About Us

The media's connection to global experts in medicine, science, nursing, and public health.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Office of News & Communications provides media access to the newsmakers and opinion leaders at the Medical Center.

Our media relations experts, science writers, editors, photographers and support staff will connect you to the sources you need. Our office manages multiple news websites and produces several publications.

Senior Staff

John Howser

Chief Communications Officer
After serving for a decade as deputy director for the Office of News and Communications, John Howser was named assistant vice chancellor for News and Communications for Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) in 2012. He was named VUMC’s Chief Communications Officer in 2016. Since assuming the role as VUMC’s chief communications officer, Howser has been responsible for messaging campaigns throughout multiple large-scale institutional endeavors. In 2012-2013 VUMC underwent a $230 million (8%) operational cost-reduction effort across all mission areas. In 2015, VUMC began a comprehensive restructuring process to financially and legally separate from Vanderbilt University, emerging from this process to become its own nonprofit academic health system on May 1, 2016. To end the use of multiple legacy electronic health record systems, beginning in 2015 VUMC went through a two-year process (the largest organizational change process in its history) when its health system converted to EPIC during a “Go Live” event that culminated on Nov. 2, 2017. In February 2020, VUMC’s adult and pediatric infectious diseases experts began to be offered to local, national, and international news media to speak about aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, clinical treatments, research protocols, masking, vaccine efficacy and myriad other topics, sparking the busiest two-year period for media relations activity in VUMC’s history. In 2022, Howser and his media relations team surpassed 1.2 million earned media placements, a milestone that includes favorable earned media mentions for VUMC in essentially all major U.S. and international media outlets. Dominating the market in earned media coverage, VUMC continues to be featured in health news stories on Nashville’s local TV affiliates more than 1,300 times each year. Also in 2021-2022, VUMC saw the debut of Last Chance Transplant, a three-part mini-series that made its debut on Discovery+ that features the Vanderbilt Transplant Center. The series was recognized by Donate Life with the 2022 Inspire Award. In 2023, Howser is serving in his 11th year as VUMC’s communications leader and celebrated his 36th year of service to VUMC.

Craig Boerner

Assistant director, media director, national news director
Craig Boerner joined the Office of News and Communications in October 2005. He is assistant director, media director and national news director, responding to local, national, and international media outlets seeking medical experts while also publicizing Vanderbilt research, education and patient care stories that have broad national interest. Boerner is a lifelong journalist who most recently worked for The City Paper, where he reported on local government, public safety, education, development, politics, and neighborhoods. His first newspaper byline came while working at the Southwest Times Record in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, at age 16, and he contributed to print publications in Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee throughout his newspaper career. As a member of the Office of News and Communications, he is a frequent contributor to VUMC NEWS. He has also authored stories for the European Society of Cardiology, including a May 7, 2019, article published in the European Heart Journal on financial disclosures for volunteers. In February 2016, his Vanderbilt media team received the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Southeast District III International Platinum Award in Best Practices in Communications and Marketing for “Response to Need for Credible Health Information During 2014 Ebola Outbreak.” Boerner holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Missouri.

Kathy Whitney

Assistant director, director of publications
Kathy Whitney joined the Office of News and Communications in June 2007. As the assistant director and director of publications she oversees the Medical Center’s publications, including VUMC News, Hope, which brings news from the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt; and Momentum, the magazine of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. She is also the editor of the biannual Vanderbilt Medicine magazine, the alumni magazine of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. She covers the news of the School of Medicine and Graduate Medical Education. She is a recipient of the AAMC’s Robert G. Fenley Writing Award. Whitney has more than 30 years of health care and academic public relations experience and has worked for the University of Miami Hospital and Clinics, the College of Charleston, and the Medstat Group and was a freelance writer for Nashville Medical News. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Western Kentucky University.

Wayne Wood

Assistant director
Wayne Wood is assistant director and is editor of the Medical Center online employee magazine VUMC Voice and the biweekly employee newsletter MyVUMC. He also oversees the VUMC Photography Group and has a faculty appointment in the Vanderbilt School of Medicine as assistant in the Division of Medical Education and Administration. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and earned a master’s in liberal arts and science from Vanderbilt University, where he wrote a thesis on singer-songwriter Warren Zevon. Previously, he hosted the NPR interview program “Medically Speaking,” and is the author of Watching the Wheels: Cheap Irony, Righteous Indignation, and Semi-Enlightened Opinion.

Holly Fletcher

Director, Media Equity and Emerging Platforms
Holly Fletcher joined the Office of News and Communications in late 2018. She untangles messy ideas and is a pro at creating impactful digital conversations across all channels. A journalist in her DNA, she conceptualizes and experiments with how information flows through communities when traditional news organizations wither or go extinct. Holly studied international affairs, focused on nationalism and conflict, at Northeastern University; received an MS from Columbia University School of Journalism; worked as a reporter, editor and social media manager for Power Finance & Risk, and reported on the business of health care at The Tennessean before launching a journalism experiment, BirdDog, in 2018. She was a part of the 2022 class of Nashville Emerging Leaders. She produces the award-winning ‘Vanderbilt Health Discoveries in Action” podcast, which has been downloaded more than 100,000 times in more than 120 countries.

