Committee Chairs

Academy Staff

Click hyperlinked names below to contact that Officer via email:

Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDNConstance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN


Constance Brown-Riggs—a former national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the author of the Diabetes Guide to Enjoying Foods of the World; The African American Guide to Living Well WithDiabetes, which received the Favorably Reviewed designation from the American Association of Diabetes Educators; and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes.

Over the course of her career, Constance has established herself as an expert in nutrition, diabetes, and the cultural issues that impact the health and health care of people of color. Her work has appeared in books for health professionals and health care consumers, and she has been a featured expert in national magazines, and in newspapers across the country. She also is a regular contributor to Today's Dietitian Magazine, also serving on the magazine's advisory board, and to

Constance is a former member of the board of directors for the American Association of Diabetes Educators, DCEs’ first social media and diversity chair, former member of NDEPs Promotion Taskforce,  past president of the New York State Dietetic Association and the Long Island Dietetic Association. Her professional honors include the Health Education Award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Suffolk County Chapter, Inc., Award for Excellence in Consultation and Business Practice from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Distinguished Dietitian Award from the New York State Dietetic Association, and the Diabetes Educator of the Year award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Diabetes Care and Education Practice Group.

Learn more about her work at, follow her on twitter, and instagram, and on Facebook become a fan of Living Well With Diabetes



Paula_leibovitz-headshot-1.jpgPaula Kellogg Leibovitz, MS, RDN, CDN, CDE


Paula Kellogg Leibovitz, MS, RDN, CDN, CDE is the owner of PKL Consulting, which focuses on grant management and the development and delivery of community education programs. She serves as a Technical Consultant for the CT State Department on Aging and CT Department of Public Health. She has extensive experience in curriculum development, and has managed grants from the Maternal Child and Health Bureau, Office on Woman's Health and the Robert Wood Foundation. Paula is the former Director of the Dietetic Technician Program at Lincoln College of New England (formerly Briarwood College).

Paula served as treasurer of the DCE Practice group and in numerous leadership positions in the Academy, including Commissioner for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), Dietetic Technician Program Representative on the ACEND Board of Directors and the CDR Representative for the Council on Future Practice. She is immediate past chair of the Examination Panel and Entry-Level Dietetics Practice Audit Committee for CDR. She also served as CT’s delegate for 6 six years.

Paula was appointed to the CT Diabetes Advisory Board and to the Connecticut Diabetes Partnership, Department of Public Health Diabetes Prevention and Control Program. Additionally, she was one of the founders of the Southington Community Garden and serves a mentor and volunteer for the garden program. The project received the 2019 YMCA Healthy Living Award.

She received the prestigious Academy Medallion Award in 2018.

Paula loves traveling, cooking and gardening and is a Master Gardener. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, Peter.



Alyce_Thomas_1.jpgAlyce Thomas, RDN

Past Chair / Industry Relations

Alyce Thomas is a Nutrition Consultant at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, NJ. Her interest in diabetes and pregnancy has resulted in several publications and presentations in this area. She has been involved with the Academy on various committees including the Honors Committee, Past Chair of the Evidence-based Practice Committee, Professional Issues Delegate of the House of Delegates, past Chair and Treasurer of the Women’s Health DPG, and a former DCE Professional Development Chair and Editor/Assistant Editor of On the Cutting Edge. She is a current member of Council on Research Evidence Based Criteria Development Task Force. Alyce is also active in other organizations and was recently appointed to the The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Advisory Council. She was reappointed to a fourth term on the New Jersey’s Governor’s Council on the Prevention of Developmental Disabilities, and was the only RDN to serve on the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Panel on Diagnosing Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. She is a past recipient of DCE’s Diabetes Educator of the Year Award and in 2015, received the Academy’s Excellence in Clinical Practice Award. Originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, Alyce completed her dietetic internship at the Montreal Diet Dispensary in Montreal, Quebec, where she was trained in the famed “Higgins Method” of nutrition counseling. In her spare time, she is active in her church and loves to travel.



