Nutrition Policy Institute
Nutrition Policy Institute
Nutrition Policy Institute
University of California
Nutrition Policy Institute

Nutrition Policy Institute Staff

NPI staff at Alameda County Food Bank

Nutrition Policy Institute staff volunteering at Alameda County Community Food Bank on Inauguration Day 2017.

"In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it."—President Obama

 

Lorrene Ritchie

Lorrene Ritchie
PhD, RD, Director and UC Cooperative Extension Specialist

Lorrene Ritchie is the Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI). She has devoted her career to sharing, synthesizing, developing and collaborating on nutrition policy research. The goal of her work is the prevention of food insecurity, obesity and diabetes, and the promotion of health and wellness. Her current research interests involve evaluation of the relationship of programs and policies, in particular the federal nutrition assistance programs, on children’s dietary intakes and weight status in school, childcare and other community settings.

 

Pat Crawford

Pat Crawford
DrPH, RD, Senior Director of Research and UC Cooperative Extension Specialist

Pat Crawford is the Senior Director of Research at the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI). Prior to coming to NPI, she co-founded and directed the Center for Weight and Health at the University of California at Berkeley for 15 years. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. Dr. Crawford studies ways in which nutrition programs and policies can improve children’s dietary intake and reduce obesity. Dr. Crawford served on the California Legislative Task Force on Diabetes and Obesity and is an expert advisor for the Let’s Get Healthy California Task Force. She chaired the Institute of Medicine’s Workshop on Food Insecurity and Obesity and served on the IOM’s Committee on WIC Research, the Committee on Accelerating Progress on Obesity Prevention, and the IOM’s Standing Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention.

 

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Jaime Adler
MS, MPH

Jaime Adler is a Policy Analyst in NPI’s Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation Unit. She provides expertise in program planning and qualitative evaluation for SNAP-Ed. Her primary interests include the planning and monitoring of local policies and systems change to improve health.

 

 

Lauren Au

Lauren Au
PhD, RD

Lauren Au's research involves the assessment of dietary intakes and the food environment for the prevention of obesity in low-income, racially diverse populations. Her focus is on understanding how to promote healthier eating and prevent obesity in federal nutrition assistance programs, such as the Women Infants and Children (WIC) Program and the National School Lunch Program.

 

Christina Becker

Christina Becker
BA

Christina devotes her time to several projects at NPI, such as the Fit Study and the California Healthy Kids Study, which both aim to improve student health in California.

Sara Brizendine

Sara Brizendine
BA, MS

Sara Brizendine assists with proposal development, and manages contracts and grants for the Nutrition Policy Institute, including budget projections throughout the lifecycle of the projects.

 

Kristy Brownell

Kristy Brownell
BS

Kristy Brownell began her work at NPI as a research assistant for the California Healthy Kids Study. She has also enjoyed working on projects with the California Endowment and the BUSD Gardening and Cooking Program. 

Launa Craig

Launa Craig
BSc

Launa has worked on many projects, including Kaiser Permanente's Thriving Schools and HEAL Zone evaluation projects, which focus on understanding ways to improve community health. She works with public schools to increase participation in research projects.

Elizabeth Egelski

Elizabeth Egelski
MPH

Liz works in NPI's Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation Unit. Her primary research interests include the evaluation of policy, systems, and environmental change interventions. She is passionate about food justice and food systems change.

Dana Gerstein

Dana Gerstein
MPH, RD

The goal of Dana’s work is to support practices that create healthy food and physical activity environments, specifically decreasing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and food marketing of unhealthy foods geared toward children, increasing access to fruits and vegetables and lower-fat dairy options, and promoting exclusive breastfeeding and family mealtimes.

Wendi Gosliner

Wendi Gosliner
DrPH, RD

Wendi leads NPI's Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation Unit. She has dedicated her career to understanding, teaching about, and working to improve policies and programs that affect population health and nutrition, with a focus on eliminating health disparities and improving federal food and nutrition programs. She has conducted and studied interventions in schools, childcare centers, WIC and SNAP-Ed, and is particularly interested in the nexus of research, public policy and community-based efforts to improve health.