News and Media Staff

Kylie Avery

Senior public relations specialist
Kylie Avery joined the Office of News and Communications in 2019. She works with VUMC medical professionals and local and regional media to educate and inform the public on medical advances, advice and research. Avery also contributes to VUMC’s online news source, VUMC News, covering the Asthma, Allergy, and Sinus program, the Tennessee Poison Center, Emergency Preparedness, and Allied Health programs. Avery graduated from The State University of New York at Buffalo with a bachelor’s degree in communications. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, she worked in New York as a marketing specialist in the technology and engineering fields.

Jessica Pasley

Senior public relations specialist
Jessica Pasley has been with the Office of News and Communications since 1999. Pasley, a senior public relations specialist, is the media relations manager for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and works with print, broadcast and electronic news media. Her job responsibilities also include highlighting research and news generated by the medical teams at Monroe Carell as well as pitching in to write for a variety of publications for the communications division. A native of Nashville, Pasley graduated from Washington and Lee (W&L) University in Lexington, Virginia, where she was a member of the first class of women to attend the former all-male university. Her writing career began while a high school student at the Nashville Banner. Upon graduating from W&L with a degree in journalism, she officially joined the Banner team as a copy editor and later as a medical features writer. After eight years, Pasley switched gears to become the publications director at Saint Thomas Hospital before joining VUMC’s Office of News and Communications.

Publications Staff

Matt Batcheldor

Public relations specialist
Matt Batcheldor is a public relations specialist in the Office of News and Communications who covers Vanderbilt Nursing, the Vanderbilt Transplant Center, Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute, and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Batcheldor contributes to VUMC News and several other Medical Center publications while assisting with media relations. Prior to joining Vanderbilt in 2014, Batcheldor was a reporter at the Nashville Business Journal, The Olympian (Olympia, Washington), and The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky). Batcheldor, a native of Louisville, has a Bachelor of Arts degree in print journalism from Western Kentucky University.

Danny Bonvissuto

Information officer
Danny Bonvissuto joined the Office of News and Communications in 2022 after 15 years as a freelance writer. In addition to staff roles at Nashville Scene, The City Paper and The Atlantan Magazine, she’s written marketing content, cookbooks for Cooking Light and Southern Living, contributed to WebMD, Men’s Journal, Food & Wine and HGTVGardens.com, and helped many people preserve their personal stories. Raised (but not born) in Nashville, Bonvissuto graduated with honors in English from an SEC school outside of Tennessee but never brings it up because it makes locals angry. She covers Psychiatry, Otolaryngology, Hearing & Speech Sciences, the Osher Center for Integrative Health, Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Nephrology and Hypertension, Pharmaceutical Services, and Orthopaedic Surgery for VUMC News and contributes to VUMC magazines.

Doug Campbell

Information officer and editor, VUMC News
Doug Campbell, who served as editor of the VUMC Reporter from 1995 to 2000, rejoined the staff in the Office of News and Communications in 2004. In between he served as managing editor of Amusement Business, a weekly entertainment industry trade publication. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado. He is currently editor for VUMC News.

Jill Clendening

Information officer
Jill Clendening joined the Office of News and Communications in 2016 as a public information officer after nearly three decades as a journalist and communications/marketing professional. She writes news and feature stories for VUMC publications and websites, including VUMC News and Vanderbilt Medicine. She covers Vanderbilt Medical Group (VMG), Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network (VHAN), Department of Surgery, Division of General Surgery, Department of Plastic Surgery, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Vanderbilt Palliative Care, Department of Health Policy, and Vanderbilt Diabetes Center/Diabetes Clinical Research. She also compiles the monthly VMG Newsletter. Jill has been with the Medical Center since 2008, previously working with Nursing Research, and the Department of Anesthesiology as communications and marketing coordinator. Before joining VUMC, Clendening worked on the Tennessee Department of Transportation communications team and as a reporter for The City Paper and The Tennessean. She also worked as a senior editor for Journal Communications, a media and content marketing firm. Clendening graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communications.

Diana Duren

Art director
Diana Duren joined the Office of News and Communications in 2007 after working for various design and marketing firms for over 15 years. She serves as the art director and designer for many of the department’s award-winning publications, including Momentum, Hope, Vanderbilt Medicine and The Empowered Nurse. She graduated from Western Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design.

