Executive Committee 2020-2021



Maria Virginia Tijerina Walls, MS, NC

Vicky_Walls.jpgVirginia is a Mexican licensed dietitian with over 25 years of experience. She is a Ph.D. candidate on Management and Public Policy at The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), holding MS in Nutrition from The University of Oklahoma and a Specialization in Comprehensive Evaluation of Social Development Programs at the National Institute of Public Health in México. She earned a BS on Nutrition from The Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon (UANL). She is the former Communication Manager of the Mexican Observatory of Noncommunicable Diseases (OMENT) in Mexico. She is founder and director of Nutrien Nutrition & Health, a food and nutrition consulting agency. She has been a professor at several prestigious universities at undergraduate and graduate level in Mexico, including UANL and Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. She was President of the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (IAAND), Country Representative of Mexico, and Country Representative Chair from the same organization. She was also Nominating Committee-Chair at LAHIDAN (Latinos and Hispanics in Dietetics and Nutrition). In 2015, she was honored with the Outstanding Dietitian of the Year Award from IAAND and the Excellence in Professional Development distinction by The Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon. She is an international speaker and her main research interests are public health nutrition and food nutrition policy as well as childhood obesity prevention.


Andie Lee Gonzalez, PhD, MPH, RDN, LD, FAND

Headshot_1-_WHITE_SIT.jpgAndie Lee Gonzalez’s career with H-E-B started 6 years ago as a regional registered dietitian for the Border. She now serves as a medical sales representative for H-E-B Nutrition Services. As a medical sales representative she helps build on H-E-B’s nutrition services offerings, maintains relationships with physicians, health care providers and employers, and serves as a spokesperson for nutrition education and health and wellness for the Border and Gulf coast region.  

Andie is a native to South Texas and former La Joya ISD graduate. As a first-generation Latina college student, she received her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics, completed her Dietetic internship rotation program and her Master’s in Public Health, with an emphasis in nutrition, from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She then completed her Doctorate in Philosophy in Organizational Leadership Studies from Our Lady of the Lake University in 2018. Through her experiences Andie has developed a strong purpose and passion for community and nutrition. She has found that working toward improving the community's health and wellbeing is an incredibly fulfilling responsibility and goal of hers. Andie's background encompasses a range of diverse experiences; from academia, research, community, working with diverse populations, serving in national public health service, management experience and clinical nutrition services are just a few. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, serves in the executive board for the Latinos and Hispanics in Dietetics and Nutrition group, serves as a delegate for the Texas Academy of Nutrition, a liaison for the Rio Grande Valley Dietitians chapter and a member to La Joya Catholic Daughters of the Americas are a few roles she serves to support her intentional purpose in advocating health and education in our community.

In her spare time, her joy is spending time with her husband Ricardo, daughter Aolani, son Arturo, and extended family. She is a highly motivated Latina who values family, hard work, and serving others.

Past Chair

Janine Ricketts-Byrne, MA, RD, LD

janine_ricketts_byrne_pic.jpgJanine Ricketts-Byrne, MA, RDN, LDN has been practicing in dietetics for over 30 years. She worked in Diabetes Education of multidisciplinary healthcare teams addressing the prevalence of diabetes among the Hispanic population. Recruited Hispanic RDN's to serve as Spokesperson to enhance Hispanic representation focused on diabetes specialization. As ACEND staff, she worked at ensuring implementation of high academic standards and competencies to prepare dietetic students to become successful and culturally sensitive registered dietitians. She served on the Ad-Hoc Committee of Hispanic-Serving Programs and Education.

Janine coached clients to help them discover and overcome their personal barriers, and facilitate individuals to develop objectives with measurable outcomes using behavior modification and motivation techniques. She has conducted power employment workshops, facilitated resume writing workshops and disseminated instruction materials, and provided volunteer networking opportunities and accountability support.

Janine encourages RDNs to pursue specialties that elevate our profession and consider the functional medicine aspects culturally rooted in Hispanic traditions and culture. Building a private consulting business for organizations marketing to Hispanics, she creates welcoming environments that enhance understanding, acceptance and multicultural collaboration and leadership.


Jordan Griffing, MS, RD, CNSC

Jordan Griffing received her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Nutrition Sciences at Baylor University and went on to obtain her Certified Nutrition Support Certification (CNSC) in 2017. She has been a Registered Dietitian for 5 years and is currently working in her dream position as a NICU dietitian at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, TX. Being a part of LAHIDAN has been instrumental in her cultural competence, working predominantly with Hispanics in South Texas. Jordan has experience in both inpatient and outpatient settings, community nutrition outreach, undergraduate teaching and precepting interns. When not at work she can be found playing video games with her husband and spending time at home with her dog and guinea pigs. She is very excited and eager to return for her second year as Secretary for LAHIDAN.


