CARE Team

What We Do

The CARE Team exists to assist students in distress and to ensure the health, well being and safety of the entire CalArts community. While the primary work and focus of the team is on students, it also receives and acts upon reported concerns for faculty and staff.

When an incident is reported or a person of concern has been identified, the CARE Team will evaluate the information, investigate as needed, and determine the appropriate intervention strategies. Concerns may include but are not limited to academic deficiencies, mental or medical issues, family or personal problems, transitional struggles, and/or conduct. Anyone in the CalArts Community can bring concerns to any member of the team. All reporting will be handled confidentially and sensitively. 


Who We Are

The CARE Team is chaired by the Interim Executive Director, Health & Wellness. The primary members of the team are as follows:

  • Liz Peisner, Interim Executive Director, Health & Wellness
  • Kristen Acosta, Coordinator, Health & Wellness
  • Sandra Pirio, Student Health Services-Nurse
  • Michael Bryant, Associate Dean of Critical Studies
  • Bree Howard, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs
  • Bethany Ponek, Associate Director of Residential Life
  • Lily Rodriguez, Personal Counselor
  • Melissa Shepherd-Williams, Personal Counselor
  • Dionne Simmons, Director, Rights and Responsibility
  • Eva Graham, Institute Diversity Officer
  • Jesse Smith, Vice President of Operations & Facilities; Chief Operating Officer
  • John Thomas, Director, Security & Risk Management

When We Meet

The CARE Team meets on a weekly basis during the academic year and as crises arise. During meetings the primary team members will discuss significant student issues based on reports received and determine the best strategies for intervention. Additionally, the CARE Team will receive updates and follow-up on previous cases.