Meet the sos 2017 breakout presenters
Southern Obesity Summit 2017 –
Breakout Session Bios/Presentations
Kayla Anderson has been in the field of nutrition since 2006 and is a registered dietitian. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Pennsylvania State University and went on to earn her Master of Public Health and Nutrition degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her experience within nutrition has been multifaceted and includes community nutrition educator, clinical nutrition manager, corporate nutrition administrator, and even includes experience at the Food and Drug Administration.
As Director of Nutrition Services at Open Hand Atlanta, Kayla uses her experience within nutrition and public health to provide nutrition education, medical nutrition therapy, and lead her team in developing, implementing, and evaluating grant funded programs and initiatives
Marie Arick received her Masters of Science in Health Promotion from Mississippi State University and works as a Family and Consumer Science Agent with the University of Florida IFAS Extension Service in Jackson County, Florida. Additionally, she obtained the Certified Health Education Specialist accreditation in 2013. Her programming focuses primarily in two areas: health & wellness and foods & nutrition. Prior to joining UF Extension, she held the same position with Texas A & M AgriLife Extension Service. In her first career, Marie used her Bachelors of Science in Fitness Management/ Exercise Science, spending 18 years in the medical field witnessing first-hand the impact on one’s health and overall wellness produced by a serious ailment and the need for more educational programs to aid in improving the overall quality of life for people.
Arick feels addressing issues with a holistic approach can help people maximize their abilities and that small changes over time can provide a very positive and beneficial impact on people’s lives. Ashley Bennett is a Senior Wellness Program Coordinator and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Strong4Life initiative. She has experience implementing and managing programs across the state. She is primarily responsible for the statewide implementation of the Strong4Life School Nutrition Program, which trains school nutrition personnel on how to effect change in the school cafeteria through low- to no-cost environmental changes.
Ashley Bennett is a Senior Wellness Program Coordinator and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Strong4Life initiative. She has experience implementing and managing programs across the state. She is primarily responsible for the statewide implementation of the Strong4Life School Nutrition Program, which trains school nutrition personnel on how to effect change in the school cafeteria through low- to no-cost environmental changes.
Ashley earned a B.S. in Food and Nutrition as well as a specialization in Business, and a M.A. in Health Science and Promotion from The University of Alabama. She lives in Atlanta and enjoys being active, cooking and spending time with her husband and dog, named Juice.
Jill Birnbaum is the Executive Director of Voices for Healthy Kids, an initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, working to improve the weight of all children through nutrition and physical activity policy.
Kathryn Burklund obtained her degree in Community Health Education, with a focus in nutrition, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has over 15 years’ experience in managing health projects and grants ranging from nutrition education, teaching kitchens, youth gardens, physical activity, recreation, developmental disabilities and environmental concerns. Most recently, Kathryn has had the privilege to manage the CDC funded program at the University of Tennessee Extension, focused on obesity reduction through PSE changes that increase access to produce and physical activity.
Alba Calzada is a Research Manager with Health Disparities Research at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She has 7 years of experience in children’s nutrition research and 4 years of experience in health disparities research. Alba has worked with underserved populations and faith-based groups related to obesity and cancer prevention. Alba Calzada received a Bachelors in Human Nutrition from the University of Houston. AM Breakout PM Breakout
Rosa Calzada is an employee with MD Anderson at the University of Texas in the Health Disparities Department and has worked with the WeCan! Program for 2 years. She is currently a sophomore in college pursuing a career in health education. Rosa has volunteered at the Houston Food Bank and Baylor College of Medicine in health implementation programs in Houston for over 5 years.
Megan Carmichael is the Community Partnership Coordinator at the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County. Ms. Carmichael has worked in Public Health at both the county and state level for the past 16 years. She has been involved in numerous Federal Grants such as; Steps to a Healthier US in Pinellas County, Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), and most recently the CDC’s Partnerships to Improve Community Health (PICH). The grants have focused on policy, systems, and environmental changes around healthy food access and safe physical activity. She has built many sustainable partnerships over the years with non-profits, for profits, schools, afterschool programs, Parks and Recreation Departments, Metropolitan Planning Organizations and other city and county offices.
Katie Chennisi, MPH, is a Public Health Analyst with Harris County Public Health. Katie provides support to the Healthy Living Matters project, which is aimed at reducing childhood obesity through policy and environmental changes. Prior to this, Katie served as the Coordinator for the Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System, where she developed and shared professional development resources with early care & education professionals of Texas. Katie is also a Texas Registered Trainer and a Child Care Health Consultant with the state of Texas.
