Our passionate and dedicated team is comprised of a board of directors and auxiliary board, a small but mighty national staff of professionals with a variety of expertise, and a network of state coordinators who work on the ground in their communities to share and implement our programs.
Board of Directors
Rob Bisceglie, MA
Chief Executive Officer
I firmly believe that health is a human right and that our country does not act on that principle, which is why, as CEO of Action for Healthy Kids, I lead an incredible team that works hard to innovate and motivate schools, children, and families to make healthier choices.
It’s unacceptable that an entire generation of kids may live a shorter, less fulfilling life than their parents, so our work at Action for Healthy Kids, where I’ve been since 2008, is vital to changing the tide. I want to make the world a better place for kids, so I’ve held almost every job in the nonprofit sector and worked for many incredible domestic and international organizations that make a huge difference in people’s lives. I couldn’t be prouder to serve in this way.
My passion for kids starts with my own family, where I’m lucky to call myself “Dad” to three awesome kids: Caroline, Jackson, and Sadie. But it extends further to the kids in my community who deserve better opportunities, which is why I am an elected school board member and a coach for baseball and basketball. (My obsession with the latter started when I was a toddler, and I will happily share my thoughts on the excellency that is the Duke Blue Devils!)
Outside of work, coaching, and basketball, you can find me running, fishing, hiking, reading and spending lots of time with my kids and wife, Deb, who I met in the first grade thanks to Mrs. James, who sat us next to each other at Mohawk Elementary School surely not knowing how doing so would so greatly impact both of our lives.
I encourage anyone who is interested to connect with me to learn more about the nonprofit sector or join Action for Healthy Kids’ enthusiastic and far-reaching network of supporters and partners. There’s a lot of work to be done, and together we can improve children’s lives.
Chief Operating Officer
Allan was appointed Chief Operating Officer at Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) in October 2018, bringing close to 25 years of non-profit leadership experience to his work. Prior to joining AFHK, he worked for local and national organizations where he specialized in managing health, recreation, and wellness programming and general management operations for Jewish Community Centers in Chicago, Milwaukee, and across the US. He most recently served as a national Vice-President of Community Impact at BBYO, a peer leadership organization that serves over 21,000 Jewish teens across the globe, where he led a team of staff in multiple communities across the US, scaling successful programming across the organization. Allan is also a Senior Fellow in the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation Executive Leadership program.
Allan has a master’s degree in Non-Profit Management/Human Service Administration from Chicago’s Spertus College, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Indiana University.
Originally from Denver, Colorado, he has spent the past 25 years in Chicago, with his wife and now two teenage daughters. When he’s not busy at AFHK, he spends his spare time hanging with his family and close friends, cheering on his beloved hometown Denver sports teams, and likes to stay active and healthy walking his two loving dogs and running up and down the basketball court every week.
Cassie joined the Action for Healthy Kids team in 2018 after receiving her Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Social Policy and Evaluation from the University of Michigan. At Action for Healthy Kids, Cassie primarily assists with data evaluation for the school grants program, Parents for Healthy Kids, and Active Schools. She evaluates the effectiveness of programs and completes analysis of survey data to be used in Action for Healthy Kids reports.
When she’s not working, Cassie enjoys catching up on her favorite TV shows, spending time with loved ones, and reading.
Charlene Burgeson, MA
Executive Director, Active Schools
Charlene Burgeson is Executive Director of Active Schools, a national movement to make 60 minutes of physical education and before, during and after school physical activity the norm in our nation’s K-12 schools. Active Schools is a collective impact initiative driven by over 90 health, education and private sector partner organizations and 36,000 individuals (“champions”) affiliated with more than 23,000 schools that serve over 12 million students.
Burgeson is a national leader for the promotion of children’s health and well-being through physical activity. For the past 25 years, she has provided national leadership as a Health Scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Executive Director of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), and Senior Director for Education and Health at Save the Children. The contributions she has made through these roles are grounded in her early career as a physical education teacher and youth sport coach.
Her personal passions include being a mom to her 19-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter, participating in many sport and recreational activities, traveling, reading, and volunteering.
Senior Field Manager
Ellen joined Action for Healthy Kids in 2009, overseeing all aspects of AFHK’s school breakfast programming. She knows firsthand as a former elementary school teacher that hungry children can’t learn. In 2018, she expanded on her experiences working with parents and schools to lead the Parents for Healthy Kids grant program.
Prior to joining Action for Healthy Kids, Ellen was Vice President of her sons’ elementary PTA, worked as an elementary school teacher, coordinated evaluation of other non-profit programming and conducted health care marketing. In addition to being an active school volunteer, she has an elementary education certificate from College of Notre Dame and a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Radford University.
Ellen enjoys cooking, reading, traveling, hiking, and spending time with family and friends. Of course, her three sons keep her busy with school and extra-curricular activities, too!
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Loren brings more than 20 years of integrated marketing and communications experience to her role as vice president of marketing communications with Action for Healthy Kids. She takes great pride in championing the stories of the educators, parents and caregivers, students, and tens of thousands of volunteers who come together with us to improve the health and well-being of children by creating healthier schools nationwide, especially in communities where we can have the greatest impact. She is responsible for brand building, marketing strategy, and campaign planning and implementation, and a key member of our leadership team driving the strategic vision for the organization.
Prior to joining AFHK, Loren worked with leading public relations firms representing Fortune 500 brands across the food and beverage and consumer health sectors, helping clients navigate the ever-changing media landscape and trends in food and nutrition. Her experience working in the agency, corporate and nonprofit worlds enables her to work strategically and creatively with our development team and our sponsors to innovate ideas and solutions that impact children’s health, drive our mission, and support the alignment of our partners’ business and social goals.
Loren earned her B.A. in Political Science from Boston University and a master’s degree in nutrition from Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy.
Midwestern Regional Manager
Ashley joined Action for Healthy Kids in 2018 as the Midwestern Regional Manager. In this role, Ashley will oversee our field operations in IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD and WI, while supporting the work of the State Coordinators in their assigned states.
Over the past few years, Ashley has spent her time with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society focusing on program implementation and community engagement. One of her favorite parts of this role was co-directing a week-long Youth Camp, in Amery, WI, for children with a loved one impacted by MS. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from Kent State University where she was also a member of the national co-ed service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. She has a strong and dedicated passion for global health and humanitarian efforts, including time spent working and volunteering for various nonprofits including Make-a-Wish Foundation, Hope Project South Africa, the Drowning Prevention Foundation, and more. With a knack for communication and relationship building, she is always finding ways to inspire others to take initiative and discover a solution when faced with a challenge.
An Ohio transplant, Ashley now lives in Chicago with her fiancée, Caroline, their two cats (a brother and sister pair who think they are dogs) and dog (who thinks he’s a cat). In her free time, you can find her scouting new coffee shops, perfecting her waffle game, or hiking through the Colorado mountains… a destination she tries to frequent as often as she is able.
