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Meet the Staff of Dr. Sofonio

Kyle James

Office Manager

Kyle James is the surgery coordinator and office manager for Dr. Mark Sofonio and has been working with Dr. Sofonio for nearly 10 years.

For her, it is all about personal empowerment and transformation in her personal and professional life. Kyle’s professional journey began 30 years ago in the cosmetic industry with two major manufacturing companies responsible for product distribution and sales training/motivation of 11 western states.

Kyle’s path of self-empowerment and her joy of assisting others to obtain their own personal goals led her to her own business, K.J. Events, providing meeting planning and special events for network marketing companies. This business path eventually brought Kyle to the desert.

Today Kyle enjoys her professional success and believes the harder she works, the luckier she gets. Instilling in her staff the knowledge of how they can be the best at what they do, she encourages them to focus on being women of value and quality. Kyle’s many years of involvement in the beauty world allowed for a natural progression into the field of plastic surgery.

When we have something on our exterior that inhibits us on the interior and we are empowered enough to do something about it, then we can transform our bodies like a butterfly, Kyle says.

Jon Poling

Jon Poling


Jon Poling, PA, has been a Physician Assistant for 36 years, 20 of which he has spent specializing in Cosmetic Dermatology. He graduated from the Physician Assistant Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1975. He practiced in the USAF until 1988. As the retired USAF Captain, Jon ran rescue and recovery for the space shuttle efforts at Edwards Air Force Base along with being responsible for the Aerospace Medical Section. Following this career, he established a private practice in 1989. He has been practicing in the Coachella Valley for the last 22 years.

Jon Poling primary expertise is in the field of cosmetic laser technology and Dermatology. Jon has been a repeated guest lecturer at the meeting for Society of Cosmetic Laser Surgeons. Jon also has been an investigator and injector of facial fillers and neurotoxins for since 1996. His experience lies in the use of Botox and Dysport, along with cosmetic fillers including Restylane, Perlane, Juvederm and the volumizer Sculptra for use as a liquid facelift. He has trained with the experts from around the world including some of the product’s inventors.

Jon‘s expertise also lies in the practice of Dermatology, skin cancer and skin cancer surgery. He has over 43 yrs experience in Dermatology, 30 years in Cosmetic Dermatology and 15 years in Hair transplantation.

Nurse Shirley


Nurse Shirley brings over 25 years of experience in aesthetic medicine to the practice of Dr. Mark Sofonio. Nurse Shirley has worked with many of the top plastic & cosmetic surgeons in Southern California. She is certified in Dialysis from Scripps, Laser Treatments from Cutera, and Facial Rejuvenation through programs conducted by Saint Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals, Allergen, and Merz. Nurse Shirley has held positions in the OR, ICU, Trauma, Oncology, and as Director of Nursing for a Cosmetic and Plastic surgery center.

Nurse Shirley is an artist in her free time, which has developed her eye for providing a uniquely personalized cosmetic result for each of her patients. She customizes her approach to each individual’s facial aesthetic needs. From improving lines in the forehead to a full liquid facelift, Nurse Shirley is an expert in her field. She considers her self a facial sculptor. Most of her patients marvel at how easy, and how much fun Nurse Shirley makes facial injections.

Nurse Shirley has injected alongside some of the finest injectable physicians and nurses in the world sharing techniques at the highest level. She has demonstrated advanced techniques at a master level injectable course to both Nurses and Physicians. She continually studies with Physicians who sit on the boards of Allergen and Merz and who speak at worldwide conferences on facial global rejuvenation.

Nurse Shirley makes it her business to stay on the cutting edge of advancements in her field of facial aesthetics.

Cindy Mc Elwian

Cindy Mc Elwian


Cindy is a seasoned surgical RN with 30 years experience in patient care before, during and after surgery. She is also a fully trained recovery nurse. In addition, over the last year, she has been trained in the use of Ultherapy, the first focused ultrasound therapy available in the United States.

I love seeing the results of Ultherapy. The patients have no downtime, require no recovery, have no incisions and have immediate results. It kind of seems like magic.

Kay Ward


Kay’s personalized mission was created over 30 years ago when she was the Vice President of Nursing and a consultant for the Sisters of Mercy. Kay is an advocate for patients and in creating “abundance in the stewardship of others”. Kay’s vast experience also includes working in Critical Care, Emergency Room, and acting as a flight nurse.
With her passion for international travel and study abroad, Kay’s adventures lead her to the Middle East while she studied the Ancient Mystery Schools of Egypt. Her trip to Russia became a gateway for academic learning of behavioral science at the University of Moscow. The Russian revolution forced an escape plan to Paris and London where Kay enjoyed her new passion of studying fashion design. Having retired on three different occasions, Kay now enjoys the Lord’s work of melting fat in a collaborative practice of plastic surgery.

Patti Owens

Patti Owens


Patti’s experience includes 20 years as a surgical nurse, educator, and laser manager at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, WA. She also managed the laser / aesthetic program along with performing a variety of cosmetic and aesthetic laser procedures for 13 years in a dermatology clinic in Olympia, WA. In addition, Patti is a national consultant for a variety of laser companies and organizations with a focus toward aesthetic and medical safety education. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Health Administration from Chapman University in 1996. Her co-authored book with Pamela Hill, Milady’s Aesthetician Series, Laser and Light Therapy, was published in 2009 by Cengage Learning.

