VN DPG State Coordinators

VN DPG wants to engage as many members as possible VN DPG. One way is to rotate the State Coordinator position every two years.

Interested in learning more? Read the 
VNDPG State Coordinator Position Description

 Coordinator Chair

email hidden; JavaScript is required

Taylor has been a member of VN DPG since she was a college student and loves the resources and networking the DPG provides. She was previously the state coordinator of Illinois and continues to be active at the local and state levels. Taylor lives and works in Chicago, loves vegan donuts, uses all of her vacation time to travel and has an adopted kitty named Bella and one-eyed rescue mouse named Indy.


Jocelyn Peterson


email hidden; JavaScript is required

Carly lives in Little Rock, AR and works as a NICU dietitian at Baptist Health Medical Center. She received her Bachelor of Science in nutrition and dietetics at Harding University and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in clinical nutrition. Carly became interested in the benefits of a plant-based diet during her dietetic internship. She loves creating healthful and delicious plant-based meals and educating others about the benefits a plant-based diet can have on human health and the environment.


email hidden; JavaScript is required

Lisa became interested in nutrition several years ago when she I took a college nutrition course.  At the end of the class she knew she wanted to study nutrition and finally her my grown daughter convinced her to pursue a degree in nutrition and she completed the DTR program.

Lisa is a Nutrition Educator with AmeriCorps which partners with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Program.  This program provides her an opportunity to teach nutrition and physical activity to children and seniors.

Lisa became a vegetarian about 9 years ago, because she had an inner aversion to meat and finally decided to respect that.  She enjoys cooking, baking and finding new vegetarian recipes.

California (Southern)

email hidden; JavaScript is required

Katelyn lives in Loma Linda, CA and works at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.  Katelyn received her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from Andrews University and her MS from Loma Linda University.  Both programs emphasize the health benefits of plant-based nutrition.  Katelyn has been vegetarian her whole life and is passionate about the health, ethical, and environmental advantages of plant-based diets.

Meriah Erdman

California (Northern)

email hidden; JavaScript is required

Liz is currently completing her Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences Degree online at the University of Alabama.  Her major is Food and Nutrition and she is in a Didactic Program in Dietetics.  She chose to finish her degree online because she takes care of her 3 children and educates them at home. When she became interested in nutrition after her first child was born 8 years ago, she changed her major from business to nutritional science.  Her confidence in the link between health and diet became stronger as she learned more and more.  Then, 3 years ago, she learned about plant-based nutrition after searching for a diet that would help her husband with his autoimmune diseases.  Going plant-based has brought a multitude of health benefits to her family, including the control of her husband’s ailments. Her passion for plant-based nutrition continues to grow! She wishes to educate others in Vegetarianism and inspire them to experience the benefits for themselves. She believes that the environment, the body, and the soul can all be healed with plants.


email hidden; JavaScript is required

Sandy is “passionate about plant-based eating”.  Upon graduation from Purdue University, she moved to Colorado to pursue her career and her love for skiing and the outdoors.  Sandy authored her first book “Simply Delicious, Plant-based recipes for a healthy life.” and has developed a class called “Leaning toward a Plant Based Diet”.  A clinical dietitian at Aspen Valley Hospital has provided the opportunity to change the hospital culture. Because of her wellness classes and customer demand, the cafeteria now provides daily vegan choices! Sandy hopes to expand awareness by actively managing a Plant Based Diet Coach Facebook Page.



Interested taking over as State Coordinator? Apply to the email hidden; JavaScript is required.


email hidden; JavaScript is required

Kimi has been following a vegetarian diet since she was a teen and loves cooking and trying new vegetarian recipes.  She is a Registered Dietitian and is currently working towards her Masters of Science in Health Promotion from the University of Delaware.  Kimi works for the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension and provides nutrition & food safety education to people of all ages.  Kimi’s favorite way to spend her free time is with her two dogs


email hidden; JavaScript is required

Katya was born and raised in Mexico. She received her bachelor’s degree in nutrition science from The Autonomous Metropolitan University of Mexico City. After graduating, she moved to Florida where she is an international member of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Orlando Dietetic Association. She has worked in both clinical and community settings, her passion however, lies within the social media arena targeting and educating Spanish-speaking people on plant-based diets. She loves to share recipes, experiences, lifestyle tips, and nutritional information on her website and on different social media platforms. She transitioned into a vegetarian diet gradually over a ten-year period. She became vegan for about 4 years ago. As a bilingual dietitian, Katya also works part time for Food and Nutrition Translations with a group of dietitians from different countries, translating health and nutrition materials.  In her spare time, Katya enjoys reading and spending time with her family.