Latrie S. Marshall received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Dominican University and a certificate in Child and Adolescent Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She spent the last six years working in early intervention, where she began to learn about the importance of fundraising to sustain and build programs that provide kids and families with the guidance and resources to thrive. As a result, in 2016, she received a certificate in Grant Writing from DePaul University.
Latrie enjoys spending time with her family, going to comedy shows and taking classes through the Chicago Park District.
Heidi Milby, MPH
Director, Program & Field Operations
Heidi serves as the Director of School Health Programs for Action for Healthy Kids. In this role, Heidi supports schools in their efforts to create healthy environments. Heidi oversees AFHK’s national physical activity and nutrition grants for schools, as well as AFHK’s Game on program, a no-cost online framework that guides schools through a six step process to building a healthy school.
Heidi received a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from the University of Georgia and a Master of Public Health degree from Indiana University. As a former bilingual (Spanish) elementary school teacher, Heidi has experience working in urban school districts with diverse student and family populations. She has experience training school health teams on school wellness policies and school health/wellness best practices, as well as evaluating the coordinated school health model in urban and rural schools.
In her free time, Heidi enjoys exercising, reading, traveling, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.
Sofia joined Action for Healthy Kids in September 2018 in her role as Database Manager. As a certified Salesforce Administrator and with over 10 years of working in the Nonprofit sector, she is passionate about using technology to create positive change in our communities. At AFHK, she works side by side with staff to maintain a database that facilitates successful programming and fundraising efforts which ultimately leads to more healthy kids across the country.
Sofia received her B.S. degree in Biology from St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX and her M.S. degree in Conservation Biology from Antioch University in Keene, NH. She works remotely from New Hampshire, where she enjoys kayaking and camping in the summers and snowboarding in the winters.
Carol Muller, MA
State Director, Colorado
Carol, State Director, Colorado, coordinates the development and implementation of the Colorado state action plan around policies, programs, and services with a focus on engaging the parent community in creating healthier school cultures. In addition to her work at the state/regional level, Carol contributes to the development of national Parents for Healthy Kids programming.
Carol joined AFHK in 2006 as a parent volunteer seeking tools and resources to build a wellness team in her own school community and with a strong desire to help other parents make a difference in their schools. Carol became a full-time staff member in July 2011 to further the goal of bringing parents and school leaders together to work collaboratively to make health an essential guiding principle in every aspect of school culture. She holds a Master of Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Colorado and a Bachelor of History from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
Outside of work, Carol enjoys hiking in Colorado’s beautiful mountains, cooking, reading and spending time with her husband and two children.
Jillian Papa, MPH
Director of Research & Evaluation
As Director of Research and Evaluation, Jillian develops and manages the design and implementation of effective evaluation activities for AFHK programs. She is passionate about creating equal opportunities for all children to eat well and be well, and loves AFHK’s collaborative, community-centric approach to school health. Jillian received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Florida and a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from Emory University. Prior to joining AFHK, Jillian was an evaluation manager with the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Nutrition and Physical Activity.
When she’s not working, Jillian enjoys traveling, hiking, music, and exploring Chicago.
Grace Perry, MA, RD, LD
Southern Regional Manager
Grace is a registered dietitian with experience in wellness, education, foodservice, and most recently and extensively, child nutrition. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and a Master’s degree in Health Promotion, both from The University of Alabama.
Grace possesses a passion for the health and wellness of children and has devoted much of her time and energy to seeing these passions be given the attention they so badly deserve in schools. She has spearheaded numerous initiatives throughout her professional career in an effort to see children’s health and wellness be put at the forefront of educational priority lists. These initiatives have included educating students on healthy eating and partnering with schools and school system leaders to effectively implement strong wellness policies. In her new role as the Southern Regional Manager, Grace will oversee our field operations in AL, AR, GA, KY, LA, MS, OK, SC and TN and will work to support the FL and TX State Coordinator efforts in those states.
In her free time, Grace enjoys spending time and traveling with her husband and two young sons as well as cooking, running, and cheering on The University of Alabama on a fall Saturday.
Rich Roleck, CPA
Vice President, Finance and Administration
Rich has over 30 years of experience working with nonprofit and governmental entities and brings that experience to Action for Healthy Kids in his role of Vice President of Finance and administration. He is responsible for all financial reporting, budgeting and day-to-day operations.
Prior to joining AFHK in 2015, Rich worked with the National Dairy Council and as a consultant to AFHK for seven years. As the father of three girls, he has personally seen how establishing healthy habits with kids when they are young will stay with them through their college years.
Rich enjoys all sports but mainly football, basketball and baseball (especially the Cubs). He also enjoy working on his garden and landscaping projects and going for walks with his family and their dog, Tilly.
Content & Online Engagement Manager
Lauren joined the AFHK team in 2017 as the Content & Online Engagement Manager, a position to which she brings nearly ten years of communications experience. Prior to her role bringing Action for Healthy Kids’ crucial work to life online, Lauren worked in digital advocacy for an education organization and in project management for a web company. She received her B.A. in Radio/TV/Film and Psychology from Northwestern University.
Lauren is proud to use her experience to engage people around the issue of making sure all children grow up with access to healthy food and healthy habits.
Outside of work, Lauren can be found volunteering as a crisis counselor and patient advocate, volunteering at an animal shelter, biking around Chicago, crossing locations off her travel bucket list, and watching (and critiquing) a lot of television.
Eva Sippola, MPH
Chief Development Officer
Eva joined the AFHK team in 2017 as Chief Development Officer, bringing 17 years of diverse non-profit, education, and public health experience and having managed development, communications, and policy programs for organizations in Edinburgh, Scotland, New York, and San Francisco. Most recently, she led development strategy to support rapid expansion and growth efforts for America SCORES Bay Area in San Francisco. Eva brings a love of sports to her work, having spent her childhood playing soccer and lacrosse and rowing down the Potomac River as a member of the crew team in college.
An occasional marathoner, when she isn’t logging miles chasing after her active son, Eva can be found attempting to Samba in Zumba. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services and Psychology from George Washington University and a Masters in Public Health in Community Health Education from San Francisco State University.
Senior Manager of Volunteer Initiatives
Sean loves connecting people to causes they’re passionate about and finding ways to keep them engaged in the work. In his position as manager of volunteer initiatives, he provides leadership and strategy over all volunteer opportunities within the organization, including corporate partner/employee volunteer programs, school health champions, and Every Kid Healthy Week.
Sean received his bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (go Illini!). He then spent a year as an AmeriCorps member running after-school programs and has worked in the non-profit sector ever since. After moving to Chicago in 2008, he worked for a variety of organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and Chicago Cares, managing volunteer programs and events and developing strategies to connect people within their communities and help them stretch their comfort zones to try something new. As someone who has always loved being active and outdoors, Sean was drawn to AFHK’s mission and is excited about helping create more opportunities for kids to be active and play.
Sean spends much of his non-work time with friends and family, playing rec sports and dodging dirty looks from Cubs fans as a proud St. Louis Cardinals fan in Chicago.
