Our program staff includes certified staff trained in multiple disciplines including:
Executive Director, Therapy Services
Ellen graduated with a B.S. in Kinesiology in 1981 and an M.S. in Physical Therapy in 1984. She worked as a physical therapist in a variety of clinical areas including acute, outpatient, geriatrics, orthopedics, acute rehab/neuro, cardiac, burns, and skilled nursing. She has been a rehab manager for the past 23 years in a variety of settings, and is currently Executive Director of Therapy Services for UCLA Health, which includes rehab, respiratory therapy, and integrative medicine programs. Ellen is a past member and president of the Physical Therapy Board of California, and continues to serve as a consultant investigating PT-related complaints state-wide.
Tamara Horwich, MD, MS
Program Medical Director
Dr. Tamara Horwich is an attending cardiologist and Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine/Cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She is Medical Director of the UCLA Health Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program, Co-Director of the UCLA Women's Cardiovascular Health Center, and an active member of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center. Dr. Horwich's clinical interests include treating and preventing heart disease in women, cardiac rehabilitation, treating patients with heart failure, and performing and interpreting echocardiograms. Read more >
Ernie Sacco, E.P., M.A.
Clinical Manager, Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Ernie’s background in nonprofit management and operations combined with his experience in health, wellness, rehabilitation, and exercise prepared him well for his role at UCLA. Ernie received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from California State University, Northridge where he majored in Kinesiology. His graduate thesis was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. During his graduate studies, Ernie learned first-hand that “exercise is the best medicine” that helps individuals truly improve their health and well-being. His first professional role emphasized the importance of nutrition, exercise, and stress management on the ability to reverse heart disease. His passion for therapeutic exercise, health, and wellness ultimately led to his involvement in cardiac rehabilitation. Ernie cherishes spending time with his wife and two lovely children. In his free time, Ernie is an avid runner, fitness enthusiast, and sports junkie.
Mary Galindo, MPH, RD
Mary Galindo is a Registered Dietitian and holds a Master of Public Health specializing in Health Promotion and Education. She also holds a certificate in Vegetarian Nutrition, Motivational Interviewing, and Health Coaching. Mary has been an integral part of the development and delivery of UCLA Health Dr. Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease since its inception at UCLA in 2014. She is continually inspired and motivated by the results that comprehensive lifestyle medicine is providing for her cardiac patients.
Lucy is the Nurse Case Manager for UCLA Health Ornish Lifestyle Medicine. She is a Registered Nurse and has been with UCLA since the start of her career in 2008. Prior to 2015, Lucy worked in the OR, ICU, and PTU/PACU in an outpatient setting. She believes strongly in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and she finds joy in helping her patients transform their health through integrative medicine.
Maryellen earned a nursing diploma from St Clare’s School of Nursing in New York City and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Western Governor’s University. Maryellen was hired as the first RN Case Manager to join the original UCLA Ornish Lifestyle Interdisciplinary Team in 2014. Maryellen is a passionate advocate of the program’s holistic approach to health and wellness and recently returned to the program in late 2018. Maryellen feels privileged to be a part of a program that allows participants to take control of their own health through simple lifestyle improvements. In her spare time, Maryellen enjoys spending time with family, the outdoors and traveling.
Lauren is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist with UCLA Health Traditional Cardiopulmonary Rehab and the UCLA Health Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program. She holds professional certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM-CEP) and the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR-CCRP). Lauren has worked in our department since 2006 and played a critical role in starting the UCLA Health Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program from the ground-up in 2014. She provides a safe, educational and fun environment where patients can reach their goals. Originally, from Michigan, Lauren lives in Santa Monica and loves a good sunset beach run.
Claire is a Clinical Social Worker who holds a Master’s degree in Somatic Psychology from Santa Barbara Graduate Institute and Master’s degree in Social Work from USC. She holds certificates in EMDR, Motivational Interviewing, and Problem Solving Therapy in addition to completing trainings in sexuality and health at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD and in Los Angeles. Claire has been a part of the UCLA Health Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program since spring of 2016 and is passionate about lifestyle medicine and the profound changes it brings to her patients’ minds, bodies and hearts.
Karin is a Certified Yoga Therapist with the International Association of Yoga therapists. She specializes in teaching yoga as a healing modality for heart disease at UCLA Health Ornish Lifestyle Medicine and for cancer patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Her personal experience of recovering from health challenges through yoga allows Karin to teach from a place of compassion and support. She teaches skills to apply to life, so people can heal, protect their hearts and thrive. Karin is excited by the success stories of the people who have found peace and wellness after heart events. She is also a graduate of Loyola Marymount University’s Yoga Therapy rx Program, and holds an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher license through Yoga Alliance. Karin received her bachelors’ degree in Communications from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Julie is the recipient of a credential in Yoga Therapy from Loyola Marymount University’s YTRx program and is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapist. She commits daily to her practice and to guiding others toward a sense of wholeness and wellness inherent in us all. She teaches yoga to cancer patients, survivors, and their families at UCLA Medical Center Olive View, and teaches trauma-informed yoga to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault for the non-profit organization Exhale to Inhale. Julie also serves on the board of the non-profit organization the Heartstringz Foundation, which provides musical companionship, ukuleles, and musical instruction to hospitalized children and senior citizens. Julie is honored to share the teachings of yoga with participants of UCLA Health Ornish Lifestyle Medicine.
Jessica graduated with a B.S. in Kinesiology from California State University of Northridge in 2015 with an emphasis in Exercise Science. She joined UCLA Health Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program in 2017 as a Rehabilitation Aide. Jessica completed an internship at Glendale Memorial Hospital in 2016 for their cardiac fitness center where she continued to add to her experience in exercise program development and adherence. Jessica’s 5 years of experience has focused on corrective, preventative, adaptive and functional exercises for optimum fitness, health, and performance. Her passion is to support patients on their health and wellness journey. Jessica enjoys the outdoors, loves spending time with her family and traveling.
Veronica began her journey in 2015 with UCLA Laser Refractive Center (LRC) at the Stein Eye Institute as a surgical coordinator and counselor where she worked under the Professor and Director of LRC. With her previous experience in an ophthalmology practice, Veronica arrived with the full range of administrative skills required to handle the financial aspects of a busy surgical practice: extensive knowledge of coding and billing, obtaining insurance authorizations, and outstanding phone skills. On Veronica spare time loves spending time family and incorporating components of the Ornish lifestyle program with weekly scheduled Yoga, Boxing and Cardio.