Interested taking over as State Coordinator? Apply to the email hidden; JavaScript is required.


email hidden; JavaScript is required

Mele graduated with a Masters in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Hawaii in 2012. She has been a practicing vegetarian since 19 years of age and during her university years her focus of research was dedicated to vegetarian nutrition. Research included a study abroad, “Assessing the impact of lacto-vegetarian and traditional school menus on the growth of preschool children in Brazil” and on the University of Hawaii campus, “Meeting nutrients with non-animal food provided at the Hale Aloha cafeteria.”  She is honored to have been the first recipient of the Vegetarian Nutrition Practice Group Research Grant in 2010 which funded her “lab rat” research examining the nutrient composition and food label quality of meat-alternative products.  Mele is currently working for Adventist Health at Castle Medical Center. She is fluent in the Portuguese language and spends her vacations in Petropolis, Brazil organizing and implementing community service projects promoting vegetarian and yoga lifestyle.


Interested taking over as State Coordinator? Apply to the email hidden; JavaScript is required.


email hidden; JavaScript is required

Passionate about health, inspired by wellbeing, intrigued by consumer behavior and driven by a desire to rectify misconceptions about what constitutes a healthy diet, Kristen is works in nutrition communications, helping people and companies navigate a conflicted, ever-changing food and nutrition environment. She’s a Chicago native who got her BA in Psychology from Yale University and her MS in Nutrition from Boston University.

What else? Kristen’s personal interests in all things epicurean (level 2 WSET certified), food and nutrition trends, cooking, restaurants, farmers’ markets, sustainability, volleyball, rock climbing, cycling and other sports, exercise, travel, languages and writing. She’s always looking for her next exploration!


Rosemary Benjamin


Interested taking over as State Coordinator? Apply to the email hidden; JavaScript is required.


Kevin Ritchie November 2015email hidden; JavaScript is required

Kevin Ritchie started following a plant based diet in 2010 when he experienced minor health issues (eczema, allergies, GERD, and asthma) that were all reversed. With loving support from his wife, he quit he returned to school to study dietetics and will be graduating in December 2015 from the University of Kentucky. Kevin is a runner, minimalist, and vegan. It is his ambition to be able to offer a plant-based diet as an option to his clients as a means of improving their health and reducing their suffering.


Jessica-with-veggiesemail hidden; JavaScript is required

Jessica Blanchard is a registered dietitian, longtime Ayurvedic practitioner, and yoga teacher. She’s on a mission to dispel dietary myths and make healthy habits accessible to everyone. Raised in the heart of Cajun country, she grew up loving animals, and became a vegetarian at age twenty. Jessica hosts two blogs and works hard to promote wellness. She also wants to improve the image of healthy eating in New Orleans one of America’s fattest cities.


Interested taking over as State Coordinator? Apply to the email hidden; JavaScript is required.



email hidden; JavaScript is required

Eliza is completing her Masters of Science degree in the Nutrition Department at the University of Massachusetts. Vegetarian since childhood and vegan for over a decade, she is passionate about plant-based nutrition for chronic disease prevention. Eliza will be applying to dietetic internships for the upcoming year and currently serves as the student member services chair for Dietitian’s in Integrative and Functional Medicine DPG.


Interested taking over as State Coordinator? Apply to the email hidden; JavaScript is required.


email hidden; JavaScript is required

Elena is a Registered Dietitian with the Minnesota Department of Corrections. She earned her B.S. degree in health and nutrition science from Brooklyn College, and completed a Dietetic Internship program at Queens College.  Elena has experience providing nutrition education and counseling at health service centers for low-income HIV positive persons, at retail grocery stores, and most recently at state prisons.  In addition to being a member of the VN DPG, Elena is a member of the Dietetics in Health Care Communities DPG and the Association of Correctional Food Service Affiliates.



Interested taking over as State Coordinator? Apply to the email hidden; JavaScript is required.


Interested taking over as State Coordinator? Apply to the email hidden; JavaScript is required.



Interested taking over as State Coordinator? Apply to the email hidden; JavaScript is required.

New England (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine)

Interested taking over as State Coordinator? Apply to the email hidden; JavaScript is required.

New Jersey

Kelsey Downey 2015email hidden; JavaScript is required

Kelsey is excited to become the New Jersey State Coordinator. She is a recent graduate from Johnson & Wales University (JWU) in Providence, Rhode Island and holds associates degrees in Baking & Pastry Arts and Culinary Arts, plus her undergraduate work was in Culinary Food Science and Clinical Dietetics. She currently works as a Dietary Associate at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Her past experience includes volunteering and instructing culinary nutrition courses to community members and medical professionals at the Food + Health Initiative of JWU, Brown University, and the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University. She is thrilled to expand her knowledge and share her experiences with fellow members.