Ginny Gildengorin

Temika Green

Temika has assisted with data entry, data collection, data cleaning and data management on multiple research projects. She currently works as the office coordinator and HR liaison for NPI.

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Klara Gurzo
MA

Klara is a Data Analyst on many projects, including Women Infants and Children Nutrition Education and Healthy Communities Study (HCS). She provides expertise in preparing data for analysis, manipulating variables and analyzing final data sets. Her goal is to support evidence-based policy making in nutrition through reliable empirical methods.

phoebe-harpainter

Phoebe Harpainter
MPH, RD

Phoebe Harpainter is a public health nutrition researcher and registered dietitian working on an array of projects at NPI, including early childhood care nutrition standards and building strong local food systems. She hopes to improve the health and wellness of all Californians through her work in research and evaluation across multilingual and multiethnic communities in the state.

 

Christina Hecht

Christina Hecht
PhD

Christina’s primary focus area is healthy beverages, particularly drinking water, the healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages. She studies drinking water access and consumption, particularly in children. She works with colleagues across the country to promote and advocate for drinking water access and to reduce disparity in access to and consumption of healthy beverages.

Ken Hecht

Ken Hecht
LLB

Ken Hecht has spent his career as a legal services attorney and as a nutrition advocate developing opportunities for low-income Californians. At NPI he focuses on the federal food programs with special attention to early childhood. He works to ensure that NPI’s research and evaluations have the strongest possible policy impact.

NPI Staff Pic Sri 2

Sridharshi Hewawitharana
MPH, BS

Sridharshi works as a Data Analyst at NPI on multiple projects, including the Healthy Communities Study, with the aim of contributing to the fields of public health and nutrition through her skills in data management and analysis.

 

Mark Hudes

Mark Hudes
PhD

Mark is a statistician who has worked in the fields of public health and nutrition for over 35 years. He is devoted to obtaining the most appropriate and practical statistical analysis for each research question at hand.

Janice Kao

Janice Kao
MPH

Janice's primary research interests include evaluation of community-based programs and policies. Examples include examining the impact of school wellness policies and the effectiveness of health food retail interventions. She contributes to several NPI projects such as the Kaiser Permanente Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Initiative, the NHLBI-funded Healthy Communities Study, and working in the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Evaluation Research Unit.

heather-kawakami

Heather Kawakami
BA

Heather Kawakami is the Chief Business Officer for the Nutrition Policy Institute and manages the Operations team. She has general oversight over contract and grant management, human resources, payroll, purchasing, travel and safety.

 

 

Dani-Lee

Dani Lee
MPH, RD

Dani Lee is a registered dietitian and public health nutritionist working to increase access to healthy and sustainable food. Her work at NPI focuses on early childhood feeding and federally funded food programs including the Special Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

Meirong Liao

Meirong Liao

Meirong develops and prepares budgets for NPI, as well as financial reports for grants and proposals. She is responsible for managing, planning, monitoring and administering budget and payroll functions.

Amanda Linares

Amanda Linares
MS

Amanda has worked with the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch (NEOPB) of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and now with NPI's Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation Unit. Her primary research interest is impact and outcome evaluation of various nutrition education interventions with low-income audiences.

Shelly Mandel

Shelly Mandel

Shelly manages NPI's data process and works with all of NPI's researchers supporting data entry, analysis and reporting.

Suzanne Martinez

Suzanna Martinez
PhD, MS

Suzanna’s research interests include investigating biological, behavioral, social and environmental contexts of health behavior among vulnerable child populations. Her approach to helping prevent chronic disease is by understanding how to improve lifestyle behaviors, namely sleep, nutrition and physical activity, among children and their families. Her long-term career goal is to conduct research that makes an impact on reducing health disparities in underserved communities.