Eastern Regional Manager
Brean joined Action for Healthy Kids in 2018 as the Eastern Regional Manager. In this role, Brean will oversee our field operations in CT, DE, ME, MA, NH, NJ, PA, RI, VT and WV, and will work to support the NY and NC/MD/DC/VA State Coordinator efforts in those states.
Brean received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Bucknell University. While completing a joint Master of Arts degree at Tufts University in Child Development and in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, she focused her studies on school and community-based obesity prevention for children in at-risk neighborhoods. Since then, Brean’s experiences have included program development and implementation to promote healthy eating and active living to children, as well as public health research including school-related nutrition policies, nutrition marketing, and the role of the built environment in community health. Before moving back home to the Portland, Maine area, Brean worked in public health throughout the northeast, including Boston, New York and Philadelphia. By bringing together communities, schools and families, Brean believes in the value and importance of giving every kid the best (and healthiest!) foot forward.
In her free time, Brean enjoys trips to the beaches throughout New England, cooking, running and exploring new neighborhoods with her husband, Joe.
David Satcher, MD, PhD
Founding Chair and Emeritus Director
Director, The Satcher Health Leadership Institute and Center of Excellence on Health Disparities
Poussaint-Satcher-Cosby Chair in Mental Health
Morehouse School of Medicine
16th United States Surgeon General
David Satcher is director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine. The Institute’s programs reflect his experience in improving public health policy and his commitment to eliminating health disparities for underserved groups and the poor and shedding light on neglected issues.
Sworn in as the 16th Surgeon General of the United States in 1998, Dr. Satcher’s tenure of public service also includes serving as assistant secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administrator of the Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Dr. Satcher has received over 40 honorary degrees and numerous top awards from the National Medical Association, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Additional honors include being named a Macy Foundation Fellow, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar and a Senior Visiting Fellow of the Kaiser Family Foundation. He serves on the board of directors of Johnson and Johnson, MetLife, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and locally on the board of United Way and The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.
Dr. Satcher holds a BS degree from Morehouse College and MD and PhD degrees from Case Western Reserve University.
Martin J. (Jay) McHale, Jr.
US Equity Services, Computershare
Jay McHale is the former president of Computershare’s US Equity Services group, the largest of Computershare’s business offerings in the United States. As the premier transfer agent in the US, Computershare offers the most complete and most comprehensive end-to-end investor services (Shareholder Recordkeeping, Investment Plan Services, Equity Compensation, and M&A Processing).
Jay has over 35 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to joining Computershare in 2007, Jay was with Bank of Montreal/Harris, where his roles included direct management of shareholder services and trust divisions of those companies. Jay has presided over numerous complex business integration projects throughout his career, including significant acquisitions, divestitures and reorganizations.
Jay holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and a B.S. in Finance from DePaul University, and also serves as director of the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago.
Robert Murray, MD
Professor of Pediatrics, Division of GI & Nutrition
Department of Pediatrics
The Ohio State University College of Medicine
Dr. Robert Murray spent over 20 years in the field of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in the Ohio State University School of Medicine and most recently was the director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition. He also served as the pediatric medical director for Abbott Nutrition from 2003-2006. For 10 years, Dr. Murray was a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on School Health, serving as chair in the final 4 years. He is a Board member of Action for Healthy Kids as well as of the Children’s Hunger Alliance, and previously served on the Board of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. Dr. Murray is the immediate past-President of the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Jean Ragalie-Carr, RD
Secretary & Treasurer
President, Dairy Health and Wellness
National Dairy Council
Jean Ragalie-Carr, R.D. is President of the National Dairy Council (NDC) and Executive Vice President, Dairy Health and Wellness for Dairy Management (DMI). In this role, she leads the development and implementation of nutrition strategies and relationship with leading government and non-government health, nutrition and school professional organizations. At the center of these strategies is Fuel Up to Play 60, an unprecedented initiative to create new opportunities to bring more nutritious, kid-appealing foods into schools, and maintain and further positive nutrition recommendations for children and teens. Fuel Up to Play 60 was developed through a partnership between NDC and the National Football League, aimed at incenting, equipping and mobilizing youth to adopt healthy behaviors, eat more nutrient-rich foods and get 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Through social marketing and a comprehensive in-school kit, Fuel Up to Play 60 will inspire kids to make positive changes in behavior today to develop lifelong healthy eating and physical activity habits. She has worked closely with government partners like US Department of Agriculture, Health & Human Services, Department of Education and the White House on the Let’s Move program. Ragalie-Carr also oversees nutrition and marketing communication strategies across the organization to support its overall health and wellness strategy.
Since joining DMI/NDC in 1996, Ragalie-Carr has been instrumental in programs addressing child nutrition, creating programs to promote child health through good nutrition and physical activity. She was one of four principal architects of Action for Healthy Kids, a national movement launched in 2002 with DMI as a lead sponsor. With then-First Lady Laura Bush as Honorary Chairperson and former Surgeon General David Satcher as Chair, Action for Healthy Kids set forth to address the growing epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States. Ragalie-Carr serves as one of 12 board members and is treasurer.
Rich Abend is a twenty year sports, health & fitness, wellness executive with strong track record in new business development, sales, consulting, media and sponsorship. He’s recently established a new expertise in software sales and b2b development in the corporate wellness and technology market.
Abend is considered one of the top health, fitness and wellness professionals in the country with 13+ years of dedicated experiences of direct consulting and the development of business programs in the space.
He spent 7 years at the Active Network, the leading sports technology and online registration engine that power over 200,000 events for 25MM health-minded, active-lifestyle consumers. First, as the VP of Integrated Sales, leading a team of high-level, client direct business developers who sell media, marketing and sponsorship programs to Fortune 500 accounts. In his last 2+ years, he launched Active’s Workplace Wellness platform and led development on partnerships in healthcare space and with enterprise-wide customers like Starbucks, Disney and Capital One.
Abend was key part of an executive team that helped concept and create Aetna’s first-ever direct to consumer product through Aetna Everactive (www.aetneveractive). Aetna Everactive is a strategic alliance between Aetna and Active to help people become more physically active through a social community that brings virtual health and fitness resources directly to employees to participate in real-life local events/activities. He also acted as Chief Revenue officer for Aetna Everactive product – responsible for developing strategic alliance partnerships to help drive revenue, new membership and sales of products, goods and relevant services.
Before that, Abend spent 4 years as a partner of The Squires Sports Group, a sports and entertainment marketing consulting firm where he lead all sales and business development efforts. He lead a team that worked directly with Rodale Press (Men’s Health, Prevention, Runner’s World magazine) where worked with over 70 sales reps to drive new business and revenue.
Cheryl Austein Casnoff, MPH
Portfolio Director, Health FFRDC
Mitre Director Cheryl Austein Casnoff has had a distinguished career in government working on health policy and public health topics, including work on Capitol Hill and in several agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Servicess (HHS). She is currently directing the Mitre health portfolio for the US Department of Health and Human Services including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She also served as a Senior Fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago where she directed numerous studies focusing on children, Medicaid, telehealth, opioids and other key health policies.
