This year’s speakers:

Melinda Boyd, DCN, MPH, MHR, RD, FAND

Delivering Culturally Appropriate Care: Exercising Cultural Humility in Practice

Dr. Melinda Boyd has had a unique career path that she credits to her time as a military spouse. Living abroad for 9 years, she developed skills in cross cultural communication and counseling individuals from diverse backgrounds. Dr. Boyd completed a doctorate of clinical nutrition (DCN) from Rutgers University. She is currently part-time faculty at Cedar Crest College teaching medical nutrition therapy in the dietetic internship and a variety of graduate. She also serves as an adjunct nutrition professor at a number of other high education institutions. She is a registered dietitian in both the US and UK.
Dr. Boyd has worked as a dietitian in a variety of areas, covering adult and pediatric nutrition, both inpatient and outpatient. Her specialty practice areas include weight management, diabetes, vegetarian nutrition, and women’s health. She is an active member of the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (IAAND), having served in the past in the roles of secretary, president, and country representatives chair. In the role of country representatives chair she oversaw a multinational team of nutrition professionals from 45 different countries, which helped her further develop cross cultural communication skills. She served a 2-year term on the Academy’s IDEA Committee, from 2020-2022. She is currently the Chair of Cultures of Gender and Age Member Interest Group and the State Policy Representative for the South Carolina Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Matthew J. Landry, PhD, RDN, FAND, FAHA

Let’s Talk Public Policy: Advocating for Academy Food, Nutrition, and Health Priorities

Matthew Landry is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health and Disease Prevention at the University of California, Irvine. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Sciences from Louisiana State University and completed his doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences and dietetic internship at The University of Texas at Austin. He then completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in cardiovascular disease prevention at the Stanford University Prevention Research Center. His research focuses on identifying the optimal eating pattern (or patterns) for chronic disease prevention. He is committed to the advocacy of policies that address nutrition-related health inequalities particularly in low resource settings and/or with communities experiencing health inequalities related to food insecurity and structural disparities. Matthew is the Chair of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Legislative and Public Policy Committee. He has received several accolades including the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year Award and the Obesity Society Ethan Sims Young Investigator Award. Matthew is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Heart Association.

Drew Hemler, MSc, RD, CDN, FAND

Tweet, Snap, Post, Share: Professional Practice in Social Media

Drew Hemler (he/him) is an award-winning, internationally accredited registered dietitian, providing nutrition education & communication consulting services for individual, non-profit & corporate clientele throughout Ontario, Canada and the U.S. Drew serves as a Lecturer & Advisor for Buffalo State University, helping build student, staff & practitioner know-why & know-how in ethical practice, scope, and standards of professional performance.

Drew has served as a leader for state & national dietetic organizations for 10 years now, including the C.D.R., the Academy’s Center for Lifelong Learning, the College of Dietitians of Ontario & with the NY State Academy in Communications, PR, and Social Media Management roles. He celebrates dietitians in all areas of practice & is a proud Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Andie Lee Gonzalez PhD, MPH, RDN, LD, FAND

Fiesta of Facts: Pediatric Diabetes in Black and Hispanic Community

Andie Lee Gonzalez serves as a US Pediatric Medical Science Liaison for Abbott Nutrition a division of Abbott. In this role, she provides over 80 continuing profession education presentations annually to health care professionals. She is also an adjunct professor at South Texas Community College. Dr. Gonzalez is involved in professional leadership at the local, state, and national levels. She has served on the Latinos and Hispanics in Dietetics and Nutrition executive committee in various roles. In 2019 she completed the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Leadership Institute. Her research interests include pediatrics, health equity, leadership and a focus on Hispanic/Latino health. In 2023 she was lead author for a publication focused on promoting health equity for the Hispanic population through improved access to malnutrition screening and intervention. Dr. Gonzalez earned a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition, a Master of Public Health (MPH) and clinical training at Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing, Michigan and completed her PhD in Organizational Leadership from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas.

Moises Arjona Jr., MS

Fiesta of Facts: Pediatric Diabetes in Black and Hispanic Community

Moises Arjona Jr. MS has over 9 years of experience working in community-based health/public health long the U.S. – Mexico Border region and over 20 years work experience in a variety of healthcare positions. From the experience gained from previous work history he can problem-solve and lead teams as they work with the poorest in our community facing the most difficult issues in the Border Health arena. Moises work has focused in the last several years working with Community Health Workers and is currently the Collective Impact Director for Unidos Contra La Diabetes (UCD) Rio Grande Valley; working to bring awareness and prevention to Type 2 Diabetes. Aside from working for UCD, Moises also works on special projects with WE In the World with an emphasis on health equity and developing relationships within communities.

Ana Maria Paez

Fiesta of Facts: Pediatric Diabetes in Black and Hispanic Community

Dr Paez earned her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at Louisiana State University and her Medical Doctorate at Ponce Health Sciences University. She completed Residency and Fellowship at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Following fellowship, she joined Driscoll Childrens Hospital where she has worked for the past 10 years. She currently serves as Medical Director of the Children’s Diabetes and Endocrine Center of South Texas and Youth Wellness Institute- a Texas A&M University and Driscoll Health System Partnership. 

Dr Paez is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, Pediatric Endocrine Society, Endocrine Society and American Diabetes Association.

Dr Paez has been living in South Texas for the past 16 years and currently resides in Corpus Christi, TX with her husband.  She enjoys stand up paddling on the beautiful waters of the Texas Gulf Coast. Her interests reside in improving access to care for patients and families, and educating residents and medical students. 

Ava Conrad, MS, RDN, LDN

Incorporating therapeutic treatment modalities into nutrition sessions for clients with eating disorders

Ava Conrad is a Registered/Licensed Dietitian in Louisiana and Maryland. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania in 2019 and completed her Master of Science in Nutrition Science/Dietetic internship from Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University in 2020. She started her career as a pediatric Registered Dietitian at a large hospital system working with inpatient/outpatient eating disorder cases. In 2023, she transitioned into her private practice, Ava Conrad Nutrition LLC, where she specializes in the treatment of eating disorders through the Health At Every Size (HAES), intuitive eating, and mindfulness approaches. She is currently under supervision for her Certified Eating Disorder Specialist credential through the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals and is a preceptor for her alma mater program, FranU, to educate future Registered Dietitians on eating disorder care. As a recovered clinician, she understands the challenges of recovery. Her mission is to empower individuals affected by eating disorders by providing individualized nutritional guidance, education, compassion-centered care, and support in a safe, non-judgmental environment. She aims to facilitate healing, restore a balanced relationship with food, and enhance overall health and quality of life. Outside of passion for her work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs and teaching yoga classes in Baton Rouge.

Mandie Tracy, LCSW

Incorporating therapeutic treatment modalities into nutrition sessions for clients with eating disorders

Mandie Tracy, LCSW, has been involved in research, practice and advocacy for mental health, with specialization and focus in eating disorders for the past ten years. She has worked as an individual, family and group therapist throughout all levels of eating disorder care and currently, owns a private practice where she treats adolescents and adults with eating disorders, body image concerns and co-occurring disorders. She has been committed to advocacy and has spent the last ten years dedicating her time outside of academics and professional life to provide education and support for those impacted by eating disorders. Mandie strives to provide her clients with a compassionate, trusting and empathetic space.

Kristen Hicks-Roof, PhD, RD, LD, CLC, FAND

The Connection Between Animal Proteins and Why We Eat the Foods We Do

Dr. Kristen Hicks-Roof is a Registered Dietitian and Director of Nutrition Research at the National Pork Board. Prior to this role, she was an academic researcher focused on expanding the role of the dietitian on the healthcare team and making dietitian connections around the globe. She is one of the conference presenters with expertise in nutrition research and research translation to the health professional audience.

Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN

Ethics in your Private Practice

Kelly Springer, RD, MS, CDN is founder of Kelly’s Choice, the nation’s fastest growing dietitian company with the most specialties and availability. With a proven track record in chronic disease reversal, a dynamic speaking presence, and successful brand partnerships, she brings a powerful combination of expertise and enthusiasm to the world of nutrition and health.
Her impact extends to national television with features on Good Morning America and regional news broadcasts throughout the Northeast. Her insights have graced the pages of prestigious publications like Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Shape, and Reader’s Digest.

Justin Batchelder RDN, MS

On the Menu: Evidence-Based Recommendations Concerning Nutrition for People with Spinal Cord Injuries

Justin Batchelder is a passionate and experienced Registered Dietitian dedicated to improving the lives of individuals through the power of food and nutrition. Driven by a personal experience with overcoming health challenges through dietary shifts, Justin brings a unique perspective and deep empathy to their work.
Justin’s current role as an Acute Care Clinical Dietitian at Kindred Hospital demonstrates his commitment to providing direct care and collaborating with patients to develop personalized plans for optimal health. This dedication is further enriched by his research and presentation skills, evidenced by his contributions to volunteerism, conferences, and other projects in dietetics.
Justin’s vision extends beyond individual patients. He actively contributes to advocacy efforts, like presenting at FNCE on disability inclusion and participating in the Nutrition Advocacy Summit. Looking ahead, his goal is to expand access to medical nutrition therapy, particularly for individuals with spinal cord injuries, a population he intimately understands.