Instructor Spotlight

Circled headshot of a RDN instructor

Steph Bryant, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: I live with my husband Eric, and seven backyard chickens! They don’t all have names (in case we decide to eat one) but we went through a Star Wars phase a while back and named a few of them: Hen Solo, Chew-bach-a, and Princess Lay-a. Very punny. We are also pseudo-parents to our housemate’s cat Max, a beautiful orange tabby.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I’m originally from Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. I’ve lived in Carrboro/Chapel Hill (right on the line) for the past 10 years.

Favorite way to be active: Running and walking are my go to forms of movement! I also like to hike, swim, and ride my bike when I can.

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? My dad was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes before I was born, so all my childhood memories of him include his struggle to be healthy. His diabetes impacted almost every part of his life, and he passed away when I was 18 years old. I am motivated to eat smart and move more so I don’t follow the same path as my dad. I want to be a good example for the rest of my family and friends, and live life to the fullest.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? Small, manageable changes are the key to being successful! It is so easy to get bogged down by all the ways you can change your lifestyle. Set yourself up for success by working towards one goal at a time, and really master it before moving on to the next.

How would you describe your teaching style? I love to teach with examples and analogies! The more folks can relate to the content, the more the material will stick with them long term. I’m a visual learner myself, so I try to use a lot of imagery in my lessons. I also believe that some of the best examples and strategies come from the students, so I usually pick on folks to share their own experiences. It helps keep a conversational tone and everyone stays engaged.


Chasity Newkirk, MPH, RDN, LDN, MCHES

Family, including pets: One active toddler, TJ

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? Garner, NC

What is your favorite way to be active?  Crossfit. During COVID, at home 30-minute high-intensity workouts and chasing TJ. I’m ready for warmer weather so we can go on daily walks outside.

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? My family and friends look to me for all their fitness and nutrition needs and advice so they motivate me to continuously set a great standard of healthy eating and physical activity. Also having to cook food for my child makes me want to eat healthier so that he will grow up loving a variety of fruits and vegetables.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? This program works, but not without you.


Becca Wright, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: 3 kids, Eaden, Elsa, and Mabel

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? Born and raised in Chapel Hill

Favorite way to be active: Run because it is freeing and fun. It’s also a quick way to get a really good workout. Running always makes me feel better all day long.

Favorite moment teaching Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less: I just love when participants are engaged and tell me stories of what they are doing to eat smart and move more. I love hearing the success stories. I also enjoy doing the exercise breaks!

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? It’s Great – so many simple, realistic strategies to help you live healthier.

Why do you do what you do? Because I really like teaching and helping people become their best.

How would you describe your teaching style? I love teaching! I would describe my teaching style as a facilitator. While I love to share amazing things about eating healthy, I love to hear how participants use the strategies we talk about in class, share their success stories and challenges, and are motivators to others in class.


Lindsey Joe, RDN, LDN

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I am originally from Memphis, TN and now reside in Nashville, TN.

Favorite way to be active: My favorite way to be active is doing group-ex like Barre or Yoga, as well as walking or hiking with friends and family.

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? For me, I want to be able to do anything my heart desires, without limitations.  I experienced a frightening and potentially life-threatening situation on a speed boat once and if I had not been able-bodied and self-sufficient, it’s likely I would’ve walked away from that moment injured or possibly even not alive.

Why do you do what you do? I do what I do because I genuinely believe EVERYONE can build a life that brings them health AND happiness.  One doesn’t have to exist without the other – they can coexist together 🙂

Favorite moment teaching Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less: My favorite moments are always when we can laugh together in class.  We know that humor is an instant mood-lifter so I love smiling with my participants.  I also love giving them shoutouts when major milestones and accomplishments have been met.  It feels like a win for me too whenever they share their positive changes.