Jill Cox, MS, RD is a Program Development Specialist for Penn State Better Kid Care in nutrition, health and wellness for early care and education professionals. She has been involved in community nutrition education for many years delivering chronic disease and obesity prevention programs for youth and adults. Ms. Cox currently authors online professional development and other resources on a variety of health topics including healthy eating, physical activity promotion, and healthy growth and development of young children. Through her work at Better Kid Care, she has partnered with several agencies and organizations to offer evidence-informed resources on a variety of relevant health topics including obesity prevention, healthy eating on a budget and physical activity promotion. She has presented at several state and national conferences including National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, Let’s Move! Pennsylvania, National CACFP Sponsors Organization, Child Care Food Program Round Table, and FNCE.
Diane H. Craft, Ph.D., Professor, is on the faculty of the Physical Education Department at State University of New York at Cortland where she teaches courses in elementary and adapted physical education. Since 1998 she has been promoting developmentally appropriate, inclusive physical activities for toddlers and preschoolers with and without disabilities. Toward that end, she has given over 200 highly acclaimed presentations, workshops and keynotes on physical activities for young children to audiences across the nation. She has also co-authored four books on preschool physical activities including Active Play: Fun Physical Activities for Young Children. Craft is a past-president of the National Consortium of Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities. In 2005, she was recognized as the National Professional of the Year in Adapted Physical Education. A former elementary and high school physical education teacher, Dr. Craft is a committed advocate of inclusion. Craft is currently consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the subject matter expert on Physical Activity in Early Care and Education. In this role she has worked with over 30 states to identify ways to further promote physical activity in early care and education settings.
Cindy DeBlauw is registered dietitian and Extension Associate at University of Missouri Extension. She serves as the coordinator of the Eat Smart in Parks program, which is a collaborative effort that includes the University’s School of Journalism and Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. In addition, she serves on the Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition Schools and Child Care works groups that support policies and environments that promote healthy eating and physical activity. Prior to her nine years at the University, Cindy worked in public health nutrition at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Amy DeLisio is currently the Deputy Director at the PHI Center for Wellness and Nutrition with over ten years of experience working on nutrition and obesity prevention programs serving vulnerable populations. Amy has experience working on a broad set of funders including federal, state, local and private industry. Amy oversees youth engagement projects, healthy retail initiatives, worksite wellness interventions and other policy and environmental strategies that increase access to healthy food and safe spaces that advance health equity. Amy is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
Leslie Denner is a Marketing Strategist at VI Marketing and Branding in Oklahoma City. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Oklahoma City University with a minor in Spanish. She currently serves as President-Elect for Ad2OKC, an organization for young professionals in the communications industry. Leslie enjoys playing soccer, being outdoors and jumping in on voice talent projects for VI and Shape Your Future.
Laura Dice serves as the project coordinator for an initiative within Charleston Area Medical Center called KEYS 4 HealthyKids (KEYS). KEYS is a public health project focusing on creating policy, system and environmental change in West Virginia child care centers and schools. In addition, she coordinates the implementation of natural learning environments throughout WV. Her other interests include plant-based nutrition to prevent and treat chronic disease. She obtained her BS degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Shepherd College, WV and is currently enrolled in The George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health. She will receive a Master of Public Health degree in June 2017. She resides outside of Charleston, WV with her husband, Dave, stepson, Ryan, and dog, Paris.
Heather Farb is an Evaluation Manager at the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI). At LPHI, Heather has managed and coordinated a number of research and evaluation projects involving healthy food and stores, health impact assessment, community health needs assessment, behavioral health integration, clinical transformation, patient-centered outcomes research, and population health. Heather has a strong background in qualitative data collection and analysis. Heather holds a MPH in Global Health Systems and Development with a concentration in Program Design and Implementation from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Prior to joining LPHI, Heather worked in public health research and projects involving migrant health, HIV, sexual health, and access to health care.
Monica Griffin is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with Strong4Life, a wellness movement from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. She has 10 years of experience developing and implementing nutrition and wellness programs in the community. She has supported the implementation of wellness plans in over 100 organizations, including Parks and Recreation, early care and learning, and other community and youth organizations. Monica played an integral role in building Strong4Life's online wellness hub (www.strong4life.com/wellness) to provide resources and support to organizations who strive to provide a healthy environment for kids, families and employees.