Laura Russell, MA, RD, CDELaura Russell, MA, RD, CDE


Laura is a Certified Diabetes Educator at the Endocrinology Clinic of Minneapolis in Edina, MN. She specializes in diabetes technology, such as insulin pumps and sensors, and works with type 1, type 2, and diabetes in pregnancy. She is responsible for accreditation and coordination of the diabetes program in her clinic position. Her past experience in Bismark, ND and Billings, MT also includes weight management for adults and children, bariatric surgery, celiac disease, development of insulin adjustment protocols, and several research projects. Laura was the Website Editor for DCE in 2013 & 2014 and the Electronic Communications Chair 2014 & 2015.  Laura is busy with two young children at home, and enjoys cooking, traveling, and going to sporting events with her husband.



Mary Angela Niester, MPH, RDMary Angela Niester, MPH, RD


Mary Angela Niester, MPH, RD obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from Central Michigan University, completed an AP4 dietetic internship at the Oakland County Health Division, and received a Master in Public Health degree from the University of Michigan. She is currently working with the St. Joseph Mercy Health System on a number of projects related to diabetes prevention. Mary has been a long time member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, serving in leadership positions with the Religion Member Interest Group and at the affiliate level, with the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In her spare time, she loves to do any activity outdoors and travel with her family.



David Trinkle, RD, CDE


David Trinkle is a Registered Dietitian who helps working people to live without a fear of diabetes.

Before starting as a Clinical Nutrition Manager, David worked 3 years as a Diabetes Educator and 5 years as an instructor for University of Phoenix. After a successful career helping people with Diabetes (both type 1 and type 2 Diabetes) and educate young minds in collegiate level education, David now educate people on how to live without fear of diabetes. David is pursuing his doctorate degree in Clinical Nutrition and has Certified Diabetes Educator Certification.

David’s philosophy is “what you do (and eat) is who you are”. David embraces healthy eating habits with a touch of common sense to “live a little”.

David enjoys spending time with his new born daughter and paddleboarding.



Melissa_Dobbins.jpgMelissa Joy Dobbins MS, RDN, CDE

Communications/Marketing Director

Melissa is an award-winning registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes educator, media trainer, podcaster, speaker and spokesperson with 25 years of experience. She is the founder of Sound Bites®, Inc. where she promotes “sound science, smart nutrition and good food®” – and she is known as ‘The Guilt-Free RD®’ – “because food shouldn’t make you feel bad!”

Melissa’s background includes nearly a decade of clinical nutrition and outpatient counseling as well as corporate wellness, public speaking, academia, and research. She’s a former supermarket dietitian and has been a certified diabetes educator for 20 years. Melissa has extensive media experience as a spokesperson for the food, grocery and healthcare industries, and received the 2016 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Media Excellence Award. She has conducted over 200 live TV interviews in Chicago and has been quoted in countless publications including the Wall Street Journal, Shape Magazine, and Men’s Fitness. She was recently named one of “10 Dietitians You Need to Follow on Social Media” by U.S. News & World Report.

Utilizing her communications expertise, Melissa enjoys coaching other dietitians and diabetes educators on media, social media and public speaking skills, with an emphasis on creating and delivering meaningful messages that engage and empower audiences.

Melissa currently serves as a volunteer spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators, conducting media interviews to promote credible diabetes information and resources. Her Sound Bites® Podcast was named “one of 8 podcasts worth listening to” by Diabetes Forecast Magazine.

Melissa lives in Chicago with her husband and son, and her daughter is in college. Melissa enjoys weight lifting and all kinds of dancing from ballet to ballroom.



Jennifer_Barr_1.jpgJennifer Barr, MPH CDE RDN LDN

Dietetic Practice Group Delegate

Jennifer is the Founder of Downingtown/Kennett Nutrition & Weight Management Centers Her many professional accomplishments include:

  • Certified Diabetes Educator
  • Member, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics
  • Member, American Public Health Association
  • Past President, Delaware Dietetic Association (DDA)
  • Young Dietitian of the Year (DDA)
  • Outstanding Dietitian of the Year (DDA)
  • Pediatric and Adolescent Weight Management Certification
  • Adjunct Instructor, West Chester University
  • Registered Dietitian/Nutrition Instructor at Upper Main Line YMCA/Lionville Community YMCA

Jennifer is formally the Program Manager of Moving Moms Forward, a health intitiative of the Christiana Care Center for Community Health.