How would you describe your teaching style? My teaching style is fun and informative.  I never want my classes to feel like a school lecture that has lulled you to sleep rather than leaving you feeling inspired.  I recognize that the time you spend in class is YOUR time and I want to make it worth your while!


evidence based weight loss

Lauren Kruse, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: I have been married to my husband Travis for 15 years. We have three kids Connor (13), Molly (11) and Emery (8).  We also have yellow lab named Samson who is 2.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I am originally from Massachusetts.  I moved from MA to NC when I was 13.  I have now lived in NC a lot longer than I lived in MA, but I still love to go back to visit!

Favorite way to be active: I love exercise!!  I try to find a way to do it everyday!  Running has been my favorite form of exercise for years.  I have done 4 marathons and plan to run another one this year.  The nice thing is that my kids love it too, so it is really fun for us to do some races together!  I also love to take Samson for long walks, to go for family hikes and bike rides, and to do TRX and strength training videos.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? It works!!!  The healthy habits that you adopt during this program will last you a lifetime!

Why do you do what you do?  I love helping people become the healthiest version of themselves.  It is so great to be a part of my student’s healthy journey – to see where they started, observe the changes they made along the way and help celebrate all of their successes at the program’s completion!!

How would you describe your teaching style? I love my classes to be as interactive as possible!! I think it is valuable for students to learn from the instructor and their fellow classmates.


Adante Hart, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I get to see and talk to my mom and my friends who are all over the country every day!

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I’m originally from Miami, FL. I lived a significant number of years in Baltimore and consider it home too. 

What is your favorite way to be active? I love to walk, whether it’s at home, on a trail, through a city, or even on a treadmill if I can’t be outside. I tend to walk while on the phone, often without even realizing it!

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? Knowing that the future me can be healthy and have a better quality of life because of the conscious decisions I make when it comes to my health and well-being today.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? Achieving your health goals is like building a house. You don’t build it overnight and at the snap of a finger; the process happens over time, brick by brick, with the right tools at hand. Through ESMM, you get equipped with the tools and strategies for living mindfully and optimizing your own eating and physical activity patterns. You’ll also have opportunities to put those strategies into action each week. By the end of the program, you will be both equipped and motivated to achieve any health goal that you set!     


online weight loss

Jenelle Wass, MS, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: My family includes my husband, my daughter, a dachshund named Ruby, and a Westie named Penny.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I was born in Michigan, but I grew up in Asheville, NC. I love the mountains and try to get back as often as I can. My family is currently in Northeast Ohio.

Favorite way to be active: I love walking, whether it’s a stroll with my family around our neighborhood or a strenuous hike in the woods. Over the past year, I also started weight lifting. I enjoy feeling (and seeing) my body get stronger and able to lift heavier and heavier weights. I round it all out with yoga, which is as much mental as it is physical.

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? My family motivates me. Most of my extended family is overweight or obese. Many suffer from related chronic diseases. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with health, nutrition, and food because I myself struggled with my weight and because I wanted to learn how to help my family members live healthier lives. Now that I have a family of my own, I’m even more driven to be healthy and serve as a positive role model for my daughter.

Why do you do what you do? I like that I’m able to bring evidence-based information to participants and help them use it wherever they are in their individual journeys to better health. I love witnessing that “A-ha” moment when something clicks for them.

How would you describe your teaching style? Approachable. Passionate. A little silly.


Meredith Fine, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: My husband Johnathan and I have two children – William and Madeline. We also have a cat named Bama.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I was born in California, grew up near Annapolis Maryland, went to college in Blacksburg Virginia at Virginia Tech, then moved to North Carolina in 2003 for grad school at UNC-Chapel Hill. We lived in Durham North Carolina until August 2019 when we moved out to Colorado, where we live now.

Favorite way to be active: Anything outdoors – love to be outside on the trails where we live, hiking, biking, and swimming. I also stay active chasing two young kids around!

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? It is important to me to live a healthy lifestyle to set a good example for my kids to ensure they grow up in a healthy environment.

Why do you do what you do? I am passionate about motivating and encouraging individuals and families to learn how to make healthy lifestyle changes to improve their health and wellness and feel better overall.

