Meet Michelle O’Gara

Michelle is an driven communications and marketing leader who specializes in corporate strategy, branding, and integrated marketing communications, with a passion for health care initiatives. She is also the author and illustrator of “Cancerland and The Other Side of Sick” — a book to help people facing a diagnosis.

Recently, Michelle was named a “Digital Visionary” by Facebook for leading the first team in the health care industry to implement the new enterprise media platform Workplace.

She started her professional career as a scenic designer, and received critical acclaim from “The New York Times” and “Entertainment Design Magazine” for her collaborations with Pulitzer Prize winner John Patrick Shanley and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Theatre critic Ben Brantley fittingly referred to O’Gara’s work as, “exuberant theatricality… which has been designed with an artful mix of starkness and comic flair.” (New York Times, March 5, 2003).

Currently, she works at SBH Health System and supports senior administration in developing solutions for all internal and external communication needs across print and digital platforms. Michelle also operates a public relations and communications agency.

Early Training

Michelle’s pathway to being a communications professional is rooted in modern dance and choreography and what she refers to as, ‘moving $h*t in space.’ After graduating top of her class in theater design at SUNY Brockport in 1995, she launched into a career assisting Broadway theater artists Narelle Sissons, Christine Jones, Michael Vaughn Sims, and Tony Award Winner Tony Walton. Her scenic design credits include Where’s My Money? written and directed by Pulitzer/Academy Award-winner John Patrick Shanley (Manhattan Theatre Club), The Glory of Living directed by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, starring Anna Paquin and Jeffrey Donovan (MCC), and Spanish Girl directed by Ericka Schmidt (Second Stage Theatre). She enjoyed also working with Sam Shepard, August Wilson, Edward Albee, Stephen Sondheim, Joanne Woodward, and Stephen Adly Guirgis. (Please note: Francis McDormand still owes O’Gara a sandwich for a Bible she gave her while working on a production of Oedipus produced by the Blue Light Theater Company.)

Theatre critic Ben Brantley referred to Michelle work as, “exuberant theatricality…which has been designed with an artful mix of starkness and comic flair.” (New York Times, March 5, 2003).

Blending her traditional theatre arts training with the emergence of technology in design, O’Gara earned a second degree in May 2005, and expanded the scope of her design skill set to include digital media.

Young Adult Cancer Survivor

While working at Gentiva Home Healthcare,the leading home healthcare holding company in America, she developed corporate identity collateral, produced newsletters, ads, direct mail, event branding, presentations, exhibits, signage, web graphics and animation. She led creative strategy for high-profile programs including a national recruitment campaign for home health nurses and therapists, the annual report, and shareholder meetings. And, she also experienced one of the pivotal moments in her life — the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her experience beating cancer sparked a fire in her heart and fulfillment in making a difference for all people and their health on the global scale.

Her multi-media autobiographical art was selected for the West Chelsea Art Gallery show “Visual Diaries: A Snapshot of the Young Adult Cancer Experience.

In 2009, O’Gara co-chaired the “Dream On Live Band Karaoke Event” with CancerCare. Together they raised program funding for young adults living with cancer. The exposure from the event led to O’Gara presenting as a keynote speaker at the Living with Cancer Conference. Her book, Cancerland and The Other Side of Sick was published in 2010 and circulated around the world.

Cancerland and The Other Side of Sick is the first book to transform the impact of a cancer diagnosis from struggle to empowerment in 15 minutes or less. The book is designed to live in waiting rooms, hospitals, and homes throughout the world. Cancerland and The Other Side of Sick is a must-read for anyone whose life has been affected by cancer.

Ground Zero of Health Care

In 2011, Michelle started working for SBH Health System, a safety net hospital in the Bronx which treats the poorest and sickest patient population in America. She develops and implements strategic integrated communications marketing and public relations campaigns to improve patient satisfaction and increase
the visibility the hospital. She directs the development and production of all internal and external materials across print, web, social, television and digital media platforms. She also produces, scripts, and films video materials for media and in-house use. O’Gara spearheaded the branding & marketing collateral for Bronx Partners for Healthy Communities (a joint venture with SBH Health System), a statewide initiative to transform the delivery of care.

ABC News featured a story about her attention-grabbing design for the SBH Mobile Mammography Unit. Currently, O’Gara is spearheading the branding & marketing collateral for Bronx Partners for Healthy Communities (a joint venture with SBH Health System), a statewide initiative to transform the delivery of care.

Workplace by Facebook

On January 25, 2017, O’Gara led the first team in the health care industry to launch Workplace by Facebook – a dedicated and secure space for companies to connect, communicate and collaborate. She saw the implementation of the state-of-the-art enterprise social platform as a way to promote cross-functional employee communication and collaboration, breakdown the silos too common in the health care environment, and improve overall patient safety outcomes.

Working on her master’s degree in public relations in tandem with the roll-out and launch of Workplace, O’Gara focused her thesis topic on best practices for the implementation of Workplace in a health care environment.

Facebook recognized O’Gara as a “Digital Visionary” for her transformative work. She continues to blog about her experience and her relationship with the social media giant.

Personal Life

O’Gara and her handsome husband live in Westchester County, New York. Typed as an ENFJ on the Myers Briggs personality test, she loves to help others. O’Gara engages in respectful discourse on Facebook about politics, health care policy, breadfruit, and the 1965 Gemini 4 space glove floating out there in the ether. She is a stand that all the people in her life dream big and take big actions, stay healthy, and experience love. O’Gara loves being a mentor to young minds, and has a really big heart.