Executive Team

Lonnie Zeltzer, MD

Founder and President

Lonnie Zeltzer, M.D., is a Distinguished Research Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Immediate Past-Director of the UCLA Pediatric Pain and Palliative Care Program. She is a co-author on the Institute of Medicine report on Transforming Pain in America and is a member of the national steering committee assigned to provide directions for pain research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  She has received, among other awards, a Mayday Pain and Policy Fellowship and the 2005 Jeffrey Lawson Award for Advocacy in Children’s Pain Relief from the American Pain Society (APS).  Her UCLA integrative pediatric pain program received a 2009 Clinical Centers of Excellence in Pain Management Award from APS and a 2012 award from the Southern California Cancer Pain Initiative.  She is active in advocacy for pain care and research. She was an invited member of the Institute of Medicine National Expert Panel on pain in America  and was a co-author of the IOM publication on the committee findings in 2011. She was… (read more)

Georgia Weston, MSW

Executive Director

Georgia Weston is the author of two books, Vienna’s Waiting and PAIN: An Owner’s Manual, where she provides insight into the mysterious world of chronic pain through her own story and the stories of others. In 2011, she founded the Teen Pain Help Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable corporation created to help children and adolescents with chronic pain. Since founding the Teen Pain Help Foundation, Georgia has served as the Executive Director, raising funds for treatment, research, education, and increased public awareness of pediatric chronic pain. She also co-founded and was the Director of Programming for Art Rx, strengthening the partnership between the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the USC Keck School of Medicine, specifically to better understand how art impacts pain. Georgia has experience creating and leading programs for organizations that provide therapeutic services for struggling individuals and families. She also has clinical social work experience, both as an outpatient therapist and residential therapist, for youth dealing with complex cognitive, behavioral, and social needs. In addition to her work with chyp, Georgia is a Research Associate on a Rally grant for an adolescent/young adult cancer pain telemedicine intervention study with the UCLA Pediatric Pain Research Program. Georgia has… (read more)

Olivia Aviera

Program Coordinator

Olivia recently graduated with a BA from Pitzer College. She majored in Psychology and minored in Spanish. She has been interested in the field of psychology from a young age and worked for a teen crisis hotline during high school. During her undergraduate program, Olivia gained experience working with different psychological populations through her time leading creative writing and poetry workshops for incarcerated adolescents in a secure juvenile detention center and providing milieu therapy in an inpatient psychiatric hospital… (read more)

Katherina Tanson

Research Assistant

Katherina Tanson is a first-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She is one of twenty-four students in the Charles R. Drew/UCLA Medical Education program, which uniquely focuses on addressing healthcare disparities while promoting leaders in medicine. Most recently, she serves as Co-President of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and is a part of the literary selection committee of her institution’s “The Beat” Journal that highlights literary and artistic expression in medicine… (read more)

Rebecca Stein, ACSW

Group Facilitator

Rebecca Stein is a psychotherapist who graduated Phi Betta Kappa from The University of Georgia, and later went on to receive her graduate degree from The University of Southern California. She has personally experienced the powerful benefits of connecting with others and using the arts to ameliorate her own chronic pain… (read more)

Jonathan Pachulski

IT Advisor

Bio coming soon

Board of Directors

Cindy McCann

Vice President

Cindy’s career began as a junior high and high school mathematics teacher, however she has worked predominately in the commercial real estate industry. She has been involved in the acquisition and disposition of office buildings and retail centers, working with Lenders to obtain loans, negotiating Lease Agreements, reviewing corporate operating statements and financial information, overseeing construction projects, and managing property… (read more

Julia Kelly


Prior to deciding to become a stay-at-home mother to three children, Julia Kelly was a public relations consultant managing communications on major public works projects. As a mother, Julia experienced the fear, overwhelming caretaking and isolation involved with seeking medical expertise to help her daughter with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia due to an over-active pain system.  Seeking out pediatric specialists and getting appointments, transporting and supporting a young teenager to many doctors, advocating for her with her… (read more)

Maya Iwanaga Pinkner, JD


Maya is a graduate of UCLA and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.  She began her career as a litigator at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and thereafter served as Vice President of Legal Affairs in the Television Division of Paramount Pictures. She left Paramount to become a full-time stay-at-home mom to her three children, who are not so little anymore.  Maya and her husband Jeff met Lonnie Zeltzer when their then nine-year-old son was diagnosed with… (read more)