How would you describe your teaching style? I try to have a good balance of humor while also keeping it real. I am honest and direct when teaching the information and will often share my own challenges balancing a healthy lifestyle – in real life. But I am also not afraid to laugh at myself along the way – like when I get out of breath doing a 5 minute move more activity during class – and try to keep the classes funny and encouraging.


Suha Najjar, MS, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: My husband and three sons.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I am originally from Brooklyn New York but have made Cary, North Carolina my home, after a stint of living in East Lansing, Michigan. I don’t miss the snow!

What is your favorite way to be active? I love some boot camp classes and have taken a new appreciation of different hiking trails. The scarier, the better. ☺  

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? I want to one day be a fun grandma! I love being able to keep up and stay active with my boys – kickball is our favorite. Sharing simple pleasures for generations to come helps put in perspective how important making healthy choices are in maintaining a good quality of life.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? Participate! Come to each class and share your thoughts. You never know who is learning through your tips for overcoming challenges. That peer-to-peer connection is invaluable. 


Elizabeth Strawbridge, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets:  I live in Durham, NC, with my senior pit/boxer mix Lola.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now?  Growing up, I lived in 3 countries and 5 states.  I came to NC for grad school (go Tar Heels!) and have stayed in the area, so after 8 years NC feels like home. I’m hoping to eventually recruit some of my family members to move here as well!

Favorite way to be active: I love to walk. In college I got involved with Team in Training and finished 3 half marathons as a proud race walker over the subsequent 5 years. My neighborhood has great trails, and I love early morning walks as a great way to start my day.

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? Like many others, it is my health that drives me to make smart behavior choices.  With a degree in public health, I’ve learned how important these behaviors are, even those that are seemingly small or insignificant. It all adds up!

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? That your health is worth it. That this class will help give you the tools to make long-lasting change, if you’re ready for it.

Why do you do what you do? I love talking about nutrition and healthy eating with others. I have had weight issues since childhood, and find that nothing helps more than a supportive group environment. I do my best to foster that safe space in my class, so it is a judgment-free place where we can lift each other up and work through any problems that arise.

How would you describe your teaching style? I try my best to be a group facilitator rather than teacher, allowing us to learn from one another rather than listen to a lecture during each lesson.


Cara Jenkins, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: Husband – Burt and 2 daughters – Avery (6), Caroline (3)

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I am originally from Eden, NC and I currently live in Durham, NC

Favorite way to be active: I love to take walks with my girls and be in the water playing with them.  But my favorite way to exercise is going to Burn Boot Camp.  It is fun, fast-paced, and always a great workout!

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? I know that in order to be my best self, I need to take care of myself, which means making healthy choices about what I put in my body and how I move my body.  I can be there for my family in the way that they need me if I am taking care of myself.  I also want to set a good example for my daughters to learn what taking care of their bodies looks like.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? It works!  Give it your best, be honest with yourself about what changes you’d like to make, make YOU a priority…and see what wonderful things can come!

Favorite moment teaching Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less: My favorite lesson is the Reduce Portions lesson because it is so eye-opening!  My favorite thing about teaching these classes is when participants share their success stories and we all celebrate with them!

How would you describe your teaching style? I have a laid-back style but I also pack a lot of information into a little amount of time. 😊 I love to tell stories and hear stories from participants.  And a joke or pun always seems to make it into the lesson.  Laughter is good for the soul! 


Emma Liu, MPH, RDN, LDN

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I’m from the Chapel Hill/Durham, NC area and attended UNC-Chapel Hill for both my undergraduate and graduate schools. (Go Tar Heels!) Now I live in Nashville, TN!

What is your favorite way to be active? I enjoy walking and hiking, especially being surrounded by so many state and national parks and battlefields. I have a national park passport, and I love being able to stamp my passport whenever I visit a new place!

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? Feeling good and being healthy! I’m one of those people that are afraid of the doctor’s office, so I try to do my best to avoid anything other than an annual checkup – and the best way to do that is to prevent what I can!

