Members In Action

Special Project

Ashley Braun, MS, RD

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a client-centered approach to counseling, education, and conversation that is commonly employed to help individuals overcome challenging behavior. The objective of this project is to test the feasibility and acceptability of a remote MI training designed specifically for registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs). This training will include the core components of MI, as well as aspects unique to challenges and opportunities faced by the RDN. Results will inform future programs, which will serve to advance the training and expertise of RDNs nationwide.

Ashley Braun is a Clinical Research Dietitian and doctoral student at The Ohio State University. As a practicing dietitian, Ashlea has developed expertise in counseling and behavior change for vulnerable populations, as well as translational science. She has completed extensive training in motivational interviewing (MI), and has been engaged in training and educating various professionals in the use of MI. Her current research focuses on planning, implementation, and evaluation of MI interventions in vulnerable populations, and she has been recognized on the local, state, and national level for her work. Her current project, Motivational Interviewing: Training and Application for Dietetics Professionals, involves the development and evaluation of remote training for RDNs in the use of MI.

Research Dietitian

Colleen Spees, PhD, MED, RDN, LD, FAND

Colleen Spees is an exemplary academic instructor and research mentor to both undergraduate and graduate dietetic students. As an Associate Professor in the Division of Medical Dietetics at Ohio State, Dr. Spees has successfully mentored over 34 graduate students. Her independent research program is greatly enhanced by providing service learning opportunities for dietetic students to participate in all facets of her community-based research and training. Dr. Spees is a Fellow of the Academy, Research Coordinator for the Oncology DPG, and recipient of the Distinguished Practice Award and Award for Excellence in Oncology Research. Representing all RDNs across the nation, Colleen was recently appointed to the American Cancer Society Guidelines Committee on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention.

Recognized Dietitian of the Year (RDY)

Bonnie Willis, RDN, LD, FAND

Bonnie Willis has been instrumental at the district level especially in keeping the Stark County Dietetic Association intact during a very challenging membership period.  Bonnie has also served our profession at the state level as CPI and at the national level as our Delegate to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Bonnie is a friend, manager, colleague & nutrition professional of the utmost standard.



Recognized Dietitian of the Year (RDY)

Beth Mordarski, RDN, LD

Beth Mordarski is an upbeat source of positive energy and good ideas. Anyone who knows her understands that she is a source of knowledge and motivation. She spent over 17 years working in clinical nutrition, with the bulk of the time at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. She served as a preceptor to many, participated in research and simultaneously overlapped working at a long term acute care facility. In 2013, she then shifted gears in her career to begin working as the Malnutrition Alliance Liaison for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics where in 2014, she began working as the Academy’s Nutrition Focused Physical Exam or NFPE Program Manager and Workshop Trainer as she developed the Academy’s NFPE Workshop, where she continues in that role. She has seen great success with the workshop, training over 1250 dietitians at 70 workshops across the country, including two international.


Recognized Dietitian of the Year (RDY)

Rebecca Gonter-Dray, RD, LD

Becky Gonter-Dray has been a registered dietitian for over 23 years with multiple experiences, most recently practicing at Dayton Children's for the past 18 years, where she is Board Certified as a Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition.  Since 2008, Rebecca has been an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton teaching in the Health and Sport Science department and recently, has joined the University full time as a Clinical Professor in the Dietetics Program.  She has enjoyed the energy of the students while assisting them with learning in the classroom and helping them make connections working and/or volunteering in the community.  Her professional interests are:  Maternal and pediatric nutrition, sports nutrition, nutrition counseling, motivational interviewing, community nutrition and hunger.  For fun, Becky enjoys gardening, walking and cooking in the kitchen with her husband and three sons.


Recognized Dietitian of the Year (RDY)

Patricia Becker, MS, RDN, CSP, CNSC, FAND

Pat Becker is currently the Pediatric Nutrition Practice Group chair, just one in a long line of leadership roles she has held over the years.  Her recent work in defining and documenting pediatric and neonatal/premature malnutrition has been monumental for those working with those populations.   She also enjoys, and takes seriously, the responsibility of mentoring young RDs and students helping them build their skills and encourage their passion to build the next great generation of nutrition professionals.


Member Merit

Heather Butscher, MS, RDN, LD

Heather Butscher is a dietitian at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center where she provides outpatient medical nutrition therapy for weight management, diabetes, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular issues and maternal health. She has been instrumental at creating nutrition programs at UHCMC such as the nutrition components of the Gestational Diabetes Boot Camp, A New You Weight Management Program, Cardiac Rehab, the UH Executive Health Program and UH Integrative Executive Health program. She has been a valuable member of the dietetics community through her steadfast commitment throughout the years to leadership roles within the Greater Cleveland Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Ohio Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and as a Delegate to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, including being a past president of OAND as well as GCAND. She is a preceptor, a mentor, and friend to many in the Ohio dietetics community.


Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year (RYDY)

Bridget Wojciak, RD

Bridget Wojciak developed a desire to help patients proactively prevent disease progression after working in long term care. This led her to becoming a clinical in-store dietitian at Kroger. She built a robust patient caseload from scratch, demonstrating improved patient outcomes. This drove a strong referral network of in-store pharmacists noting the value of the RDN. Her success earned a promotion to corporate RDN. She now manages 16 in-store RDNs while overseeing insurance reimbursement and acting as a company nutrition subject matter expert. She has been featured on Kroger's lnstagram and twitter, and The Little Clinic's facebook. Bridget is an active member and featured guest speaker at the Greater Cincinnati Dietetics Association. She has been a guest lecturer for the University of Cincinnati dietetics program and co-precepts a pharmacy resident researching optimization of RDN and pharmacy collaborative care.


Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year (RYDY)

Meghan McNeill, MS, RD

Meghan McNeill is the current President of the Greater Cincinnati Dietetic Association, where she has been an active and dedicated board member since 2015.  She is a research dietitian at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and has been integral to the success of several NIH funded studies.  Meghan has a clear passion for nutrition and promoting the work and value of a dietitian, especially in less traditional settings.


Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year (RYDY)

Jaclyn Geitz, MS, RD, LD

Jackie is a recent graduate from the MSDI program at The Ohio State University. Jackie’s passion for the dietetic field is evident through the enthusiasm and excitement she brings to every opportunity. She began her career with Coram CVS Specialty Infusion Company as a nutrition specialist, and currently is a clinical instructor for the Medical Dietetics division at OSU. She has served as a board member for the Columbus Dietetic Association since 2013 and will begin her second Presidential term for CDA in June. Jackie most recently served on the strategic planning committee for OAND and hopes to continue serving the Academy at the state and national level.

Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year (RYDY)

Leslie Edmunds, MPH, LD, CDE

Leslie Edmunds is a registered and licensed dietitian, practicing at Clem & Thyme Nutrition in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Leslie decided to follow her dreams and open a private practice in 2012. It has since grown immensely, as she now employs four other dietitians and an office manager. They provide one-on-one medical nutrition therapy, corporate wellness services, cooking classes in their renovated farmhouse kitchen, wellness workshops, and even provide a garden for fresh produce for clients.  Leslie graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University in 2008. She also received a Master of Public Health degree from Wright State University in 2010. She is a Certified Diabetes Educator, Certified LEAP therapist, and an Ohio State Extension Master Gardener. Leslie is also an adjunct professor at Wittenberg University.

Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year (RYDY)

Morgan Cheung, RDN, LD

Morgan Cheung is a registered dietitian in Preventive Cardiology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, specializing in the assessment and treatment of dyslipidemia and hypertension. She is also trained in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management and is a Cultural Competency Champion in her department. Her clinical interests include pediatric weight management as well as chronic disease prevention. She began her education through the University of Cincinnati’s Coordinated Dietetics Program and continues to advance in the field through her position on the Greater Cincinnati Dietetic Association board and by obtaining her Master's degree in Human Nutrition through the University of Alabama. She is an Emerging Clinical Leader at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and continues to advocate for the field of nutrition in her community.

Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year (RYDY)

Brittany Cermak, MS, RDN, LD

Brittany Cermak is a dietitian who has been working in Cleveland since graduating in 2016. She is an outpatient dietitian at NEON, a non-profit organization with 7 clinics throughout inner-city Cleveland, working primarily with diabetes, weight loss, and the Centering Pregnancy program. She helps coordinate weekly produce distributions at the clinic sites in collaboration with the Cleveland Food Bank. She serves as a PRN Dietitian on the University Hospitals Bionutrition Research Team to provide nutrition education for clinical research studies. In 2016, she began her private practice called, Your Life Nutrition, and is the dietitian at Gold’s Gym in Cleveland. She is an active member of GCAND, recently serving as Co-Editor in Chief for the Dietetic Dispatch and was involved with the Public Relations Committee.

Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year (RYDY)

Allison Bokenkotter, RD, LD

Allison Bokenkotter is the current Membership Chair of the Greater Cincinnati Dietetic Association as well as OAND’s Conference Committee Chair Elect.  Even as an undergrad, Allison’s passion and dedication to dietetics was clear, taking on volunteer work and leadership roles.  She is well regarded by her colleagues and patients at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center where she works.  Her commitment to her profession represents the best about our field.

Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year (RYDY)

Khawlah Al-Muhanna, MS, RDN

As a Registered Dietitian in two countries: The US and Saudi Arabia, Khawlah has a diverse experience working in clinical, academic and research settings. Currently, Khawlah is a second-year PhD student in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences program at The Ohio State University, where she focuses on the development, implementation, and evaluation of intervention studies to improve health outcomes amongst international students. In the lab of Dr. Colleen Spees, Khawlah is involved in multiple biobehavioral interventions playing a critical role in curriculum development, intervention planning, data collection, delivering targeted group nutrition education and designing a resource-rich web portal as a tool to support behavior change. Khawlah aspires to create an impactful career as an academic researcher and to become an international ambassador for the field of dietetics.