Tina Bryson, PhD, LCSW

Dr. Tina Payne Bryson is the co-author (with Dan Siegel) of two New York Times Best Sellers—The Whole-Brain Child and No-Drama Discipline—each of which has been translated into over forty languages, as well as The Yes Brain and two upcoming titles, The Power of Showing Up and Bottom Line for Baby. She is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Connection, a multidisciplinary clinical practice, and of The Play Strong Institute, a center devoted to the study, research, and a practice of play therapy through a neurodevelopmental lens. Dr. Bryson keynotes conferences… (read more)

Risë Barbakow

A Los Angeles native, Risë started her career as a research assistant in Neurotology at Harbor General Hospital and UCLA. She screened patients with chronic disorders of the inner ear, specifically testing for acoustic neuroma. She then became a stay at home mom to her five children. While taking care of her family, Risë was also very involved in a handful of non profits in the Santa Clarita Valley, specifically the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita and the Child and Family Center of the Santa Clarita Valley.  For the past seven years, Risë has been… (read more)

Dana Pachulski

Dana Pachulski struggled as a child with undiagnosed medical issues for years. After being diagnosed with chronic IBS, she learned to put her mind to work and look creatively at medicine (especially in the absence of a diagnosis). Dana is a board member of the UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Co-Chair of the Regenerative Medicine Institute Campaign fro Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and Vice Chair of Cedar-Sinai’s Innovation Center Project for the Board of Governors (read more). 

Clinical Advisory Board

Sarah Martin, PhD

Dr. Sarah Martin is a licensed clinical psychologist and a postdoctoral fellow in the UCLA Pediatric Pain and Palliative Care Program. Sarah received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Georgia State University and completed her clinical internship at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. As a doctoral student in the Child Health and Medical Pain Lab, Sarah was interested in how psychological and social… (read more)

Elizabeth Donovan, PhD

Dr. Elizabeth Donovan is a research psychologist with expertise in developmental and health psychology. Her research centers around empowering people to better manage their health. Liz develops and evaluates psychosocial interventions delivered using technology. Most of these programs have focused on helping people learn the skills to better manage their pain. Liz also uses qualitative research methods to document… (read more)

Anya Griffin, PhD

Dr. Anya Griffin is a pediatric psychologist and Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, Pain, and Perioperative Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She is the clinical director of the Stanford Children’s Health Pediatric Rehabilitation Program (PReP), an intensive pain management program for pediatric chronic pain involving an interdisciplinary treatment team of occupational therapists,… (read more)

Neil Schechter, MD

Dr. Neil Schechter is presently the Director of the Chronic Pain Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, Senior Associate in Pain Medicine in the Department of Anesthesiology, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School.  He was previously the Chief of Pain Medicine at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.  Dr. Schechter is also the founder and… (read more)

Shelley Segal, PsyD

Dr. Shelley Segal is a licensed clinical psychologist in California since 2004. She received her PsyD from Pepperdine University and completed an internship at the Wright Institute Los Angeles. Her postdoctoral training was at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital. While at UCLA she worked with medical and nursing staff providing psychological treatment for inpatients… (read more)

Samantha Levy, PhD

Samantha Levy, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who received her Ph.D. from Georgia State University in the Child and Family specialty track. During her clinical child internship at UCLA in the child track, she became involved with the Pediatric Pain Program (PPP). Subsequently, she obtained her postdoctoral training with the PPP. Depending upon the case, Dr. Levy works either with whole families, individual… (read more)

Diane Poladian, PT, DPT, OCS

Diane graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Health Science and her Certificate in Physical Therapy from California State University, Northridge. She has since completed her clinical doctorate degree with a specialization in musculoskeletal physical therapy practice from Evidence in Motion Institute of Health Studies. She is currently Board Certified by the American Physical Therapy Association in Orthopedic Physical Therapy… (read more)

Soumitri Sil, PhD

Soumitri Sil, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA and Clinical Psychologist in the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She is the Founder and Director of the Aflac Pediatric Psychology Clinic, an outpatient therapy program for children, adolescents, and families receiving care within the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders… (read more

Sara Ahola Kohut, PhD, CPsych

Sara Ahola Kohut is a clinical health psychologist and researcher at the Hospital for Sick Children. She holds appointments within the SickKids Research Institute as well as both the Department of Psychiatry and Institutes for Medical Science at the University of Toronto. Clinically, Dr. Ahola Kohut works exclusively with children and adolescents living with chronic disease and their families. Her program works exclusively with… (read more)