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? Find your motivation(s) for achieving your goal(s) and hold onto it! Then come to class and participate, because we’re all in this together. Finally, remember that it’s okay to have blips – we’re here to make progress towards achieving sustainable lifestyle changes, and every day is a new opportunity to make better choices!


Julie Kennedy, MPH, MEd, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: Husband DJ and three beautiful children: Abbey (12), Riley (10), and Jackson (7)

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I am originally from Winston-Salem, NC. I moved to Atlanta, GA for 12 years after I graduated from my undergraduate program at UNC and now I’m back in North Carolina living in Holly Springs.

Favorite way to be active: I enjoy running, tennis, hiking, and playing outside with my kids.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? I admire the evidence-based approach used in the Eat Smart, Move More program. All information, advice, and strategies given are always based on well-supported ideas.

Why do you do what you do? Several years ago, my oldest daughter and I were diagnosed with celiac disease. During the diagnosis process and even now living with a chronic autoimmune condition managed through diet, I have learned to value the incredible impact food can have on our lives. Working with people to help improve health outcomes through nutrition and activity helps me combine our firsthand knowledge of managing our disease, my nutrition education, and my passion for helping others!

How would you describe your teaching style? As a former middle school math teacher, I would describe my teaching style as energetic and interactive. After spending years and years trying to hold the attention of 8th graders during math class, I have learned to find creative ways to involve my audience. My goal is to create a learning environment that allows participants to feel comfortable to share their experiences and thoughts as well as grow together as a class.


Julia McQueen, MPH, RDN, LDN, CNSC

Family, including pets:  Husband Brian and kitten Reese Whiskerspoon

Where are you from originally and where do you live now?  Originally from Asheboro, NC and now live and work in Durham, NC

Favorite way to be active:  Love bootcamp style workouts, yoga, and hiking.  Also walk a couple miles daily as part of my commute and love waking up in the morning by walking.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be?  Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less is here to support you and your individual goals. Like all things in life, you get out of the program what you put into it!

Why do you do what you do?  I get immense satisfaction in working with adults on their healthy lifestyle goals and hearing about their successes and excitement.

Favorite moment teaching Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less: When participants help each other and work together to brainstorm solutions to a problem.

How would you describe your teaching style?  Approachable facilitator.


Kim Barrier, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets:  My family includes five people and a dog.  Bob, my husband of 22 years, Nathan, a college sophomore, Katherine, a high school senior and Rebecca a 6th grader.  And our dog, Koda, who is a lab-husky mix.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now?  I am originally from Elkins, WV but have lived in Durham, NC for the past 16 years.

Favorite way to be active:  Until just a couple of years ago my go to for physical activity was running but my joints let me know I needed to change.  So, I have switched to biking, swimming, Pilates and activity to enjoy the outdoors. 

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more?  A family history of heart disease is a strong motivator for me to eat smart and move more. But now that I have made it a lifestyle choice the feeling of strength it gives me is motivator enough.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? The Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less program provides wonderful personalized support to help you achieve your wellness goals.  Change can be challenging but take it one step at a time and be willing to try some new foods and activities.   I encourage you to view and pursue change as an investment in yourself and your future.

How would you describe your teaching style?  I would describe my teaching style as facilitatory.  I impart some diet and fitness facts during class and encourage the class participants to discuss and share their personal experiences.  Therefore, together the class can discover solutions and strategies that work for them in attaining their weight and lifestyle goals.


Karen Bean, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: My husband, Tom. 2 kids – Cooper and Sybil both teenagers. 2 ‘adopted’ cats Midnight and Lulu. My daughter has 3 fish and 2 frogs.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I was born and raised in Durham, NC where I currently live.

Favorite way to be active: Playing tennis – my son plays; occasionally we can play doubles with my brothers. Walking – great stress reducer. Yard work – I enjoy being outside (even in the summer heat). We just planted apples that we got at Lowes for $3. I am curious to see if they live and produce any fruit.

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? Being healthy. I learned in school there are certain diseases that are preventable and I want to prevent what diseases I can. I want to enjoy life. I want to be realistic and set a positive example for my family.

