Melissa Groves Azzaro, RDN, LD, Communications 2023-2024
Melissa Groves Azzaro, RDN, LD, is an integrative registered dietitian and owner of The Hormone Dietitian LLC, a virtual private practice specializing in women's health and hormone issues, including PCOS and fertility. She uses the functional medicine and food-first approach that combines holistic lifestyle changes with evidence-based medicine.
Melissa is a second-career dietitian, having worked as a copywriter and editor in medical advertising in NYC for 15 years before going back to school for nutrition. She has a B.A. in English and Dance from Hofstra University and completed her B.S. in Nutrition/Dietetics and Dietetic Internship at the University of New Hampshire.
Melissa was awarded the Emerging Women's Health Dietitian of 2019 by the Women's Health DPG and an UpwaRD Award from FoodMinds in 2019.
She writes and contributes to several food and nutrition blogs and authored A Balanced Approach to PCOS (2020). She served on the DIFM Leadership Team as Social Media Chair (2018-2020) and on the New Hampshire state board as Professional Development Chair (2018-2020).
Elise Harrison, MS, RDN, CDN, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) CoChair 2023-2024
Elise Harrison is a Registered Dietitian working at a private practice in New York City. She co-chairs the Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee under DIFM. Additionally, she is co-chair of the membership committee at the Greater New York Dietetic Association (GNYDA). She loves sharing science-based information via social media. It allows her to reach a larger audience and hopefully moves individuals to the contemplation phase regarding their lifestyle and diet decisions. She has a strong research background, a passion for integrative and functional nutrition/medicine, and an interest in community nutrition and public policy.
Analy Gonzalez, MPH, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) CoChair 2023-2024
My name is Analy Gonzalez, and I live in Omaha, Nebraska. I have a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in maternal/child nutrition from the University of San Francisco. I am currently doing my distance dietetic internship at the University of New England. Functional and integrative medicine has always been a part of my life without me knowing it. As a child, I grew up with complex digestive issues, and my grandmother was the only one that could relieve my pain. My grandmother was a curandera (healer) and a partera (midwife) in Mexico; I learned about various remedies and the importance of self-love and healing. My father also has a background in and uses naturopathic medicine and herbal remedies. Working in public health has opened my eyes to various issues in the current healthcare system. As much as I loved working with families, I was disappointed in the healthcare provided for families suffering from certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, food sensitivities, and allergies. I saw how families were shamed about their cultural upbringings and remedies. As a future dietitian, I aspire to continue my family’s tradition and pay homage to my cultural background. I am happy to be part of DIFM’s Diversity Equity & Inclusion Team. I will further engage students from all backgrounds to continue their cultural traditions and offer a different perspective on integrative and functional medicine.
Regina Barrera Flores, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Associate
My name is Regina Barrera Flores, and I am a nutrition student at the School of Public Health of the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon (UANL) in Monterrey, Mexico. I have consistently been the top student in my class throughout my academic career. I have been part of the UANL Talented and Gifted Development Institutional Program for Undergraduate Students for academic merit.
I did my professional training as a dietitian assistant in the nutrition and dietetics department of a private hospital in Monterrey, where I provided nutritional consultations to inpatients and participated in developing parenteral and enteral nutrition formulas. I am passionate about clinical nutrition. I have a certificate in food supplements about their uses and marketing.
I am also interested in public health research. For two years in this area, I have written several science-based articles in a language understandable to the general population regarding non-communicable diseases.
My short-term goal is to complete a master’s degree program and become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. My areas of interest include parenteral and enteral Nutrition, chronic kidney disease, cancer, gastrointestinal diseases, and eating disorders.
I am excited to be involved in the DIFM DEI Committee. I plan to connect with more students and dietitians and learn from different cultures and practices related to integrative and functional medicine.
Sarah Thomsen Ferreira, MS, MPH, RD, CDN, IFNCP, CHWC, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Associate
Sarah Thomsen Ferreira, MS, MPH, RD, CDN, IFNCP, CHWC, is an integrative Registered Dietitian and professionally trained health coach grounded in a 'food as medicine' philosophy. Sarah received her BS in Nutrition Science with a minor in Psychology through Russell Sage College. She earned a Master of Science in Nutrition and Food Management and a Master of Public Health in Public Health Practice. Sarah is currently the clinical nutrition manager at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine in Ohio.
