Health meets Food: the Culinary Medicine Conference Speakers


Friday Faculty

Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN-BC, FNP- BC

Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Aging, Health and Humanities, The George Washington University School of Nursing

Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN-BC, FNP-BC is an Associate Professor at The George Washington University School of Nursing, and Director of the Center for Aging, Health and Humanities. She maintains a clinical practice as a dually-certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Gerontological Registered Nurse. Through her program of research, she conducted the first science evaluating three supportive handfeeding techniques to assist older adults with dementia with meals which she translated into training programs for innovative basic nursing care. She developed an algorithm to guide nursing home (NH) staff to use person-centered actions in order to improve meal outcomes for NH residents.

She incorporated this knowledge into the first dementia feeding skills training program in the United States for NH staff. In evaluation studies, this training has demonstrated improved resident outcomes. Her research has been supported by the John A. Hartford Foundation (JAHF) Patricia G. Archbold Scholar and Claire M. Fagin Fellow programs, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar program, and the National Institute of Health National Institute for Nursing Research. In October of 2017, she was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

Jodie Balis, RD, Chef-Dietitian of GW Culinary MedicineJodi Balis, RD

Chef-Dietitian – GW Culinary Medicine

Ms. Balis and has worked in public health nutrition as a culinary instructor and dietitian for 18 years. She has worked within the nonprofit sector to develop and manage cooking and nutrition education programs for underserved communities. Ms. Balis developed hundreds of low budget healthy recipes that were distributed throughout Giant Foods in the mid-Atlantic, and she has co-authored a cookbook highlighting healthy-budget friendly meals for the management and prevention of chronic diet-related diseases. She is currently also a wellness consultant, a personal chef, and a writer.

Jaclyn Lewis Albin, MDJaclyn Lewis Albin, MD

Director UT Southwestern Culinary Medicine Program
Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center

Dr. Jaclyn Albin treats patients of all ages and trained in combined internal medicine and pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. She joined the Departments of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center in 2014 where she practices primary care in the Combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics Clinic. Dr. Albin also serves as the Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program.

She is passionate about nutrition, lifestyle, and other environmental influences on health, and she teaches her patients, students, and residents to prioritize these areas. She also studies the impact of childhood adverse experiences, often known as toxic stress, on adult health. Dr. Albin loves blending her love of nutrition and wellness with cooking, growing a garden, traveling, and spending time with her husband and children.

Dr. Albin launched UTSW’s Culinary Medicine Program and serves as the Director, working to teach nutrition through hands-on cooking classes to medical students, residents, healthcare professionals, and the community using the Health meets Food courseware.

Sarah Messiah, PhD, MPHSara Messiah, Ph.D.

Professor of Epidemiology, Genetics and Environmental Sciences
Director, Center for Pediatric Population Health, a Children’s Health and UTSPH collaborative

Dr. Sarah Messiah is trained in advanced life course epidemiology and psychology and has broadly focused her career on the relationship between early life exposures and later life health events. As a tenured Professor bridging both a pediatric hospital system (Children’s Health System of Texas) and a school of public health (Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences) in the University of Texas System, her primary area of research focus is on obesity prevention and treatment across the life course. She has published extensively in (1) the epidemiologic investigation of risk factors for childhood obesity and related cardiometabolic disease biomarkers with particular emphasis on ethnic group disparities; and (2) the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based tools, practices and programs into clinical and community-based settings (preschools, schools, parks) to prevent childhood-onset obesity and its health related consequences.

Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, at New York UniversityMarion Nestle, PhD, MPH

Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, New York University
Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell

Marion Nestle earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology and an M.P.H. in public health nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley, and has been awarded honorary degrees from Transylvania University in Kentucky (2012) and from the City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College (2016). Previous faculty positions were at Brandeis University and the UCSF School of Medicine. From 1986-88, she was senior nutrition policy advisor in the Department of Health and Human Services and editor of the 1988 Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health. Her research and writing examine scientific and socioeconomic influences on food choice and its consequences, emphasizing the role of food industry marketing.

She is the author of six prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health(2002); Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003); What to Eat (2006); Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics, with Dr. Malden Nesheim (2012); Eat, Drink Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics (2013); and Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning) in 2015. She also has written two books about pet food, Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine (2008) and Feed Your Pet Right in 2010 (also with Dr. Nesheim). Her most recent book, Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat, was published in 2018 (and translated into Portuguese in 2019).