Jennifer has worked in community nutrition and weight management for over 18 years and is committed to improving the health of the community using a holistic approach. She specializes in weight management, health disparities, and women's health and is particularly interested in eating disorders and diabetes. Her work in community nutrition and weight management has earned her esteemed honors at the federal and state levels, leading to numerous grants that have allowed her to conduct important work in the public health sector.



Lisa Herzig, PhD, RD, CDELisa Herzig, PhD, RD, CDE

Nominating Committee Chair

Lisa Herzig received her Bachelors of Science in Community Health Nutrition from Georgia State University, Master’s degree from University of New Mexico in Nutrition, and her Doctorate degree in Humanities from the California Institute of Integral Studies with a concentration in transformational learning and change. She is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. Dr. Herzig is the Didactic Program in Dietetics Director and coordinates the undergraduate nutrition and dietetics program at Fresno State. Finally, Dr. Herzig has been elected as the department graduate program director. In her spare time, she likes to travel, ski, chase her High School Students to and from practices and bike ride.



Daisy Seremba, MS, RD, LD, CDEDaisy Seremba, MS, RD, LD, CDE

Membership Chair

Daisy Seremba is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She currently works in the Population Health Management division of Optum, where she provides telephonic disease management and medical nutrition therapy to diverse patients with diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other chronic health conditions. She recently joined the diabetes services division of Wellstar Hospital Health System, where she provides diabetes self-management education and support to individuals and groups. Daisy has had a long and varied work history in the field of nutrition and dietetics. She has worked in clinical and outpatient settings, as an adjunct professor, in county and state level health agencies and community health programs--developing and providing nutrition education and diabetes self-management education programs for residents of New York, Michigan and Georgia.

Daisy is a longtime member of DCE and looks forward to serving as membership chair. She has served as DCE nominating committee chair and committee member in the recent past. She is active in her church and enjoys cooking, travelling and spending time with her family.



Jamie Kowatch, MS, RD, CD, CDEJamie Kowatch, MS, RD, CD, CDE

Web Chair

Jamie is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator at Saluté Nutrition, PLLC, just north of Seattle, WA. She specializes in individualized diabetes care, as well as weight management and chronic kidney disease. Previously, she worked at Western Washington Medical Group, and helped with opening offices within primary care offices, as well as developing & providing CKD, DSMT, and pre-diabetes classes. Jamie is a graduate of the Graduate Coordinated program at University of Washington, Seattle, where she received her Masters degree & completed her Dietetic Internship.

Jamie has been involved with DCE since 2012, when she started volunteering with the web-editing team; she was the Web Editor for 3 years and served on the Nominating Committee last year. She has volunteered at the local camp for children with type 1 diabetes, Camp Leo for Children with Diabetes, as both the Coordinating Dietitian and as part of the in-cabin medical staff. When she isn’t educating or at camp, Jamie enjoys playing nerdy games (board & role playing), reading, and enjoying her hedgehog & 2 chinchillas.



Toby Smithson, MS, RDN, LD, CDEToby Smithson, MS, RDN, LD, CDE

Social Media Chair

Toby Smithson dynamically combines her knowledge as a certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian nutritionist with her life experiences successfully managing type 1 diabetes for more than five decades. She is a speaker, vlogger, writer, coach and consultant dietitian.

Toby is a columnist and advisor for Diabetic Living Magazine, a regular blogger for U.S. News & World Report, covering health and nutrition topics connected to diabetes, and is a monthly contributor to, writing on nutrition and lifestyle issues related to diabetes She is the principal author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies (Wiley 2013).
Toby recently launched her YouTube channel vlogging credible information about diabetes management on this frequently used social media venue. She founded, an online technical and lifestyle support resource for people with diabetes, offering constant access to her unique professional and personal diabetes management insights, primarily through original video segments.

Toby serves as a volunteer media spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and had served as an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics media spokesperson for nine years, representing the voice of sound nutrition and science on behalf of the 75,000 members of the Academy. She has conducted hundreds of media interviews about diabetes management and wellness. Reporters seek out Toby for her unique perspectives on diabetes management and wellness. She leads a healthy lifestyle by example.
She is a certified diabetes educator for Livongo, an organization that has reinvented how chronic conditions are managed. Her responsibilities include coaching people about diabetes management via phone.