Alison Jordan, RDN, Environment and Nutrition Chair 2022-2024
Colleen Orbegoso, MS, RDN, LDN Member Engagement 2023-2024
Over the past decade, Colleen Orbegoso has gone from coaching and teaching fitness classes to becoming a registered dietitian. She recently earned her master’s degree in clinical nutrition from the University of Memphis with a combined dietetic internship program. She obtained her second bachelor’s degree in dietetics in 2021, also from the University of Memphis, and her first bachelor’s degree in supply chain management from Arizona State University. Her interest in integrative in functional nutrition began when she went back to school, and she has always been an advocate for holistic health. Colleen was previously the DIFM Student Member Chair from 2021-2023 and is now the DIFM Member Engagement leader where she hopes to connect DIFM members with the many interactions that DIFM has to offer. Outside of dietetics, Colleen is busy raising her two boys, creating content for her website, and enjoying many outdoor activities.
Pamela Malo, MHS, RD, KYT, Mind-Body Therapy Chair 2022-2024
Pamela Malo is a writer, kindness coach, and speaker. She earned her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and has worked in global health, private practice, the startup industry, politics, and, for over a decade, as a dietary interviewer with NHANES (ask her about the 60 cities she lived and 7,000 dietary interviews she did!) Pamela is passionate about the connection between mind and body and is the creator of Pajama Yoga! and the Yoga for Peaceful Eating Program, which combines nutrition, yoga, and mindfulness. She is also a regular virtual speaker for dietetic internships and nutrition students on leadership and career development topics.
Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, EBQ, MBCP, Network Chair
Kathie Madonna Swift, MS RDN LDN FAND EBQ, MBCP, is an author, teacher, and integrative dietitian/nutritionist. Kathie is dedicated to helping patients on their personal healthcare journeys, integrating the best nutritional science and mind-body modalities.
Kathie is an educator at heart who is interested in digestive disorders, chronic pain conditions, and brain health. She co-founded the Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy, www.IFNAcademy.com, an online functional nutrition training program for healthcare professionals. Kathie also directs the Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s highly acclaimed “Food As Medicine” program and serves as faculty for their mind-body skills groups worldwide. She is certified in qi gong and weaves this meditative movement practice into her teachings.
Kathie pioneered innovative nutrition programs at Canyon Ranch Health Resorts, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, and The UltraWellness Center and continues to consult at all three organizations today.
She is the author of The Swift Diet: 4 Weeks to Mend the Belly, Lose the Weight, and Get Rid of the Bloat and co-authored The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Health and The IFMNT Radial.
Jena Savadsky Griffith, RDN, IHC, Newsletter Editor 2023-2024
Jena Savadsky Griffith, RDN, IHC, is an integrative dietitian and health coach with a private practice specializing in the foundational processes of body re-mineralization, gut restoration, and immune resilience. She uses food, nature, functional medicine, and targeted supplementation to nourish the body, mind, and spirit. After graduating from NYU with a BA in journalism and having a successful career in television production, Jena was inspired to redirect her work path and return to school after transforming her health and life with integrative and functional nutrition. Following a more circuitous route, she amassed certifications from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, and a digestive wellness mentorship while attending, graduating, and completing her dietetic internship at the University of Northern Colorado. After almost four years of creating and directing a successful nutrition program at Virginia’s top medical wellness facility, Jena transitioned to private practice full-time this year. For the past 12 years, she has also been the primary nutrition instructor for Charlottesville’s community education program. Jena is a writer, mentor, frequent presenter, and podcast guest and is the author of the chronic pain and nutrition chapter of Integrative and Functional Medical Nutrition Therapy, the most recent textbook reference for IFMNT practitioners. Jena has been the newsletter editor for The Integrative RDN since 2018, where she gets to marry past and present passions. Although a New York City native, Jena has embraced the tranquility of Virginia, where she lives with her son.
Holly Van Poots, RDN, CSP, FAND, Copy Editor 2023-2024
Holly Van Poots, RDN, CSP, FAND, is a private practice dietitian specializing in integrative nutrition care throughout the lifespan. Her practice, Be Balanced Nutrition, LLC, is part of an integrative performance center in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She collaborates with two functional chiropractors, a massage therapist, and a trainer specializing in Pilates and Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization. She has over 15 years of experience working with acutely ill children in several large health systems and has been a Board-Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition since 2006. She has served as a subject matter expert for the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s Pediatric Specialty Exam. She has been a member of the advisory committee for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Dietetic Internship Program. She became a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (FAND) in 2015. She is a Past Chair of the Pediatric Nutrition Practice Group and has also been the PNPG Building Block for Life editor. She is currently the copy editor for the Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine newsletter, The Integrative RDN, and for the patient education team of the Renal Dietitians Practice Group. She is the 2018-2021 Pediatric Nutrition DPG delegate for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics House of Delegates. Holly is a dynamic speaker and dedicated leader, passionate about healthy living and her family. Outside of nutrition, she raises two boys and teaches Pilates, TRX, and barre group fitness classes.
