VN DPG Executive Committee 2024-2025

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Ashley Lombardi, MS, RD

Ashley has worked as a dietitian in both clinical and community settings for over five years. She is currently a clinical dietitian working in long term and subacute rehab for Ocean Healthcare in her home state of New Jersey. She has served as the student coordinator for VNDPG for three years and the former Speaker Bureau Chair for VNDPG. She is excited to step into her role as Chair elect. She has worked for the NJAND for three years as the sponsorship coordinator and on the annual meeting committee. Prior to her career as a dietitian, she studied to be an anthropologist/archeologist participating in studies in Kenya, Spain, and with the Medical Examiner's Office of New York City. Her work with sanctuary primates led her to discover plant based diets and the power they have for health and longevity. Ashley loves to spend time in the forest with her daughter, traveling, and trying new and exciting vegan foods.


Chair Elect


Alicia Henson, MS, RD

Alicia Henson is a program coordinator and education specialist for the Master of Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics Program at UC Berkeley and a pediatric clinical dietitian at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Oakland. Outside of work, she is an active volunteer involved in medical missions and nutrition education projects focused on preventing chronic kidney disease globally. She is an advocate for the celiac community and promotes plant-forward eating to support optimal health and sustainability. 

Past Chair


Alison Ozgur, MAT, MHS, RDN, DipACLM

Alison Ozgur is a registered dietitian nutritionist and wellness expert with advanced training and expertise in whole food, plant-based nutrition. In 2012 she co-authored her first book, Go Beyond Good: The Trail to a Lifetime of Health and Vitality! That same year she joined the online instructor team at the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, which evolved into the position of Director of Wellness Programs. Her passion and expertise in lifestyle wellness has inspired her to move into the hospitality field as the Campus Dietitian at Arizona State University. Over her two-decade career as a registered dietitian, Alison has expanded her love of health and wellness as an author, college instructor, middle and high school health teacher, certified meditation and mindfulness teacher, and registered yoga teacher. Alison completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from Western Michigan University. She holds a Master of Health Science degree from Saint Francis University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Concordia University. She is a Certified Lifestyle Medicine Professional through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.



Madeline Butler-Sanchez, MS, RDN, LDN

Madeline is a very passionate registered and licensed dietitian nutritionist and the owner of Planta Nutrition Rx, a bilingual nutrition private practice dedicated to all kinds of nutrition services for the bilingual population. Madeline has been plant-based for over six years and loves teaching her patients everything about plants. She also works as a Bilingual Community Dietitian at Wellness House, a non-profit organization that helps people and families affected by cancer. Madeline has volunteered for Vegetarian Nutrition DPG for over three years as social media chair and is now looking forward to her new role as secretary. She completed her master’s degree in nutrition and Dietetics at Loyola University in Chicago, IL, where she lives with her husband and goldendoodle named Kiwi. Outside of work, she enjoys exploring nature and new plant-based restaurants. Madeline also loves to travel to Puerto Rico to visit her family and enjoy the warm weather and food.



Sarah Whipkey, RDN, LD

Sarah Whipkey is a registered and licensed dietitian and the owner of The Plant Potential, a virtual private practice specializing in plant-based nutrition. Sarah has been plant-based for 15 years and loves to share her passion of plant-based living with anyone and everyone. In addition to her private practice, Sarah also works as telehealth dietitian for Nourish. She has volunteered with the Nutrition Entrepreneurs DPG and is currently their PR & Marketing Coordinator. She recently relocated from Houston, Texas to Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband and two young daughters. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, trying out new plant-based recipes and restaurants, hiking, biking, and being outdoors. 

House of Delegates


Lindsay Schmitz MS, RD, LDN

Lindsay is the owner of Live Smarter Nutrition & Wellness, practicing out of The Health Club at Southpointe. She specializes in weight management, plant-forward eating, disease prevention, wellness and educating consumers about pure, safe, alternative personal and home care choices.

Lindsay formerly held positions as a bariatric dietitian at West Penn Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital (Cincinnati, OH). Lindsay also has experience in public health as a manager and lead dietitian for a Woman, Infants and Children office in Cincinnati. She has held leadership positions in both the Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania chapters of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. She graduated from Upper St. Clair High School (Pittsburgh, PA), the University of Dayton (OH) and received her Master’s in Sports Nutrition from the University of Aberdeen (Scotland).