Monica holds a B.S. in Dietetics with a health promotion specialization from Michigan State University, and an M.S. in Public Health Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University. In 2012, she received a Lieutenant Governor's Commendation for improving health and wellness practices in early care and education programs across the state, and her work has been published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Childhood Obesity, and Preventing Chronic Disease. She lives in Roswell with her husband and 2 young children.
Cami Hawkins is CEO of Marathon kids and joined the organization in August 2017. Cami has more than 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry with expertise in the areas of population health management, integrated delivery systems, payer strategies, healthcare strategic planning, medical group management and physician integration. She has assisted hospital and physician organizations throughout the country with strategic planning, operational assessment and performance improvement. Cami has managed the development and implementation of clinical integration and accountable care strategies, including the development of governance, payment models, and operational requirements with a focus on value and aligned incentives. A lifelong volunteer and committed community leader Cami has led Parent Teacher organizations at the primary and secondary level. Her passion for children and children’s health has been the focal point of her involvement across several not for profit organizations.
Starla Hairston-Blanks, MBA, MPH serves as the Director of the Community Voices division of Morehouse School of Medicine. With 12 years of experience in public health, behavioral health research and community health worker interventions, she serves as Principal Investigator for CBPR interventions focused on equity, health disparities and justice involved populations. Also, she has served as technical assistance provider and lead evaluator for over 15 nationwide projects integrating primary care into community-based interventions. With a Masters’ Degree in Business Administration, certificate in adult learning and a Masters’ Degree in Public Health Ms. Blanks has published peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and radio programs.
Carter Headrick is the Director of State and Local Obesity Policy at the American Heart Association. As a part of Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, he focuses on state-level policies that promote access to healthy, affordable foods and increase physical activity.
Bonnie Hinds is a State Specialist in the area of Health and Housing with University of Tennessee Extension. She joined Extension in 2008, after serving as the Director of Community Development for a regional health department. In addition to her work with Tennessee's 1416 grant, she works extensively in the area of environmental health, most notably coordinating outreach and education for the state's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. She is a frequent presenter on preventive health issues.
Sequoya Howard is a program manager at HealthMPowers where she has helped to develop the middle school pilot of the Power Up for 30 initiative. She earned her bachelors of science from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Audrey Idaikkadar is the Eat Move Talk Program Manager at the Georgia Department of Public Health. She previously worked with New York City schools in high poverty areas to create and implement wellness practices that increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity. She has worked for over 10 years in public health on projects that have included HIV prevention and education, surveillance, and chronic disease prevention. Audrey earned her MPH from Columbia University and her BA from University of California at Berkeley.
Courtney Irons joined HealthMPowers in 2016 and is currently a Middle/High School Health Educator. Courtney graduated from Kennesaw State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education. Throughout her studies and student teaching, she was a substitute teacher in Cobb County and worked in the after school program with special needs students. She was also involved in a variety of health product marketing programs. Courtney’s passion is providing students, teachers and families with the resources they need to live healthy lifestyles.
Dr. Jamie Jeffrey is a pediatrician and Medical Director of HealthyKids Wellness and Weight Management Program at CAMC. She received her medical degree from Marshall University School of Medicine and completed a pediatric residency at Akron Children’s Hospital in Akron, Ohio. After noticing escalating weight and BMI in her patients, she has devoted her career to pediatric clinical, research, advocacy and community outreach in the field of childhood obesity. She was the founder of HealthyKids, which is a multidisciplinary, family based treatment program that includes a dietician, psychologist and exercise physiologist, to offer additional support to motivated families.
Dr. Jeffrey also serves as Director of KEYS 4 HealthyKids, obesity prevention collaborative that focuses on health practices, policies and the nutrition and physical activity environment to enable more permanent change. This will hopefully provide the landscape where healthy options are more readily available and the EASY choice once again for our children.
Debra Kibbe is a Senior Research Associate in the Georgia Health Policy Center at Georgia State University where she has worked since October 2011 on obesity and health-related policy and programs throughout the United States. From 1998 to 2011, Debra served as Director of the Physical Activity and Nutrition (PAN) Program for the International Life Sciences Institute Research Foundation (ILSI RF) headquartered in Washington, D.C. where she coordinated, evaluated and published results from several school, community and health care intervention projects aimed at the prevention and management of pediatric overweight.