Ginny Thompson, LPC, RYT500

Ginny Thompson, LPC, RYT500 is a licensed professional counselor and 500-hour certified yoga teacher. After completing her Masters degree in Professional Counselingin 2011 at Georgia State University she focused her clinical work in psychological trauma and play therapy in Boston. Training with Bessel van dor Kolk, MD and his faculty at the Justice Resource Institute inspired further study and integration of the… (read more)

Rachael Coakley, PhD

Dr. Rachael Coakley is pediatric pain psychologist in the Department of Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, where she serves as the Director of Clinical Innovation and Outreach in Pain Medicine and the Associate Director of Psychological Services. Additionally, she is Founder and Director of “The Comfort Ability,” an internationally disseminated program that teaches evidence-based pain management skills to… (read more)

Mariela Nava, DNP, CPNP

Mariela C. Nava is a pediatric nurse practitioner with many years of experience who specializes in care of the adolescent. She completed a one-year fellowship with Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer at the UCLA Pediatric Pain and Palliative Care Program in 2017 and presently works with youth with chronic pain in addition to pediatric primary care at Kaiser Permanente. The exposure to children with chronic pain and the obstacles faced in all aspects of life, including their medical… (read more)

Arts Council

Valerie Udeozor, RN

Valerie Udeozor is a Los Angeles Filmmaker and Nursing faculty at Pasadena City College RN program. She has penned stage plays on youth topics such as cyber bullying, bullying teen pregnancy and school violence performed at schools and youth events from Ohio, Atlanta and Los Angeles Compton. Her plays The Lockdown Club and Deleted were made into short films. They have screened at film festivals… (read more)

Nina Mathews, MFT

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Nina Mathews is an immigrant from India who has worked as an Art Therapist for the Department of State Hospitals for the last 15 years. She currently supervises a multidisciplinary team of therapists to design creative, expressive arts rehabilitation interventions to assist in the rehabilitation of the severely mentally ill… (read more)

Daniel Leighton

Daniel Leighton is an Augmented Reality artist, iPad painter, filmmaker, and technologist who creates art that delves into the deepest parts of the human psyche, while exploring the possibilities of technology and human emotion being harnessed for the greater good. Having Crohn’s Disease since birth, Leighton went through countless invasive procedures, hospitalizations and surgeries… (read more)

Social Media Team

Sara Castle

Sara Castle is an L.A. native and a current pre-med student majoring in Neuroscience. Sara has experience working with youth as a summer camp counselor and office administrator. She also assisted equine therapy organizations that help inner city children as well as disabled youth… (read more)

Madison Goon

Madison is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She graduated from the school of kinesiology with a bachelor’s of science in Movement Science. During undergrad, Madison was a research assistant in two research labs which focused on the benefits of physical activity and yoga on pediatric development… (read more)

Marisa Holt, MFT

Marisa Holt is a chronic pain warrior! Marisa recently graduated from the USC RossierSchool of Education with a masters degree in marriage and family therapy and also has a B.A. in psychology from Cal State, Long Beach. She has practiced therapy in South… (read more

Resource Team

Laura Cavanagh

Laura Cavanagh is a senior at Mills College, working towards a Bachelor’s of Science in Biopsychology. She is a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient, and, for her project, she handmade eighteen blankets for a residential mental health treatment program and taught over fifty young girls knitting and stress-coping skills.… (read more)

Chris Soria

Chris has a background in finance but decided to pivot in order to focus on a career in sociological research. He got his BA from UC Berkeley where he wrote his thesis on the father’s and unique impact on the college enrollment decisions of sons relative to daughters. He now focuses on parental behaviors which are conducive to positive or… (read more)

Hannah Zelcer

Hannah Zelcer is a Research Associate for the UCLA Pediatric Pain Research Program. She graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and honors. Since graduating, Hannah has worked as an administrative assistant for UCLA Health Psychology Department… (read more)

Youth Advisory Board

Natalie Ben-Ari

Natalie Ben-Ari is currently in eighth grade. She is a Girl Scout of Los Angeles, and loves to do volunteer work within, and outside her Girl Scout troop. She is very involved in the choral arts and sings in 7/8 Honors Choir with her school. She also enjoys theater… (read more)

Luke Bryson

Luke Bryson is a student at Polytechnic School, where he manages homework, football, baseball, and social commitments. Luke is well versed in chronic pain having dealt with complex regional pain syndrome since childhood. Some of Luke’s favorite hobbies… (read more)

