Meet Our Staff


For any general Health & Wellness questions or to schedule a workshop, please email hw.interns@sa.ucsb.edu or call our office at 893-2630. For more information on a specific staff member, see below.

Professional Staff

  • Sharleen O'Brien, Psy. D, Director

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    To contact Sharleen, email sharleen.obrien@sa.ucsb.edu or call 893-5480.

  • Joanna Hill, Health Education Specialist

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
    Topics: Eating Disorder Prevention and Body Image, Stress Reduction, Internships, Health & Wellness Advocate Program

    Joanna Hill is originally from “the” Valley (San Fernando). She started as a student in The Department of Health & Wellness in 1996. She was a Relationships Peer, summer theater actor and instructional assistant before she earned her BA in Sociology in 1997. She has worked for the UCSB Arts Library, UCSB Alumni Association, and with autistic men at the Devereux Foundation. Joanna’s staff career in Health & Wellness began in 2001 as advisor for the Sexual Health Peers and the Relationships Peers. Over the years, she has trained students, faculty and staff on all areas of Health & Wellness, her favorites being body image and stress reduction. Joanna currently oversees Health & Wellness Internships, the Advocate Program, body image and stress reduction programs. Joanna enjoys exploring Santa Barbara with her partner, Bruce, and their two growing boys, Cal and Otis who keep her challenged and busy on the home front. 

    To contact Joanna, email joanna.hill@sa.ucsb.edu or call 893-4163.

  • Sonya Gross, Health Education Specialist

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
    Topics: Alcohol & Other Drugs, Graduate Student Programming, HAWCs, Outreach

    Sonya Gross was raised in Chico, California and received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2012. During her time at UT Knoxville, Sonya completed her undergraduate thesis looking at the effects of social stress on drinking behaviors. She went on to complete her M.A. in Psychology at the UC Santa Barbara Behavioral Neuroscience Program in summer 2015 and has since joined the Department of Health & Wellness. Sonya currently supervises the Wellness Centers, graduate student programming, Health and Wellness Chairs (HAWCs) in the University owned residence halls’ student government, and trains interns on alcohol and other drugs issues. She spends a large amount of her free time snuggling with her dachshund son, Mayor Quimby. 

    To contact Sonya, email sonya.gross@sa.ucsb.edu or call 893-3434.
  • Michael "Maka" Takahara, Health Education Specialist

    Pronouns: He/Him/His
    Topics: Well-being, Positive Psychology, Life Skills, ED 191W, Marketing Coordinator

    Michael Kenji Takahara was raised in the eastern part of Los Angeles and received his B.A. in Psychology from UCSB in 1993. He worked at UCSB’s Housing & Residential Life as an assistant resident director before joining The Department of Health & Wellness in 1996. Michael supervises our marketing team, digital/social media coordinators, and stars in a weekly web series, Mondays with Maka. In addition to enjoying his family, Michael volunteers his time with Catholic Engaged Encounter and supports Youth Making Change, a youth-led grant-making program that gives young people the opportunity to engage directly in organized philanthropy. 

    To contact Maka, email michael.takahara@sa.ucsb.edu or call 893-8297.

  • Jackie Ovalle, Health Education Specialist

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
    Topics: Mindfulness & Compassion Meditation, Nutrition, FNBS, Why The Fruit?

    Jacqueline Ovalle was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised in Riverside County. Her passion for health, food science and nutrition led her to Davis, CA where she received her B.S. in Clinical Nutrition from UC Davis and certification as a National Food Protection Manager. At UC Davis, Jacqueline served as a Resident Advisor for UC Davis Student Housing and conducted research for the Department of Nutrition. She also held leadership positions with the Environmentally Conscious Nutritionally Alive Population organization, the UC Davis Leadership Council and the Student Nutrition Association. She has served as a Dietetic Technician at St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital where she applied her expertise in clinical dietetics and food safety management. Her previous work includes Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) at the California Department of Public Health, Kaiser Permanente, Camp Kaiser, and Winters Healthcare Foundation. In addition to her work, Jacqueline enjoys spending time at the beach and with her loved ones, trying new food recipes, traveling with her spouse, hiking and an occasional competitive match of air hockey.

    To contact Jackie, email jacqueline.ovalle@sa.ucsb.edu or call 893-3434.

  • Jason Stone, Health Education Specialist

    Pronouns: He/Him/His
    Topics: Sexual Health and Relationship Health, Sleep Health, RHA Safer Sex Peers, Online Programming

    To contact Jason, email jason.stone@sa.ucsb.edu or call 893-4347.

  • Lorie Morris, Office Manager

    Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

    Lorie Jean Morris grew up in Utah but moved to Santa Barbara to enjoy a more temperate climate! She received her B.A. in Psychology from CSUCI. Lorie is the Office Manager for the Health & Wellness Programs. Coming from a background in banking, customer service and accounts payable, Lorie makes sure the Health & Wellness staff and interns have the resources they need to successfully put on workshops, events, classes and activities. Her favorite quarterly event to be involved in is UCSB Dog Therapy Day. When she’s not helping interns with events, Lorie is out taking photos or Photoshop classes. You can find her on Sundays down at the Cabrillo Art Walk selling her photography. 

    To contact Lorie, email lorie.morris@sa.ucsb.edu or call 893-4081.