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CPE Faculty and Advisory Group

Clinical Pastoral Education Faculty

Allison Kestenbaum, CPE Educator and Program Supervisor

Allison Kestenbaum developed and supervises the Clinical Pastoral Education program and serves as palliative care chaplain for the Howell Palliative Care Service at UC San Diego Health. 

Allison conducts research about spiritual and palliative care and education. She was the first chaplain to receive a Cambia Health Foundation Sojourns Scholars Leadership Program Award (2018). 

Before joining UC San Diego Health, Allison served as director of programs and taught pastoral care to clergy of all backgrounds at the Center for Pastoral Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. Prior to that she was a chaplain supervisor at UCSF Health, where she completed her chaplaincy and supervisory training.

She earned her MA in Judaic Studies and MPA in Non-profit Management and Public Policy from New York University. Allison is a board-certified chaplain (NAJC and APC) and a certified pastoral educator (ACPE). 

Professional Advisory Group (PAG)

The Professional Advisory Group (PAG) is made up of interdisciplinary professionals from UC San Diego Health and the surrounding community. Members are knowledgeable about CPE, spiritual care, palliative care, hospice, clinical education and other related areas.

They meet at regular intervals, at least quarterly, to provide advice and consultation on CPE program planning, development and program evaluation.

The PAG's purpose is to:

  • Support and provide guidance to the CPE program faculty, Department of Volunteer and Spiritual Care Services and to the Doris A. Howell Service related to the CPE program and provision of spiritual care.
  • Seek ways to improve the ways to improve the quality of the spiritual and emotional care provided to patients, loved ones and staff at UC San Diego Health.
  • Facilitate communication and cooperation between the health system and the community, especially the community's religious leaders, and represent the concerns of community leaders to the health system as needed.
  • Help identify support for the CPE program's financial needs.
  • Be available to CPE students for didactics, consultation, support and guidance.
  • Assist with recruitment and interviews.
  • Participate on a subcommittee:
    Accreditation: To provide CPE program evaluation through conducting exit interviews for existing students, reviewing students' written feedback about the program, and actively participating in the ACPE Accreditation self-study process.
    Clinical Mentorship & Supervision: To formulate protocols and training for clinical supervision, based on best practices from spiritual and other clinical disciplines and the unique context of UC San Diego Health.
    Curriculum: To advise CPE faculty about curriculum, including didactics, faculty and educational modalities. 

Professional Advisory Group Members

  • Layah Blacksberg, MA – Co-chair
    UC San Diego Health
    Director, Volunteer and Spiritual Care Services
  • William Mitchell, MD – Co-chair
    UC San Diego Health 
    Director, Doris A. Howell Palliative Care Service
  • Allison Kestenbaum, MA, MPA, BCC, ACPE Certified Educator and Supervisor, CPE
    UC San Diego Health Doris A. Howell Palliative Care Chaplain
  • Toluwalase A. Ajayi, MD
    Scripps Health Hospice and Palliative Medicine and Pediatrics
  • Gary Buckholz, MD, FAAHPM
    UC San Diego Health
    Associate Clinical Professor, Palliative Care
  • Arlene Cramer, FNP, AHPCN
    UC San Diego Health Palliative Care
  • LaVera Crawley, MD, MPH, ACPE Certified Educator
    California Pacific Medical Center
  • Rabbi Ralph Dalin
    Jewish Community Chaplain, Jewish Federation of San Diego County
    Rabbinic Director, Ohr Ami – The Jewish Hospice Program of LightBridge Hospice and Palliative Care
    Member, PCC Sharp Health Care CPE
  • Rev. Caroline Flanders, MS, MA, BCCi, CT
    Kaiser Fontana Medical Center and Advantage Health Systems Riverside Hospice
  • John Gillman, BCC, PhD, ACPE Certified Educator
    University of San Diego, The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego
  • Katie Hamelin, MA, LMFT, CCLS
    UC San Diego Health
    Child Life Program Manager
    SOAR Coordinator
  • Ben Janzen, Dr. Theol. PhD
    VITAS, Bereavement Services Manager
  • Noriko Kawai
    Chaplain/Bereavement Coordinator at Sojourn Hospice and Palliative Care
    Minister's Assistant at Buddhist Temple of San Diego
  • Rev. Michelle Kirby, BCC, ACPE Certified Educator
    VA-DoD CPE Center
  • Paul T. Mugane, M.Div
    Clinical Chaplain
    Sharp Grossmont Hospital
  • Alexander Norbash, MD
    UC San Diego Health Associate Vice Chancellor, Faculty Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
    Interventional Neuroradiologist
    Chair and Professor of Radiology
  • Karolina Soriano, LCSW
    UC San Diego Health Palliative Care
  • Rev. Mark Weber, M.Div., BCC
    Coordinator of Chaplaincy Services
    Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista, Spiritual Care Services