Previously, Austein Casnoff served as the Associate Administrator for Health Information Technology (HIT) at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), where she established a new Office of Health Information Technology (OHIT) within the agency to promote the adoption and meaningful use of electronic records. In that role from 2005 to 2009, she promoted the adoption and effective use of HIT among safety net providers and populations. Austein Casnoff oversaw the awarding of almost $100 million in new telehealth and health center network grants. In addition, Austein Casnoff led OHIT’s efforts to build enhanced technical assistance capabilities through websites and toolkits.
Before joining HRSA, Austein Casnoff was Deputy Director of the Finance, Systems and Budget Group at the Center for Medicaid and State Operations at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), where she directed more than 100 staff members and was responsible for the finance, systems, and budget for the Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) with budgets totaling more than $300 billion. From 2001-2004, Austein Casnoff was director of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at CMS, where she was instrumental in the implementation of the $40 billion program, which provides insurance for low-income children. She was also responsible for designing CHIP in 1997.
In 2004, Austein Casnoff was selected to participate in extensive leadership and management training through the HHS Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program and in 2003 she was selected as a fellow of the Council for Excellence in Government. Her prior experience includes service as director of the Division of Public Health Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and work as a principal budget analyst in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget at HHS.
Austein Casnoff has also served on the President’s Task Force for Health Care Reform and was selected as a senior legislative fellow in the Office of U.S. Senator Dave Durenberger. She has received numerous awards for her outstanding service, including the Hubert Humphrey Award for Service to America, the Public Health Service Honor Roll from the Association of Yale Alumni in Public Health, the Director’s Citation from CMS, the Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service, and the White House Certificate of Appreciation for Health Reform.
Austein Casnoff earned her M.P.H. in Health Services Administration at Yale School of Medicine, Yale University and a B.A. in Biological Sciences at Northwestern University. She resides in Fulton, MD. She also serves as a member of the Yale Public Health Alumni Board and serves as an adjunct professor at George Washington University Medical School where she teaches Health IT quality and policy. She is also entering her 35th year as the chief of the piccolo section for the Redskins marching band.
Julie Bosley has extensive experience in strategic development and execution of philanthropic initiatives, community relations programs and communication strategies.
Most recently, Julie was director of philanthropy at Kellogg Company, providing leadership for its global signature cause platform, Breakfasts for Better Days. In that role, she was responsible for strategic execution, alignment and measurement of the initiative focused on hunger relief and food security. She also served on the Global Corporate Affairs Leadership Team and provided oversight for the Kellogg Company Fund and Kellogg Company 25-Year Employees Fund. Additionally, she directed the organization’s United Way campaign and the company’s community development and engagement efforts in the its headquarters community. Julie was with Kellogg for 14 years in various roles after joining the company as manager of corporate public relations
Prior to Kellogg, Julie was director of community relations for the Philadelphia 76ers and held a variety of positions in team operations with the National Basketball Association.
Julie received a bachelor of arts degree in communications from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in business administration from Penn State University.
She is a member of the Action for Healthy Kids Board and is a past member of the United Way Global Corporate Leadership Advisory Council, United Way Worldwide’s U.S.A. Membership Accountability Committee, and the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region Board.
Laura Cubillos, RD
Laura is a partner and co-founder of FoodMinds, LLC, a leading food and nutrition consulting and communications company that specializes in harnessing science, public affairs and communications to meet business and public health objectives. Laura leads the San Francisco office where she works closely with clients and is expanding the company’s capabilities in the convergence of food and nutrition with tech and sustainability. She also connects clients to FoodMinds’ Global ExpertBench™ for international work, Issues and Crisis Navigation and Strategic Insights capabilities.
With more than 20 years of experience in food, beverage, nutrition, health and wellness, Laura has developed strong relationships with leading experts and organizations. She provides strategic counsel and insights to help clients – ranging from global entertainment and food and beverage brands to associations and commodity boards – navigate the rapidly-changing worlds of nutrition and public health. She works with clients to understand the intersection between food and nutrition policy and marketing, overcoming challenges and creating new opportunities.
Laura has created signature science-based programs that have shifted long-standing perceptions, grown sales, created new categories and established novel leadership platforms. Her expertise is wide-ranging and includes: leading global nutrition affairs programs for multi-national companies; building credible health and wellness promises and plans that deliver on them while growing demand and sales; nutrition research, influencer research and market research strategies and plans; developing sound science-based communication strategies and programs for effective thought-leader, influencer and consumer education; establishing and managing strategic partnerships; and overseeing teams that develop delicious recipes and conduct nutrition analyses and menu modeling.
Prior to co-founding FoodMinds in 2006, Laura was a senior vice president, group head in the consumer food practice at Edelman Public Relations in Chicago and a vice president in the food practice at Porter Novelli in San Francisco. Laura also spent time as the director of business development for WineryExchange.com in Chile and Argentina.
Laura is a registered dietitian and an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and several practice groups within the organization. She received her Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences from Miami University (Ohio) and completed her dietetic internship at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Laura lives in the San Francisco area with her husband and two children. The foods most often on Laura’s mind are cheese, crusty bread and olive oil, nuts, avocados and good vino.
Anastasia Fischer, MD, FAAFP, FACSM
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Ohio State University College of Medicine
Anastasia Fischer, MD, FAAFP, FACSM, is a member of the Division of Sports Medicine in the Section of Ambulatory Pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Fischer holds a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Georgia and attended medical school at The Ohio State University College of Medicine before completing a family practice residency at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a primary care sports medicine fellowship at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine. She is fellowship trained and board certified in sports medicine, and is a member of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the American College of Sports Medicine, where she has been appointed fellow, and currently serves as vice president.
She is active in the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics,the Female Athlete Triad Coalition, and the ACSM Strategic Health Initiative for Women’s Health. She has a special interest in research and advocacy regarding the adolescent female athlete, spondylolysis and concussion. Dr. Fischer is a volunteer physician with the Tour de Grandview and also serves as team physician at Groveport Madison High School in the central Ohio area.
Tori Kaplan, Senior Vice President
Head of Corporate Responsibility
As the former Vice President, Communications and Field Support at CSX, Tori Kaplan oversaw strategic development and tactical execution of CSX’s resources focused on making these communities healthier, greener, and safer through a vast network of partnerships, employee engagement programs, and strategic initiatives.
Under Ms. Kaplan’s leadership, CSX partnered with national and regional nonprofit organizations and other corporations focused on improving the health and well-being of local communities. Current partnerships amplify the work of Action for Healthy Kids, City Year, the Nature Conservancy, Alliance for Community Trees, and Future Farmers of America, among many others. Ms. Kaplan marshalled approximately $16 million in corporate funding and program development to these organizations each year, in addition to numerous partnerships that provide in-kind transportation support.
Ms. Kaplan also led the development and execution of CSX’s customized health and wellness and Standard of Care programs. Through Standard of Care, CSX deploys rapid-response capabilities to communities dealing with natural disasters or CSX incidents. Through Standard of Care, CSX works with communities to identify and alleviate their most pressing needs.