Member Services Chair


Sheetal Parikh, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND

Sheetal Parikh holds two BS degrees and one MS in Dietetics and Nutrition. She brings her unique experience and skills to nutrition by blending Eastern and Western cultures with innovative plant-based recipes and diets with a holistic approach and diverse perspective. She has authored "Vegan and Vegetarian Diets" for the Nutrition Care diet manual from the AND. She has been involved with VNDPG since 2017. Recently, she was recognized as a ‘Fellow’ of the AND. She also specializes in Adult Malnutrition.


Nominating Committee Chair


Mary-Jon Ludy, PhD, RDN, FAND

Dr. Mary-Jon Ludy is a Professor of Food & Nutrition and Associate Dean of the Graduate College at Bowling Green State University, her undergraduate alma mater. She holds an MS from Tufts University and a PhD from Purdue University. Dr. Ludy’s areas of expertise include bioactive spices, college health, dietetic practice, innovative teaching, and leadership. She has been widely published in peer-reviewed journals, such as AJCN and JAND, as well as been profiled by popular press outlets, such as the BBCCNN, and The New York Times. Dr. Ludy serves on the State Medical Board of Ohio’s Dietetics Advisory Council and is Past-President of the Ohio Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. She is also an amateur photographer whose food-focused images appear on textbook covers for McGraw-Hill Education.

Nominating Committee Chair-Elect

Brooke Starkoff, PhD, RDN, LDN

Brooke Starkoff is a registered dietitian, clinical Associate Professor in Health Sciences, and exercise physiologist for the Preventive Cardiology Clinic at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Their niche lies in exercise physiology and sports nutrition with a focus on plant-based nutrition. Brooke has a passion for and commitment to health equity and is on a mission to create inclusive spaces where everyone can access top-tier healthcare and nutrition services. Brooke enjoys being outside with their wife and son.


Appointed VN DPG Committee Members

You can contact your leaders using the Academy's Leadership Directory. Click here for the Leadership Directory User Guide.

State Coordinator Chair
Elsa Lindy

Speaker's Bureau Chair
Rebekah Brown, RD

Student Member Coordinator
Kathleen Law

Newsletter Editor
AnnaMarie Rodriguez, RDN,LD, FAND
Alexa Pizzarello, RD

Newsletter Staff
Blair Persyn, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC
Karen Mills, JD, RDN

Communication Chair
Manju Karkare, MS, RDN, LDN, CLT, FAND

VN Happenings Coordinator
Lesley Schatz MPH, RD, LDN 

Newsletter Reviewers
Barbara Ravid, MA, RDN, CSR
Catherine Conway, MS, RD, CDN, CDE
Debbie Lucus, RD, MS, CDE
Hollie Gelberg, PhD, RD
Reed Mangels, PhD, RD
Sudha Raj, PhD, RD

RD Resource Co-Chairs

Policy and Advocacy Chair 
Justine Violet Meyer, MPH, RD, CSG

Sponsorship Chair
Alison Ozgur MAT, MHS, RDN, DipACLM

Social Media Chair
Karenna Genzlinger

Awards Chair 
Catherine Conway, MS, RDN, CDCES, CDN


Research Chair
Katie Ellison, MS, RDN, LDN

Research Committee
Reya Andrews, MS, CN
Dyan Young, DA, AD
Miranda Wall Van Blarcum, DC, MS
Susan "Tootie" Deerr, BS

Webinar Chair
Sara Tamsukhin, PhD, MS, RD, LD

Webinar Asst. 

Diversity Liaison
Jen Nguyen, RDN
Parul Kharod, MS, RD, LDN
Alisa Clark 

Network Rep. to VRG
Reed Mangels, PhD, RD

Volunteer Coordinator

Website & Discussion Board Coordinator
Karenna Genzlinger

DPG Manager/Administrator
Carla Jamison

To Reach VN please email:

The State Coordinators are our local links to VN events, networking, and information. Meet our State Coordinators!

The Executive Committee of the Vegetarian Nutrition DPG invites you to contact us:

  • With questions on how you can get more involved with the VNDPG
  • With suggestions on how we could better serve you
  • With recommendations on projects or activities that you would like to see the VNDPG undertake.
  • For a list of vegetarian nutrition speakers