Weber Shandwick Bolsters Los Angeles Team with Key Leadership Appointments Across Industry Spectrum

Press Release

Weber Shandwick Bolsters Los Angeles Team with Key Leadership Appointments Across Industry Spectrum


LOS ANGELES, March 19, 2014 – Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s leading global public relations firms, announced today a series of leadership appointments to further bolster the agency’s fast-growing Los Angeles office. The announcement is spearheaded by the appointment of industry veteran Leslie Capstraw as general manager, Weber Shandwick Los Angeles, effective immediately. Reporting to Weber Shandwick president of North America Sara Gavin, Capstraw will be responsible for day-to-day leadership of the office.

With more than 20 years of experience, Capstraw has served as a senior strategist to global clients and managed integrated campaigns across a diverse range of industries and well-known brands in multiple markets, including San Francisco, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. Capstraw joins from Ogilvy Public Relations where she most recently served as executive vice president, group director for Brand, and head of the Los Angeles office, focusing primarily in consumer and consumer technology sectors. Her expertise in brand building, content strategy, issues management and strategic partnerships has earned several industry awards.

“Leslie has deep experience, multiplied by an even bigger vision,” said Sara Gavin, president, North America, Weber Shandwick. “Los Angeles is an important market to many of our clients. It’s also an excellent market for creative and digital talent and one of our centers for advanced content development. Leslie has an impressive track record inspiring high-performance people, teams and client programs.”

Capstraw succeeds Arun Divakaruni, who served as interim general manager of the Los Angeles office for the past six months. Divakaruni is senior vice president, Element Scientific Communications™, an industry-leading team composed of Ph.D.s, reporters and editors who incite change through science. With a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, he remains a leader in the Healthcare practice in California, helping to drive innovation.

Healthcare, Consumer and Digital Experts Join Team

Weber Shandwick’s Los Angeles leadership ranks and industry expertise were also recently bolstered with the appointment in January of Jim Wetmore as executive vice president, Healthcare. Wetmore brings more than 16 years of public relations and communications experience in leading biotech, pharmaceutical, medical device, health IT, hospital and nonprofit clients. He will now take a leadership role in the firm’s Healthcare practice in California. Prior to joining Weber Shandwick, Wetmore served as executive vice president and West Coast healthcare leader at GCI where he established and oversaw healthcare clients in the firm’s LA and San Francisco offices.

Bolstering the firm’s Consumer practice in California, Weber Shandwick also recently appointed Heidi Stewart as senior vice president, following her success leading Weber Shandwick’s Consumer practice in Australia. Prior to that, she spent two years in Weber Shandwick’s Chicago office. With more than a decade of experience, including both agency and in-house communications, Stewart brings proven expertise in innovative program development and creative execution for major lifestyle brands, with a focus on food, beverage and retail.

The firm has also appointed Mike Hope as vice president, Consumer in Los Angeles. Hope has more than 12 years’ experience overseeing global communications campaigns for leading consumer entertainment technology brands. He most recently served as consultant and founder of Hope Public Relations, supporting global consumer brands through public relations counsel, entertainment events and strategic media outreach. Prior to that, Hope served as vice president, Brand Communications at PMK*BNC.

In the digital space, Weber Shandwick Los Angeles has appointed Cira Van Leeuwen as vice president, Digital. Joining from Edelman Digital, Van Leeuwen brings nearly a decade of experience and success working with global consumer and mobile technology brands in developing innovative digital strategies to integrate social and traditional media.

“The global, rapidly-transforming nature of communications requires a diverse and specialized range of talent,” added Gavin. “We’re excited to add such deep expertise across wide-ranging industries so we can continue bringing the most insightful, innovative and creative solutions to our clients.”

About Weber Shandwick

Weber Shandwick is a leading global public relations firm with offices in 81 countries. The firm’s diverse team of thinkers, strategists, analysts, producers, designers, developers and campaign activators has won the most prestigious awards in the world for innovative, creative approaches and impactful work, including being honored as a 2014 Ad Age A-List Agency and winning four 2013 Cannes Lions. Weber Shandwick was also named PRWeek’s International Consultancy of the Year and The Holmes Report’s Best Healthcare Consultancy in the World in 2013, in addition to earning numerous best place to work accolades. The firm deploys deep expertise across sectors and specialty areas, including consumer marketing, corporate reputation, healthcare, technology, public affairs, financial services, corporate social responsibility, financial communications and crisis management, using proprietary social, digital and analytics methodologies. Weber Shandwick is part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG). For more information, visit