As we begin this new year, I am excited to announce that we have yet another great addition to our growing team, Dr. Chanel Kealoha!

Dr. Kealoha is a licensed clinical psychologist who has dedicated her career to improving the lives of children and families. I am thrilled to have Dr. Kealoha join our team as she holds an undeniable passion for helping others.

Dr. Kealoha has more than 15 years of experience in:

  • Comprehensive psychological evaluation/testing
  • Family crisis intervention
  • Clinical program and policy development
  • Evidence-based child and adolescent therapy

Notably, Dr. Kealoha has served as the lead psychologist for state developmental disability divisions in Hawai’i and Washington, where she headed statewide crisis intervention teams and developed policies to reduce the use of restrictive interventions and increase community integration. She utilizes a strengths-based approach, where she emphasizes the unique interests and abilities of each individual—as opposed to focusing solely on symptom reduction.

Dr. Kealoha’s academic background includes:

  • A full academic scholarship to the University of Southern California
  • Master’s and Doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University
  • Doctoral internships at the UCLA Medical Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD)
  • Post-doctoral fellowship at the Kapiolani Medical Center, where she received specialized training in the assessment and treatment of childhood trauma

Additionally, Dr. Kealoha is available for 50 minute screening sessions with your child. These appointments allow us to briefly screen your child for developmental, social, emotional, or behavioral concerns. By the end of the hour, Dr. Kealoha will provide specific recommendations for your child based on her observations and your child’s history. Dr. Kealoha is available for in person and tele-health appointments!

Some fun facts about Dr. Kealoha:

  • She was born and raised in Hawai’i
  • Professionally, she has an ardent interest in culturally sensitive and client-centered care
  • She has volunteered at intellectual and developmental disabilities summits and surf camps for youth with developmental disabilities
  • Mentored at-risk students while continuing to teach individuals of all ages to express themselves through the art of hula and Polynesian dance
  • Has toured the world performing hula and Polynesian dance professionally and competitively.

As our team of professionals continues to grow, I am so grateful to be a part of such a cohesive and collaborative group. I am very proud of the work the clinicians at San Diego Kids First provide to our families and will continue to personally consult with all of my staff clinicians on a regular basis to ensure we continue to provide only the highest quality of care to each and every family.

Welcome to the team Dr. Kealoha!

If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kealoha please call 858-692-4187 or email!


Deb Pontillo, Ph.D.
Director, San Diego Kids First