ANCE Speakers

Developing Recipes for Brands, Blogs, and Books

Laura Ali, MS, RDN, LDN

Laura is an award-winning registered dietitian and culinary nutritionist. She specializes in food and nutrition communications and recipe development. She loves helping people find simple and delicious ways to incorporate healthy foods into everyday meals.

Laura loves showing how good food and nutrition can help us age gracefully, allowing us to live vibrant, active lives. Through nutrition-related articles, virtual cooking classes, and easy recipes and tips she showcases how easy it is to prepare healthy, delicious meals.

She is the author of the book, MIND Diet for Two, a cookbook with 65 recipes for two people designed to boost brain health.

Laura has over 30 years of nutrition experience, having worked in clinical, retail, and the consumer-packaged goods industry. She received her master’s degree in nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton.

A longtime history buff she loves learning about food history and experimenting with old family recipes. On weekends you’ll find her exploring local food shops, restaurants, and wineries with her husband.

Nutrition Starts at the Farm: Healthy Meals from the Ground Up

Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Award winning registered dietitian nutritionist, Neva Cochran, is a nutrition communications consultant in Dallas, Texas, who partners with food, nutrition and agricultural organizations to promote positive, accurate, scientific-based nutrition messages so people can “eat beyond the headlines” and enjoy eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods. She currently serves as a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Speakers Bureau and as a volunteer Animal Agriculture Alliance Ally.

Neva brings a broad range of professional experiences to enhance her nutrition and communications skills. She taught the nutrition classes for an outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program for 13 years, was Program Coordinator for the Consumer Services Division of the Associated Milk Producers, Inc., an instructor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the Texas Woman’s University and a clinical dietitian in two hospitals. She has also been a nutrition writer for Maximum Fitness, The Female Patient, First for Women and Todays Dietitian magazines, a contributing writer for two editions of The Competitive Edge: Advanced Marketing for Dietetics Professionals and authored or co-authored five peer-reviewed journal articles.

Active in her professional organization throughout her career, Neva currently serves on the Philanthropy Council of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Foundation and as an Honorary Advisory Board member of the Texas Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Foundation. She recently completed her year as Dietitians in Business and Communication Dietetic Practice Group (DBC DPG) Academy Foundation Fundraising Chair after serving two years as Secretary of the group.

Human Milk and Formula Preparation in a Hospital Setting

Whitney Duddey, MHA, RD, LD

Whitney Duddey, MHA, RD, LD is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and Clinical Manager within the Nutrition Therapy division of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) working directly with the Nutrition and Dietetics Technicians, Registered (NDTR) and the Human Milk and Formula Center (HMFC). Whitney’s passion is supporting the people and processes that provide direct care for our patients. While at CCHMC, she has overseen the centralized storage and preparation of all human milk for the inpatient population, relocated the operation to a state-of-the-art lab, and implemented a human milk analysis program. Whitney has ten years of nutrition management experience. Prior to arriving at CCHMC, she served as the Clinical Nutrition Manager and Dietetic Internship Director at University of Kentucky Hospital and Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH) in Lexington, KY, where she supervised the Clinical Dietitians, created the Feeding Tube Placement Team, and oversaw the opening of the Infant Nutrition Center. She earned her bachelor degree in dietetics and her master in health administration from University of Kentucky. Whitney is an active volunteer with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is the proud mom to a strong-willed kindergartener and an easy-going 9-month-old.

A Dietitian’s Guide to Gender-Affirming Nutrition Care: Education,
Counseling & Clinical Considerations

Drew Hemler, MSc, RD, CDN, FAND

Drew Hemler (he/him) is an internationally accredited, award-winning registered dietitian with 15 years of collective experience providing nutrition education & counseling services in academic, community, non-profit, corporate, public event & private practice settings. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Drew respects diversity in gender identity & uses gender-affirming, strengths-based approaches in everyday nutrition education & counseling.

Drew serves as a Lecturer for Buffalo State University; as a Consultant & Service Provider for Microsoft & TELUS Health Canada; and as an employee wellness program provider throughout the US & Canada.

He celebrates dietitians in all areas of practice & is a proud Fellow of our Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Cultivating Health: Exploring the Vital Link Between Agriculture and Human Nutrition

Nikki Putnam Badding, MS, RDN, LD

Nikki Putnam Badding is a registered dietitian and the director of human nutrition initiatives at Alltech, an agri-food multinational. Nikki is also an ‘intrapreneur’ – she founded, and is now the managing director of Acutia, a human health and wellness subsidiary of Alltech.

In her role at Alltech, Nikki helps farmers and producers across the globe utilize consumer trends and behaviors and apply the lens of human nutrition to agricultural practices for the improved health of plants, animals and consumers. At Acutia, she oversees the organization’s business strategy, company-wide operations and dietary supplement product development. 

Nikki is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Liaison for its practice group, Dietitians in Business and Communications. She is also active in the Women in Food and Agriculture mentorship program and a member of Women in Nutraceuticals. 

Nikki has in-person international business experience in over 25 countries and currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, her 3-year-old and 1-year-old sons and two cats. 

From Local to Global- The Impact of Kentucky Agriculture

Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RDN, LD, FADA, FAND

Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RDN, LD, FADA, FAND is Founder and Principal, The AgriNutrition
Edge, providing strategic counsel and communication strategies for food, nutrition and ag
organizations across the food value chain. Marianne is a 6 th generation farm owner, speaker, facilitator
and produces the monthly Meet Met at the Table blog and The AgriNutrition Edge Report newsletter.
She is serves on the Board of Advisors for Curious Plot, a Minneapolis based food and agriculture
marketing and public relations firm. Marianne is also an assistant Adjunct Professor, Department of
Human Nutrition & Dietetics, at the University of Kentucky.
Prior to founding The AgriNutrition Edge, Marianne served as Senior Vice President, Nutrition & Food
Safety Communications for the International Food Information Council (IFIC) in Washington, DC. Before
joining IFIC, she was the owner of MSE and Associates, LLC providing strategic nutrition and foodservice
consulting services for the food and healthcare industry.
Marianne is a former president of The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and a member of the Institute
for Food Technologists (IFT) and the American Society for Nutrition (ASN). She is a co-author of over 35
peer-reviewed publications, 2 books and a member of the Board of Editors for Nutrition Today.
Marianne served two terms on the USDA National Research, Extension, Education, & Economics
Advisory Board, the advisory board to the Secretary of Agriculture. She is currently a CARET delegate
from the University of Kentucky and serves on the National CARET Executive Committee as the liaison to
the Board of Health & Human Sciences. Marianne is the current Board Chair, Foundation for Healthy
Kentucky and served on The Hunger Initiative Task Force.
Marianne holds a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from the University of Kentucky where she was
a former member of the Board of Trustees and a past president, UK Alumni Association. Marianne was
recently inducted into the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment 2024 Hall of Distinguished
Alumni Class. She has a master’s degree in public health-nutrition from Western Kentucky University and
earned a certification in Appreciative Inquiry from the Weatherhead School of Management, Case
Western Reserve University.