Christina Echegaray

Communications coordinator – Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
Christina Echegaray joined the Office of News and Communications in 2010, coming from The Tennessean, where she was a reporter covering medicine and life sciences. She serves as editor of the Children’s Hospital biannual publication Hope and contributes stories involving Monroe Carell to other News and Communications publications, in addition to other broad responsibilities. Echegaray received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and Spanish from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prior to working at The Tennessean, she worked as a reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Bradenton, Florida, and the Telegram & Gazette in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Paul Govern

Public relations specialist
Paul Govern contributes news and features to VUMC News, Vanderbilt Medicine, Momentum, and other VUMC publications. Previously a publications writer with hospital administration, Paul joined the Office of News and Communications in 1998. He covers news from Anesthesiology, Biomedical Informatics, Dermatology, Infectious Diseases, and Neurology, among other areas. Before joining VUMC, he was editor of a regional magazine in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Nancy Humphrey

Chief copy editor
Nancy Humphrey is a native of Columbia, Kentucky, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and history from Western Kentucky University. She was a general assignment and medical reporter for the Nashville Banner from 1982 to 1985 and worked for the communications office of the Bureau of Health Services, Tennessee Department of Health, prior to joining the Office of News and Communications in 1993. She serves as chief copy editor for the department, and with Humphrey as editor, Vanderbilt Medicine won the 2000 CASE Circle of Excellence silver medal award for special constituency magazines and a 2002 award of distinction in the Association of American Medical Colleges’ 32nd Annual Awards for Excellence competition. Humphrey covers Medical Center Development, NIH/Vanderbilt partnership in Undiagnosed Diseases Network and the Potocsnak Center for Undiagnosed and Rare Disorders at VUMC, the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, the Vanderbilt Eye Institute and helps cover the Department of Pediatrics as needed.

Leigh MacMillan

Public relations specialist / science writer
Leigh MacMillan writes news and feature stories about biomedical research for Medical Center publications and websites. She joined the Office of News and Communications in 1999. With colleague Bill Snyder, MacMillan covers the Departments of Radiology and Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology, Divisions of Clinical Pharmacology, Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, and Genetic Medicine, and multiple centers and institutes. She also serves as a backup MyVUMC editor, Systole editor, and copy editor. MacMillan earned a BS in chemistry from Michigan State University and a PhD in pharmacology from Vanderbilt University. She added two years of postdoctoral training, also at Vanderbilt, before deciding to change course and pursue a career in science writing.

Bill Snyder

Senior science writer
Bill Snyder is an award-winning science writer and journalist who covers the biomedical sciences for the Office of News and Communications. His beat includes Cancer Biology, Genetic Medicine, Imaging Science, Microbiology and Immunology, Epidemiology, and Clinical and Translational Research. His work appears in the Medical Center’s online news source, VUMC News, and in various Medical Center and university publications. A graduate of Stanford University, Snyder reported on science and health care for Nashville’s daily newspapers, the Nashville Banner, and The Tennessean, for more than 20 years before joining the Office of News and Communications in 2002.

Tom Wilemon

Senior public relations specialist
Tom Wilemon joined the Office of News and Communications in 2015, coming from The Tennessean, where he was a health reporter and investigative reporter. He is editor of the biannual Momentum magazine for Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. He covers cancer care. He has previously worked at Memphis Daily News, SunHerald in Biloxi, Mississippi, and The Daily Corinthian in Corinth, Mississippi. He has a Bachelor of Liberal Studies from the University of Memphis.

Photography Staff

Donn Jones

Senior photographer
Donn joined the Office of News and Communications in 2020 as a senior photographer. Jones is a Nashville native who started his photo career at the Nashville Banner where he served as both a staff photographer and photo editor. After the Banner closed, he freelanced for about 25 years, shooting both editorially and commercially with clients including the Country Music Association, the Associated Press, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and several corporate clients. For 20 of those years, Jones also served as the team photographer for the Tennessee Titans.

Erin O. Smith

Erin Smith joined the Office of News and Communications in early 2020 as a photographer, contributing to its publications (VUMC News, VUMC Voice, Momentum, Hope and Vanderbilt Medicine), various VUMC websites and publications, as well as external media platforms when photos are requested from the Medical Center. Prior to joining VUMC, she worked as a staff photographer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and The Times in Gainesville, Georgia. Smith is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in Spanish.

Susan Urmy

Senior photographer
Born in New York and raised in Nashville, Susan received her formal training at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and the New England School of Photography, both in Boston and has been on staff at VUMC since 2006. Urmy has studied and worked with professional photographers in New England, California, and the South, and has experience in photojournalism, advertisement, and documentary work. Susan’s work has appeared in Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan,  and Rolling Stone.

Administrative Staff

Marjorie Moore

Media Press Tracker database assistant / office assistant
Marjorie Moore oversees the data entry for the Office of News and Communications’ database, which tracks media placements and assists with other office functions.

Gladys Smith

Assistant to the director and office manager
Gladys Smith assists the director in the day-to-day administrative office functions and manages the department’s budget. She has been an employee of Vanderbilt University Medical Center for 50 years.

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