Shelby King

Shelby is a 16-year-old teen who has been suffering from chronic pain for two and a half years. She has been to 25+ doctors and now has a great team headed up by Dr’s Zeltzer. She continues to improve every day. Her goal is to help and encourage other… (read more

Naomi Abergel

My name is Naomi Abergel, I’m 18 years old and I’ve had chronic pain since I was 12. It took almost 3 years of me being in extreme pain daily until I was finally diagnosed with chronic pain and those 3 years were the hardest. My situation was constantly doubted… (read more)

Emily Ferraiolo

At 13-years old, Emily is a dedicated student, a devoted friend, an amazing sister and daughter, and a hard-working, determined healer. She’s an eighth-grade student at Luther Burbank Middle School, who excels in science, social studies, art, and the… (read more)

Samantha Cohen

Hi! My name is Samantha. I am 13 years old and in eighth grade. My main love is dancing, because it makes me feel like I can do anything and combines several things I love – listening to music, being active, and being creative. I have always loved playing… (read more)

Dorian Simpson

My name is Dorian Simpson. Born and raised in California. Born with Sickle Cell Anemia. I have been hospitalized multiple times each year with different complications with my illness. Attending school has been difficult because of hospitalizations, doctor’s… (read more)

Lucy Kleinberg

Lucy Kleinberg is a 16-year-old honors student and Sophomore at Cleveland Humanities Magnet. When she isn’t on the tennis court or softball field, she can be found a Viridian Art Academy where she paints and volunteers in the youth classes. An avid fan of all ocean… (read more)

Sophia Dollenmayer

Sophia Dollenmayer is currently in 12 grade, and loves to perform. She travels around the country with Tremaine Dance Conventions, as well as competing within her home studio, Thrive Dance Center. She is extremely involved in her school, participating in… (read more)

Caroline Cox

My name is Caroline Cox. I am 17 years old and a senior at Marlborough School. I have always been an athlete, and was going through the college recruiting process for volleyball when I started having pain near my stomach right before my Junior year. My… (read more)

Lucy Yetman-Michaelson

My name is Lucy Yetman-Michaelson. I am 19 years old and am currently a Junior at New York University studying Psychology, but I’m originally from Mid-City LA. I first was introduced to the UCLA pediatric pain clinic and to the concept of creative healing when… (read more)

Téa Helfrich

Téa Helfrich is a Child Development major at Whittier College where she works as an admissions ambassador. She manages chronic pain and hypermobility by walking, taking frequent breaks, and playing with dogs whenever she can find one. A passionate… (read more)

Maddie Cordoba

Maddie Cordoba is a photographer and director born and raised in Los Angeles. She graduated with a BFA in Photography and Imaging from NYU Tisch School of the Arts (’16) with additional focus on gender studies and mental health. She is half Argentine… (read more)

Caregiver Advisory Board

Jill Endres, MD

Jill Endres is a retired minimally invasive surgeon living in Orange County. Most recently Professor of Clinical Surgery at the University of California, Irvine where she was the Director of Surgical Education, Dr. Endres devoted her career to educating medical students and residents. She is also the mother of a son with chronic pain… (read more)

Pam King

Pam started her career in the fashion business. When she met her husband Ronnie she relocated from Los Angeles to Denver, Colorado. Both of them enjoyed the four seasons in the Mile High City. They started their family immediately and Pam focused… (read more)

Teryse Ferraiolo

Teryse Ferraiolo has had the opportunity to pursue her career goals and also stay at home to raise her children. She graduated with a B.S. in Finance from Boston College and a Masters in Secondary Education from Salem State. She taught high school math… (read more)

Stephanie Cohen

Although my most rewarding job is my current role as full-time mother to three amazing children, I began my career in marketing research. I studied at the University of Pennsylvania, earning degrees in both psychology and economics/marketing. I worked… (read more)

Alexandra Helfrich

Alexandra Helfrich’s passion is working on behalf of children. She’s served on the board of directors of the Burbank Arts for All Foundation since 2007, and as co-chair of the organization from 2010-2013, where they’ve donated over $750,000 to arts programs… (read more)

Debra Capers

Ms. Capers is the mother of an amazingly resilient 26-year-old adult sickle cell warrior. She is also a recent cancer survivor. She has a 20-year career of public service with the County of Los Angeles. As a caregiver… (read more)