Our Team

Elena Cates

Elena Cates is the President of Cates Consulting, located in Los Angeles. Elena leads the financial and business services practice for Cates Consulting. Clients include MasterCard, Brunswick Group, Joele Frank and PIMCO. Elena conducts searches for several private equity Firms and a leading management consulting firm. Additionally, Elena co-leads Biopharma, focusing in Clinical Development and General & Administrative. Clients include Biogen, Audentes Therapeutics, 89Bio, Retrotope, and AskBio.

Elena began her career as a consultant at Russell Reynolds Associates and was promoted to Director of Research for the Southern California offices. Elena was responsible for creating and implementing the search strategy for recruiting efforts on financial and business services searches in both the US and Europe. In 1991, Elena Co-founded Cates Consulting with Partner and sister, Rachel Galligan. Elena received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She has served on the Board of the New York Executive Search Roundtable and was a Co-founder and President of the Southern California Executive Search Roundtable. Elena is the former Treasurer of the National Charity League and has served as a Vice President and on the Board of the Palisades Hills HOA in Pacific Palisades since 2010. Additionally, she served on the provisional Board of Save the Children in Los Angeles.

Rachel Galligan 

Rachel Galligan is a Partner with Cates Consulting. She has over 25 years’ experience in executive search and has successfully completed global and regional searches with a focus in Pharmaceutical, Biotech, and Cell & Gene Therapy. Rachel has conducted searches across multiple functions and professional roles, including Research & Development, Operations & Manufacturing, Quality, Administration & General Management, Clinical & Preclinical, Translational, and Commercial. One of the hallmarks of her search practice, as is echoed throughout Cates Consulting, she will work tirelessly on behalf of candidates and clients.

Rachel began her search career with A-L Associates in the firm’s Research Department and was promoted to Director of Research. Her complete understanding of research as a discipline accelerates candidate vetting through the use of enhanced research parameters prior to the search itself. Rachel is known for maintaining long-term relationships with former candidates and converting them into top talent hires in record time. Additionally, Rachel is a member of the Advisory Board of Untapped Potential, a not-for-profit benefit corporation supporting “returnships” for professionals returning to careers after absences for family needs.

Marianne Vacca

Marianne Vacca is an Executive Recruiter with Cates Consulting. Marianne is active and accomplished in conducting searches and finding top talent for our clients. Marianne’s focus is working with clients in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, as well as start-up and technology companies

Prior to joining Cates Consulting, Marianne worked as a Sales Representative for Bristol Myers Squibb and as a National Accounts Manager for General Electric. Marianne is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University, with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Minor in Marketing.

Samantha Murphy

Samantha Murphy is a Head of Research with Cates Consulting. Samantha has been with the company for over 20 years and is both a pillar and guru for the Research Department. Samantha works with clients to build a tailored research strategy and provides targeted research to support their search needs. She is known for and has a unique ability to find the proverbial needle in the haystack. She is a perfectionist in all aspects of her work. Along with managing research projects, Samantha is also responsible for mentoring and developing a team of talented researchers. 

Samantha obtained her Associate’s Degree in Sciences from Becker Junior College (accomplishing invitation to both Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Beta Gamma). Upon graduation, she began work as a veterinary technician with both small and large veterinary hospitals in the New England area. Samantha is also a member of WGRC, a motorcycle riding club dedicated to sponsoring and assisting with local charities and events.

Debra Christian

Debra is a Manager, Research with Cates Consulting.  Debra joined Cates Consulting in 2005 as a Research Associate. She has taken on increasing responsibility including, managing research team members and spearheading projects. An expert in research and candidate identification, utilizing resources combined with tenacity and dedication. Debra organizes our quarterly core team meetings.

Prior to her position with Cates Consulting, Debra spent 15 years as a Production Manager at several different manufacturing facilities throughout CT. Debra attended Quinebaug Valley Community College. Debra resides in Weeki Wachee, Florida.

Sean Nagler

Sean is a Talent Coordinator and Project Manager with Cates Consulting.  In his coordinator role, Sean ensures timely transitions and scheduling throughout the entire recruitment process, from the initial candidate screening to the final panel interviews. As a project manager, Sean works internally to plan, organize, and direct the completion of key projects, while also optimizing workflow and processes.

Sean obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Statistics from the University of California, Los Angeles