A classically trained professional chef, Ms. Kaplan has been a passionate advocate for child health issues since her time growing up in West Virginia. She joined CSX in 2004 as Director of Special Events at The Greenbrier, a luxury resort and conference facility in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., which CSX owned for many years. In 2005, she moved to CSX headquarters in Jacksonville to establish and manage the company’s corporate responsibility and citizenship initiatives. She is a graduate of James Madison University and the LaVarenne Cooking School in Burgundy, France.
Felipe Lobelo, MD, PhD, FAHA
Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
Felipe Lobelo, M.D., Ph.D., FAHA, is an associate professor in the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health. Dr. Lobelo’s interests are in chronic disease prevention, physical activity, obesity and cardio-metabolic diseases in high and low-to-middle income countries. He has authored more than 70 peer-reviewed scientific publications and is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Exercise is Medicine Initiative advisory board, Directing their Global Research and Collaboration Center.
From 2010 to 2014, Dr. Lobelo served as a Medical Epidemiologist at CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in their Office of the Director and their Diabetes Translation and Physical Activity groups. From 2008 to 2010, he served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and was involved in U.S. and international epidemiological field investigations, having an active role in CDC’s H1N1 response; investigating the outbreak abroad; and serving as an official CDC media spokesperson for Hispanic and Latino populations.
Dr. Lobelo has received many honors for his work and research, including Paffenbarger-Blair Award for Research on Physical Activity Epidemiology, American College of Sports Medicine (2006); Doctoral Achievement Award, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina (2008); Fellow, American Heart Association, Council on Lifestyle and Cardio-metabolic Health (2012); and Fellow, CDC’s Office of the Associate Director for Science (2013).
Dr. Lobelo believes in “practicing what you preach” and strongly advocates for doctors to become healthy role models for their patients and communities. He is an avid soccer player, a member of the U.S. Medical Soccer Team, the U.S. representative in the Annual World Cup for Doctors, and locally in the Virginia-Highland Football Club in Atlanta where he resides. He also enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his wife, their son and their two dogs.
Ann W. Marchetti, MS
AW Marchetti Consulting
For nearly two decades, Ann Marchetti has held leadership roles in several successful nonprofit agencies working toward a singular goal — improving the health and well being of children, youth and families. Drawing upon her unique combination of public policy, business and creative skills, Ann has assisted these nonprofits in optimizing their business models to build organizational capacity and develop sustainable programs. Ann was awarded the 2008 Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Service to Children and Youth by the National Child Labor Committee. This body remarked, “Ann has been at the
forefront of action and has been the voice to improve the health, education, well-being and futures of millions of children.”
Most recently, Ann served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer for the Cambridge, Massachussetts-based National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ), which specializes in improving the quality of care for children. Since 2005, Ann provided leadership in building the organization’s marketing, finance, human resources and board governance capacity.
Prior to joining NICHQ, Ann served as Program Director for the Southern Institute on Children and Families (SICF), based in Columbia, South Carolina. There she also served as the Deputy Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Covering Kids/Covering Kids and Families National Initiative. Immediately prior, she was Associate Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (IMCHC). Ann earned her M.S. degree from Radford University.
Ann founded AW Marchetti Consulting in 2008. Her firm is dedicated to empowering a new generation of leaders in the nonprofit sector to develop effective systems for capacity development and program delivery. Clients to date include Covering Kids and Families Indiana, Indianapolis, Indiana; DuPage County Health Department, Wheaton, Illinois; Health Choice Network, Doral, Florida; Health Management Associates, Lansing, Michigan; Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, Chicago, Illinois; Omni Youth Services, Buffalo Grove, Illinois; ShoreBank, Chicago, Illinois. Ann brings infectious energy and determination to her work, developing creative and sustainable solutions for today’s complex social and business environment.
Indra Mehrotra, MS, RD
Retired as Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs
Indra Mehrotra recently retired as the Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs for the Research and Development Division at Cargill. In this capacity, she lead development and implementation of scientific and regulatory strategies that supported product innovation at Cargill to advance its various businesses globally.
Prior to joining Cargill, she had 25 years of experience with General Mills as a nutrition, health and regulatory professional. In her last position at General Mills, she was Director of Science and Communications for the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. In this role, she led nutrition science research strategy and programs for various General Mills businesses. In addition, she was responsible for health and nutrition communications for consumers and health professionals. Before joining the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, she led Nutrition Services at the Pillsbury Company directing various nutrition related functions that provided technical, regulatory, and strategic support to food and food service businesses.
Indra is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Institute of Food Technologist, and the American Society for Nutrition. She is a Registered Dietitian and a certified Food Scientist. She received her MS in Nutrition & Dietetics from the Northern Illinois University, and another MS in Nutrition & Food Science from the M.S. University, Baroda, India. She also holds a post graduate diploma in Food Science and Nutrition (with emphasis on food technology and food processing) from the University of Gent, Belgium.
Senior Vice President, Corporate Development
John Musolino is the Senior Vice President, Corporate Development at PRA, a portfolio company of CI Capital Partners that creates local destination experiences for meetings, incentives and events. Previously, John served as Principal and founder of Avondale Capital Advisors, a consulting firm that provides strategic and corporate finance advisory services to independent and private equity-sponsored middle market business in a range of industries. John also serves on the Board of RHR International and has also served on the Board of Aquent Marketing Staffing, Concert Group Logistics and as Partner at Magnate Capital Partners. John holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Duke University and a master’s degree in management with a concentration in accounting, finance and marketing from the Kellogg School of Management.
Administrator, Physical, Health and Driver Education
The School District of Palm Beach County
Eric Stern is the Administrator for Physical, Health and Driver Education in the Department of Curriculum for the School District of Palm Beach County, the 11th largest school district in the U.S. and the 5th largest in the state of Florida, with 185 schools and an enrollment of approximately 175,000 students. Additionally, Stern serves on the Action for Healthy Kids Urban School Wellness Coalition along with 19 other urban districts across the country.
As K-12 Curriculum Administrator for the School District of Palm Beach County, Stern was selected by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2012 as one of 12 leading experts in the U.S. to serve on the first-ever National Urban Physical Education Leadership Coalition. The purpose of the coalition is to develop national research, professional development, and a best practice agenda for urban physical education. Stern also most recently served as President of the Florida Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance and Sport (FAHPERDS). He was also named a USTA School Tennis Volunteer of the Year at the United States Tennis Association Florida Section in 2012, recognized for championing tennis in his region and providing professional development for Physical Educators.
Eric has had the opportunity to advocate on Capitol Hill regarding the importance of including Physical and Health Education in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as a core subject. He also has advocated continuing federal funding for the Carol M. White, Physical Education Programs grant (PEP).
Eric is originally from New York and is a certified Spark Middle School trainer. He resides in Wellington, FL with his family.
Judith C. Young, Ph.D.