Why do you do what you do? I enjoy helping others and seeing participants learn how to make changes that enrich their lives beyond the scale.

How would you describe your teaching style? Motivational Interviewing. Hopefully encouraging participants to find their own ‘way’ to make behavior changes.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? Find what works for them and be realistic. Losing weight is ‘hard’ work but has great rewards. Moderation is a key. They need to mindful of all aspects of life – mental, physical, spiritual and social.


Laura Miller, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: My family is made up of my husband, Charlie, our daughter, Bari, our son, Rowan and the best bad dog there ever was, Eloise.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I am originally from the suburbs of Chicago and now reside in Durham, NC. I have also called Colorado Springs, CO, Ojai, CA, Seattle, WA, and Ann Arbor, MI home. 

What is your favorite way to be active? I love hiking and trail running and have recently gotten into strength training.

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? Definitely keeping up with me kids! They are both very young and have so much energy!

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? Get ready to participate! This class is really fun and the more everyone contributes to the class discussions the more we can all learn!

How would you describe your teaching style? I would say I am very enthusiastic and silly. 


Marina Pearsall, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: I have a husband, two girls, and two cats. 

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I’m originally from the Washington, DC area but now call North Carolina home.

What is your favorite way to be active? My favorite way to be active is walking. I try and walk every day outside, for both my mental and physical health. I also enjoy mowing the lawn and gardening. 

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? My kids motivate me to eat smart and move more, because I know they’re always watching me and I want them to grow up enjoying a healthy diet and lifestyle and see how much their mom enjoys being active. I also find that physical activity is essential for my mental health!

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? I would tell them that nobody is perfect and we can all learn something from every class (including me!). This program is about you and your goals, so find things that help you meet those goals even if it’s something “small.” Little changes add up fast!

How would you describe your teaching style? I’m very encouraging and want to listen more than I talk. I want to hear about your experiences and what you want to take from the class.


Carrie Reid, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: My husband Greg, and our three beautiful children: Harrison is 16, Gabriella is 14, and Landon is 12.  I also have two gray sibling cats, Shadow and Penny, both 5 years old (or is that 36 years in human years? 🙂

Where are you from originally and where do you live now?  I am from Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I spent all of my childhood.  After moving to Illinois, Indiana, Greensboro, NC, and Texas, I finally moved to Raleigh, North Carolina ten years ago, and enjoy the lovely climate and perfect location!

Favorite way to be active: I really enjoy my daily walks and jogs, especially when I do them with family or friends.  I also have been doing weight-lifting group fitness classes for many years now, and love lifting weights as a stress-reliever.  

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more?  One of the biggest motivators for me is the goal of maintaining my health for many years to come.  I also want to be in good shape to keep up with my children, while being a good role model for them.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? I think it is important to remember that if you have a bad day or days, and you aren’t as successful during that time period, you can always get right back into prioritizing eating healthy and being active.  It is never too late to start again, and you are worth it!

Favorite moment teaching Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less:  The best moments are when a person is achieving their goals, and being able to be a part of their journey, getting to help cheer them on to success. 

How would you describe your teaching style?  I like to stay positive, and make participants feel welcome and comfortable. 


Julia Nguyen, MS, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: My family includes me, my parents, my sister, and our cat, Eli

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky (Go Cats!). I moved to Raleigh in 2020 after I fell in love with the city.

What is your favorite way to be active: Definitely hiking or going on walks with my friends and family. NC has some awesome views!

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? I know that I eat smart and move more as a form of self care to take care of my body and mind. When I do, I notice that I feel happier. I am grateful that I am able to move my body and endure tough workouts or go on hikes to experience incredible views. As a result, I try to take care of my body so that I can continue to feel strong, powerful and live life to the fullest. 

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? This program is all about you and improving yourself! You get out of it what you put into it and we want to help you along the way. Not only are we here to provide information and resources to help you, but we are here to support and empower you all throughout the journey! 

