Steering Committee

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    The Steering Committee is comprised of two members from each of the Work Groups, and up to six at-large members as may be identified and elected by members of MOCAN. The Steering Committee should be prepared to support the decisions of the group. While action may not be required, the Steering Committee members will not deny or speak against decisions from this group. If there is a conflict by a member with any issue being discussed, he or she may excuse him/herself from voting on that issue.

    The elected officers will serve as the executive committee between meetings. Elected offices of the Steering Committee include:

    • Chairperson
    • Vice-Chairperson
    • Secretary/Treasurer, as needed
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    Roles and responsibilities

    In addition to general membership roles and responsibilities, Steering Committee members:

    • Serve on a two-year renewable term (rotating term).
    • Submit a slate of Steering Committee members to the MOCAN membership at the business meeting for the coming year. Nominations will be allowed from the floor, and voting will be conducted by ballot.
    • Approve major policy or funding issues brought forth by the membership.
    • Approve the annual work plan and budget (as applicable).
    • Approve or reject changes to the operating principles as recommended by the membership or Steering Committee.
    • Elect Steering Committee officers: one Chairperson, one Vice-Chairperson, one Secretary/Treasurer.
    • Recommend guidelines and governance for MOCAN.
    • Review/recommend funding issues/decisions affecting MOCAN.
    • Act on behalf of MOCAN between large group meetings. In situations where a decision is needed so quickly that a polling of the membership is not possible, the Steering Committee will make the decision. The Steering Committee will make the decision by consensus or by a majority vote. Decisions made on behalf of MOCAN will be shared with the membership.
    • Promote the Plan as the foundation of the work of MOCAN.
    • Review and accept/reject/terminate membership to MOCAN and identify gaps.
    • Assist Work Groups to set priorities for annual MOCAN activities, as needed.
    • Coordinate an annual evaluation of MOCAN activities.
    • Develop an annual budget for MOCAN, as indicated.
    • Assist with and communicate funding opportunities to MOCAN members.
    • Meet at least once quarterly, in person or via phone conference. Members who miss two consecutive meetings without notification will be considered as resigning from the Steering Committee.
    • Identify and facilitate opportunities for collaboration across health promotion and chronic disease initiatives, other coalitions and MOCAN, e.g., matters concerning policy issues, communications and funding.
    • Coordinate MOCAN meetings and professional development programs.
    • Provide ongoing communication to the MOCAN membership.
    • Review the Operating Principles at least annually.

Current MOCAN leadership

Steering Committee | Child Care | Food Systems | Healthcare | Healthy Weight Advisory Committee | Physical Activity | Schools | Worksites | At-Large Members | MU Extension Coordinating Staff

Steering Committee Chairs

  • MOCAN Co-Chair: Jeremy Milarsky
    Jeremy Milarsky is a program manager at the Center for Health Policy in the University of Missouri’s School of Medicine. In this position, he co-manages No Kid Hungry Missouri, a collaborative effort with the state of Missouri and the Missouri Family and Community Trust. No Kid Hungry Missouri empowers schools and nonprofit organizations to feed more children through small grants and technical assistance with public nutrition programs. Jeremy has a background in journalism, healthcare communication and data analysis. He enjoys long-distance running with his dogs.
  • MOCAN Co-Chair: Andrea Cullers
    Andrea Cullers, PhD, RD, is an Associate Professor in the Kinesiology Department and Director of the Lion Co-op at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri. She received her BS in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Arkansas, her MS from University of Kansas Medical Center in Clinical Nutrition and her PhD from the University of California, Davis in Nutritional Biology with an emphasis in Community and International Nutrition. Dr. Cullers is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and completed her training at KUMC. Dr. Cullers is currently chair of Joplin Area Food Action Network; she also serves on the Community Health Collaborative in her community. Andrea loves playing outside and exploring the world with her husband and 7-year-old son, Asher.
  • MOCAN Past Chair: Erica Williams
    Erica R Williams holds a BA in Paralegal Studies and an MBA, both from Maryville University. She is working on her PhD in Public Policy and Administration from Walden University, with a concentration on policy analysis. Erica is a St. Louis Master Gardener; is past MOCAN Steering Committee Chair and past chair/current member of the Food Systems Work Group; led a Peer Circle for Executive Directors of Color for Winrock International’s Food Systems Leadership Network; sits on the Youth Ed & Development committee of Kids Win Missouri and participates in HomeGrown StL; is a member of the Nine Network Community Advisory Board; and is the recipient of several awards from local entities. When not working for A Red Circle, Erica is on the Board of Directors for Kids Win Missouri and Propel Kitchens, and on the Community Advisory Board for Refuge and Restoration Nonprofit Organization in Ferguson, Missouri.