New Mexico

Rebecca Lamoreux

New York

email hidden; JavaScript is required

Rita became a vegetarian at birth as she was born into a Jain family in India. She is in private practice in Baldwin Harbor Long Island, New York where she shares the importance of vegetarianism with her patients and inspires her peers by hosting the VN DPG exhibit at professional meetings and community Health expos. Rita also does local television guest appearances and regularly speaks to various community organizations. She is recipient of many awards including the Academy’s Medallion Award, VN DPG’s Cyndi Reeser’s Service Award for the State Coordinators. She has contributed articles to the VN DPG quarterly newsletter and has been featured in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Food and Nutrition Magazine and Today’s Dietitian. She created the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin’s (AAPI) eBook parts I, II and III on Optimal Health as a service the global community.


North Carolina

Interested taking over as State Coordinator? Apply to the email hidden; JavaScript is required.

North Dakota

Interested taking over as State Coordinator? Apply to the email hidden; JavaScript is required.


email hidden; JavaScript is required

Amy became a practicing dietitian in 2014 and has held a variety of positions which include telehealth, eating disorder treatment, inpatient, long-term acute care, and travel dietitian work. She began a vegan diet in college but had difficulty sticking with it until she adopted her dog, Pepper, who reminded her of the very animals that are common staples on American plates. In her spare time, Amy enjoys running, visiting a local metropark with Pepper, and reading.


email hidden; JavaScript is required

Joy works in Private Practice as a Consultant Dietitian.  In 2016 she received a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition and is excited to step up as Oklahoma Coordinator for the VN DPG. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Clinical Dietetics and a Master of Science Degree from the University of Central Oklahoma in Food Service Management with an emphasis on Marketing.  She spent the majority of her career working as a corporate dietitian for a full line food distributor as well as for companies representing enteral and parenteral nutrition support products and services.  She credits her two vegan daughters for her own transition of going from a vegetarian to a plant based diet as they prompted her to investigate the claims of a WFPBD (Whole Food Plant Based Diet).  She is a firm believer in the trans-formative healing power a plant based diet brings to one’s individual mental and physical health. This lifestyle supports compassion, sustainability and disease prevention.  Joy is a volunteer artist for Oklahoma University Children’s Cancer Clinic art program.  She serves as girl’s enrichment ministry leader for her church.  She enjoys watching her son play basketball for his college, travel, painting and designing jewelry.


email hidden; JavaScript is required

Antoinette Kruger is currently finishing her thesis research as a graduate candidate in OHSU’s combined Masters of Science in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetic Internship program. Her research is studying body composition, physical activity, muscle strength, and diet in children and adolescents with classical galactosemia. Following her dietetic internship, she completed a nutrition fellowship at OHSU’s Child Development and Research Center for the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disorders program. She received her bachelors from California State University, Chico in General Dietetics with a minor in biochemistry.  Living near Chico, California’s plentiful agriculture, Antoinette became passionate about promoting plant-based diets and sustainable food systems. She finds herself most inspired by hard workers, cellular signaling cascades, the ocean, achieving a new yoga pose, and sharing a meal that you will never forget.


email hidden; JavaScript is required

Darla currently works part-time in long-term care and sub-acute rehabilitation while building a private practice specializing in plant-based nutrition. Darla became vegetarian about 16 years ago while working as a server and cake decorator in a vegetarian cafe in Glastonbury, England. Even though that gig overseas was only temporary she never went back to a meat-centric diet and transitioned to a vegan diet three years ago. She feels happier and healthier than ever about her decision. She feels that belonging to the VN DPG makes the lifestyle easier with the resources and professional support! Darla’s other interests include eating, cooking, all things food related, cycling, urban hiking, active commuting, extreme walking, photography, illustration and Netflix binge-watching.

South Carolina

email hidden; JavaScript is required

Kimberly is originally from New Jersey, and completed her B.S. in nutrition at Montclair State University. She moved to Charleston for her dietetic internship at the Medical University of South Carolina and is currently getting ready to graduate from the internship and become a Registered Dietitian. Kimberly is also a group fitness instructor and teaches Les Mills classes at several gyms throughout Charleston.



Stephanie Darby

email hidden; JavaScript is required

Stephanie is a graduate of Texas State University’s Dietetic Internship and the University of Northern Colorado’s Distance Dietetics Program. Realizing her passion for food and nutrition after a six-year career in marketing and event management, Stephanie is excited to be transitioning to a profession she loves. She is an avid cook, blogger, and runner who spends her free time in the kitchen, creating healthy plant-based recipes for friends and family.


email hidden; JavaScript is required

Anna is preparing to graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics from Brigham Young University, with plans to start a combined dietetic internship/Master’s program in the Fall of 2017. Frequent trips to local farms instilled a love of both food and animals in Anna at a young age, and she enjoys experimenting with recipes to find ways to add in more vegetables. Some of her favorite jobs and volunteer activities are nutrition education and coaching, and she hopes that her first job as an RD allows her daily opportunities to teach and motivate.


Interested taking over as State Coordinator? Apply to the email hidden; JavaScript is required.


Katelan Head