The Marilyn Hilton MS Achievement Center at UCLA

MS The Marilyn Hilton Achievement Center at UCLA MS National Multiple Sclerosis Society - Southern California & Nevada Chapter

The Marilyn Hilton MS Achievement Center at UCLA is a collaborative program offered by the UCLA Department of Neurology and the Southern California & Nevada Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Part of the Eric Small Centers for Optimal Living, the philosophy of the MS Achievement Center is that people with MS can be empowered to take control of their health and well-being with the help of educational and experiential programs. To this end, the Center programming is designed to provide wellness interventions that complement participants' medical management of their disease.

Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been living with MS for some time, we offer a program to help you achieve your wellness goals.

REACH to Achieve Program

The REACH to Achieve program is designed for people who have been living with MS for some period of time, are facing one or more life challenges related to their MS symptoms including mobility, ability to cope, memory changes and deconditioning and who are ready to take control and make personal changes.

In a setting of shared support, REACH to Achieve provides tools and strategies for you to improve and/or maintain your functional independence. REACH focuses on four main areas:

  • Physical Wellness: Customized fitness programs with our expert staff help members to reach individual fitness goals. Group fitness activities like yoga and tai chi also help improve or maintain functional abilities and mobility.
  • Emotional Wellness: Through our art therapy, support groups, and (one-on-one) emotional health interventions, members learn to reduce stress and improve their emotional status.
  • Recreation Wellness: Members participate in music therapy, journaling, adaptive gardening, community programs and cognitive stimulation activities.
  • Health Education: Our in-house experts share information about disease management, symptom management, nutrition and general health practices to help members make optimal lifestyle and health decisions in conjunction with their personal physicians. Guest experts from UCLA and the greater community provide "lunch-and-learn" lectures on specialty topics throughout the year.

"Members" attend the program one day a week on an ongoing basis. Our program is offered on a sliding fee scale and is accessible to everyone.

To complete your program application and take the first step toward optimizing your health and wellness please finish the application below:

Application for REACH Program

To contact Center staff with additional questions, Please contact Elise Herlihy:

Living Well with MS Program

For those newly diagnosed with MS, the Living Well with MS program offers an integrative approach to wellness and MS that introduces participants to information, strategies, and tools they can use to develop a lifestyle program that optimizes their well-being. Over the course of the twelve week program participants will:

  • Develop a comprehensive personal fitness and nutrition program
  • Understand and better manage MS symptoms, including fatigue and stress
  • Develop emotional and spiritual health practices for living well with MS
  • Increase their ability to cope with the diagnosis and the unpredictability of MS
  • Meet others with MS and develop a support network

Living Well with MS blends interactive, online learning and activities with weekly exercise/emotional wellness sessions that are held at the Center on Monday evenings in order to accommodate busy work and school schedules. The program is facilitated by Center health professionals as well as National MS Society staff, and delivers different program topics with targeted educational and experiential sessions such as Managing Stress, Understanding Fatigue, Complementary and Alternative Therapies, Taking Control of Your Personal Health and Strategies for Sustained Success. Participants develop fitness practices to enhance strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance by engaging in a variety of educational and experiential physical health workshops, ranging from Exercise to Manage Stress to yoga sessions. Living Well with MS participants receive a comprehensive notebook of educational materials and handouts on a variety of exercise topics, MS education, nutrition and spirituality.

Click here to complete your program application and take the first step toward optimizing your health and wellness.

To contact Center staff with additional questions, Please contact Elise Herlihy:

CogniFitness, Free From Falls, LEAP and Other Programs


CogniFitness is a multi-session interactive program that provides strategies and tools for dealing with common memory and cognitive challenges that can accompany MS. Topics addressed in CogniFitness sessions include focus and concentration, organization and memory, problem solving, and critical thinking skills.

Click here to inquire about our next CogniFitness program

Free From Falls

Free From Falls is a new 8-week fall prevention program designed specifically for people with MS who are able to walk, but may be at risk for falling. There are two levels of the program one for those who walk with or without a cane and a second for those who use a walker. 

In just 8-weeks you will
  • Gain an increased awareness of what can contribute to falls
  • Identify strategies you can use to prevent falls in your home and in the community
  • Engage in and develop a fitness plan to improve balance, endurance, strength and mobility to reduce fall risk
  • Increase your confidence to avoid falls and to manage falls, if they do occur

In a fun, supportive group atmosphere, expert instructors in rehabilitation, health and wellness will help you develop a personal plan to maximize your safety and well-being.

Click here to inquire about our next Free From Falls program.


"LEAP", our Lifestyle Education and Assessment Program, provides a comprehensive, one-time evaluation of neurologic and functional status. The goals of LEAP are to assess each individual's unique needs, identify areas for potential improvement and establish a plan for interventions that may be helpful to living optimally with MS. The program is designed to be accessible to residents of outlying areas where there is little access to MS specialty care, with all of the assessments taking place in a single half-day visit.

Patients receive a one-on-one consultation with each member of the Center's multidisciplinary team during the visit: our Neurologist, Clinical Nurse Specialist, physical and occupational therapists, Exercise Specialist, recreation therapist, dietician, speech and language pathologist, and a mental health practitioner. At the conclusion of the assessment, both the patient and his/her physician are provided with a comprehensive report based on MSAC experts' findings.

Click here to contact Elise Herlihy, Executive Director, to inquire further about LEAP

Our Staff, Volunteers, and Board Members

Staff and Volunteers
  • Medical Director - Barbara S. Giesser, MD
  • Executive Director & Clinical Nurse Specialist - Elise Herlihy, RN, MSN, CRRN, MSCN
  • Recreation Therapist - Stacy Nonoguchi, RTC, CTRS
  • Clinical Exercise Specialist - Ashley R. Smith, CPT, MPH
  • Physical Therapist - Prachi Vira, PT
  • Occupational Therapist - Dorna Hoseiny, OTR
  • Dietician - Denise Nowack, RD
  • Art Therapist - Anne Galbraith, LMFT
  • Art Therapist - Ruth Subrin, MFT, ATR
  • Speech and Language Pathologist - Licia Paskay, MS, CCC, SLP
  • Speech and Language Pathologist - Britta Schramm, MA, CCC, SLP
  • Speech and Language Pathologist - Nancy Sedat, MS, CCC-SLP
  • Recreation Instructor - Karen Gekelman
  • Music Therapist - Merle Strauss
  • Master Adaptive Iyengar Yoga Teacher - Eric Small
  • Adaptive Iyengar Yoga Teacher - Doug Dee
  • Adaptive Iyengar Yoga Teacher - Ermin Cruz
MS Achievement Center Board
  • Barbara S. Giesser, MD (Board Chair)
  • David Alexander, MD
  • Elise Herlihy, RN, MSN (ex-officio)
  • Denise Nowack, RD
  • Susan Schroeder
  • LaKiesha Cummings
  • Julie Kaufer, JD (ex-officio)
  • Sarah Kirwan

Contact Us/ Directions

Mailing address:
Marilyn Hilton MS Achievement Center at UCLA
1000 Veteran Avenue, Suite 11-62
Box 714722
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7147

Contact Information:
Phone: 310-267-4071
Fax: 310-267-4075

Directions: Click here for a map link to our address or for written direction click here

Volunteer & Donor Opportunities

Do you have a passion for wellness and special skills to share?
Please contact Stacy Nonoguchi to inquire; RE: our volunteer opportunities.
Our Center is fully supported by donations and nominal program fees. Click here to find out how you can contribute to our efforts.

Links to National MS Society