Meet Michelle O'Gara
Michelle (Mimi) O’Gara, MPR, is a multi-discipline designer and writer with expertise in developing and implementing integrated communications campaigns across print, digital, video, and social media.
Background and Recognitions
Mimi has a passion for healthcare initiatives and was awarded two consecutive Silver Aster Awards (honoring excellence in healthcare advertising) for her creative direction work for SBH-Medicine Magazine (formerly SBH-Physician Magazine). In 2017, she led the first team to implement the enterprise communications platform Workplace (by Facebook/Meta) in a healthcare setting.
She attended SUNY Brockport for her undergraduate studies and was named a Friar’s Foundation Scholar for scenic design. Mimi launched into a career assisting Broadway theatre artists, including Christine Jones, the late Tony Walton, and Narelle Sissons. In 2002, Entertainment Design Magazine featured her as an up-and-coming designer to watch. She received noteworthy acclaim for her design collaborations with Pulitzer Prize winner John Patrick Shanley and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. In a 2003 review in The New York Times, Ben Brantley referred to O’Gara’s work as,
“... exuberant theatricality…which has been designed with an artful mix of starkness and comic flair."
Graphic and Web Design
Blending her traditional theatre arts training with the emergence of new media, Mimi earned a second degree in Graphic and Web Design from Gibbs College in New York City. A newbie to the corporate world, she designed brand identity and corporate collateral for the Girl Scouts, All for One Alliance, Landmark Worldwide, and Gentiva – the largest home healthcare company in America.
A Turning Point
In 2008, Mimi was treated successfully for breast cancer. The experience led her to write and illustrate an inspiring book entitled, “Cancerland and The Other Side of Sick.” Her multi-media art from this era was selected for the West Chelsea Art Gallery show entitled 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 and PinkSpeak.
In 2017, Mimi was awarded an academic achievement medal from Iona University when she completed her Master’s degree in Public Relations. But, of all the awards she has received throughout her life, her most cherished is the black and orange M patch she received from Mamaroneck Avenue School for reading the most books in the first grade.
Above: “Opening Doors to Good Health” Takes an intimate look into the world of Open Door patients.
Mimi has spearheaded integrated brand identity and communications campaigns for organizations including Family Legal Care (formerly LIFT), the Landmark Worldwide Conference for Global Transformation, Open Door Family Medical Center and Foundation, SBH Health System (formerly St. Barnabas Hospital), Union Community Health Center, and Bronx Partners for Healthy Communities (a joint venture with SBH Health System, and part of a statewide DSRIP initiative to restructure the health care delivery system).
When Westchester County became the East Coast epicenter of the coronavirus, and the grim reality of the covid death rate was pressing in, Open Door Family Medical Center stayed fully operational. Staying true to its name, the Federally Qualified Health Center kept its doors open for its 60,000 low-income patients and thousands of other people in the County who thought they had Covid but had nowhere else to go. Mimi developed a digital crisis communications plan to address the complex needs of the Covid-19 pandemic, yielding over $650k in monetary donations and $50k in gifts-in-kind (including PPE). In addition to raising community awareness about access to testing and vaccinations, she produced over 40 bilingual videos and increased the health center’s YouTube channel subscriber base by 200%. Videos ranged from community vlogs and exercise videos to animated explainers and a “behind-the-scenes” spot featuring front-line staff (shown above).
As a “primetime Gen X’er,” Mimi spent the summer days of her childhood on a small wooden fishing boat, digging up clams along the shores of the Long Island Sound. As a teenager, she could be found exploring the foothills of the Adirondacks and during her college years on the banks of the Erie Canal. She is a native of Mamaroneck, New York/Wiquaeskeck Indian Territory.
For nearly fifteen years, she lived in the concrete jungle of New York City, where she met her husband, Terence, a psychotherapist. They relocated to Northern Westchester and are grateful for the serenity of nature.
She loves all things Hawaii (have you ever seen a humpback whale spy hop?), the History Channel (Will they find treasure on Oak Island?) and enjoys designing hilarious Christmas cards. Mimi is in an ongoing inquiry about the multi-continent origin of her ancestors, how to write great stories, the nature of being, and how the universe works. She is not a fan of the Oxford comma.