Prior to joining the PAN program, Debra was the assistant volleyball competition manager for the 1996 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Active at the national level, Debra is faculty for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics certificate program on child and adolescent overweight and was a member of the education subcommittee of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Implementation Plan initiative. Debra co-chairs the data and evaluation sub-group of the Georgia Shape childhood obesity prevention initiative. She is an experienced presenter completing more than 100 presentations throughout the United States and 15 countries on topics ranging from school-based health interventions to social marketing to improving obesity management practice patterns among clinicians. Debra earned her B.S. in Psychology from Hiram College (Ohio), and her M.S. in Personnel & Employment Relations from Georgia State University.
Carmen Llanes Pulido is the Executive Director for Go Austin! ¡Vamos Austin! (GAVA), an initiative increasing access to healthy food and physical activity opportunities in areas with high childhood obesity rates. Carmen was born and raised in Austin on "both sides of the highway," and has worked on public health and root causes of disparities for the last 14 years with a focus on community organizing. Previous to GAVA, she managed a program at Marathon Kids in collaboration with Sustainable Food Center, to engage parents and teachers at 18 public elementary schools in Austin's "Eastern Crescent" to build healthier campuses. Prior to this, Carmen worked as a research analyst and organizer with the environmental justice organization, PODER, in East Austin. She served on Austin's Independent Citizen's Redistricting Commission, which drew maps for Austin's first geographically representative city council under 10-1, and currently serves as Vice Chair of the city's Hispanic/Latino Quality of Life Commission. Carmen holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Chicago, where she concentrated on NAFTA's impact on corn, food systems and local economies in the U.S. and Mexico.
Dr. Michelle Lombardo is the author of The OrganWise Guys series, which promotes the benefits of good nutrition and preventive healthcare practices through creative characters playing the roles of the vital body organs. She has written 46 books, 10 activity books, eight Speaker’s Kits and was Creative Director on eight OrganWise Guys Videos, 72 vignettes and one educational CD-ROM. She also conducts dozens of “train the trainer” sessions on these materials each year nationwide. In addition, Dr. Lombardo coordinates and manages private/public partnerships such as multiple W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded multi-state childhood obesity projects. The study results of the model program employed in these initiatives, The OrganWise Guys Comprehensive School Program, were published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and the American Journal of Public Health.
Mike Lopez joined the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Family and Community Health Department in 2011. As an Extension Health Program Specialist, Mike focuses his effort on human populations and the effect of the built environment on healthy living. He provides leadership for the development, implementation, and evaluation of Extension educational programs in the areas of planning for active communities, physical activity, and healthy food access.
Mike’s educational background includes a B.S. degree in Biomedical Sciences and a Master of Urban Planning (MUP) degree, with a concentration in Active Living and Healthy Communities, both coming from Texas A&M University. He also earned a certificate in Environmental Hazard Management. He has a Professional Designation in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and last year he graduated from the Walking College Fellowship Program, four-month distance-education training through America Walks, a national organization that promotes walking and walkable communities. AM Breakout Tuesday Special Session
Lauren Lorenzo is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with Strong4Life, a wellness movement from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Lauren received her BBA in Hospitality from James Madison University and her MS in Nutrition from Georgia State University. She completed her dietetic internship at Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, GA.
Lauren is also a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor with over 20 years of experience in the private club and fitness franchise businesses. Lauren also has an extensive background in the culinary arts and food service from her years at the Ritz-Carlton, Starwood and the Greenbrier. Lauren resides in Atlanta with her husband and two children.
John Lunardini is the Communications and Business Development Director at Mississippi Primary Health Care Association. Previously, John Lunardini was the Vice President of Community Programs and Services at a non-profit community action agency. He provided executive leadership to a variety of social service programs. Prior to his work in nonprofits, he served as the Business Manager in the private sector and worked in the sports marketing field in marketing and development, certifications, community relations and advertising.
He received a Master’s of Science in Administration and Sports Management from Georgia State University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi. Also, he is a 2014-2015 graduate of Leadership Greater Jackson. Mr. Lunardini is a member of the Board of Directors for Jackson Police Foundation. He has chaired the Board at a large non-profit and was Treasurer for the Hinds County Economic Authority and Jackson 2000.