Robert D. Karch, MD, MPH, FAAP

Deputy Secretary for Children’s Medical Services

Dr. Karch assumed his role as Deputy Secretary for Children’s Medical Services (CMS) for Florida on March 16, 2020. Dr. Karch comes to the Florida Department of Health from the Nemours Foundation, where he had practiced since 2011. He is the immediate past president of the medical staff at Nemours Children’s Hospital (NCH) in Orlando and has served as Chair of the Medical Executive Committee at NCH. Dr. Karch was an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Medicine, where he served as the Director of the Medical Nutrition Longitudinal Curricular Theme. He has also served as the Nemours Children’s Hospital Site Director for the UCF College of Medicine Pediatric Clinical Clerkship from 2014-2019. He developed the Culinary Medicine fourth year medical student elective at UCF College of Medicine. He has served as a pediatric nutrition consultant for the Nemours Health and Prevention Services (NHPS) Delaware Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative for optimal early infant feeding.

Dr. Karch is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is a member of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FCAAP) and sits on the FCAAP Pediatric Obesity Task Force. He is also a member of the Central Florida Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Task Force. He is a member of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) and the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN).

Saturday Faculty


Emily Schlag, general manager of the Teaching Kitchen and Center for Culinary Medicine, a part of the new SBH Health and Wellness Center which opens this fall. Emily is a chef and registered dietitian who was most recently assistant program director at the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans. 

She holds a B.S. degree in Culinary Nutrition from Johnson & Wales University and is working towards a Master’s degree in in public health with a focus on nutrition. She is fulfilling her dream of combining her passion for food with her desire to inspire others to make positive changes in their health and well-being. This includes providing nutrition education in the form of hands-on cooking classes, which will be a key component of our culinary center.


Chef Heather NaceChef Heather Nace

Director of Operations, Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine

Heather Nace is originally from Baltimore, MD and graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in Culinary Nutrition in May 2018. After completing her senior internship at GCCM, she accepted a full-time position in October 2018 and moved to New Orleans. In her role as Director of Operations, she is able to combine her experience of running a small business for twelve years with her knowledge of food and nutrition.

She provides organizational and administrative support for community programming, clinic operations, and special events as well as kitchen assistance. Heather is also continuing to pursue her nutrition education through the completion of a dietetic internship with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian by Fall 2020. She looks forward to continuing to inspire others to achieve better health by sharing her knowledge and passions for food, nutrition education, and cooking.

Dr. Robert Lustig

Dr. Lustig is Professor emeritus of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He specializes in the field of neuroendocrinology, with an emphasis on the regulation of energy balance by the central nervous system.

His research and clinical practice has focused on childhood obesity and diabetes. Dr. Lustig has fostered a global discussion of metabolic health and nutrition, exposing some of the leading myths that underlie the current pandemic of diet-related disease. He believes the food business, by pushing processed food loaded with sugar, has hacked our bodies and minds to pursue pleasure instead of happiness, fostering today’s epidemics of addiction and depression. Yet by focusing on real food, we can beat the odds against sugar, processed food, obesity, and disease.

The New York Times bestselling author’s new book, Metabolical, explains the eight pathologies that underlie all chronic disease, documents how processed food has impacted them to ruin our health, economy, and environment over the past 50 years, and proposes an urgent manifesto and strategy to cure both us and the planet.

Wolfram Alderson

Wolfram Alderson’s life-long pursuit of social and environmental change has spanned over four decades. Wolfram’s career began in his teens when he founded the first Certified Farmers’ Markets in California in 1979. He has demonstrated his leadership in many food-system-change areas, including urban agriculture, school gardening, and nutrition education that has reached millions online. Focused intensively on the field of metabolic health and nutrition, Wolfram has demonstrated his leadership on a global scale, working in non-profit and for-profit sectors.

Wolfram serves as CEO of the Hypoglycemia Support Foundation, Founder/CEO of the Robert H. Lustig Research Foundation, Co-Founder of Perfact Corporation, and Executive Manager of Health & Nutrition at KDD, a leading food and beverage company based in the middle east. In addition, Wolfram supports a team of international experts committed to accelerating a metabolic paradigm shift to combat a global syndemic of preventable diet-related diseases. Wolfram loves to cook and garden at his home in San Francisco, California, which he shares with his wife and two cats.