Physical Education and Activity Consultant
Judith Young is the former vice president for Programs at the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD). In this role, she facilitated programmatic work of the five national associations that make up the Alliance, which collectively represent almost 25,000 professionals in the fields of physical education, exercise science, health, recreation, sport and dance.
As former Executive Director of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, Dr. Young oversaw development of the National Standards for Physical Education, as well as National Standards for Sport Coaches. Her previous experience includes teacher, coach, administrator, and a professor and researcher in the field of kinesiology.
Dr. Young is a member of the National Association for Kinesiology and Physical Education in Higher Education, American College of Sports Medicine, American Society of Association Executives, National Council of Youth Sports and Women’s Sports Foundation. She also serves on the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition, the Council for Corporate and School Partnerships, USOC Delegate Assembly and the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance.
Dr. Young received degrees in physical education from the University of New Hampshire and MS and PhD degrees in kinesiology from the University of Maryland at College Park.
Adam Basak currently works in the medical device industry as a salesperson. He received his BS from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he volunteered as co-coordinator for the non-profit organization Peer Health Exchange, which provides comprehensive health education to underserved public high schools. After graduating in 2011 and before beginning his career in healthcare, he went on to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar, where he focused on improving individual community health status, particularly among women, children, and adolescents. Being a member of the auxiliary board at Action for Healthy Kids lets him draw from his knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences, and continue to fulfill a passion for wellness and for making a difference in the lives of young people. In his free time, Adam enjoys staying active through cycling, CrossFit, and olympic lifting.
Julio joined Action for Healthy Kids in 2017 as first a team runner for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and not too long after as a supportive Board Committee member of the AFHK team.
Julio has a degree from Wilbur Wright College in General Studies with a major in Computer Information Systems. A former Student Government Association senator and treasurer, he transitioned into an entrepreneurial role in the financial services industry, as well as the in health and wellness. Born and raised in Chicago IL, he focuses on making an impact in his community when it comes to financial literacy and childhood nutrition education. He hopes to inspire kids that they can have a better tomorrow with healthier food choices and lifestyles.
Julio loves to meet new people and enjoys the downtown scene, as well as challenging himself by setting goals to do better than the previous year. He loves reading books on personal growth and development, especially as it relates to running marathons. His journey is just beginning.
Lindsay R. Hall is a telecommunications consultant specializing in the commercial real estate industry. She has over 15 years of experience in telecommunications, data center services, managed IT services & cloud computing. Lindsay has a Bachelor’s degree of liberal arts & sciences (in communications) from the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Lindsay grew up in the Chicagoland area playing sports from a young age and continues to live a healthy & active lifestyle. She is passionate about the health, wellness and education of future generations.
Michelle Jimenez is from the Chicagoland area and got started in the nonprofit community 4 years ago. She brings this previous experience and her 6+ years of Marketing/Advertising and Brand Management expertise to the Action for Healthy Kids Auxiliary Board. Michelle believes that every child deserves the opportunity to consistently be active and eat healthy so they continue to learn and grow. She has joined the AFHK Auxiliary Board to join AFHK in taking action towards this same belief. Outside of work and volunteering, you can find her trying out a new restaurant in Chicago, at a yoga class or planning her next vacation.
MaryBeth Okorn is a Cleveland native with six years of marketing experience and a passion for growing organizations. Previous to her current role as an Account Manager at Google, she worked outside NYC at Jet.com and began her career at a few marketing agencies. MaryBeth hopes to apply her knowledge and experience to help AFHK raise awareness and the resources needed to drive their mission forward.
Dan has spent his entire career working in healthcare marketing/communications. He currently works in healthcare marketing for global architecture firm CannonDesign. Prior to this, he worked at the Cleveland Clinic and American Hospital Association in various communication roles. Having joined the AFHK Auxiliary Board in February 2019, Dan is dedicated to giving children the tools/resources they need to lead active, healthier lives and engaging with parents and schools to prevent childhood obesity. As someone who was overweight growing up, Dan wants to have a positive effect on children who remind him of himself.
Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Dan earned an MA in English, a BA in Journalism and a BA in English, all from Youngstown State University. In his free time he enjoys staying active, working out, doing yoga, travelling, attending concerts and trying out new restaurants. Dan currently lives in Albany Park with his wife Juliana, a third grade Chicago Public School teacher.
Melanie Sadur is a non-profit professional with a background in Social Work and Public Health. She currently works as a Technical Assistance and Training Specialist for the Ounce of Prevention Fund, and is passionate about promoting healthy and positive outcomes for children and families across Illinois. She is excited to be on the Action for Healthy Kids auxiliary board and is dedicated to their mission to support every child in being healthy, active and ready to learn. When she is not working or volunteering with AFHK, Melanie enjoys eating Mexican and Thai food across Chicago, spending time outdoors, and is an activist for racial equity and social justice issues.
Amanda graduated from the University of Michigan in April of 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. During her time as an undergraduate, she volunteered in two psychology-based research labs and was one of the seven founders, as well as Member Liaison, of the largest U of M Latinx organization, La Casa, which strives to empower and unite the Latinx community. She is currently working as a Rehabilitation Aide at Athletico Physical Therapy and volunteering at Comer Children’s Hospital, while also preparing for the GRE so that she can apply to PsyD programs in Clinical Psychology. Her career goal is to help those suffering from psychosis and mood disorders. Amanda has always had a passion for helping people and communities find the necessary resources to live a healthy lifestyle and have their voices heard. She strives for empowerment by connecting underrepresented communities to work together to make change to improve lives. She hopes to help children receive the education needed to remain physically active and have a healthy diet. She believes that overall health and wellness is a crucial aspect to being happy and wants that for the children in Chicago.
Cris’s professional background includes sales & fundraising, marketing, event planning, and project management. As a marketing consultant, she helps small businesses assess their marketing programs, align strategy and resources, and implement revenue generating action plans.
In her time outside of work, Cris has been living out her passion to serve as a community ally, wellness advocate and environmental steward. She works with Mercy Housing as a certified Adult Literacy Tutor and serves on the Board of Directors for the Rogers Park Food Cooperative. Cris also strives toward a zero-waste, chemical-free lifestyle and enjoys helping others takes small steps to eliminate waste and toxins from their homes.
She believes that the work AFHK is doing significantly contributes to a circular society. Stronger children—in mind, body and spirit—will help communities thrive, will drive economic development, will generate more opportunity and innovation. The communities that need access to healthy foods, structured activity programs and grant dollars most urgently are now seeing options for help in those areas because of the programs made possible by AFHK.
Mike joined the Action for Healthy Kids Auxiliary Board in Fall 2018. In his current role as a Contract Services Manager, Mike manages all of the pricing and contracting for the Central Sales Region at Gallup. He received his BS in Journalism from the University of Kansas and his MBA from The University of Notre Dame.
Mike joined AFHK to bring his passion of a healthy lifestyle to children. Mike believes that healthy eating and exercises habits are developed at a young age and our group can serve an important role in educating children and their families on how to live their healthiest life.
