Our Speakers, BNMC 1st Annual Food as Medicine Symposium

Karen Pearl, President & CEO of God’s Love We Deliver

Karen Pearl, President & CEO of God’s Love We Deliver, joined the organization in September 2006, bringing with her over 30 years of experience in nonprofit leadership. Since its founding in 1985, God’s Love has responded to the urgent need for food and nutrition experienced by people who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves – people living with life-altering illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, end stage renal disease and advanced diabetes.

During her tenure, Karen has expanded the organization’s capacity, increasing meal numbers by 100% and growing its advocacy program significantly to ensure access to services for those most in need. The number of volunteers has grown to over 17,000, and the number of meals cooked and delivered to a new milestone of over 2.4 million in a single year. God’s Love operates with an annual budget of over $25 million, of which 65% is raised through private philanthropy.

Under Karen’s leadership, God’s Love was the winner of a New York Times Nonprofit Excellence award in 2010, and a winner of the New York State Department of Health Social Determinants of Health Innovation Award in 2018.

In 2011, God’s Love embarked on an ambitious $36 million Expansion Campaign to more than double the size of its building so it can more than double the number of meals it cooks and delivers each year. Since August 2015, God’s Love is operating from the new facility, and has expanded its service area and programs.

Karen co-authored a chapter entitled, “Food is Medicine: The Ryan White Food and Nutrition Services Program as a Model for Comprehensive Food and Nutrition Services in the United States,” in the book, published in June 2015, Health of HIV Infected People: Food, Nutrition and Lifestyle with Antiretroviral Drugs.

Karen is the Chairperson of the Food Is Medicine Coalition, a national association of nonprofit, medically tailored food and nutrition services (FNS) providers seeking to integrate FNS into healthcare for the critically and/or chronically ill.

Under Karen’s leadership, God’s Love was the winner of a New York Times Nonprofit Excellence award in 2010, and a winner of the New York State Department of Health Social Determinants of Health Innovation Award in 2018.

In 2018, Karen received a City/State Women’s Leadership Award, and in 2019, was named one of Crain’s Notable Women in Health Care.

David Waters, CEO, Community Servings

David has been involved with Community Servings since its inception in 1989, moving from volunteer to board member, Board Chair, Director of Development, and eventually CEO, in 1999.

Under David’s leadership, Community Servings has evolved from a small neighborhood meals program delivering dinner to 30 people, to a critical regional program providing 15 medically-tailored meals plans to 2,300 people with acute life-threatening illnesses, their dependents, and caregivers, across Massachusetts.

An advocate for integrating accessible, medically tailored meals into the healthcare system, David has formed partnerships with leading healthcare payers and providers to better link clinical care and social services, designing some of the country’s first health insurance contracts for prescription meals.

With 35+ years of experience in food service management, David also created the highly cost-effective fundraising events, LifeSavor and Pie in the Sky, a Thanksgiving pie sale duplicated in cities around the country.

He is the former Board Chair of the Association of Nutrition Service Agencies, and is a founding member of the national Food Is Medicine Coalition. In recognition of his leadership and impact at Community Servings and within the Greater Boston community, David was named a Barr Foundation Fellow in 2017. A resident of Cambridge, he holds graduate degrees from Middlebury College and Boston University.

Dr. Robert Rock, MD

Post Doctoral Fellow, National Clinician Scholars Program at Yale School of Medicine, National Clinician Scholars Program at Yale School of Medicine

Dr. Robert Rock is a child of the humanities, passionate about building community, fighting for health justice, and reforming health professional education. He is currently a family medicine resident in the Bronx, NY.

He graduated from the Yale School of Medicine where he co-developed US Health Justice (USHJ), an elective course for medical, nursing, and physician associate students dedicated to social medicine, domestic health equity, and health advocacy. Within USHJ, Robert co-developed a workshop called Making the Invisible Visible (MIV) that was subsequently incorporated into the mandatory curriculum for all Yale medical students. MIV uses art observation to explore topics of bias, identity, and hierarchies of power in patient-provider interactions. Dr. Rock went on to work with graduate students from across the university to develop the multidisciplinary USHJ Collaborative, which works to educate and strengthen the growing health justice community, campus-wide.

Dr. Rock has been named a 2017 Pisacano Scholar, the 2020 Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation Rising Star for Excellence in Social Mission in Health Professions Education, and a 2020 National Minority Quality Forum top 40 under 40 leader in minority health, and has had a student activism award named after him and a colleague at the Yale School of Medicine.

Dr. Avik Chatterjee, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor, Boston Medical Center/Boston University Medical Center

Assistant Professor, Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center; Associate Epidemiologist, Division of Global Health Equity, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Lecturer, Part-time, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program

Avik Chatterjee, MD, MPH has provided primary care and addiction medicine services at several shelter-based clinic sites in Boston through Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) since 2013. He is trained in internal medicine and pediatrics and serves as medical director of the BHCHP clinic at the Southampton Street Shelter. He completed medical school at the University of North Carolina and residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital—including a chief year in pediatrics—after which he completed fellowship training in General Internal Medicine and Primary Care at Harvard Medical School. He has also completed a Masters of Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and achieved board certification in Addiction Medicine through the American Board of Preventive Medicine.

He is an Assistant Professor at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, where he conducts research on the treatment of opioid use disorder and overdose prevention, particularly in marginalized populations. He has additional research interests in food insecurity in people experiencing homelessness, and in understanding the impact of structural racism on health care and addiction treatment. His research and writings have been published in the American Journal of Public Health, Annals of Internal Medicine, and the New England Journal of Medicine, among other journals.

He also teaches Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a Lecturer, with a particular interest in institutional and structural racism in medicine and medical education. He also advises premedical students at Harvard College, where he has won the Star Family Advising Prize, the John R. Marquand Award for Excellence in Advising, and advised a Thomas Hoopes prize-winning thesis.

Prof. Michael S. Fenster, MD

University of Montana, Culinary Medicine Program

Michael S. Fenster, MD, better known as Chef Dr. Mike, is one of a handful of physicians worldwide to hold both culinary and medical degrees and is the only Interventional Cardiologist and Professional Chef to do so. He is also the only cardiologist with joint academic appointments in both the Medical and Culinary Arts.

Through his Culinary Medicine university courses, speaking events, articles, books, personal outreach, and television and other media appearances, Chef Dr. Mike empowers people to take control of their health, wellness, and happiness through a positive relationship with food. His mission is to help each of us re-engage, re-forge, and re-connect our personal relationship with the food we eat. In the quality of our own food experiences lie the keys to our own health, wellness, and happiness.

Dr. Mike is an Adjunct Professor of Culinary Medicine at the Kansas Health Science Center and is on faculty at the Missoula College Culinary Arts Program at the University of Montana, and the College of Health, School Of Public Health at the University of Montana. He is the Editor-in-Chief, Culinary Medicine Section, Journal of Integrated Healthcare.

Dr. Stephen Devries, MD, FACC

Preventive cardiologist, Executive Director Gaples Institute

Dr. Stephen Devries is a preventive cardiologist, co-founder, and Executive Director of the Gaples Institute, an educational nonprofit with the mission of advancing the role of nutrition and lifestyle in medicine. He previously served as the Director of the Outpatient Heart Center at the University of Illinois and Associate Professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Devries lectures internationally on the importance of nutrition and lifestyle in medicine, with presentations ranging from a Congressional Briefing in Washington D.C. to the Royal Society of Medicine in London. Dr. Devries and his work in nutrition and integrative care have been featured on National Public Radio and PBS

Betsy Skoda

Community Food Systems Regional Program Manager

Healthy Food in Health Care-New England

Betsy Skoda is a Regional Program Manager with Health Care Without Harm’s Healthy Food in Health Care program. In this role, she engages health care institutions on strategies to procure locally and sustainably produced foods and to support regional food system development. Betsy is committed to creating sustainable food systems to improve community health and build local economies. Her experience includes research, policy and advocacy, nonprofit management, and cooking in restaurants on both coasts. Betsy lives in Providence with her husband and children. Outside of work, she can be found running, cooking, and spending as much time outdoors as possible.

Dr. LaVonne Ansari

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc.

Beginning in 2006, with the appointment of LaVonne E. Ansari, Ph.D. as Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, the Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. (CHCB, Inc.) launched into a period of unprecedented growth that continues today.

In 2021, Dr. Ansari oversees CHCB, Inc. operations at four upstate New York locations in Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Lockport, and Niagara Falls. Prior to joining CHCB, Inc., Dr. Ansari had the distinction of being the first Muslim African American Female Vice President of Niagara County Community College (NCCC). Dr. Ansari became Vice President of Operations at NCCC in 2003. She also served as the Director of Equity and Diversity; Associate Director of Education Opportunity Center at the State University of New York at Buffalo; and Associate Director of the BRIDGE Program and Director of Rehabilitation Occupation and Recreation Therapy for Psychiatry at Buffalo General Hospital.

In addition, she has several years of experience working with community agencies conducting a variety of outreach and educational workshops, which include health and wellness, cross-cultural communications, multicultural training, cardiovascular and health studies. As the Co-Chair of Parents for Public Schools, she maintains an active involvement with the Buffalo Board of Education working to improve our children’s education.

Dr. Ansari’s education includes a bachelor’s degree in Professional Studies from the College at Brockport, State University of New York, Brockport, NY; a Certificate in Career Development and Management in Women’s Studies from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; a master’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies from the State University of New York College at Buffalo: and a Ph.D. in Sociology of Education from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

In addition to serving as Board Chair of the Community Health Care Association of New York State. Dr. Ansari also sits on several local and national boards.

Dr Raul Vazquez MD, FAAFP

President & CEO, G-Health Enterprises 

Dr. Raul Vazquez is a recognized leader in healthcare innovation and delivery.  He is a graduate of the University at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences as well as Fordam University. International pharmaceutical brands such as Novartis, Searle/ Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Roche have sought the clinical expertise of Dr. Vazquez for topics ranging from hypertension to diabetic neuropathy.  However, he is best known for founding Urban Family Practice and G-Health Enterprises with his wife Mrs. Toni Vazquez.

Dr. Vazquez understood that something dramatic had to be done to confront the challenges presented by a healthcare system rooted in “reactionary care.”  He posited that reactionary care is as problematic as it is unsustainable when the outcomes prevent economically distressed communities and communities of color from receiving coordinated health management, delivered in a cost-effective and cohesive manner.  G- Health Enterprises, has created a paradigm shift affecting real change in Western New York.  Three (3) of his organizations, Urban Family Practice,  Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network (GBUAHN), and Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization (GBUACO) all received high praise, and national accreditation, from the coveted NCQA review Board.

Dr. Vazquez has been honored by a host of organizations statewide including Business First’s Healthcare Champions Award, M&T Bank Small Business of the Year (Medical Sector Award) and NYS Assembly Certificate of Merit Small Business Award.  Board appointments include: the Board of Directors of HEALTHeLink, New York State Minority Health Council and the Statewide Multicultural Advisory Committee.

Dr. Jill Tirabassi MD MPH

K12 Faculty Scholar & Clinical Assistant Professor

Department of Family Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo

Jill Tirabassi is a dually board-certified physician in both family medicine and preventive medicine and public health and is fellowship-trained in Primary Care Sports Medicine. She currently has an NIH K12 research grant in Implementation Science, focusing on how to improve food and physical activity environments. She also practices clinically at the ECMC Family Medicine Center and spends time teaching and precepting family medicine residents and students. She has published several articles and chapters related to primary care and sports medicine topics. She is excited to be a content expert on the lifestyle medicine aspect of the new curriculum for medical students at UB.

Dr. Daniel Sheehan, PhD, MD

Associate Dean for Medical Curriculum; Director of the Office of Accreditation and Quality Improvement; Clinical Professor of Pediatrics

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York; UBMD Pediatrics

Dr. Sheehan received his Ph.D. in Physiology from the University at Buffalo in 1989 and earned his MD from Johns Hopkins University in 1997.  He completed his Pediatrics Residency and Pediatric Pulmonology Fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh/UPMC. He was an attending physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio from 2002-2004 and has been back in WNY at UB and Oishei Children’s Hospital since 2004.  He has been an Associate Dean of Medical Curriculum at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences since 2015.  He is currently co-leading an inter-professional team of educators that is developing a 4-year preventive-and-lifestyle medicine curriculum that will train UB medical students to promote health and wellness to prevent and address chronic diseases that are caused by or impacted by unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles.

Michael Ball

Director, Blue Fund 

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York

Michael Ball is director of Blue Fund for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, where he oversees the company’s Blue Fund grant-giving process, including providing guidance, support, and feedback to help recipients reach measurable goals and outcomes.

Funded solely by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, a community-based not-for-profit health plan, Blue Fund awards major grants to organizations and initiatives that have a positive impact on key health areas.

Before directing the Blue Fund, Michael was regional director at Empire State Development, New York’s chief economic development agency, and Executive Director of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, charged with strategic planning and local implementation of the state’s annual funding competition.  Michael has served as director of planning and implementation and director of Healthy Communities Initiative for Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc.

Michael received a master’s degree in urban planning with specialization in economic development planning from the University at Buffalo, and a bachelor’s degree in political science and urban studies from Canisius College.


James Thompson

Health & Wellness Program Manager, Evergreen Health

James Thompson is the Health & Wellness Program Manager at Evergreen Health. James received his Master’s of Public Health at the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions and has been working at Evergreen health since 2012 in many different front-line roles in the agency’s Wellness department before becoming the manager of the THRIVE Wellness program in 2018.  Since leading the THRIVE Wellness team, James and the team have grown the program to include over 150 patients who engage in health-promoting programming and deliver results for patients.  These include lower A1c, cholesterol, and PHQ9 measurements.

Rita Hubbard-Robinson, JD.

CEO, NeuWater & Associates, LLC

Rita Hubbard-Robinson, the CEO of NeuWater & Associates, LLC, has been committed to the improvement of health and social determinants of health for over 30 years. Recently tasked with the development of the infrastructure of the newly formed community-based Buffalo Center for Health Equity, Rita has worked to change include SDOH and Health Equity strategies to improving health. She is one of four Associate Directors of the UB Community Health Equity Research Institute, a host of Igniting Hope Radio, lead planner of the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, and visionary and developer of Project Rainfall, a food system social enterprise.

Dorothy Johnston CEC, CCE, AAC


Dorothy has been involved in the Hospitality Industry in Buffalo for a number of years. She has a BA from Daemen College, MS in ED from SUC Buffalo, Attended the Culinary Institute of America and the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at UB. Dorothy is Certified as an Executive Chef and Culinary Educator by the American Culinary Federation. She serves on the Accreditation Committee of the ACF in addition to being a Certification Evaluator. She is a Commandeur in the local Chaine des Rotisseurs, is a Certified Sommelier, and Certified as Specialist of Wine by the Society of Wine Educators.

Dorothy operated the Cafe in the Square for 25 years, before accepting a position in teaching. During her tenure as Department Chair, Dorothy and her colleague, Kristin Goss began the process of bringing Culinary Medicine into our program.  Dr. Helen Cappuccino was instrumental in helping us work through until finally, we were able to present a collaborative program with the University of Buffalo, Jacobs Medical School, SUNY Erie and the UB Nutrition Department.  It has had to be on hiatus because of Covid, but we are all anxious to get started again.

Patti Green, Founder

Founder, Healthy Living with Patti Green

Patti Green is a successful entrepreneur, holistic lifestyle coach, speaker and upcoming tv host. She earned her B.S. degree from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts and her C.H.C., AADP from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition through SUNY at Purchase, NY. Since then, her career and entrepreneurial adventures have centered around new product development, food, beauty, health, and wellness.

Early on, Patti’s entrepreneurial skills led her to create a line of children’s consumer products.  In addition to her product development, she opened a children’s cooking school in Western New York and conducted hundreds of healthy cooking classes and workshops nationwide. She hosted the noon cooking segment at her local NBC/Channel 2. Upon completing her certification in holistic health, she began her health coaching business motivating, guiding, and inspiring individuals to lead healthier happier lives. Recognizing the need to promote health, wellness, and lifestyle balance, Patti Green designed this multi-faceted wellness broadcast program in the form of a multicultural cooking show. The integrative learning experience emphasizes the importance of self-care and self-sufficiency and encourages an appreciation of other people and cultures.

Dr. Helen Cappucino

Roswell Park Comprehensive Care Center,

Associate Professor, Jacobs School of Medicine

Helen Cappuccino has been at Roswell Park Cancer Institute specializing in the surgical management of breast cancer since 1999, and is an associate professor at the Jacobs School of Medicine at the University of Buffalo and at the University of Rochester. Honored as one of The 50 Most Positive Doctors in America” in the Positive Doctor Project, she prides herself in not only the clinical and academic aspects of medicine, but importantly, the human side of medicine. She has authored several chapters in surgical textbooks, and has a special interest in hypothermia treatment and holistic adjuvant management of disease, especially collaborative projects about nutrition and health care. She serves on the admissions committee at the Jacobs School of Medicine at the University of Buffalo, and also was the medical faculty coordinator for the medical school course “Culinary Medicine”.  As well, she and her husband have enjoyed medical missions to Kenya.  Helen is currently on the Boards of the Albright Knox Art Gallery, the University of Buffalo Foundation, Western New York Women’s Foundation, and Chaîne des Rotisseurs Foundation Board. She has chaired numerous charity events for various schools and cultural organizations, including the Eastern Niagara United Way, the University of Buffalo Scholarship Galas, and Elmwood Franklin School.

Dr Katherine LaVigne Mager

Assistant Professor, Gynecologic Oncology, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Mager is a gynecologic oncologist at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is from New York City, where she attended college at Columbia University followed by medical school training in Philadelphia at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Jefferson University. She did her residency training at New York University Medical Center and fellowship training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Her area of clinical interest is the treatment of gynecologic malignancies. Her research focuses on both clinical and translational research in the area of nutrition, obesity and physical activity in cancer care and outcomes, particularly in endometrial cancer.

Allison DeHonney

Executive Director

Urban Fruits & Veggies/Buffalo Go Green Inc.

Allison has 20 years of professional service in key areas of Executive leadership, Project Management, and Business Development. Allison has spearheaded four business endeavors; the latest of which is Urban Fruits & Veggies LLC. & Buffalo Go Green Inc. which is a non-profit organization. Urban Fruits & Veggies (UFV) has been in operation for five years and is involved in several projects throughout the city of Buffalo and Erie County. UFV has an urban farm, mobile produce market that services food apartheid areas and underserved communities bringing access to healthy fruits & vegetables and nutrition education. We sell at local farmers’ markets weekly from June to October, have a corporate wellness division where we imbed our services into local companies, and partner with Organizations on wellness initiatives, we offer programming for elementary and high school students where we teach nutrition education and urban farming. She is the Chair of the Buffalo & Erie County Food Policy Council, on the board of the Erie County Farm Bureau, and holds membership in the Pilot Community of Black Farmer Fund and Black Farms United NY State.


Clinical Nutrition MS Dietetic Internship

University at Buffalo, School of Public Health and Health Professions

As Program Director for the Dietetic Internship, Nicole integrates immersive culinary education across interdisciplinary professional training programs at the University at Buffalo. She is working to position the RDN-interns as partners in the kitchen with student health professionals, exploring the link between diet, disease, and the role food plays in the prevention of illness together. Her work experience includes clinical dietetics, community nutrition, culinary medicine, and research in health behavior and food choices. Klem has served on local and state dietetic association boards and was a founding member of the Slow Food chapter in Western N.Y

Matthew Zhan

Medical Student

University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Matthew Zahn is a second-year medical student at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Buffalo, NY. He earned his Bachelor of Science from Alfred University where he majored in athletic training. He is passionate about lifestyle medicine and believes in the importance of utilizing lifestyle and preventive measures to treat patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. He currently serves as co-president for the Preventive/Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group and Sprouts, a local community garden initiative. Matthew is also working to expand a community walking program called Walk With a Future Doc.

Jen Regan

Program Manager, Veggie Van Mobile Market, and WNY Food Incubator

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County

Jen Regan has worked for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County since 2013.  She is the Program Manager of the Veggie Van Mobile Farmers Market, which serves Niagara County, and is also the Manager for the WNY Food Incubator, a commercial kitchen and food entrepreneur support space housed in Lockport, NY.   Currently, the Veggie Van is piloting Farmacy, a veggie prescription program, with SNAP-ed of Western New York and Niagara County healthcare providers.   Jen is a lifelong resident of Western New York and is an advocate of locally grown foods, food equity and access, and home and community gardening.

Dr. Kenneth V. Snyder, MD PhD FACS FAANS

Chief Physician Quality Officer

Kaleida Health

Dr. Snyder joined UBNS in 2011 after completing his fellowship training in endovascular neurosurgery with UB Neurosurgery and spent 6 months as a research fellow at the Barrow Neurological Institute under Dr. Robert Spetzler. He completed his neurosurgical residency at UB and received his Ph.D. in biophysics under the guidance of Dr. Frederick Sachs specializing in mechanoelectric transduction of cellular membranes.  He has special interests and expertise in physiological imaging of the brain and its use in the evaluation and management of acute stroke patients. He has a large Neurosurgical practice with specialization in Stroke and Brain Tumors.

Dr. Snyder has been awarded a Congress of Neurological Surgeons Vascular Fellowship for Cerebrovascular Research, a Toshiba Stroke Imaging Research Fellowship, and the Gold Humanism in Excellence in Teaching.

He has published over 300 peer-reviewed publications and gives multiple CME lectures across the globe. 

He has served as Vice President of Physician Quality for Kaleida Health for 5 years after service as Physician Quality Lead for the Gates Vascular Institute.  His quality work has allowed him recognition in Curriculum development serving now as an American Medical Association Health System Science (HSS) Scholar as well as Co-Director of HSS Curriculum Design for the Jacob’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.  He currently serves as a Baldrige Examiner for Healthcare Systems as well as Communities of Excellence.

He was recently honored with an Excellence in Health Care Award by Buffalo Business First in 2021 as well as Humanitarian of the Year Award by Brothers of Mercy in 2020.

Our Moderators: Dr. Rosanne Berger

Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine

Sr. Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education

University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Roseanne Berger, MD is Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.  She earned her medical degree at New York Medical College and completed residency training in Family Medicine at the University of California, San Diego and fellowship training in Geriatrics at the University of Buffalo.   Dr. Berger directs the UB’s Mini Medical School, that targets individuals in the community with curiosity and interest in learning about medicine, healthcare, and health sciences.  The four-part virtual lecture series is devoted to nutrition for the Fall 2021 semester.

Our Moderators: Jeanette Koncikowski, Executive Director, Grassroots Gardens WNY

Jeanette Koncikowski joined Grassroots Gardens of Western New York in 2018. She is a long-time community educator and activist, bringing almost 20 years of experience with nonprofit organizations such as the Center for Development of Human Services, Crisis Services of Buffalo and Erie County and the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. Jeanett spent five years as the Western New York Community Leader for Change for Breast Cancer Action. Jeanette is thrilled to be combining her personal passion for gardening with community development. She is focused on building Grassroots Gardens’ organizational capacity and sustainability.

Our Moderators: Marydale DeBor, JD, Managing Director, Fresh Advantage, LLC. Lecturer, Yale School of Medicine

Marydale founded Fresh Advantage LLC in 2011 after 25 years of combined professional experience as a lawyer focused on health care philanthropy and then as a senior executive at a community hospital. Her company works with a wide range of organizations (including hospitals, schools, businesses, and non-profit entities) to improve their foodservice operations and to integrate attention to diet and food security into patient care for hospital clients and student and faculty wellbeing and education in the case of schools, as well as employees of all client organizations.

She created Food is Primary Care® for the company tag line to emphasize the profound impact that a diet of fresh, nutritious, and affordable food produced by sustainable methods plays in creating and maintaining health, preventing and/or managing chronic diseases, and providing the energy essential to an active, productive life.

Marydale is a lecturer in the School of Medicine at Yale University where she teaches students and trainees across several health professional graduate schools about the critical nexus of diet and health. Her company’s team includes physicians, nutritionists, chefs, and farmers who join together to provide “food learning” programs and systems to improve foodservice/dining operations of a given institution or organization.

Our Moderators: Dr. Gary Giovino, Ph.D, MS

SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Community Health & Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions. University at Buffalo

Dr. Gary Giovino is a behavioral epidemiologist whose research focuses on tobacco, food, and health promotion in general. He has served as Chair of the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior and as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs in the School of Public Health and Health Professions. He has taught family medicine residents how to counsel their patients to quit smoking and currently serves as a faculty advisor for the JSMBS Preventive and Lifestyle Medicine Student Interest Group. Recently retired, he plans to continue to conduct research, teach, and volunteer in ways that promote health throughout the community.