Elyse Maxwell is the Health Communication Manager for the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor degree in Journalism and Public Relations and holds a Master in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. During her time in DC, Maxwell worked for a national nonprofit and later joined a public relations agency after moving back to Oklahoma City. There she managed community relations, strategic communications and public affairs efforts for local and national corporate, government and nonprofit clients. She has also served as an adjunct professor of public relations writing at the University of Oklahoma.
Laciana McIntyre, MS, serves as the Health and Wellness Coordinator for The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. There, she works to improve the public’s knowledge about health, with the overall goal of lowering the risk of obesity-related illnesses. Ms. McIntyre creates and implements unique, youth programs designed to make eating healthy and living well interesting and fun. She also works closely with school health councils across the state, educating them on health application in the school setting and ways to improve overall student, faculty, and community health. Ms. McIntyre holds a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Master of Science in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion from Mississippi State University.
Lisa Medellin joined Healthcare Georgia Foundation in 2005. In her current position, Lisa is the primary liaison between the Foundation and its philanthropic partners both in Georgia and national, grantees, policy makers and non-profit organizations. Lisa also serves as team lead for the program staff at the Foundation, managing the Foundations’ grant making programs/portfolios, including identifying new strategic funding partnerships and managing the allocation of the Foundation’s annual distribution of $3.8 million in grants. She manages a diverse grant portfolio that includes; Health Policy, Childhood Obesity, Health Equity, School-Based Health Centers, and Integrated Health Care/Behavioral Health.
Dr. Deanna Melton-Riddle’s career as a healthcare professional spans over 20 years in both clinical and administrative roles in various settings. She has served as an educator over the last 14 years, and as an independent education consultant/trainer and health coach and health educator. She earned her Doctorate in Health Administration from Central Michigan University, Masters in Human Services Administration from National Louis University, and Bachelors in Psychology from Chicago State University.
Rachel Merritt is the Social Media Director at VI Marketing and Branding. VI is a full-service marketing firm headquartered in Oklahoma City. Rachel manages a team of social marketers that lead strategic planning and execution on all social platforms. She excels in community management and specializes in social strategy that influences behavioral change.
Eric Moreno, MA, is a Research Area Specialist-Senior for Salud America!, which is funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) National Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children. He has contributed numerous curated articles on the topic of Latino Health Equity and Latino Health Disparities since joining Salud America! in 2015.
Benjamin Moscana has been the principal of Bridgedale Elementary School in the Jefferson Parish Public School System (JPPSS) since 2012. Previously, he served as an assistant principal at Green Park Elementary School and a special education teacher at Dolhonde Elementary School, also in JPPSS. Promoting “Beagle Pride”, he helped lead Bridgedale Elementary from a “D” to a “B” on the state report card. In 2016, Mr. Moscana was named Jefferson Parish Elementary Principal of the Year.
Metria Munyan first joined the Public Health Institute in 2006 supporting a broad variety of nutrition education and obesity prevention strategies and initiatives that reach low-resource Californians through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) interventions. Metria’s passion for increasing youth opportunity and supporting youth voices in community change approaches complements the Center’s Youth Engagement efforts, and she continues to support Youth-Led Participatory Action Research (YPAR) projects as well as new approaches and innovations. Previously Metria supported youth leadership strategies such as YPAR through the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Youth Engagement Initiative. Provided countless training statewide and, at its peak, provided technical assistance to up to 52 youth projects throughout California. Additionally, she contributed to the creation and dissemination of a statewide beverage education campaign known as the Rethink Your Drink Campaign. Metria also brings extensive event coordination expertise to CWN from in-person and web based training series, to youth-facilitated trainings for groups with more than 100 young people, and multi-day professional statewide conferences with more than 800 attendees.
Derrick Neal is the director of the Victoria County Public Health Department (VCPHD) and the Cuero-DeWitt County Health Department. He assumed the reigns of both health departments in April of 2016. In these roles, Mr. Neal leads a team of professionals in Public Health Nursing, Environmental Services, WIC, Animal Control, HIV/AIDS Resource Program, Epidemiology, Diabetes and Chronic Management Project, Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Finance, Texas Healthy Communities, Flood Plain Management and MS4 permitting. Derrick is leading unique initiatives to advance public health in these urban and rural communities including implementing evidence-based public health initiatives. Mr. Neal holds a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Illinois (2002) with a focus on program evaluation and a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Jackson State University (1999). Derrick is currently a PhD candidate with a focus in Public Administration. In addition, continuous improvement spurs Derrick's quest to evaluate, develop and implement best practices for public health, infrastructure and safety programs for all communities to support economic, environmental and social sustainability.
