Michael Eselun, Board Certified Chaplain and a Unitarian Universalist, is the chaplain for the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology. He has worked extensively in oncology, hospice, palliative care and with acute psychiatric patients. He's been invited many times to speak to students, doctors, nurses, social workers, and faith communities about his work as a chaplain. Michael speaks from deep personal experience while also sharing the experiences of his patients with vulnerability, insight and humor—making connections between seemingly disparate life journeys.
"Michael has got so much to impart on such a puzzling subject." – Raphael W. Asher, Rabbi, Congregation B’nai Tikvah
He recently spoke at the national conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer in Orlando, and was the keynote speaker at the Promising Practices for Mental Health and Aging Conference in Los Angeles. Not long ago Michael hosted and presented at the first Spirituality and Medicine Conference at UCLA to an interfaith group of community religious leaders. He’s also been invited more than once to lecture as a part of Simms/Mann-UCLA’s Insights into Cancer lecture series. He has a popular TED-X talk available on-line as well.
"Michael created an environment where we could jump headlong into a precious discussion of healing vs. curing and the central role of a caring human heart." – Jeffrey Ring, Ph.D. White Memorial Medical Center - Family Medicine Residency Program
Michael is also a co-founder and chair of a non-profit, volunteer anti-homophobia speakers bureau called GLIDE, Gays and Lesbians Initiating Dialogue for Equality. Over the last 20-plus years, Michael and his fellow speakers have spoken to an audience of well over 150,000 students, teachers, and other various groups and agencies in the LA area about homophobia. GLIDE is the go-to resource for LA Unified Schools as well as for the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance. As an integral part of the museum’s Tools for Tolerance program, Michael has addressed countless groups of students, educators, administrators, law enforcement agencies, government agencies, and corporate management groups about the impact of homophobia on our culture. He sees both pursuits as closely related in that both fields have to do with creating safe spaces for people to fully tell their truths and be received with respect.
"Michael gave a message that transcends circumstances, religions, culture, and politics." – Elaine Suranie, former Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women
Michael’s affinity for chaplaincy was really born out of his volunteer hospice work in the early days of the AIDS pandemic. That work demanded that one come to peace with unanswerable questions, while holding the space open for more exploration of what it all may mean. It also demanded creating a safe and sacred place to tell one’s truth. These are hallmarks of Michael’s work—listening and giving voice to those in the margins.
"…so touching, relevant and, most of all, accessible to people at all points along the cancer spectrum, at all ages and of all faiths and beliefs." – Amy Grillo, Living Beyond Breast Cancer