ANCE Speakers 2023

Sports Nutrition Challenges and Solutions

Marie Spano, MS, RDN, CSCS, CSSD

Marie A. Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD, is a nutrition communications expert and one of the country’s leading sports nutritionists. She works with athletes of all ages helping them improve performance, recovery and return to play after injuries. Spano is the former sports nutritionist for the 2021 World Series Champion Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Thrashers, Chicago Cubs and Blackzillians. She has appeared on NBC, ABC, Fox and CBS affiliates, and authored hundreds of magazine articles and trade publication articles and is the lead author of Nutrition for Sport, Exercise and Health (Human Kinetics Publishers).

Healthier Kidneys Through Your Kitchen: Earlier Nutrition Intervention for Chronic Kidney Disease – A VA Innovation

Rebecca Schlueter, RD, LD

Becky Schlueter, a native New Englander, is a Registered Dietitian and the Chief of Nutrition & Food Services at the Lexington, Kentucky VA Health Care System. Becky serves as Co-Chair for the VA’s “VAntage Nutrition” blog within the Marketing and Nutrition Informatics Subcommittee and the Education & Professional Oversight Committee for the VA. Prior to her current role, Becky worked as the Clinical Nutrition Manager. She has experience in the outpatient nutrition clinic where she specialized in behavior change counseling and motivational interviewing. She holds a certificate of training in Adult Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Becky has a passion for prevention and is a Gold Status Fellow through the VA’s Innovators Network/Diffusion of Excellence Program. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and three kids, Charles, Reed, and Eleanor. When she can, Becky loves taking time for a run or cozied up with a good book.

The Farm Bill: Implications for the Food System and Dietetic Practice

Christina Badaracco, MPH, RDN, LDN

Christina Badaracco works as a healthcare consultant at Avalere Health, where her focus is on evidence generation, quality measurement, and elevating the role of nutrition in healthcare. She also regularly writes, teaches, and presents about nutrition, cooking, and sustainable agriculture—including publishing The Farm Bill: A Citizen’s Guide in 2019, publishing five cookbooks with the Transamerica Institute, and co-developing a culinary medicine elective at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. Christina previously worked for the EPA, Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, Oakland Unified School District, NIH Clinical Center, and more. She currently serves on the board for Slow Food DC, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Farm Bill Task Force, the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative’s nutrition working group, and other organizations. She earned her Master of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley, and her bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, with a minor in Italian Language and Culture, from Princeton University. She completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital and was selected as a 2021 Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Read more about her experience and past publications and presentations at

Case Presentation: Filling nutritional gaps from an elimination diet for Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Alison Cassin, MS RD CSP LD

Alison Cassin is a board certified specialist in pediatric nutrition, specializing in the nutritional management of eosinophilic esophagitis and food allergy at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She serves on the Medical Advisory Board for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team, and has written and presented on the nutritional management of food allergic disorders and was the recipient of the Melanie Hunt Dietitian of the Year award in 2018.
Prior to joining Cincinnati Children’s, Alison was a bench chemist in research and food industry, she left the laboratory to pursue Master’s degree in Nutritional Science from the University of Cincinnati. For this reason, Alison brings a unique perspective to nutrition counseling, specifically regarding food ingredients, manufacturing processes and culinary applications.

Food-Drug Interactions: Asserting our Role as RD’s

Lauren Roberson, PhD, MS, RD, LD

As researchers, we have an exceptional opportunity to affect change for large groups of people. That is powerful. It is both my ethical responsibility and calling to impact health behavior change through lifestyle interventions and social marketing campaigns. As such, I am both a communication and a nutrition scholar, having experience in both fields. I utilize communication as a tool to raise awareness and facilitate positive behavior change with regard to healthy eating and physical activity. 

When I entered healthcare as a clinical dietitian, I was in awe of the protocol in Westernized medical practice to give patients a serious, life-altering diagnosis and discharge them home with a packet of papers with the expectation that they could manage their condition. Time and again, patients were readmitted for exacerbating one condition or another. This realization drove me to pursue my PhD in Health and Strategic Communication as communication was the part of my training that was lacking. I have been practicing as a Registered Dietitian for 8 years. During that time, I have developed a passion for intervention development, implementation, and evaluation. I have taken doctoral-level classes in evaluation and assessment and recently pilot-tested my own intervention for the Elderly Nutrition Program in Kentucky. I am working with contacts at the Department of Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) and Administration on Community Living (ACL) in Frankfort, KY to write a proposal for the Innovations in Nutrition Programs and Services – Research grant to replicate this program as outcome results were positive. I have worked with diverse populations, most notably the low-resource population and older adults. 