Diana Licalzi Maldonado, MS, RD

Licalzi__Diana_Headshot.jpgDiana is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s in Nutrition Science, and is currently working towards becoming a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). Originally from Puerto Rico, Diana is dedicated to helping the Hispanic community meet their nutrition and health goals. She co-founded Reversing T2D, an online platform that provides nutritional guidance for individuals with pre- and type 2 diabetes. Last year, Diana also became very passionate about empowering women to have healthy pregnancies without alcohol. After noticing a gap in the market, she co-authored the book, Drinking For Two: Nutritious Mocktails for the Mom-to-Be, where she provides women with prenatal nutrition information and over 45 non-alcoholic drink alternatives healthy for both mom and baby. Diana also has experience working as a Dietitian at Boston Medical Center, InsideTracker, and UC San Diego Health.


Nominating/Awards Committee 2020-2021


Committee Chair

Marianella Herrera-Cuenca, MD, MSc, PhD

Marianella Herrera is a physician expert in nutrition epidemiology, who graduated from medical School at Central University of Venezuela (UCV). She holds a Master and a Doctorate in Human Nutrition, from Simón Bolívar University in Caracas where she graduated with honors. She was trained in epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health and recently completed the Harvard John F Kennedy School of Government Executive Program: Applying Behavioral Insights to the design of Public Policies. She is an Associate Professor and Researcher at Center for Development Studies at UCV and is the chair of the Department Development and Health. She is and has been the Principal Investigator for several studies related to food security, nutrition, obesity, energy balance and the double burden of malnutrition and has been able to interact with policy makers and government agents in Venezuela, Latin America, the USA and Europe regarding these topics. Her research interests are social inequities and their associations with chronic diseases and design and conceptualization of public policies for improving population lifestyle, and more recently management of humanitarian responses. She has been making an emphasis in food and nutrition public policies and early prevention strategies of nutrition associated diseases. She has also been a leader in projects along with World Food Program, UNICEF and OCHA in finding solutions for the food insecurity crisis in Venezuela. Doctor Herrera has been lecturing nationally and internationally on those topics and has more than 60 peer-reviewed articles published. She was an invited professor and researcher during summer 2014 at KU Leuven in Belgium and she currently is the Chair of the Council on Research of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Nominating Committee Chair of the Latinos and Hispanics in Dietetics and Nutrition (LAHIDAN MIG) Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at the and is Past - President of the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (IAAND). Also, is a member of Fundación Bengoa Board of Directors and the president of the Venezuelan Health Observatory. Recently, she was the recognized as presenter on Wimpfheimer-Guggenheim International Lecture “ Food and Nutrition in Disaster and Humanitrian Relief” Lessons Learned from Syria and Venezuela, recipient of the Merit of Order “ Lya Imber de Coronil” by the Venezuelan Society of Pediatrics, recipient of the Excellence in Public Health and Community Nutrition Award from the Public Health and Community Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic (2017), the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Outstanding Dietitian of the Year (2018) and the FEDEAGRO merit award, related to integrative efforts in agrifood production with nutritional needs to the Bengoa Foundation team (August 2019). Dr. Herrera continues her research work in her native Venezuela, Latin America and the USA.

Committee Chair-Elect

Anita Davila, BS-NDTR

Anita_BH_Staff_Photo.jpgOriginally from Mexico, Anita Davila completed her didactic program in dietetics and bachelor of Food and Nutrition from the University of Alabama in 2015 and is soon finishing her Dietetic Internship through Utah State University. She obtained her Dietetic Technician credential in 2018 and was honored with the Recognized Dietetic Technician of the Year award by the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, in March 2019. Anita’s leadership experiences include: current DTR member of the Member Services Advisory Committee for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; current Membership Chair for Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine; past Student Membership Co-chair for DIFM DPG; and social media team member for North Suburban Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in suburban Chicago. Last Fall, Anita completed a year of AmeriCorps service employed as Nutrition Programs Assistant at Beyond Hunger, formerly the Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry in Illinois; she enjoyed working in public health and community nutrition. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks.


Communication Committee 2020-2021


Committee Chair

Luis Gonzalez, MS, RD, LDN

Luis_Gonzalez_Headshot.jpgLuis is an Account Coordinator at Eat Well Global, a highly specialized global nutrition communications and consulting firm. In this role he uses evidence-based information to empower global change agents in food and nutrition. He is also the creator behind @nutritionbyphoto and enjoys creating delicious food photography for social media. He has worked in a variety of settings, including long-term care facilities and food service management. Luis received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Florida International University.

Website Coordinator

Tatiana Velez Burgos, MS, RD, CPT

Tatiana Velez

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Tatiana first noticed a lack of Hispanic Dietitians in her community. As a Registered Dietitian, she aims to address the need to impact future nutrition leaders in serving Hispanic populations. Through her various professional experiences, she has interacted with a diverse group of individuals and has served the Latino/Hispanic community for over five years. Her long term goal includes bridging gaps and reducing diet-disease related disparities through her work in dietetics. It is her pleasure to be serving as a LAHIDAN leader, which is one step toward these goals.