I am passionate about my work in order to enhance my patients’ experience and help them achieve their rejuvenation goals.

On April 4, 2014, Patti Owens RN, MHA, CMLSO received the coveted Excellence in Laser Nursing / Allied Health Award in Phoenix, Arizona. The American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) promotes excellence in patient care by advancing the medical application of lasers and other related technologies worldwide.

The Excellence award was established in 1991 to recognize outstanding nursing and allied health contributions to ASLMS and the advancement of joint practices in laser medicine and surgery. The award recipient must have demonstrated expertise, consistent professional conduct, active involvement and exceptional standards of practice. Patti has been a dedicated member in ASLMS for the last 23 years and has obtained “Fellowship Status”.

As a faculty member and instructor, published author, and the safety representative to the ASLMS board, Patti fulfilled the criteria twice. Patti first received this award in 1999 and now she is the only nurse to be nominated twice in ASLMS history for this distinguished award.

Patti Owens is presently employed at Mark Sofonio MD, F.A.C.S. plastic surgery office in Rancho Mirage. Patti also provides private consulting advice through her own safety consulting company, AestheticMed Consulting International.

Doug Ortiz

Doug Ortiz


Mr. Ortiz received his BSN in nursing at Hawaii Pacific University in Kaneohe Hawaii. Upon completion of his studies he was employed at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs in the ICU department. Doug later took a position at Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruses, New Mexico in the ICU as a travel nurse. After completing his contract in New Mexico, Doug returned to California to work at Hi Desert Medical Center in their Emergency Room department. Doug joined Sofonio Plastic Surgery in 2014 and is the Director of the OR.

Monica Alvarez

John Graciano

John Graciano


John Graciano is a Certified Surgical Technician who trained in a 3-year program and graduated with top honors. John has been the personal scrub technician for the last 20 years. He has been Dr. Sofonio’s personal assistant for over 10,000 surgeries. John looks forward to providing personalized and competent care during each and every surgical procedure!

Candace Lee

Board-Certified Aesthetician

Being a part of the postoperative care of my patients is one of the most fascinating parts of my job, says Candance Lee.

Candace is a Certified Aesthetician with over 30 years in the beauty industry. She has previously worked at several prestigious centers and has been with Dr. Sofonio almost 10 years. She specializes in “no downtime” skin rejuvenation and soft tissue tightening procedures. She also utilizes the Visia computer system to fully analyze the patient's skin care damage and progress once treatment has begun.

As an aesthetician, she has always been interested in clinical skin care and working with Dr. Sofonio provides her the best avenue to express her talents.

Kelly Wheeler

Kelly Wheeler


Kelly is one of the Coachella Valley’s leading skincare experts, an educated and accomplished professional who is specifically trained to read your skin’s past, treat your skin’s present, and guide you to a healthy skin future.

I’m committed to you realizing your skin’s fullest potential through all of the latest advances in skin care, including cutting-edge products and state-of-the-art technology. I’ve been an aesthetician for almost 20 years after receiving my skin care license at Florida College of Natural Health. I was personally motivated by adult acne myself and have blossomed into Anti-aging as well as the overall health and vibrancy of the skin. Skincare is my passion and I’m dedicated to taking care of you.

I absolutely love what I do and who I do it for. I work for Dr. Sofonio, a board-certified plastic surgeon who has been featured as a “Top Doctor” in Palm Springs Life magazine for 13 years in a row and is the plastic surgeon the Coachella Valley residents trust the most. I am honored to be a part of this team and look forward to taking care of you.

Sheila Celaya

Sheila has been the Administrative Medical Assistant for the front business office for the last 14 years. Her expertise in scheduling, communications and billing has enhanced our customer service at Dr. Sofonio’s office. Sheila is also a Medical Assistant which is important with our patients as questions arise. You will see Sheila as you check out from your procedures.

Bri Graciano

Bri Graciano

Bri started working with Dr. Sofonio 5 years ago as the manager of the Skin Cancer Institute. Her efficient administrative skills and pleasant mannerism make Bri a definite asset at our clinic. She is the always ready to greet you at the front desk when you check in. Her goal is to answer your questions and provide an excellent office experience.

Elizabeth Hagger

Elizabeth Hagger

Elizabeth has been working with Dr. Sofonio for the last four years with her emphasis on patient consultation, scheduling and follow ups. She began her career in the skin rejuvenation industry nearly 20 years ago. In the last two decades, she has been a Licensed Esthetician, medical receptionist, medical biller and continues to make education her top priority. Elizabeth brings to the work place a youthful entrepreneurial spirit that is infections to both peers and office clientele.

jacque vaccaro

Jacque Vaccaro

Jacque is from the San Francisco Bay area where she was the administrative assistant for a medical laboratory company for 35 years. Her expertise and administrative skills are greatly appreciated as she greets and checks in our patients.

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