For the last two and a half years I have run the Nutrition Program at Murray State University. I have taught twenty-plus different nutrition classes spanning the scope of both the DPD and MSDI programs; onboarded and managed faculty; advised students; chaired and served on honors and master’s theses committees; and have diversified recruitment efforts. Teaching is one of my great joys in life. I work hard to empower my students to reach their full potential and to achieve academic accolades. In my opinion, sometimes a little care, concern, and humanity can go a long way in the classroom. It is my lifelong goal to build others up, whether that be my colleagues, students, or community members. I have been given an awesome opportunity to make an impact. For that, I am grateful. 


I have ten years of interdisciplinary research experience. I have collaborated on several projects to improve the nutrition and health status of women with gestational diabetes, low socioeconomic status Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients, those suffering from opiate addiction, and older adults. Recent research has centered around nutrition interventions for collegiate athletes, promotion of the safety and efficacy of vaccines, utilizing Appreciative Inquiry to inspire community members to adopt health practices in order to promote longevity, and the influence of hydration on nutrition status. Likewise, I have served as logistical coordinator for a diabetes grant. We strived to screen 1,000 Kentuckians for pre-diabetes and diabetes with our funds. We offered free A1c screening and retinal imaging to at-risk populations, including Hispanics, African-Americans, older adults, and those of low socioeconomic status. Throughout my scholarship journey, I have built rapport with a wide variety of community partners, some of which have included: Baptist Health Lexington, Kentucky Diabetes Coalition, farmers markets across Kentucky, health departments across Kentucky, Lions Club International, Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Department of Aging and Independent Living, Northern Kentucky Area Development District, senior centers, and cooperative extension offices around the state of Kentucky. A team-oriented approach is essential to addressing multifaceted health issues such as nutrition status. 


While teaching pharmacology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, I became increasingly aware that our discipline lacked an up-to-date resource over drug-nutrient interactions. Existing textbooks are geared towards nursing, pharmacy, or medicine. Diet can have a significant impact on drug metabolism (pharmacokinetics). Likewise, drug side effects can seriously alter nutrition status and corresponding lab values (pharmacodynamics). To fill this gap, I have been working on collecting formative data and will begin a publication in conjunction with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Our goal is to make a pocket guide that is also available electronically. The pocket guide should be the “go-to” resource for dietetics students and practitioners. I have conducted focus groups and surveys with dietetics students, educators, and practitioners nationally. Moving forward, my co-editor and I will use a bottom-up approach to develop a tool that is current, evidence-based, and accessible. I am excited to see where this project will go. 

Creating Value for Dietitians

Aaron Schwartz, MBA, MS, RD, LD

Aaron Schwartz is a Registered Dietitian that works in the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition as the Dietetic Internship Director, Director of Undergraduate Studies, and Lecturer. Previously, he gained three years of experience working as a Clinical Dietitian. Aaron has over three years of experience working with CDR as a member of their Item Writer Panel, writing and leading professional practitioners in writing and evaluating items for the RD Exam. Aaron has Master of Science in Dietetics Administration as well as a Master of Business Administration. He enjoys combining his passions of business, dietetics, and education.

Addressing College Student Food and Nutrition Insecurity in Kentucky utilizing Hunger Free Higher Ed Approach

Abbigail Hickey, PhD, RDN, LD

Abbigail Hickey, PhD, RDN, LD serves as an Assistant Professor in the Food & Nutrition Program at Eastern Kentucky University. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management & Dietetics from Western Kentucky University and completed her dietetic internship at University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital. She earned her Master’s degree and Doctorate in Nutritional Sciences from Auburn University where she served as the Coordinator of Nutrition Services in Health Promotion & Wellness Services. Her research interests include utilizing principles of Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) to systematically reduce college student food insecurity by building community capacity on college campuses. Since 2019, she served as an integral member of Hunger Free Higher Ed, a working group with the mission to multiple best practices through the use food security campus coalitions, including the initiation of campus food security coalitions at 29 colleges and universities in Alabama. She now serves at a co-founder of the EKU Food Studies Lab, a hub for interdisciplinary in food insecurity and food justice in Kentucky, and EKU Food Security Coalition.