Child Care

  • Child Care Co-Chair: Beth Ann Lang
    Beth Ann Lang has worked in the field of early childhood and adult education for more than 30 years. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master degree in Early Childhood Education. Ms. Lang is also certified as an early childhood teacher in Missouri. Since 2001, she has been the Director of the T.E.A.C.H. MISSOURI Scholarship at Child Care Aware® of Missouri. In 2011, Beth Ann also became the Chief Program Officer overseeing all statewide direct service to the child care workforce from clock hours to credit hours including statewide services such as CDA Scholarship Project, Early Learning Collaboratives and early childhood training.
  • Child Care Co-Chair: Lisa Lauer
    Lisa (Farmer) Lauer is a Senior Nutritionist at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Bureau of Community Health and Wellness, where she is the early care and education (ECE) lead on the CDC State Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) grant team, and the nutrition lead on the CDC Missouri Healthy Schools grant team. Lisa has over 20 years of diverse community nutrition experience that includes developing education materials for 4-H, program development and execution for an urban cooperative extension, head start nutrition coordinator, and farm to school director. This broad knowledge base sets her apart from many of her peers, and offers a vision of seamless nutrition and wellness education for nutrition professionals, school stakeholders and families. She loves teaching students of all ages, and recently completed her master’s degree in adult learning and leadership from Kansas State University. When not working, Lisa enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and exploring flea markets.

Food Systems

  • Food Systems Co-Chair: Allene Gremaud
    Allene Gremaud has a M.S. in Health and Human Physiology with an emphasis in Health Promotion. She works as a Field Specialist in Nutrition and Health working for the University of Missouri Extension, serving St. Charles County, Missouri. Allene’s work focuses on strength training and fall prevention for older adults, food preservation and food safety, physical activity, and the self-management of chronic conditions like diabetes and chronic pain. Allene has worked with a local food pantry to show patrons how to utilize pantry box items in healthy and delicious recipes. Allene is also involved in a grant committee through MOCAN that’s applied for several funding sources in 2020 and 2021. The committee has received funding for 2 projects and is currently overseeing one looking at food security in college students and barriers for enrolling in and utilizing SNAP.
  • Food Systems Co-Chair: Andrea Cullers
    Andrea Cullers, PhD, RD, is an Associate Professor in the Kinesiology Department and Director of the Lion Co-op at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri. She received her BS in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Arkansas, her MS from University of Kansas Medical Center in Clinical Nutrition and her PhD from the University of California, Davis in Nutritional Biology with an emphasis in Community and International Nutrition. Dr. Cullers is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and completed her training at KUMC. Dr. Cullers is currently chair of Joplin Area Food Action Network; she also serves on the Community Health Collaborative in her community. Andrea loves playing outside and exploring the world with her husband and 7-year-old son, Asher.


  • Healthcare Co-Chair: Julie Benard
    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. Julie recently moved to Cape Girardeau and joined the Saint Francis Medical Center, and is very excited to serve the state of Missouri in the capacity of Healthcare Work Group co-chair.
  • Healthcare Co-Chair: Sarah Hampl
    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 Academic Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and leads the advocacy focus area at the Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition. She is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of MO-Kansas City School of Medicine. 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 through the Healthy Weight Advisory Committee. She is a member of the MO Chapter 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.

Healthy Weight Advisory Committee

  • Healthy Weight Advisory Committee Co-Chair: Lisa Nelson
    For the past several years Lisa has brought her professional experience in nonprofit leadership, strategic communications, project design and implementation, and system change design and evaluation to MOCAN. A past MOCAN Chair, in July 2019 she began chairing the Healthy Weight Advisory Committee. For the past 15 years Nelson has worked for Freeman Health System, a nonprofit health system in Joplin. She holds B.A., B.S., and M.A. degrees from Boston University and an M.A. from the University of London. She has traveled extensively and experienced health and social systems in Egypt, England, and France, as well as rural and urban America, and firmly believes there is no scarcity of resources to improve health and well-being.
  • Healthy Weight Advisory Committee Co-Chair: Angela Lima
    Angela Lima, MBA, RD, LD, is a senior project manager for the PCORI sponsored project named TEAM UP in the Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness at Washington University in St. Louis. She received her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics in 2001 and her MBA from Webster University in 2013. Lima’s research interests include increasing access to care, reducing health disparities, improving health literacy, and dissemination and implementation of evidence-based treatment for childhood obesity.