Rita Mitchell

Rita Mitchell
RD

Rita has worked for over 30 years in the field of nutrition education, mostly for UC Cooperative Extension at Berkeley and Davis. Her community research interests have included food habits and dietary quality of minority populations in California and preventing childhood obesity. She has developed curricula and other nutrition education materials for adults and school children and is currently working on several NPI projects.

Alexis Narodovich

Alexis Narodovich
MPH

Alexis provides research and evaluation expertise for California's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-Ed) by managing the Education and Administrative Reporting System (EARS). She continues this work with NPI's Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation Unit.

Claudia Olague

Claudia Olague

Claudia has worked in the public health nutrition field for her entire career, first with the National Growth and Health Study and later at the Center for Weight and Health. She contributes to NPI projects in both the administrative and data areas.

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Hallie Randel-Schreiber
BA, MPH

Hallie works on the Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools and HEAL Zone evaluation projects. Her goals are to help schools and community groups use evaluation data to improve their healthy eating and active living efforts and to celebrate their successes at creating change.

Suzanne Rauzon

Suzanne Rauzon
MPH, RD, EP-C

Suzanne Rauzon integrates project/fund development and communication planning to achieve NPI’s mission and goals in her role as Director of Strategy. Her research interests are in food, physical activity, community health evaluation, and measurement using the population dose concept.

Carolyn D. Rider

Carolyn D. Rider
MA

Carolyn has devoted her career to improving the lives of underserved populations in California through evaluation and applied research. Her primary focus at NPI's Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation Unit is to provide overall project coordination and technical assistance for local health departments conducting impact and outcome evaluations of nutrition education interventions. She also provides research and evaluation expertise to the California Department of Public Health and other SNAP-Ed agencies.

Laura Ruben

Laura Rubin
MPH

Laura serves as the evaluation liaison to Kaiser Permanente's Northern California HEAL Zone communities. She works closely with the HEAL Zones to strengthen their strategies, support implementation and track progress over time. Her interests include using evaluation findings to inform current efforts and future initiative development.

 

Kimberly Schmidt

Kimberly Schmidt
CPA, MBA

Kim is responsible for NPI’s financial affairs including fiscal reporting, budget planning and capital financing. She works closely with the leadership team to monitor and plan resources to fulfill NPI’s mission, vision and strategic direction.

Sheila

Sheila Stern
MA

Sheila has done recruitment, interviewing, and cohort maintenance for research projects over many years. She is also an editor and writer, contributing to varied research materials.

rStrochlic

Ron Strochlic
MS

 

Ron works to promote a more equitable and sustainable food system. Areas of interest include policy and systems change to increase access to healthy food in low-income and immigrant communities and promoting improved diet, nutrition and health among agricultural workers. Ron enjoys opportunities to conduct fieldwork and community-based research. He has lived and worked in Central America and is fluent in Spanish.

Betty Sun

Betty Sun
MS, RD

Betty is an evaluation specialist working in NPI's Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation Unit. She works with local health departments on policy, systems and environmental change evaluation and provides technical assistance, training and evaluation support to the Communities of Excellence in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention (CX3) project.

Evan Talmage

Evan Talmage

Evan has worked with the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch (NEOPB) of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) since 2009, and with NPI's Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation Unit since 2015. His primary research interest is process evaluation for California SNAP-Ed nutrition education interventions.

Laura Vollmer

Laura Vollmer
MPH, RD

Laura contributes to NPI's work on drinking water, food security and the charitable food assistance system, and the impact of community nutrition and physical activity on children's health.

Karen Webb

Karen Webb
PhD, MPH, BSc

Karen’s primary research interests are food insecurity, charitable food assistance, obesity prevention, food system changes that incorporate population health and environmental protection objectives. Additional research interests include nutrition epidemiology and nutrition surveillance, nutrition program planning and evaluation in communities, dietary assessment methods, technical assistance to field and mentoring students and young evaluation researchers.