Anika Norwood currently works at the DeKalb County Board of Health as a Health Promotion Specialist in Physical Activity for the R.E.A.C.H. (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) Program, which focuses on planning and implementing policy, systems and environmental change strategies within physical activity and nutritional programs. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Fort Valley State University and Master of Public Health from Morehouse School of Medicine where she specialized in Health Education and Promotion. She has extensive work experience in non-profit work, community outreach and implementing evidence and practice-based strategies to increase physical activity and nutrition in the Atlanta Metro area and DeKalb County. Her interests are designing and implementing direct service programs among underserved populations while incorporating social and behavioral determinants of health to promote healthy behaviors and lifestyles.
Emily O’Sullivan is passionate about helping individuals and organizations reach their fullest potential by focusing on holistic health. She has been working in the field of corporate health promotion for the past eight years and is currently the Program Manager for the South Carolina Hospital Association’s Working Well Initiative, a cross-sector strategy addressing employee wellbeing by establishing cultures of wellness in worksites throughout South Carolina. Working Well has partnered with over 130 organizations in SC, including hospitals, public and private businesses, state agencies, municipalities, school districts, universities, and state agencies to create sustainable cultures of wellness using evidence-based best practices focused on policy, systems, and environmental change.
Prior to her work at SCHA, she was a Health Promotions Coordinator at BlueCross BlueShield of SC where she developed behavior change programs for BlueCross members and provided onsite wellness solutions for employer groups. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion and Education from Clemson University and a Master’s degree in Health Promotion Management from Nebraska Methodist College. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist.
Wendy Palmer is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Health Education Specialist with a passion for prevention of childhood obesity. Wendy has worked in a variety of clinical and non-clinical settings and currently is a Manager in the Child Wellness Department at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Along with a multidisciplinary team, Wendy implements new and innovative strategies impacting key influencers, parents and children to reduce and prevent childhood obesity in Georgia. She has more than a decade of experience in nutrition, obesity and wellness.
Dr. Priscilla Pemu completed her MBBS degree in 1988 from the University of Benin in Benin City, Nigeria. Subsequently, she obtained a postgraduate diploma in Anesthesia in 1991 and practiced as an anesthetist at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. Once she obtained her fellowship in Anesthesia with the National Postgraduate medical College of Nigeria in 1997, she was appointed as Consultant Anesthetist at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital and Lecturer I with the University. Upon relocating to Atlanta, she completed residency training in Internal Medicine in 2002. She has maintained an active practice in in-patient care of the complex medical patient (hospitalist medicine) and she continues to precept residents in ambulatory internal medicine.
Since 1998, Dr. Pemu has been engaged in clinical research with additional training and certification through the Master of Science in Clinical Research program at Morehouse School of Medicine. She has conducted clinical trials as a research coordinator, sub investigator and Principal Investigator (15 studies) in Hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus and dementia. Dr. Pemu is the Principal Investigator of an initiative, whose main objective is to improve the quality of hypertension care among the practices. Grants from the National Institutes of Health Center for Health Disparities and the Medtronic Foundation support this project that now has eighty-eight primary care practices committed to participation. The registry has over 3500 records at present.
Marybeth Pena is a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator working as a nurse program specialist for the Florida Department of Health. She has devoted hands-on programs teaching nutrition and cooking classes to elementary and middle school children, provides health promotion to underserved and immigrant communities and developed and implemented a health ambassador and Junior health ambassador program in Indiantown. Serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua provided the experience of a lifetime and she continues to use her bilingual bicultural skills in her outreach work with the children and families in the community! Marybeth was recently awarded the Rural Health Champion award by the Health Council of Southeast Florida and the Lake Okeechobee Rural Health Network for her work in advocating and empowering children and families.
Lizette Rangel is the coordinator for the “Active Living after Cancer” program at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She received her B.S in Biology with a minor in Psychology from the University of Houston and a MPH in Health Promotion with a concentration in Global Health from the University of Texas, School of Public Health. She is currently working of her Doctor of Public Health degree in Behavioral Sciences from the University of Texas, School of Public Health. Her current research focuses on disease prevention, cancer survivorship, Latino health disparities, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She currently coordinates a program to improve the quality of life and improve physical activity for cancer survivors in the Houston.