Staci Belcher, MS, RDN, LDN, Newsletter CPE Editor 2023-2024
Staci is a Florida native currently residing in Athens, GA. She graduated from the University of Georgia’s Master of Science and Dietetic internship program. She is working as a research assistant investigating the impact of a viral infection on pediatric bone and body composition.
Dina Ranade, RDN, LD, Newsletter Editor/Botanicals 2023-2024
Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haynes, MS, RDN, CDCES, LDN, NASM-WFS-CPT, Nominating Committee Chair Elect
Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haynes, MS, RD, CDCES, LDN, NASM-CPT, is a mother, wife, co-author, health writer, recipe developer, health speaker, holistic plant-based women’s health registered dietitian who has been featured in various professional and popular media outlets such as PubMed, Harvard Health Publishing, NewsFlash, Fox News, CNBC, SELF, Insider and Huffington Post. She is the founder and CEO of 360Girls&Women®, a holistic health & wellness company for girls and women, and the co-founder of cultuRD™, a Digital Healthcare App that connects Registered Dietitians to Clients based on cultural alignment. She is a dietitian of over 14 years with specialties in diabetes, weight management, girls' and women’s health, prenatal/maternal nutrition, vegan/vegetarian diet, integrative and functional nutrition, and weight management. She volunteers on the local and national levels and is a member of several Dietetics Practice Groups and a Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Sue-Ellen obtained her Bachelor of Science in Food Science & Human Nutrition, Specialization in Dietetics, with a minor in Health Science Education from the University of Florida and her Master of Science in Nutrition & Wellness from Andrews University, Summa Cum-Laude.
Danelle LaFata, MA, RD, CSSD, Nominating Committee
Danielle is a Registered Dietitian who earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Central Michigan University and has a master’s degree in nutrition and food science from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She is also a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics and a Certified LEAP Therapist (food sensitivities) and is working on a Certificate of Training in Integrative and Functional Nutrition.
She is currently the Director of Performance Nutrition for the Phoenix Suns & Mercury Basketball teams and a virtual dietitian working with various club and high school teams through My Sport Dietitian. In her sports dietetics career, she spent eight years at EXOS (formerly Athletes’ Performance, Inc.), six seasons with the San Francisco Giants being on board with them during their 2012 and 2014 World Series wins! Three years with the US Men’s National Soccer Team traveling with them to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, a season with the Arizona Cardinals and the Arizona Coyotes, and working with various military groups, youth athletes, and high performers before going on her own. Through her interest in and use of micronutrient testing, she was a clinical consultant for Spectracell Laboratories for two years helping various practitioners interpret the micronutrient test.
When she’s not traveling with the basketball teams, she likes to play pickleball, tennis, and golf and take to the Arizona hiking trails.
Chrissy Barth, MS, RDN, RYT, Policy Advocacy Leader (PAL) 2021-2024
Chrissy is an Integrative and Functional Sports Dietitian Nutritionist passionate about teaching others. As an athlete herself, she believes nutrition plays a crucial role in our health and performance – one that is often overlooked or misunderstood today.
She always felt destined to be a dietitian and educator, especially after dealing with her own history of dieting and struggles as a competitive athlete. She moved to Arizona, attended Arizona State University, and graduated with her B.S. and M.S. in Human Nutrition (Dietetics).
Today, she serves a wide range of athletes, offering personalized, holistic, and intuitive approaches to maintaining a high-performance lifestyle. Epic Biology is her nutrition coaching and consulting practice, and she’s been thrilled to work with so many individuals across different age ranges.
Chrissy is also an Assistant Teaching Professor in the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University, where she teaches nutrition and entrepreneurship. Over the years, she’s had the incredible opportunity to mentor many aspiring future nutritionists and dietitians, as well as to speak at academic and public events.
