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Executive Leadership


  • Alexander Khalessi, MD, MBA

    Alexander Khalessi, MD, MBA

    Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery
    Professor of Neurological Surgery, Radiology and Neurosciences
    Don and Karen Cohn Chancellor's Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery

    Dr. Khalessi is a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in cranial and endovascular surgery. He provides both open surgical and catheter-based approaches to complex neurosurgical problems, including primary and metastatic brain tumors, cavernomas, aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), stroke, Moyamoya disease, and carotid disease.

    Dr. Khalessi holds several national leadership roles, including serving as president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), the leading academic society for neurosurgical professionals worldwide; co-chair of the CNS Foundation, which works to improve human health worldwide through neurosurgical excellence; and on the AANS/CNS Washington Committee. He also sits on the Board of Governors for the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

    Dr. Khalessi is deeply committed to the San Diego region and is consistently selected by his physician peers as a "Top Doc" in San Diego Magazine's annual survey. Regionally, Dr. Khalessi served two terms as president of the San Diego Academy of Neurological Surgery. 

    Dr. Khalessi earned his medical degree at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and completed his neurosurgical residency at the University of Southern California. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in public policy and master’s degree in health services research from Stanford University, and holds a master’s degree in business administration from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management.

    Executive Assistant:
    Loren Walters

  • Heather Delaney, MPH        

    Heather Delaney, MPH        

    Department Business Officer      

    Born and raised in San Diego, Heather Delaney brings over 25 years of healthcare experience, including almost 15 years at UC San Diego Health. Before joining UC San Diego Neurological Surgery, Heather served as the Division Administrator for Medical Oncology at Duke University. In her role with Duke, she worked closely with the Department of Medicine, Duke Cancer Institute, Private Diagnostic Clinic, and Duke University Health System.

  • Michelle Ziemba, RN, MSN        

    Michelle Ziemba, RN, MSN        

    Chief Administrative Officer for Neurological Institute, Psychiatry & Imaging

    Michelle Ziemba is a highly accomplished health care professional, with more than 15 years of experience in health care leadership, program development and hospital operations.

    In her role as chief administrative officer she oversees the development and operations of the Neurological Institute and strategic program development for the Neuro service line, including neurology, neurological surgery, psychiatry, radiology, ophthalmology, and rehabilitation. Working closely with our chair, Ms. Ziemba implements strategic priorities and initiatives that improve clinical care, patient access and clinical operations for both ambulatory and inpatient services.

    Ms. Ziemba has authored several publications and delivered more than 20 distinguished lectures across the country. She is currently a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

    She holds a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh and a master of science degree in nursing - Advanced Clinical Practice Nurse Practitioner, from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire.