Jessica is a registered dietitian with a Masters in Public Health. She is an energetic, self-motivated dietitian with experience in clinical and community nutrition. She has a passion for youth wellness and previously worked for Children's Mercy Hospital and Midwest Dairy Council where she served as a nutrition liaison to health professionals providing science-based information and nutrition education. Jessica now works for Mead Johnson Nutrition as a Hospital Nutrition Business Manager.
Natalie is the acting director at the University of Missouri Health Communication Research Center and a transplant from Southeastern Missouri. She has a rich background in public policy, advocacy and public health. Natalie has supported state and national campaigns related to policy change, particularly with underserved populations in Iowa, Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma. As a community-based behavior change practitioner, Natalie has extensive experience in field testing campaign messages and working with community-driven media firms. She has also led initiatives to increase healthcare access through telehealth and mHealth and has facilitated student-driven advocacy work through photovoice methods. She has a master’s degree in public health from the University of Missouri and has taught in Ecuador and Spain.
Derek serves as a Community Health Educator at the Barnes Jewish Center (BJC) School Outreach and Youth Development in St. Louis, Missouri. Derek has been a co-chair of the Communications work group for the last two years. His dedication to the work group as well as his communication skills are an asset to his leadership. Derek is committed to educating youth in the area of safety by teaching the Buddies, Intersections and Difference Makers programs. His passion for empowering the lives of youth inspires him to be engaging and relatable in the classroom. Derek sees the best part of his job as watching his students grow over the course of a program. He believes that children are our future and it is our role as educators to equip them with the right information. An interesting fact about Derek is that he lived in South Korea for a year.
Erica is the Founder and Executive Director of A Red Circle. A Red Circle is a community-based collaborative nonprofit organization, which was founded to address racial disparities in the North St. Louis County region. It has five focus areas: employment, education, holistic living, policy and the arts. Erica’s leadership addresses income inequality, educational achievement, access to healthy and affordable food to holistically improve St. Louis communities.
Dr. Cullers is an Associate Professor at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri. She received her BS in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Arkansas, her MS in Clinical Nutrition from University of Kansas Medical Center and her PhD in Nutritional Biology with an emphasis in Community and International Nutrition from the University of California, Davis. She is currently chair of Joplin Area Food Action Network, and she serves on the Community Health Collaborative in her community. Her research expertise lies within Sports Nutrition and Nutrition through the lifespan. She has also served as an advocate for students who are food insecure and is currently working on a food pantry program on campus. Andrea loves working in the garden and visiting farmers markets with her husband and 3-year-old son, Asher.
Dr. Sarah Hampl graduated from the combined BA-MD program at the University of MO-Kansas City School of Medicine. She completed her residency and chief residency at Children’s Mercy Hospital. She is board certified in Pediatrics and Obesity Medicine. Dr. Hampl is a member of the Division of General Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy and leads the advocacy focus area at the Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition. She has been working with children and families with obesity for the past 20 years. She provides clinical care in the Promoting Health in Teens and Kids (PHIT Kids) Weight Management Clinic and is the medical director of Weight Management group programs. She is actively involved in resident and community primary care provider education and research on clinical outcomes of treatment. Dr. Hampl and Dr. Denise Wilfley were the co-chairs of the MO Children’s Services Commission’s childhood obesity subcommittee, which released statewide recommendations for childhood obesity treatment and prevention in 2014, and continue to work towards implementation of these recommendations. She is the current chair of the MOCAN Healthcare work group, a member of MO and KS Chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the AAP Section on Obesity, where she serves as an adviser for pediatric healthcare providers in DHHS Region VII. Sarah has been the chair of the Healthcare work group for the last two years.
Julie Benard, MD, is originally from Ste. Genevieve (in Southeast Missouri) and moved to Columbia in 2004 to attend MU for college. She continued to complete her medical education at MU and then went on to complete her residency in Child Health at MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital. She was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to join the MU Child Health faculty in 2015 after completing her residency training. She has always had an interest in childhood nutrition and obesity prevention/management which grew into a passion during residency and her early career on faculty. In 2018, she obtained board certification for obesity management to better assist her patients and the children of Mid-Missouri with weight concerns and overall health. She is very excited to serve the state of Missouri in the capacity of HCAG co-chair.