How would you describe your teaching style? I try my best to be supportive, approachable, and create an environment where all participants feel welcome to share their experiences and tips so that we can all encourage each other.


Ellie Lawrence, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I grew up in a tiny town in central IL called Monticello.  It’s flat as a pancake and I miss running for miles and never going up a hill.  I live in Durham, NC and love it, even though I have to run up hills.  

What is your favorite way to be active? Running.  I started running at 11 and it just brings me joy, makes me feel alive, and it makes me feel free.  It’s a good reminder to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I also enjoy hiking, swimming, and really all things outdoors.  I’m bad at any sport that involves hand eye coordination, but I’ll play.  

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? My friends and family. I think that eating smart is more fun with others (come over for dinner) and I believe strongly that the best conversations happen on a run or walk.  

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? You Matter!  

How would you describe your teaching style? I’m a cheerleader. I want to see you succeed and I want you to know I believe you can do it.  

Why did you become a dietitian? I love food, I love people, and I love science.  It seemed like the perfect combination.  I love that good nutrition is self-care.  I love that by choosing good food and healthy movement, I’m also helping people choose a future they want.  


Michelle Bean, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: My family includes my husband and four kids, ages 21, 18, 15, and 11. We also have five pets, four cats (2 tabbies and 2 tuxedos), and 1 big (100-pound) dog!

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I’m originally from Colorado. I grew up in the mountains, and I miss snow! I came to North Carolina for grad school and met my husband. He’s from Durham, and we’ve lived in Durham for a long time. Even without snow, NC is a great place to live, and I still can’t believe that I’m only two hours from a beach! 

What is your favorite way to be active? I try to be active and exercise daily. I walk every day, and I run when it’s cooler out. I also enjoy hiking, and we love the Eno. I joined a gym about two years ago, and I thought that I wouldn’t like it, but I’ve enjoyed it a great deal. Of course, I can’t go often now, but I like setting small goals and reaching them, e.g. starting with 25 pounds on a weight machine and going higher! ☺  

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? There are so many reasons to eat smart and move more. Outside of the obvious, it is nice to be at your goal weight and fit into certain clothes, there are other important reasons. I have a good friend who has Rheumatoid Arthritis, and she treats it largely with diet. Watching her journey really drove home the point to me that diet can be so powerful, and even small changes can have profound effects on our health and well-being.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? I like how this program focuses on nutrition and on actionable goals that fit into daily life. A lot of people read about health and nutrition, but then what? How does it fit into a busy schedule? How do you make it work? How do you keep it up for a month, six months, a year? This is an opportunity to set goals, reach them, and fit it all into your life for the long term!


Kerry Jones, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: I live with my fiancé, border collie (Rory), and two cats (Arya & Izzy). 

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I grew up in Hanover, Pennsylvania, which is best known for being the home of Utz Potato Chips and Snyder’s Pretzels.

What is your favorite way to be active? I love hiking North Carolina state parks with my dog and fiancé. Before COVID-19, I also loved taking aerial yoga classes.

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? We only get one body, so it is so important that we treat it right by moving it regularly and fueling it with healthful foods. Remembering this motivates me to continue to eat smart and move more.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? It is important to remember that this program is not a fad diet. Instead, this program is the start of a lifestyle change to help you eat smart and move more. It will be hard at times, but the results of feeling better in your body and improving your health can be so rewarding.


Erin O’Hare, MPH, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: My fiancée, Matt, and I have two dogs named Haka and Savuti, and a horse, Cayenne.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I grew up in Connecticut and lived in South Carolina and Georgia before moving to North Carolina – I love NC and I think I am here to stay!

What is your favorite way to be active? I enjoy finding ways to move that do not involve a gym! I ride my horse most days, and my fiancée and I love taking the dogs on long walks at Duke Forest.

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? I want to be able to continue riding horses for as long as I can – it is what brings me joy! Queen Elizabeth II is my hero – she is still riding at 94!

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? The program is packed with so much wonderful information. If you are feeling overwhelmed, focus on the points that work for you, take it one step at a time, and always reach out for support – we are here for you!