Gail Woodward-Lopez

Gail Woodward-Lopez
MPH, RD

Gail's research focuses on the evaluation of school- and community-based programs and policies that aim to reduce obesity, improve dietary intake and/or increase physical activity. She also leads or participates in other activities (literature reviews, expert panels, etc.) to inform program and policy directions concerning obesity, nutrition and physical activity.

Affiliated Researchers

Barbara Abrams

Barbara Abrams
DrPH, RD

The focus of Barbara Abrams’ research is on weight in women during pregnancy, postpartum and menopause. She is currently leading a study of inter-relationships between early life adversity, pregnancy weight gain, racial disparities, and obesity in women and their children. She is also involved in studies that investigate the contribution of maternal obesity, gestational weight gain and Black-White disparities in stillbirth, infant mortality and other adverse birth outcomes and in trials to prevent excessive weight gain and retention during pregnancy and postpartum.

Jen Falbe

Jennifer Falbe
DSc, MPH

Jen is a postdoctoral research fellow at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Her research focuses on identifying modifiable determinants of childhood obesity and developing and testing programmatic, policy and environmental interventions to prevent obesity. Dr. Falbe works with NPI staff on research studies, including one she is leading to evaluate the impact of a local ordinance to tax sugar-sweetened beverages.

Barbara Laraia

Barbara Laraia
PhD, MPH, RD

Barbara's research focuses on the influence of contextual level effects on dietary intake, cardiometabolic risk factors and pregnancy outcomes, especially among vulnerable populations. Contextual level effects refer to the household food environment, namely household food insecurity, as well as the neighborhood or built environment measured as one's food, physical activity and social environment. Her research focuses on pregnant women, children and adults with diabetes. Her research includes surveys, direct observation of neighborhood attributes, data collection using anthropometric, questionnaire and a number of dietary intake approaches.

Tashera

Tashara Leak
PhD, RD

Tashara is a postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, under the advisement of Dr. Barbara Laraia. Prior to coming to UC Berkeley, she worked as a WIC nutritionistconducted community-based participatory and intervention research, and interned with the USDA/ARS Food Survey Research Group that oversees the dietary component of NHANES. She is currently working on Dr. Laraia's NIH/NICHD NGHS follow-up study. Her research addresses diet-related disparities experienced by low-income, ethnically diverse children and adolescents. 

Kristine Madsen

Kristine Madsen
MD, MPH

Kristine’s research focuses on identifying policies and programs to promote physical activity and reduce obesity and weight-related health disparities. She has conducted interventions in both the clinical and community setting with hundreds of children and their families, with a focus on low-income families, and has developed techniques that yield consistently high recruitment and retention in her studies. She has developed strong academic-community partnerships with multiple organizations, including health departments, public health clinics and community-based service organizations. Her research team has measured physical activity using accelerometers, pedometers and structured observation (SOFIT and SOPLAY) in thousands of children and adolescents. She mentors undergraduate, masters and doctoral students, as well as postdocs and fellows, and is committed to supporting our next generation of researchers and practitioners working to address obesity.

nRojas

Nadia Rojas
MPH

Nadia has devoted her career to improving the health of underserved communities. The goal of her work at NPI is to contribute to research that will help influence policies to reduce health disparities in underserved populations. She contributes to several NPI projects related to exercise and nutrition.

Hannah Thompson

Hannah Thompson
PhD, MPH

Hannah's primary research interests are in increasing access to quality physical activity and physical education programs in schools and communities. She contributes to several NPI projects, including Kaiser Permanente's Thriving Schools and Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) projects and the USDA/San Francisco Unified School District's Lunchroom Redesign evaluation.

Folasade Wilson-Anumudu

Folasade Wilson-Anumudu

Folasade's primary research interests include global nutritional health and food insecurity. She is a student in UC Berkeley’s Public Health Nutrition Program. She currently contributes to NPI’s National Growth and Health Follow-Up Study.

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