Tammy Reasoner has been in non-profit management for over 15 years and served as program consultant to a CDC funded project in the USAPIs as well as a NIH funded project in the same region. Tammy has held the Communication Director and Director of Community Partnerships with community based organizations for the last decade. She is the National Co-Chair of the Communications Committee for the Food is Medicine Coalition and several local coalitions including serving as a Board member of the Georgia Diabetes Coalition. She also has a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Georgia.
Harumi Reis-Reilly is a lead analyst for the Breastfeeding Project at the National Association of County and City Health Officials. She is responsible for the training and technical assistance content delivered to funded local communities providing breastfeeding support. She has earned a Master of Science in Health Programs Management, and a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. She is a multilingual public health nutritionist, a health educator and an international board certified lactation consultant. She has been working in private practice and public health nutrition programs in the fields of Maternal Child Health and chronic diseases for over ten years, both domestically and internationally. Her areas of expertise and interest include childhood and adult obesity, breastfeeding support, public health and integrative nutrition, health program implementation, culturally appropriate support, individual and group counseling, and community partnerships. This past year, she has been happily writing and presenting around the country to make the case of breastfeeding as a serious public health issue, not only a lifestyle choice.
Christopher Roller is the Senior Director of Advocacy and Grants Management with the American Heart Association (AHA), South West Affiliate, and is based in Denver, Colorado. He supports the AHA policy campaigns and manages grant funded campaign staff and activities within the Advocacy department across the six states of the affiliate. In his previous role with the AHA, Christopher primarily covered public policy campaigns in Nevada. He also served as the Chairman of the State of Nevada’s Advisory Council on Wellness and the Prevention of Chronic Disease, as well as the state’s committee on the Prevention and Treatment of Heart Disease and Stroke. Christopher served as President of the Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition and was a member-at-large with the Nevada Public Health Association, which recognized him as the “Public Health Advocate of the Year in 2011 and 2013.
Prior to his work with the American Heart Association, Christopher worked in the Government Relations Department of the American Cancer Society in Nevada. He is originally from Indianapolis and obtained degrees from Indiana University and Purdue University. He is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado, Denver.
Nikia Sankofa received a Master of Public Affairs, and a Master of Public Health program from Johns Hopkins, with concentration in Women’s Reproductive Health. Focusing mainly on reducing racial and ethnic health disparities, Nikia’s public health work encompasses a multi-site project management; program design, evaluation; data analysis; advocacy; and training and technical assistance. She directed a community-based participatory research study that blended social, behavioral, and biomedical approaches to examine how stressors or resiliency factors influence biological factors affect maternal child health.
As director of an infant mortality reduction initiative in Baltimore, she oversaw the provision of intensive case management s to improve the health of families. She now serves as the Breastfeeding Project Director at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). This program aims to increase implementation of evidence-based breastfeeding programs at the community level for mothers in African American communities. The project also supports communities in developing public health community partnerships.
Katherine Shary is a registered dietitian with a background in disease prevention, clinical and outpatient nutrition, and home health nutrition sales. Her current responsibilities with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta include coordinating the WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) program and development of our children’s books. Katherine conducts trainings for healthcare providers to improve their skills related to promoting behaviors associated with managing childhood obesity and comorbidities and encouraging healthy habits and lifestyle change.
Katherine earned her BS degree in dietetics from The University of Akron in Ohio. She loves to work out and stay active. She is currently enjoying endless woodworking and renovation projects with her husband and Great Dane puppy.
Erica Sheldon is a Research Coordinator in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. She draws on her extensive experience in program assessment, health promotion and education, and community collaboration. She works on several federally funded projects related to preventing childhood obesity and supporting physical activity and nutrition behaviors in the community (including schools, early-care, and faith-based settings). She provides technical assistance, training, and evaluation support to community organizations focused on implementing evidence-based strategies for chronic disease prevention. Her research interests include community-based participatory research, chronic disease prevention, and program design and evaluation. She received her MPH from Georgia State University in 2013.
Tennille Short is an Extension Agent in Family & Consumer Sciences with the University of Tennessee serving Haywood County- a rural area between Memphis and Jackson, Tennessee. She has been in her current position for 12 years. She previously worked as an Extension Agent in Little Rock/Pulaski County, Arkansas doing Family & Consumer Sciences work and overseeing the county’s Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program. She was also previously employed by Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center as Coordinator of School Health, covering 19 West Tennessee counties. She is a member of the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences, where she received the Distinguished Service Award in 2015. She is also a member of Epsilon Sigma Phi.