Physical Activity

  • Physical Activity Co-Chair: Chelsey Davenport
    Chelsey earned a Master of Science degree with an emphasis in Wellness Management from Pittsburg State University. Following graduation, she worked with Freeman Hospital’s Screen Team (Joplin, Mo) which offers preventative health screenings to the local community. The experience working with Freeman prepared her for her current position as the Wellness Coordinator for the Neosho School District. Chelsey collaborates with seven hundred staff members to help them achieve their overall wellness goals. This includes incorporating physical exercise and implementing nutritional guidelines to support healthier lifestyles. Movement has always been a priority in Chelsey’s life. At age five she took up dance and eventually danced professionally for sixteen years after receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance from Oklahoma City University. She has also helped others maintain and increase mobility by instructing them in yoga. Chelsey has been a part of MOCAN for two years. She embraces the opportunity to share knowledge with and increase awareness among Missourians toward living healthier lives.
  • Physical Activity Co-Chair: Jackson Hotaling
    Jackson Hotaling grew up in Webster Groves, MO and lives in Columbia, MO. Jackson holds the fundamental belief that all people should be able to access everyday destinations, such as grocery stores, schools, and the workplace, without experiencing significant barriers to transportation. Beginning in January 2021, Jackson serves as the Community Engagement Coordinator with the non-profit Missourians for Responsible Transportation [MRT], a partnership formed between BikeWalkKC (Kansas City), Local Motion (Columbia), Ozark Greenways (Springfield), and Trailnet (St. Louis). With MRT, he supports statewide advocacy efforts to improve active and public transportation options for individuals in rural communities. Furthermore, he is involved in this work as a Commissioner with the City of Columbia Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission, and as a member of statewide coalitions including the Missouri Hands-Free Coalition and Missouri Livable Streets. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Geography from Ohio Wesleyan University, and a Master of Public Administration from Zhejiang Normal University. Jackson credits his personal appreciation for active and public transportation through living without a car since 2018, as well as through travel, where he has traveled to 53 countries and more than 2,000 US counties.


  • Schools Chair, Interim: Carrie Elsen
    Carrie Elsen holds a Master’s Degree of Science in Nursing through the University of Missouri. She currently serves as the Shelby County and Monroe County (Interim) County Engagement Specialist and serves Shelby, Monroe, and Audrain counties as a Nutrition and Health Education Specialist for the University of Missouri Extension. In this role, Carrie is able to bring the University’s research-based nutrition and health courses to schools across the state of Missouri. She also serves as the Interim Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition (MOCAN) Schools Work Group leader. Carrie is also a United States Army Reservist for 20 years and a registered nurse. Carrie likes to spend her free time with her family and three children.


  • Worksites Co-Chair: Lindsey Stevenson
    Lindsey Stevenson has a B.S. in Exercise Science an M.S. in Human Performance and Wellness. She works for the University of Missouri Extension as a County Engagement Specialist in Nutrition and Health Education serving three counties in Southwest Missouri. Lindsey’s work focuses on strength training for older adults; nutrition, food safety; shopping for healthy groceries on a budget; worksite wellness; and chronic disease self-management. She is involved in several of her communities’ organizations working to improve the health of Southwest Missourians. Lindsey enjoys working on policy, system and environmental changes to make the biggest impact on lifestyle and behavior changes toward healthy living.
  • Worksites Co-Chair: Annie Fitzgerald
    Annie Fitzgerald, CHES, is the Well-being & Member Services Coordinator for the St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition (BHC), a non-profit collaborative supporting 70+ leading St. Louis employers in their efforts to improve the well-being of enrollees and enhance the quality and overall value of investments in health benefits. In this role, she is responsible for the administration of products and services for the coalition's employer members, including worksite health education campaigns, professional certifications and trainings, and group purchasing opportunities. Annie holds a Bachelor of Health Science degree from Truman State University. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing and a certified CPR instructor through the American Heart Association.

At-Large Members

  • Donna Mehrle Elliott
    Donna Mehrle Elliott, MPH, RD, LD, has a wealth of experiences in public health nutrition through her work at the Department of Health and Senior Services and the University of Missouri Extension. During her time at the Department, Donna worked in aging, WIC, planning and surveillance and obesity reduction and prevention. During her work at Extension, she assisted in day-to-day implementation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Nutrition Education and leads several special projects. Donna served as the coordinator of the Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition (MOCAN) for several years and was instrumental in convening the council when first established. In addition, Donna also worked part-time as a registered, licensed dietitian at the Jefferson City Medical Group, counseling patients at the Weight Treatment Center. She continues to be active in her state dietetic association, the national Association of State and Territorial Public Health Nutritionists (ASTPHN) and the national Association of SNAP-Ed Nutrition Networks and Other Implementing Agencies (ASNNA). She currently serves as secretary for the Cole County University of Missouri Extension Council. She has presented at local, state and national conferences about policy and environmental changes to make the healthy choice the easy choice in Missouri, the socio-ecological approach to behavior change and the impact of obesity in various settings and populations.
  • David Ross
    David P. Ross is formerly the development manager for KC Healthy Kids in the metro Kansas City area. He is a graduate of Westminster College and University of Missouri-Columbia Law School. David gained a working knowledge of Kansas City philanthropy while working as the Senior Vice President at Bank of America in Kansas City for 38 years. During David’s 38 years he administered many grants for the Bank of America’s charitable trusts. He has been active in various health prevention causes for the past 30 years. He is currently consulting on fundraising with 16 different organizations.
  • Kris Drake
    Kris Drake, RN, CHPD, is the Wellness Coordinator at Freeman Health System in Joplin Mo. As coordinator of Freeman’s employee wellness program - WellBalance, Kris works daily to improve the work-life balance of more than 4,500 health system employees. Since October 2002, she has developed an array of programs to empower Freeman employees to reach their personal wellness goals. The WellBalance program mission is to inspire total well-being by providing opportunities and encouraging employees to improve and maintain their quality of life.
  • Fanice Thomas
    Fanice Thomas, PhD, is the Associate Director of Policy and Strategy in the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Thomas received her PhD in applied social and community psychology from North Carolina University. She is also a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation trained Health Policy Research Scholar. Her research interests include leveraging the use of evidence-based research to inform policies that reduce inequality by addressing the social determinants of health, and implementation of interventions that promote engagement in healthy eating and physical activity.

MU Extension Coordinating Staff

  • MOCAN Coordinator: Candace Rodman
    Candace Rodman holds a Master’s Degree in Sports Science and Rehabilitation through Logan University and currently serves as the Randolph County Engagement Specialist and serves Randolph, Macon, and Linn counties as a Nutrition and Health Education Specialist for the University of Missouri Extension. In this role, Candace is able to bring the University’s research-based nutrition and health courses to the rural communities in Missouri. She also serves as the Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition (MOCAN) state coordinator which acts to unify MO organizations, healthcare professionals, educators, government officials and public health entities to create policies that better the health of Missourians. When not working, Candace spends time on her ‘urban farm’ that includes a small garden, chickens, a cat, and a goofy, 120lb guard dog.
  • MOCAN Communications Advisor: Tyler Hall
    Tyler Hall is a County Engagement Specialist in Nutrition and Health for the University of Missouri Extension, primarily serving Montgomery, Lincoln, and Warren counties. He earned a B.S. in Nutritional Science and an M.S. in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from the University of Missouri. Tyler’s work focuses heavily on falls prevention in older adults through strength training and lifestyle nutrition changes for long-term positive health outcomes. Before his time with the University of Missouri Extension, Tyler worked at MU Healthcare as an exercise physiologist, where he trained patients recovering from cardiopulmonary events to help them return to normal activities of daily living. Tyler serves as the communications advisor for MOCAN to help disseminate information and accomplishments from the organization.
  • MOCAN Support Staff: Pat Davis
    Pat works to support the operational and logistical needs of MOCAN. Pat has worked at Mizzou for 15 years alongside purchasing and fiscal teams. Pat is also an avid gardener, owns and drives her own motorcycle, enjoys reading, sewing, cooking, canning, going to theatre/musical productions, and spending time with friends and family. She has 5 children & 9 grandchildren.