In his free time, Mike enjoys staying active through CrossFit, cycling and boxing as he holds a Personal Training Certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Originally from Omaha, NE, Mike has lived in Lakeview for the last 7 years with his wife, Kerry, daughter Sophie (3) and English Bulldog, Gus.
In her current role as Clinical Research Manager, Karla Temple manages and oversees multi-center clinical research studies, including the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS) and the Restoring Insulin Secretion Study (RISE). Dr. Temple is a passionate nutrition and health expert with nearly 20 years of diverse experience conducting research, coordinating programs, and facilitating education in nutrition, diabetes prevention and overall metabolism.
Dr. Temple is a member of the American Society for Nutrition, the American Diabetes Association, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a past president of the Chicago Food & Nutrition Network. Dr. Temple also serves on the Editorial Board for Metabolic Syndrome & Related Disorders, and is an Ad Hoc Reviewer for Advances in Nutrition. In addition, Dr. Temple is a volunteer Culinary Instructor at the Bridge Teen Center and leads various culinary programs for the students throughout the year.
Dr. Temple hopes to apply her knowledge, experiences and skills to help the Action For Healthy Kids Auxiliary Board raise awareness about the need to promote a healthy lifestyle for all children, and to assist in providing families with the necessary tools to attain that goal.
Carly Tribbia is a registered nurse with Rush University College of Nursing’s Office of Faculty Practice. Carly is currently working as a Wellness Nurse under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Integrated Wellness in Supportive Housing (IWISH) Demonstration, which combines social service coordination and nursing services to support older adults living independently in affordable housing.
Carly received her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Rush University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her prior nursing experience includes pediatric critical care and nursing triage. Carly plans to pursue her Doctor of Nursing Practice in Advanced Public Health Nursing, with interests in influencing health policy and demonstrating the value of community health nursing to reach vulnerable populations.
Carly joined AFHK because of her passion for working with children in the community. Carly strives to address the social determinants of health and increase awareness of the importance of health and wellness to individuals and their communities. She believes that every child deserves a quality education and that having access to healthy food and being physically active are necessary for educational achievement, physical development, and lifelong success.
Colleen attended The University of Michigan, where she earned Bachelor’s degrees in Dance and Movement Science. She spent 10 years as a professional ballet dancer but always had an extraordinary passion for helping people. An entrepreneur at heart, Colleen founded LulaFit to serve hard-working professionals at a time and place that was most convenient for them. She has been on a mission to give LulaFit clients the keys to being healthy ever since, while employing the midwest’s most talented wellness workforce. LulaFit now has offices in Chicago and Detroit where they build custom wellness programs in high-rises and corporations.
Colleen joined AFHK in pursuit of her lifelong goal of bringing wellness to children. While her career focuses on building wellness programs for our nation’s decision makers, Colleen knows the heart and soul of change starts with our youth. She is excited to work with the AFHK community to share what she has learned from working with adults and building awareness around the AFHK mission.
Denise Marques, RD
Parents for Healthy Kids Program Coordinator: Colorado
Denise Marques joined Colorado AFHK in 2011 as a Parents for Healthy Kids program participant. As a parent leader in the program, Denise helped to develop her school’s wellness team and led a school garden project. When the program was renewed in 2013, Denise was brought on as program coordinator. In addition to her work training and coaching program participants and their schools, her responsibilities include program development, recruitment, and evaluation. Previous to her school wellness work, Denise served as a clinical dietitian with over 15 years of experience in the healthcare field. Denise has worked on school wellness efforts as a parent volunteer at the school and district levels in Englewood, Colorado. Denise is a registered dietitian and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics from the University of Northern Colorado.
Community Outreach Specialist: Colorado
Maritza Gutierrez joined Colorado AFHK in 2013 as a Parents for Healthy Kids program participant. As a parent leader in the program, Maritza worked with youth leaders at her school to increase physical activity and make classroom celebrations healthier. Maritza has served as Colorado AFHK’s bilingual community outreach specialist since September, 2014. She coaches the Spanish-speaking parents in our Colorado Wellness Kit Program and provides trainings in Spanish to parent and community groups. In addition to her work for AFHK, Maritza supports a variety of nonprofit and neighborhood organizations with community organizing projects and community leadership development. Through that work she is able to build strong connections between AFHK and numerous Hispanic community groups throughout Denver and statewide in Colorado. Prior to becoming a community organizer, Maritza worked for Mapleton Public Schools as a school secretary for six years.
State Coordinator: Florida
As the FL State Coordinator, Melodie is responsible for managing Action for Healthy Kids’ efforts in Florida to support nationally funded school wellness initiatives. Additionally, Melodie serves as an active member of the AFHK FL Executive Committee and coordinates the AFHK FL volunteer network.
Melodie has over ten years of experience in the healthcare field with a focus on clinical nutrition, public health and program implementation. Melodie prides herself on her ability to build effective relationships and bring together multiple organizations for a common cause. Melodie is eager to share her passion for childhood wellness programming and desire to partner across multiple sectors and organizations in her role as the AFHK FL State Coordinator.
Melodie holds a degree in Food and Nutrition Sciences from Auburn University and Masters in Healthcare Administration from the University of Central Florida.
At home, Melodie’s husband and two young children often serve as guinea pigs for wellness programming. When she’s not trying to conduct taste tests or physical activity initiatives with them, you can find her horseback riding or tending to her backyard chickens. Once an avid runner and triathlete, she’s trying to find a way to balance family and physical activity so she can once again join the ranks of the competitive weekend athletes.
Ryan Monroe, MS
State Coordinator: Illinois
Ryan brings his passion for fitness, health and wellness to inspire change in the lives of our youth through Action for Healthy kids. He was drawn to AFHK to help improve communities, schools and individuals for a better tomorrow.
Ryan holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Exercise Physiology and Health Promotion from Luther College; a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a Masters of Business Administration from Chadron State College. In addition to his role with Action for Healthy Kids, Ryan works as a Wellness Manager for Western Technical College in the La Crosse, WI area where he implements health and wellness programs.
In his free time, Ryan enjoys reading, exercising, watching sports and spending time with friends and family
Deborah Grischke, MS, CFCS
Projects Coordinator: Michigan
Deborah has been working in schools for nearly 25 years to help create and sustain healthier environments for students, staff and parents. Her efforts have focused around the development and implementation of school health grants and programs, adoption of school health policies, and trainings on Michigan Model for Health and Michigan’s Healthy School Action Tool. In addition to her role as Michigan’s Action for Healthy Kids Project Coordinator, Deb recently competed her course work through WellCoaches and is seeking certification as a Professional Health and Wellness Coach. She earned her bachelor’s degree in dietetics and her master’s degree in institution administration and foodservice management at Michigan State University.
State Coordinator: Minneosta
As the Minnesota State Coordinator, Kristie is responsible for managing Action for Healthy Kids’ efforts in Minnesota to support nationally-funded school wellness initiatives. Additionally, Kristie coordinates the AFHK MN State Team which, among other things, hosts a biennial Healthy Schools Conference for school health champions in Minnesota.
