meet our team

Ping Ho, MA, MPH – Founding Director

Ping Ho - Headshot - 2016 - Low ResPing is Founding Director of UCLArts & Healing, which transforms lives through creative expression for self-discovery, connection and empowerment. UCLArts & Healing is an organizational member of the UCLA Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine, of which Ping is a Steering Committee Member and was the founding administrator. She was also the founding administrator for the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), which led to the privilege of writing for Norman Cousins and co-writing the professional autobiography of George F. Solomon, M.D., founder of the field of PNI. In addition, Ping has an extensive background as a health educator and performing artist. She has a BA in psychology with honors from Stanford University, an MA in counseling psychology with specialization in exercise physiology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MPH in Community Health Sciences from UCLA School of Public Health. Ping is on the Council of Advisors for the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health, a national network of educational organizations and agencies in complementary and alternative medicine, and is on the Steering Committee for the Association Leadership Council of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine. She has been a member of a subcommittee for professional learning for createCA, a California Arts Council-initiated collaborative to educate administrators in education regarding the value of the arts for learning and behavior, what constitutes quality arts education, and models for successful implementation and outcomes. She is a co-developer of the program, Beat the Odds: Social and Emotional Skill Building Delivered in a Framework of Drumming, and was the principal investigator of its effectiveness study that was published in the journal, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. In addition, Ping developed the UCLArts & Healing Social Emotional Arts Certificate Program to empower anyone in the design, delivery, and evaluation of effective arts-based programs that maximize social and emotional benefits.


Krista Beagin, MFA – Web & Marketing Manager

kristaIn addition to earning a BA in literature from UC Santa Cruz and an MFA in writing from the California College of the Arts, Krista has over a decade of experience in the publishing and product-design sectors. As a seasoned editor and administrator, she brings an organizational aptitude and a detailed eye that is integral to her role at UCLArts & Healing. As the Web & Marketing Manager, she wears many hats—from managing email newsletter campaigns to the myriad of our resources listings—which allows her a unique opportunity to utilize her skills and experience, be part of something she wholeheartedly believes in, as well as be a member of an extraordinary team that continue to promote the creative arts as an indispensable element of mind-body healing and wellness.


Cesar Ramos – SEA Program Manager

Cesar-Ramos_HeadshotCesar has been an arts and health educator for nearly a decade, serving at-risk elementary and high schools throughout Southern California. He earned his BA in Film Studies from UC Santa Barbara, and worked for nine years with Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre as a performer and drum circle facilitator in their Conflict Management Program and as a Q&A facilitator for their STD Prevention Program. After receiving training as a facilitator in Beat the Odds, he began offering community demonstration sessions for UCLArts & Healing. Upon completion of training in the Social Emotional Arts (SEA) Certificate Program, Cesar served as a teaching assistant for the SEA Program and as a staff assistant for the inaugural UCLArts & Healing conference. In addition to arts education, Cesar continues to work as a professional actor in theater and film, collaborating and producing independent projects.


Karen Nowicki, CPA, MBA – Chief Financial Officer

karenKaren is a finance professional who specializes in nonprofit accounting and administration, and brings over a dozen years of experience in the field. As the Finance Manager at UCLArts and Healing, she oversees the day-to-day accounting and business administration components of the organization. In addition to her work at UCLArts and Healing, she serves as outside CFO for a number of nonprofit organizations, including Care Harbor, the nation’s largest free urban medical clinic, dedicated to serving the needs of the nation’s most underserved. Karen has also served as the City Treasurer for the City of Hermosa Beach since November 2013. She has an MBA in Finance from the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management and a BS in Accounting (Cum Laude) from Pepperdine University. In addition, Karen has studied in London, England with the Pepperdine Business Study Abroad Program to gain knowledge in comparative accounting. Karen remains actively engaged in her local community by serving on the Boards of the Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Hermosa Beach, and on the college scholarship committee for the Arts Group of Hermosa Beach.


Lauren Callahan – Research and Program Assistant

Lauren Callahan_Headshot_2017Lauren is a clinical psychology doctoral student whose clinical and research interests center around trauma-exposed underserved populations— specifically, children and adolescents. As UCLArts & Healing’s research assistant, Lauren coordinated a study in the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, involving the training of seven special education teachers in using Beat the Odds, an evidence-based drumming program for social-emotional skill building, and measuring outcomes on problem and prosocial behaviors.



program associates

Kendra Knudsen – Founding Director of the Creative Minds Project

kendra-knudsen-headshotKendra is the Founding Director of the Creative Minds Project (CMP), which delivers social-emotional creative arts groups for mind-body wellness and healing at local mental health and homeless agencies. The CMP is a partnership between UCLArts and Healing and Students for Integrative Medicine at UCLA. Kendra is also a Staff Research Associate at UCLA, where she coordinates The Big C Project: Exploring the Brain Bases of Exceptional Creativity. Kendra graduated with honors from UCLA with a B.S. in Psychobiology and a minor in Disability Studies. She is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Service Award (2013) and the Charles E. Young Humanitarian Award (2012) for her work developing the CMP. She is a Donald A. Strauss Foundation Scholar (2012), UCLA Undergraduate Research Scholar (2011, 2012), and a Milton Gottlieb Foundation Scholar (2010, 2011).


Rathi Ramasamy – Student Committee Director of the Creative Minds Project

rathi-ramasamy-headshotRathi Ramasamy is the Student Committee Director of the Creative Minds Project (CMP). Rathi is a Masters of Public Health student in the department of Health Policy and Management at UCLA. She has an undergraduate background in creative writing, and through her involvement with the Creative Minds Project, she is able to explore the healing potential of the arts by combining her passion for the arts with her dedication to fields of health and wellness.