Toby Smithson received a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics, Nutrition and Food Science from Northern Illinois University and a master’s degree in Nutrition and Wellness from Benedictine University. To learn more about Toby Smithson, you can visit her website or connect with her on linkedin



Patricia_Davidson_1.jpgPatricia Davidson, DCN, RDN, LDN, CDE, FAND

Print Communications Chair

Patricia Davidson is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and fellow of the Academy. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition, College of Health Sciences at West Chester University-PA, and holds degrees from Rutgers University (DCN, Doctor of Clinical Nutrition), Virginia Tech (MS, Nutrition and Food Science), Southern Illinois University (BS, Nutrition and Food Science). For nearly 30 years she has worked as a clinician, researcher, and educator. Her clinical positions include in-patient diabetes education, private practice, and community diabetes education. She has served on various task forces and leadership positions, including the State of Tennessee Standards Committee Diabetes Coalition, President of the New Jersey Dietetic Association, President & Treasurer of the Garden State Association of Diabetes Educators, Public Policy Coordinator for Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Chair of the Coordinating body of PA-AADE. In 2011 she received the Carolyn Sebastianelli Distinguished Member Award from NJDA and the Distinguished Service Award of the Garden State Association of Diabetes Educators.

On the national level, she has been active in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; she is currently chairing the Prediabetes Workgroup, and has co-authored Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes Nutrition Guidelines. Within DCE, she has served as the Awards Chair, DPG Delegate, and is currently the Print Communications Chair. Her research centers on prevention and management of diabetes for adults and children as well as the development and applications of technology in diabetes management. She has authored or co-authored numerous manuscripts pertaining to diabetes treatment strategies, management, problem-solving, implementation of nutrition guidelines, and prevention.



Anna Parker, DCN, MS, RD, CDEAnna Parker, DCN, MS, RD, CDE
Professional Development Chair

Anna Parker DCN, MS, RD, CDE, CCRC is a research dietitian with Anaheim Clinical Trials in Anaheim, California. She is team leader for all clinical trials for patients with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes. She is passionate about diabetes and devoted to diabetes research to help patients improve their diabetes control and live a better quality of life. Anna is a graduate of Rutgers University where she received her Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition.

During her graduate studies, she obtained grant funding from the Diabetes Care and Education Dietetic Practice Group (DCE DPG) Karen Goldstein Memorial Grant for Diabetes Medical Nutrition Therapy to pursue a randomized clinical research trial to investigate the effect of medical nutrition therapy (MNT) compared with usual care on fasting plasma glucose values, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), serum lipid levels, and Diabetes Risk Score, from baseline to the end of a 12-week intervention in overweight or obese adults with prediabetes. Seventy-six subjects participated and the results were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has also published in the area of Evidence Based Practice in Dietetics.

Dr. Parker is also currently Adjunct Assistant Professor at Rutgers University in the clinical nutrition department. She has taught classes in preventive nutrition, advanced clinical nutrition, pharmacology, vitamin and mineral metabolism and human metabolism. She is dedicated to being a mentor for students and has also published articles with her graduate students. Dr. Parker promotes research and encourages her students to use evidence analysis.

Dr. Parker has served on the joint Diabetes Care and Education/Dietetics Practice Based Research Network (DCE/ DPBRN) for the past two years to develop and launch a survey to identify current RDN knowledge/skills in diabetes care. This work has recently lead to another publication in April 2018 regarding “Identification of Generalist Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Knowledge Gaps in Diabetes Medical Nutrition Therapy Compared to Diabetes-Credentialed Registered Dietitian Nutritionists: Results of a Survey to Inform Educational Opportunities” in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has also served as research chair for DCE for the past two years and has accepted another two year term as Professional Development Chair.   She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; DCE; and the Dominican University Alumni Association.  

She has received various honors and awards as the:  Diabetes Care and Education Publication Award, Huddleson Award, California Dietetic Association Excellence in Research Award, and the Pharma Times award for Beardsworth Citation for Patient Focus.  Dr. Parker has also served as a National Study Coordinator for Novo Nordisk contributing to the area of clinical research trials.