Kristie has over 20 years of professional experience working at local-, state- and national-level organizations to strengthen communities and schools on behalf of (and in partnership with) young people. She has bachelors and masters degrees from Minnesota State University-Mankato.
Kristie lives in Savage, Minnesota with her husband, teenaged son, tween-aged daughter, a dog, and five guinea pigs. She is also a family travel blogger/small business owner who is passionate about sharing her love of travel and adventure with other families.
State Coordinator: North Carolina, Maryland, DC, & Virginia
As a Certified Parks & Recreation Professional, Brittany is dedicated to keeping children physically active and healthy, while having fun and learning. Brittany has worked for 14 years at the YMCA and a local Parks & Recreation Department, specializing in the field of Youth Development and Recreation. Brittany graduated from North Carolina State University with B.S. in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management and is excited to be working with Action for Healthy Kids as the Mid-Atlantic State Coordinator to be a part in educating students to make lifelong, healthy choices.
Brittany lives in Apex, North Carolina with her math-teacher husband, her two children and two snorty bulldog mixes. She enjoys being active outdoors with her family, camping, cooking vegetarian meals for her non-vegetarian family and fostering dogs for a local rescue organization.
State Coordinator: Texas
Michelle Smith is a marketing and research consultant who became active in marketing for school health when she became a parent. She is currently the State Coordinator for Texas Action for Healthy Kids and is Director for the Southern Obesity Summit, a 16-state working conference on obesity prevention.
In 2012 Michelle completed a project for Action for Healthy Kids with a goal of engaging middle school parents in wellness activities in schools. Currently she is working with National PTA and Action for Healthy Kids on a new parent engagement project, Parents for Healthy Kids.
Michelle is an active advocate for school health issues on a state as well as a local basis, serving as chair for the Partnership for a Healthy Texas for two legislative sessions. She also has served as parent chair on her local school health advisory council where she has served for over 15 years, as well as serving on the Texas Action for Healthy Kids Steering Committee, previously as Vice Chair since 2002.
Michelle was named the 2016 Texas Health Champion by the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living. She has also been recognized as a CATCH champion, received John P. McGovern Award from the Texas School Health Association and the Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Association of Health, PE, Recreation and Dance. She was named a Healthy School Hero by the Action for Healthy Kids in 2004 and 2006. When she is not working on wellness initiatives, she is spending time with her family, reading and taking LOTS of pictures, her secret passion.
Project Coordinator, El Paso
Chris has worked in the Socorro Independent School District for 2 years in various capacities. Working as a volunteer at several schools, he also worked closely with the school districts SHAC and policy committee. He enjoys promoting health and wellness in his community, as well as participating in outdoor sports like hiking and bike riding.
He is a recent graduate of The University of Texas at El Paso, with a Bachelors degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science. Chris was born and raised in El Paso and understands all the valuable opportunities this great city has to offer. With his “Si Se Puede” attitude, he looks forward to working for Action for Healthy Kids to promote health and wellness in El Paso and surrounding areas.
Parent Ambassador, Texas
Erika Bernhard, RDN, LD, CDE is the President and Founder of Crave Nutrition Solutions, LLC, in Missouri City, Texas. Erika has been teaching nutrition, weight loss, and diabetes education for the past 21 years.
As an educator and health coach, she strives to find small individualized changes that each client can make that will have a big and lasting impact in their pursuit for a healthier lifestyle. Erika is a Certified Diabetes Educator, a member of the Diabetes Care and Education practice group of the American Dietetic Association and also the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Erika has also served on the Executive Board of the Fort Bend ISD Student Health Advisory Council (SHAC) for 5 years and is the current Chair.
She volunteers to teach nutrition to kids, teachers and parents in the school district through SHAC initiatives and in-services. Her love of nutrition, fitness and food keeps her active in many healthy lifestyle pursuits, including growing and cooking food with her husband. Erika’s two teenage daughters keep her extremely busy with their soccer schedules!
Parent Ambassador, Florida
Colleen Gonzalez is the mother of two teens. She graduated from Rollins College with a BA degree in Organizational Behavior. For over ten years Colleen worked in the field of human resources. During her professional career she worked in the hospitality and medical industry as a generalist, manager, and director.
When her children were in elementary school, Colleen learned about the cross country running program at other schools and questioned why her children’s school did not participate. Colleen was informed that teachers must volunteer their time and fund their running teams. Simply put: no volunteers, no funds, no program.
In 2009, Colleen put together an action plan to ensure her children’s school could have a cross country running team. Over the years, Colleen has gone from helping one school to currently helping grassroots volunteers in 44 schools. Areas of expertise include: helping schools establish and maintain cross country running programs, playground revitalizations, recess toys for schools and family engagement events.
Since 2011, Colleen has received the following awards:
- Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Certificate of Appreciation (June 2018) for helping create a community center for teens age 13-18 to participate in deputy led fitness and also providing balls for deputies to distribute to children on the street over the summer.
- Seminole County Public Schools, Community Leadership Academy (April 2018)
- Florida Blue Foundation, Sapphire Award Recognizing Excellence and Innovation in Community Health, Individual Category (April 2017)
- Action for Healthy Kids Health School Hero (October 2014)
- Rotary International Community Service Leadership Award (June 2013)
- Seminole County Public School Dividend of the Year (2011 – 2012 School Year)
- Seminole County Public Schools, Parent Involvement Award District Winner (2012)
Parent Ambassador, Florida
Christie has a vested interest in health and wellness initiatives in the community and has more than 20 years of experience with sports and fitness for both children and adults. From 2006-2016, Christie owned and operated a Baby Boot Camp stroller fitness franchise in St. Petersburg. She was also the National Director of Fitness for Baby Boot Camp for two years and provided ongoing support and continuing education to owners across the country.
As a former NCAA All-American swimmer and an avid runner, she currently enjoys teaching and coaching swimming, running and fitness to all ages and levels. She has a B.S. degree in Exercise Science and is an AFAA Certified Personal Trainer.
Christie has three daughters and has been married to Dusty for 15 years. She regularly volunteers in the community and has been instrumental on the local level in Pinellas County, as well as the state level, bringing awareness to healthy school issues. She was actively involved with the Florida state legislature regarding a bill mandating recess in elementary schools. As the current PTA Wellness Chair at both an elementary and middle school, Christie helped start school health teams and engage all members of the school community to create a culture of health on campus.
Christie is happy to combine her passion for wellness and knowledge of fitness in the newly established role of Community Engagement Supervisor with Healthy St. Pete and the City of St. Petersburg, Florida.
Parent Ambassador, California
As a mom of four, Danielle has always enjoyed volunteering in her children’s classes. When she learned about the district’s wellness committee four years ago, she began her work with parent engagement with health and wellness. Since then, she has supported the district, teaching nutrition workshops to parents. As a parent advocate with the support of teachers and the principal, she has brought back the school garden and incorporated nutrition and gardening during the day and after school. Danielle loves seeing students excited to taste and learn about the harvest of the month!