Courtney Still is a postdoctoral research associate in the College of Public Health working under Dr. Marsha Davis with expertise in nutrition education and community based obesity prevention research. She is a registered dietitian nutritionist and received her Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia in 2016. Dr. Still served as the curriculum writer and evaluation coordinator for the Action Pack Families program, childhood obesity prevention intervention in Colquitt County, Georgia. She is currently the project coordinator for a community-based intervention in two rural Georgia counties focusing on creating environmental change to promote obesity prevention.
Gina Taylor is a lifelong resident of West Virginia. She received a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in teaching from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA. She began her Extension career in 2000 and has served as a county Extension Agent in 4-H and FCS; an Extension Specialist in 4-H; a Unit Director for 4-H and FCS; and most recently as Interim Director for FCS for West Virginia University Extension. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Higher Education Administration at Marshall University. During the past 16 years, she has worked in two program units in Extension at two land-grant universities in West Virginia.
Devanshi Udeshi is a junior at Stephen F. Austin High School in Sugar Land, TX. Some of her interests include research, philanthropy, volunteering, and swimming. She is a member of the Sugar Land Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council as well as Congressman Pete Olson’s Youth Advisory Council. She is also passionate about spreading awareness about health and fitness in the community. She was invited to the White House as the winner of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and earned the chance to work directly with First Lady, Michelle Obama on her Let's Move initiative to solve the childhood obesity crisis. After returning, she hosted the "Brocc N' Roll workshop to address the issue of obesity and spread awareness in the community and earned her Girl Scouts Silver Award.
Duncan Van Dusen is a social entrepreneur who has started and built successful for-profit and non-profit organizations. He is the Founding Executive Director of CATCH Global Foundation, whose mission is to connect at risk schools and communities with resources to create and sustain health for future generations. CATCH now serves 10,000 educational sites and reaches 2 million children annually in the US and Latin America with its programs. Duncan was previously CEO and Founder of Tango Health and SVP of Sales & Marketing at Works, a financial software company whose rapid growth led to a strategic acquisition by Bank of America. Duncan has pursued his passion for children’s rights through publishing scientific studies on links between fitness and academic achievement and volunteering with CASA as an advocate for child welfare. Duncan holds an AB from Princeton University and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Texas, and speaks fluent French and bad Spanish.
Kyle Wilson is a sophomore at the John Cooper School in The Woodlands. He is on the Student-to-Student connections team and the starter varsity point-guard on the basketball team at his school. Kyle attended a leadership initiative program at Harvard University this past summer and was a junior camp counselor at the NASA Wellness Program and is the current Treasurer and Vice President-elect of the Oliver Foundation Teen Board.
Jennifer Wright, MPH; Working Well Program Director, South Carolina Hospital Association Jen is a native of Illinois who has spent her professional career in many facets of healthcare both in Illinois and South Carolina from clinical to community outreach and health promotion. She earned her BS in Exercise Science from Truman State University and her Masters of Public Health with a focus in Health Policy and Administration from the University of Illinois Chicago.
Jen began her career as a clinical exercise physiologist in both inpatient and outpatient settings, educating patients and families on prevention and disease management through healthy eating and active living. She then moved on to Wellness Coordinator for Hilton Head Hospital, coordinating wellness/prevention initiatives for schools and after school programs, worksites, employees of the healthcare system, and the community at large.
Jen joined the SC Hospital Association in 2011. As the Program Director, she’s engaging and activating multi-sector executives across the state to create cultures of wellbeing in their worksites. This initiative also positions hospitals as community leaders and catalysts for other industries to make the healthy choice the easy choice for their employees. Most recently, taking the key principles of Working Well and coordinating state and national partners, A Healthier State House was launched. This new initiative builds on the success of A Healthier State.
Jen serves on a number of local, state, and national coalitions, including the SC Medical Association Childhood Obesity Task Force, Eat Smart Move More Low Country, and the National Healthy Places Council. She also serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Eat Smart Move More, SC, South Carolina’s statewide healthy eating active living coalition; and on the Executive Committee of Culinary Partners, which provides school food service departments with training and technical assistance for establishing healthy school food environments.