Outstanding Dietetic Student

Alana Fayman, RD

Alana Fayman earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Pittsburgh in April 2017. She completed her dietetic internship at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in July 2018 and recently graduated with her Master’s in Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University. Alana is also the recipient of the Karen A. Porcelli scholarship from the Greater Cleveland Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During her dietetic internship and Master’s program, Alana worked with the two transplant dietitians at University Hospitals on a research project looking at the outcomes of patients who were denied kidney transplant evaluation due to excessive BMI. Alana hopes to find a career in the food industry, particularly in product development or regulatory.

Outstanding Dietetic Student

Julianne Evans

Julianne Evans is a senior at the University of Dayton. She is involved with a few leadership programs on campus and works in the Center for Social Concern as community outreach assistant. She enjoys doing undergraduate research in community nutrition at the local transportation hub and interacting with people through cooking demonstrations there. One of Julianne’s favorite involvements on campus not related to dietetics is her special interest house where she engages with peers through servant leadership, reflection, and community building.

Outstanding Dietetic Educator

Michelle Igleheart, MS, RD, LD

Michelle Igleheart spent much of her career engaged in a variety of settings from clinical dietetics to food management to community nutrition and wellness. It was early in her career, while teaching as adjunct faculty for Kent State University – Tuscarawas that she realized her passion for education. Almost five years ago she began her journey at Stark State College with the dietetic technician and dietary manager programs and is currently Clinical Coordinator and Assistant Professor. She accredits her early love for dietetics and growth as a professional to her past educator, Marjorie Hagerman, now retired from Ohio University. Thanks to Mrs. Hagerman’s support, twenty-five years ago, Michelle was the first recipient of the Outstanding Dietetics Student Award in Ohio for Didactic Programs. Michelle finds great joy in paying it forward to her students today.

Outstanding Dietetic Educator

Sarah Couch, PhD, RDN, LD

Sarah Couch is a Professor of Nutrition and Graduate Program Director of the MS in Nutrition at the University of Cincinnati, where she has taught for the past 21 years. She served as DPD Director and recently led her faculty in a curriculum redesign to create a 5 year BS plus MS Coordinated Program in Dietetics that was approved by ACEND in March. She has mentored over 1000 undergraduate students and over 50 graduate students in course work and practice experiences in the areas of medical nutrition therapy, nutritional biochemistry and clinical nutrition research. Dr. Couch is actively involved in research and provides opportunities for many of her students to engage in her research studies often pairing graduate and undergraduate students so they can learn from her and importantly from each other.


Outstanding Dietetic Educator

Hope Barkoukis, PhD, RDN, LD, FAND

Hope Barkoukis is Chair of the Department of Nutrition in the School of Medicine at CWRU, a Board member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and the creator of the JJM Mandel Wellness Pathway for medical students. The Pathway includes monthly culinary medicine workshops in addition to weekly skill sessions focused on lifestyle medicine. In 2018, the Pathway received an award for Innovation in teaching future health care professionals from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.  She and her colleagues are currently working on making the culinary medicine sessions available to other organizations. Also, currently Hope is a co-investigator for an NIH study investigating a healthy lifestyle intervention in preparation for pregnancy in obese women.

Outstanding Contribution by a Non Member

Morgan Taggart

The Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN) housed in the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University was formed in 2009 to address chronic health issues faced in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the Greater Cleveland area. The PRCHN’s research is focused in 5 often overlapping areas: food access and community nutrition; supportive environments for health eating/ active living; tobacco prevention and cessation; place-based environmental surveillance; and chronic disease management research.

Outstanding Contribution by a Non Member

Dr. Erika Trapl

The Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN) housed in the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University was formed in 2009 to address chronic health issues faced in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the Greater Cleveland area. The PRCHN’s research is focused in 5 often overlapping areas: food access and community nutrition; supportive environments for health eating/ active living; tobacco prevention and cessation; place-based environmental surveillance; and chronic disease management research.

President’s Award

Natalie Stephens, RD, LD, FAND

Natalie Stephens is a volunteer at heart. Starting in her undergraduate years, she volunteered for local National Nutrition Month activities, and Ways and Means fundraising with the Columbus Dietetic Association. As an intern, she discovered a passion for policy at the Academy’s workshop in Washington DC and started early in her career as the Columbus Policy Chair. This led to involvement at the state level serving as State Policy Representative and Consumer Protection Coordinator under the tutelage of our great member leader Pat McKnight. Her board experience and volunteer’s heart led her to accept the nomination for Ohio President. Still serving on our state policy team, she’s now finishing her term as Chair of the Nutrition Service Payment Committee for the Academy working with Reimbursement Reps and affiliates across the country to understand and implement payment in a world of change in healthcare.