Kevin Vos

Senior Director, Spectrum Health Hospitality Support Services

Kevin Vos is the Senior Director of Hospitality Support Services for Spectrum Health Delivery System.  He is responsible for the strategic planning as well as the oversight of high quality patient and guest services functions across our nationally awarded integrated health system.   Whether Kevin is concentrating on disrupting the typical “institutional” food chain or coming up with unique solutions to help change nutritional behavioral, Kevin’s goal is to improve the health of the community through nourishment, education and wellness.  Most recently, Kevin was awarded the spotlight award from the Association of Healthcare Foodservice.  The AHF Spotlight Award is presented to members who have enhanced operations through technology, program development, implementation, innovation and/or creative use of managing finances. Kevin is very proud of the entire Nutrition Services team at Spectrum for this recognition.

Kevin is a Juilliard trained professional musician that entered into the world of health care eight years ago as the Director of Food and Nutrition for Spectrum Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Centers. Over Kevin’s tenure at Spectrum Health he has held business leadership positions outside of Nutrition Services as administrator of Neuro Rehabilitation Home Care, Spectrum’s private duty home care company, as well as programmatic director  responsible for growing the home and community technology solutions for Continuing Care.

Kevin holds a bachelors and masters degree in music performance from Juilliard and the University of Illinois, as well as an executive MBA degree from Grand Valley State  University.  He is a resident instructor of leadership development courses taught through the Spectrum Health University.

Lawrence Deyton, MSPH, MD; Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Public Health at George Washington UniversityLawrence Deyton, MSPH, MD

Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Public Health, George Washington University

As Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Public Health, Dr. Deyton is creating new curriculum and pedagogy for medical education to teach medical students the principles of public health, population health, and leadership in medical care and health systems decision-making. These are the tools that are required of clinicians who practice in 21st Century health care systems. Dr. Deyton is well-positioned to work with Dr. Harlan and the GW Culinary Medicine team to facilitate, lead, and catalyze discussions on the scalability of culinary medicine across the spectrum of health professional education.


Sunday Faculty

Allison Graham, MS, RD

Director of Food Policy + Regulatory Affairs
Food Directions

Allie Graham joined Food Directions in 2019 as the Director of Food Policy and Regulatory Affairs. Allie manages client’s policy and regulatory priorities for food, nutrition and food labeling. Until August 2019, she worked as a Science and Regulatory Manager at Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA, now Consumer Brands Association) supporting the development and implementation of domestic/international food labeling standards and nutrition policy positions.

Prior to GMA, Allie earned her Master’s degree in Nutrition with a focus on Global Nutrition Education at University of New Haven in Connecticut and trained as a Registered Dietitian at Yale New Haven Hospital. Allie is also a trained chef; completing her Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Nutrition at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island in 2015.  Allie lives in DC.

Jennifer Leon, BS, RDN, LN. Dietitian for the GW Cancer Center & GW Culinary MedicineJennifer Leon, BS, RDN, LN


Dietitian for the GW Cancer Center & GW Culinary Medicine

Ms. Leon provides nutrition education and counseling for patients treated at the GW Cancer Center. She works within each patient’s health history and current environment to use nutrition as prevention, treatment, and support. She leads the Nutrition Club support group where nutrition topics are presented and good food is enjoyed. Before becoming a dietitian, Ms. Leon was a management consultant, focusing on higher education institutions and government organizations.

F. Abby Cabrera, MDF. Abby Cabrera, MPH

Project Manager | Center for Excellence in Primary Care | Family and Community Medicine | University of California San Francisco

Public health professional at UCSF’s Center for Excellence in Primary Care (CEPC) with a passion for improving health equity and decreasing health disparities through public health and primary care research, utilizing community engagement and health coach assisted studies; has experience in developing community health needs assessments, grant-funded project management, program planning, implementation and evaluation, quantitative and qualitative research, and coalition building aimed at improving health and well-being by addressing the social determinants of health.

CEPC identifies, develops, tests, and disseminates promising innovations in primary care to improve the patient experience, enhance population health and health equity, reduce the cost of care, and restore joy and satisfaction in the practice of primary care.

Kristy McCarron, MPH

Association Director of Community Health
YMCA of Metropolitan Washington

Kristy McCarron is the Association Director of Community Health for the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. In this position, she oversees community-clinical integration, behavioral health interventions, and food and nutrition initiatives. Additionally, she provides technical assistance to YMCAs across the country with teaching kitchens and anti-hunger programs. Kristy was appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser for Washington DC’s Food Policy Council and the Commission for Healthy Youth and Schools.  She has a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins with a focus on Food Systems and Nutrition for Public Health, and was awarded the Excellence in US Public Health Practice for her Teaching Kitchen Toolkit.

