and Development. She also provides editorial support for school- and clinic-based communicators. A communications professional with a broad range of experience, Leisa previously worked at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Baylor College of Medicine, and provided proofreading and editing services briefly for the Children’s Learning Institute at UTHealth.

Maricruz Kwon

Maricruz Kwon

Senior Multimedia Specialist
Phone: 713-500-3035

Key contact for: Video production and editing; photography

Maricruz Kwon joined the Office of Public Affairs in 2016. She provides support to various departments across the university through the creation and execution of video, editing, photography and graphics projects and social media administration. Maricruz’s background includes multimedia experience in the oil and gas, fashion and television news industries. A native of California, Maricruz holds degrees in communications and film and video production from Fullerton College and The Art Institute of Houston.


Amy Laukka

Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 713-500-3053

Key contact for: Women's health, pediatrics, emergency medicine, surgery, orthopedics, biomedical informatics, biomedical sciences

Amy Laukka is your contact for news about women and children, pediatrics, emergency medicine, surgery, orthopedics, biomedical informatics, biomedical sciences, and more. She is a former TV news senior producer at a 24-hour cable station in North Carolina, where she wrote and produced the prime-time newscasts. She spent two years working with media at a public relations agency in the Tar Heel State, before joining UTHealth in August of 2018. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a double major in journalism/electronic communication and Spanish.


Sarah Kaddour

Communications Specialist
Phone: 713-500-3177

Key contact for: Internal communications

Sarah Kaddour serves on the University Communications team in the Office of Public Affairs to inform, inspire, and enrich the university’s faculty, staff, and students. Formerly working in an advertising agency in Austin, she has shaped national brands through digital platforms, managed strategic marketing campaigns, and identified opportunities of growth for clients. After moving to Houston, she has directed public and internal communication, developed online brand awareness, designed digital and print media, and managed community participation for a local pediatric urgent care center. Sarah graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science and Arts in Chemistry and Advertising from The University of Texas at Austin.


Wendi Hawthorne

Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 713-500-3307

Key contact for: Public health, infectious diseases, gastroenterology, critical care, pulmonary/sleep, family medicine 

Wendi Hawthorne is your contact for public health news, including policy, epidemiology and environmental sciences, and areas of medicine including infectious diseases, gastroenterology, critical care, pulmonary/sleep, family medicine and more. Before joining UTHealth she worked in public relations and marketing for an aerospace defense contractor and was responsible for internal and external communications. She has a master’s degree in marketing from Texas A&M University-Commerce and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Stephen F. Austin State University.