Elizabeth Barnes, MS, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: My partner and I share a home with four cats!  Yes, that is a lot of cats but we love them. Suki, Toph, Chicken, and Squeaks are their names. 

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I grew up in Conyers, GA.  I moved to North Carolina about 15 years ago. I loved living in Georgia but I do not miss the summer heat! 

What is your favorite way to be active? My favorite way to be active is roller skating.  I love going to the skating rink. The sights, the smells, the sounds remind me of being a kid. It is so freeing to slap on some skates, jam to some music, and go fast! 

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? I am motivated to eat smart and to move more by a desire to maintain a good quality of life as I age. I want to be able to continue doing the things that I want to do no matter what age I am. 

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? Components of the program may be challenging at times, but you aren’t doing it alone!  You have a whole group of people going through the program with you. The group will be there to support, uplift, and encourage you through your journey.   


Cheryl Buckley, LDN, RDN, CDN, MS, MBA

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I’m originally from Buffalo NY and now reside in Charlotte NC 

What is your favorite way to be active? My favorite way to be active is anything physical and outdoors would be a big bonus – Love walking, hiking, biking or anything by the ocean.

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? What motivates me to eat smart and move more is how it makes me feel on a daily basis.  I have more energy and I feel good from the inside out. 

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? I am excited for you to begin your journey in this class as it will prepare you to make simple shifts with your eating that will impact your overall life for the better!     


Alicia Bicksler, MS, RDN, LDN

Family, including pets: I have an older brother, sister-in-law, and two nieces who live in Atlanta, GA. I have a younger brother, sister-in-law, and two fur-baby nephews that live in Los Angeles, CA. I’m very fortunate to have my Mom living in Raleigh not too far from me.

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? I’m originally from Baltimore, MD but have lived in North Carolina most of my life (with the exception of living an amazing year in Canada when I was in middle school). I currently live in Raleigh and absolutely love it. 

What is your favorite way to be active? I love going on walks with my friends it’s a great way to get exercise and catch up with them! I also love doing workouts classes like boot camps and boxing. 

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? I’m motivated to eat smart and move more because of my own personal struggles with obesity. Finding a balance and prioritizing my health has been essential to my own journey. I am also motivated to eat smart and move more because of my two nieces who keep me very busy! I love biking, hiking, and cooking with them. 

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? To take one step at a time, literally! Making small changes over a long period of time results in lasting change. Like the age-old saying, “Slow and steady wins the race.” Along with that, I would say don’t overwhelm yourself! 


Amber Benner, MS, RD, LDN, ACSM-CPT

Family, including pets: My husband James and I live with our twins Aubrey and Austin and two dogs Harley Quinn and Mad Max. We recently said goodbye to our cat Turbo after 18yrs but he lives on as a beautiful pink dogwood in our front yard. I also enjoy tending my hive of lovely ladies as an amateur beekeeper. 

Where are you from originally and where do you live now? Growing up I lived in several places including Hawaii, Miami, and North East Texas. I now call Raleigh, NC home and since my husband has informed me he has no intention of leaving the state we will likely raise the kids here. Although I miss the ocean.

What is your favorite way to be active?  Paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkeling basically anything on the water. I am also a former ballet and musical theater dancer and love to dance whenever I get the chance, which includes dancing with the Little German Band and Dancers of Raleigh.

What motivates you to eat smart and to move more? I became a personal trainer and dietitian because of my family history of type 2 diabetes. I believe in the power of prevention and wanted to learn everything I could to help myself and my family members.  Plus I feel so much better both physically and mentally when I’m active and eat fresh foods that I get cranky when I don’t get the chance to.

If you could tell participants one thing about the program, what would it be? Like most things, you get what you put in… This program is about you and your goals, I’m just here to facilitate and teach you the tools that will help you succeed. I’m all about having fun and enjoying life so I think it is important to choose goals that will help you do that. Eating smart can be enjoyable, moving more should be fun and this program will help you figure out how that fits your style.