Ryan Hampton

Lifestyle Medicine Advisor
Spectrum Health

My experience in healthcare over the past fourteen years has focused heavily on operations, quality, safety, experience and data analytics. This experience has made me an expert in process improvement, leading change, data collection, production, operations, analysis, and presentation of reports for improving clinical processes and outcomes. Using these skills, I have managed both internal and external customer communications and worked closely with health system administrators, physicians, and nursing leadership. My contributions have resulted in new clinical service lines, joint ventures, business opportunities, improved patient experience, better quality of care, improved safety, system efficiencies and provided teams with immediate access to information. I always keep the end-user experience in mind throughout the design process, thus allowing me to add value to the solutions I produce for diverse groups of individuals.

Kofi Essel, MD, MPH

Dr. Essel is a board-certified community pediatrician and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Children’s National and The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (GWUSMHS). Dr. Essel also serves as the Director of the GWUSMHS Community/Urban Health Scholarly Concentration for medical students and is a contributor on the Clinical Public Health Leadership Team. He has over 10 years of experience in nutrition and obesity education. His advocacy work and research revolves around health care training, health disparities and community engagement, with a special interest and national recognition in the areas of addressing obesity and food insecurity in families.

Dr. Essel grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas.  He is happily married, has 2 children and loves cooking and spending time with his family.


Karl Guggenmos, MBA, AACKarl Guggenmos, MBA, AAC

Executive Consultant, HMS
Dean Emeritus, Johnson & Wales University

Global Master Chef Karl Guggenmos is the senior culinary advisor at Healthy Meals Supreme. He is also Dean Emeritus at Johnson & Wales University (JWU), where he recently retired as the university dean of the culinary development after a 30 -year tenure at the university where he also served as the university dean of culinary education as well as an instructor, overseeing 4 campuses and more than 6000 students.

During his 50-year career, Dean Guggenmos has consulted on many initiatives including the culinary medical program established at the Goldring Center of Culinary Medicine at Tulane University Medical School. This program was adopted by more than 35 medical schools across the United States. He also served on Advisory Boards with Starbucks and Tyson.

Earlier in his career, Dean Guggenmos served as the executive chef at restaurants worldwide until 1988, when he joined JWU. Global Master Chef Guggenmos is the recipient of a long list of prestigious awards including the Silver Star Medal Chaine des Rotisseurs (2016), Education Ambassador of Rhode Island (2015) and Presidential Medallion, American Culinary Federation (2010).

Global Master Chef Guggenmos is a member of a variety of organizations including the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the Retail Bakers of America, the Golden Toque and the National Association of Catering Executives. He is regularly invited to judge prestigious culinary competitions worldwide and was named a Global Master Chef by the World Association of Chefs Societies in 2008. Global Master Chef Guggenmos also holds an MBA from JWU.

Chef Kerri Dotson, RDN, LDN, Director of Operations and Executive Chef - George Washington University Culinary Medicine ProgramChef Kerri Dotson, RDN, LDN, CCMS

Director of Operations & Executive Chef – George Washington University Culinary Medicine Program

Chef/RD Kerri Dotson has worked in diverse areas of nutrition and foodservice industries including restaurants, critical care, public health, maternal health, outpatient counseling, and community nutrition since receiving her B.S. in Culinary Nutrition from Johnson & Wales University and completing her Dietetic Internship at Tulane University. As Executive Chef and Director of Operations for the George Washington University Culinary Medicine Program – the premier interdisciplinary program bridging culinary arts, science, nutrition, and medicine – Kerri is fulfilling her dream by combining individualized counseling and nutrition education with hands-on cooking classes. Through this revolutionary program Kerri teaches medical students, healthcare and foodservice professionals, and the community at large, how to cook food that is affordable, healthful, easy to prepare, and most of all, delicious.

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMSTimothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS

Executive Director – George Washington University Culinary Medicine Program
Chairman – Culinary Medicine Specialist Board

“Eating well and eating healthy is the same thing,” says Dr. Tim Harlan, aka Dr. Gourmet, who discovered his love of food long before embarking on a successful career as a physician. By the age of 18, Harlan was managing his first restaurant and had learned cooking techniques from some of the finest chefs. He subsequently opened an intimate French bistro at age 22.

Returning to school to pursue a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Dr. Harlan found his way to medicine. While completing his degree at Emory University School of Medicine, he began writing about the clear link between food and health, blending his extensive knowledge of food and nutrition with his medical expertise.