Charlene_D.jpgCharlene Dorcey, MS, RDN, LMNT, CDE

Policy and Advocacy Leader

Charlene Dorcey, MS, RDN, LMNT, CDE is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Licensed Medical Nutrition Therapist in Nebraska and Certified Diabetes Educator with 30 years of experience in primary care. As part of the Care Coordination team at the York Medical Clinic’s Patient Centered Medical Home she specializes in diabetes and chronic care management. She developed and facilitates YMC’s Diabetes Group Medical Visits and speaks or trains on their success. The clinic has a recognized Diabetes Prevention Program with her lead. She is a Master Trainer-Select for the National Diabetes Prevention Program and is a diabetes resource and trainer for the SERPA ACO.

She has contracted for years with diabetes-related business, health-care and public health. She has presented on nutrition and diabetes-related topics to Family Practice Physicians, other health-care professionals and her state and district Academy colleagues. With the desire to continue learning she earned her Master’s in Interdepartmental Nutrition from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln in 2013.

Charlene has served as President of the Nebraska Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Nebraska Association of Diabetes Educators. She is the current Nebraska Reimbursement Representative and has served as the Consumer Protection Coordinator. She has devoted her career to helping others and became active in nutrition and diabetes legislative issues as a result. She has shared her expertise serving on state advisory committees and is active at the state and national level in leadership roles, presentations, committee appointments and in mentoring. She was a 2018 DCE webinar presenter and a speaker at the Academy’s Reimbursement Representative training. She was honored in 2018 with the Diabetes Care and Education Legislative Activity Award and in 2019 as Nebraska’s Outstanding Dietitian of the Year.



Chelsea.jpgChelsea Schoenfelder, MPH, RDN, LD

Awards Chair

Chelsea is an Outpatient Dietitian at St. Luke's Lifestyle Medicine in Boise, Idaho where she is a facilitator of the CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program), a lifestyle improvement course. In addition, she does individual nutrition counseling for patients with heart disease, pulmonary disease and diabetes. She also teaches small group nutrition education classes on managing blood sugars. Chelsea obtained a Bachelors degree in Nutrition from the University of Idaho, a Bachelors degree in Dietetics and a Master in Public Health from Idaho State University. She served as a DCE Awards Judge from 2014-2017 and took on the role of Assistant Awards Chair in 2018. Chelsea also stays busy at home with her 2 year old son and enjoys running, gardening and reading in her spare time.


Shamera_R.jpgShamera Lashawn Robinson, MPH, RDN

Diversity Liaison

Shamera is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) dedicated to empowering individuals to prioritize wellness. As an outpatient dietitian, Shamera uses a patient-centered approach to counsel, educate, and deliver medical nutrition therapy needed for clients to reach their personal health goals. The only thing she enjoys more than nutrition education/counseling is translating complicated science into easily digestible (post-worthy) tips. Don’t forget to interact with Shamera on social media!



Cassie-Verdi_1.jpgCassie Verdi, MPH, RD

Corporate Relations Manager

Cassie is a registered dietitian specializing in nutrition communications, public health programming, health professional education, and culinary nutrition. In her current role, she works closely with DCE’s leadership team to build relationships with industry collaborators, and to secure sponsorships that support the practice of DCE’s membership.

Her previous work experience includes several years at FoodMinds, a division of Padilla, where she managed and implemented nutrition communication programs for food and beverage clients. Prior to working at Padilla, she was the Associate Director of Nutrition at the American Diabetes Association. She is the co-author of two books published by the American Diabetes Association: 21 Things you Need to Know About Diabetes and Nutrition and The Diabetes Superfoods Cookbook and Meal Planner.

Cassie completed her Bachelor of Science degree at Miami University, and she completed her Dietetic Internship and Master of Public Health degree at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Outside of her work in nutrition, Cassie is busy at home with her toddler and twin babies. When she has the time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, trying new restaurants, long-distance running, and spending time outdoors with her family.



DCE_2015_Linda.jpgLinda Flanagan Vahl

Executive Manager

Linda began her career at the Academy as Manager of Professional Development with CDR in 1999, working with CPE Accredited Providers and recertification/credentialing.  Linda has been a DPG Manager since 2007, and enjoys working with volunteer leaders. Linda has a BA in Urban Studies/Public Policy from DePaul University in Chicago. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, tennis and volunteering in her community. She served on her local high school Board of Education for 8 years, and served on her local H.S. Education Foundation devoted to scholarship fundraising. Linda enjoys time with her husband, 2 daughters, 2 sons & cat 30 minutes southwest of Chicago.