Jane Selitto, RDN, Policy Advocacy Associate 2023-2024
Jane Selitto (Harrington-Noonan), RDN, works with patients of all ages with diabetes, heart disease, migraines, and autoimmune and gastrointestinal conditions. She specializes in integrative and functional nutrition, determining the root cause of their ailments and creating for them a customized wellness plan to integrate into their lifestyle. She graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Sciences and has a certificate of training in integrative and functional nutrition, mindful eating, and yin yoga. She looks forward to helping patients through their wellness journey.
Joseph Zastawny, RDN, LD, Professional Advancement Chair 2023-2025
Joe’s commitment to nutrition and holistic health started as he experienced improvements in his acne, which were directly related to his diet and lifestyle changes. This led to him completing Cuyahoga Community College’s Dietetic Technology Program in 2010 and becoming a Dietetic Technician, Registered. He learned organic agriculture and engaged in urban farming for several years. With Joe’s discovery of Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine (DIFM DPG), he returned to dietetics, completed The University of Akron Coordinated Undergraduate Program in Dietetics, and became a registered dietitian in 2019. He has continued to work in the Cleveland local food system through nonprofits involved in garden-based education, community gardens, and urban farming. Joe received DIFM’s diversity stipend in 2019 to complete a video report on the FNCE Philadelphia session titled Integrative Approaches to Digestive Diseases in Children. Promoting health by treating the gut and microbiome is one of Joe’s favorite aspects of nutrition in integrative and functional medicine. With this interest, he completed The Academy’s Certificate of Training in Integrative and Functional Nutrition and is enrolled in the Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy (IFNA) to become an Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner.
Valerie Warner, RD, Sponsorship Chair 2022-2023
Val Vieira Warner is from Albuquerque, NM! She currently works as a Registered Dietitian and Health Educator for Employee Health Services at Sandia National Laboratories, home to over 14,000 employees. She is working on her master of science degree in human nutrition and functional medicine at the University of Western States. Val loves to cook and prepare delicious meals. Val enjoys running her dog, going to CrossFit, doing hot yoga and kickboxing, and spending time with her family and friends in her free time. Val’s passion is helping others find and strive for their ultimate health balance! She believes in sustainability when it comes to diet and lifestyle. A long-term goal for Val is to open her own functional nutrition private practice. Val has been a member of DIFM for quite some time and is so happy to be a part of the board! email@example.com
Rifqa Dacloush, Student Membership Chair 2023-2024
A little about me, I am a Sodexo dietetic intern (2023-2024) seeking a concentration in integrative and functional medicine. I came back to school to pursue the RDN credential and recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Benedictine University with a 4.0 cumulative GPA. In addition, I hold a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Archeology.
During my DPD program at Benedictine University, I served as the president of the Nutrition and Dietetic Club, where I led and organized many activities that increased the membership by 500%! Prior to that, I held other board positions, including public relations chair and secretary.
Currently, I am the student chair of the West Suburban Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an Illinois-affiliated dietetic group. I believe serving as DIFM student member chair is a great opportunity to utilize and further enhance my skills in marketing, communication, planning, and leadership while establishing additional meaningful connections and growing my DIFM network.
I have many dietetic interests, with the integrative and functional specialty being an integral part of all of them. I am very much interested in the field of integrative and functional medicine, especially the work that dietitians perform in this space. Over the past two years, I have been an active student member of the Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine (DIFM) Dietetic Practice Group (DPG), where I participated in several DIFM student meetings, attended numerous webinars and connected with well-respected DIFM dietitians and ambitious students. Thanks to Ms. Orbegoso’s support for student involvement in the DIFM Newsletter, I am happy to note that my Quinoa Mujadara recipe was published in the DIFM Winter 2023 publication.
My journey toward becoming an RDN developed over many years. It started by being curious about the human body during childhood years, cooking and hosting dinners for family and friends as a married adult, and later transitioning to the role that food plays in nourishment and disease prevention. I believe that food is more than medicine and in following a healthy lifestyle.
I enjoy cooking nutritious and delicious dishes, gardening, being in nature, connecting and sharing my nutrition-related knowledge via my socials and website, spending time with my husband and two daughters, and traveling. I lived in two countries, Jordan & and the United States, and visited 31 of the 50 states and 21 countries.
To learn more about me and to get a better glimpse of my interests, hobbies, and why I chose the RDN path, connect with me through my socials @rifqa9dacloush (FB, IG, LI), and website https://www.rifqadacloush.com
Abby Barth, Student Membership Associate 2023-2024
Amy Jarck, Executive Director