More on her background, she received her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez and an M.S. in Analytical Chemistry from The Ohio State University. Later on, she received an M.S. in Human Nutrition from Drexel University and recently completed her Dietetic Internship at the VA Caribbean Healthcare System in which she was able to engage with the Puerto Rican veteran population. She currently lives in Puerto Rico and she enjoys weightlifting, martial arts, preparing home-cooked meals, going to the beach, travel, and playing with her dog.

Social Media Coordinator

Natalia Guzmán

NataliaBGuzman.jpgNatalia identifies as Salvadoran-American with her pronouns being she/her/hers. She received her Bachelor's degree in Nutritional Science - Dietetics from Rutgers University-New Brunswick.  Natalia is a graduate student and dietetic intern in the Rutgers University Entry-Level MS in Clinical Nutrition (a Future Education Model Graduate Program), which she will complete by the end of 2021.  She is involved in the program as the Vice President of the Student Dietetic Association.  Natalia is currently very interested in learning more about Women's Health Nutrition, Weight Inclusive Nutrition, and Public Health Nutrition. You can find her on social media engaging with other RD2Bes and Registered Dietitians. 

Newsletter Editor

Alejandra Amezola

Amezola_Alejandra.jpgAlejandra Amezola is an undergraduate student at California State University, Fresno. She is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree of Science with a concentration in Dietetics and Food Administration. After her undergraduate education, Alejandra will be seeking a dietetic internship and plans to sit for the board exam upon program completion, with the goal of obtaining the Registered Dietitian (RDN) credential. As an aspiring dietitian, Alejandra remains active in various professional dietetic organizations and practice groups. Presently, she serves as a Student Liaison for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Northern California State Coordinator for the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group (VN DPG), a Leadership Council member for the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN), and the upcoming Founder and President of the Student Vegetarian Association (SVA) at CSU Fresno. Alejandra’s primary areas of interest include sports nutrition, women’s health, GI disorders, and medical nutrition therapy. During her free time, Alejandra enjoys staying active, traveling with her loved ones, cooking plant-based meals, reading and writing, and keeping up with the latest nutrition research.


Mentorship Committee 2020-2021


Mentorship Coordinator

Violeta Morris, MS, RDN

Morris_Violeta.jpgVioleta Morris has been a LAHIDAN member for 6 years and was the recipient of the LAHIDAN Student FNCE® Scholarship in 2014. Was involved in the mentoring program as a mentee where she received career direction advice, guidance on applying for dietetic internships, job searching, and help with expanding her professional network. She wants to continue to pay it forward and be a role model and empower members as the new Mentorship Coordinator for LAHIDAN. Violeta will be working closely with Dalina Soto, Assistant Mentorship Coordinator, to foster the development of student and young professional members of LAHIDAN with the end goal of helping them broaden their horizons in the field and succeed. Students and young professional members are encouraged to fill out LAHIDAN Mentee Profile Form and more experienced LAHIDAN members that are interested in becoming a mentor should fill out the LAHIDAN Mentor Profile Form found on LAHIDAN’s website. Looking forward to another successful academic year and together we can make a difference, “juntos, sí se puede” (together, yes we can)!

A little about Violeta, she grew up in Indiana and went on to attend Michigan State University, majoring in Dietetics. Further, pursued her Master’s in Nutrition and Metabolism at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston with a combined dietetic internship. She is currently a Registered Dietitian Quality Coordinator at Abbott Nutrition in Columbus, Ohio. She started her career at Abbott in 2015 as a Pediatric Sales Nutrition Representative in Houston, TX.


Membership Committee 2020-2021


Committee Chair

Sara Carrión Perrone MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Sara PerroneSara Carrión Perrone has been a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Academy member for 22 years and has served as Sodexo Clinical Nutrition Manager 2 at HCA-Corpus Christi Medical Center since 2013. Sara has a vast knowledge in dietetics including adult and pediatric clinical nutrition, weight and diabetes management, community nutrition, breastfeeding promotion, teaching at the university level, and clinical management. Sara has been an incredible supporter of LAHIDAN holding numerous LAHIDAN Executive Committee positions including Past-Chair, Chair, Chair-Elect, Secretary, Regional Coordinator, Newsletter Editor and Mentor. Sara has also served in leadership capacities at the local and state levels. As President of the Corpus Christi Breastfeeding Coalition, Sara helped secure grant money to build a website aimed to serve breastfeeding moms in the Coastal Bend area. She has also volunteered her time to the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as Nominating Committee Chair, Scholarship Coordinator-South Region, Legislative Coordinator-South Region and currently serves as the Contributing Coordinator for the South Region.

Sara has held specialty certifications including Board Certified Specialization in Pediatric Nutrition (CSP) and Child and Adolescent Weight Management. She was also tapped as an expert content writer/committee member for the Commission on Dietetic Registration Specialty Exam in Pediatrics and was awarded the Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics designation in the spring of 2019.  In 2017, Sara received the Sodexo Cornerstones of Cares Award for Service: Patient/Resident Experience for her dedication to patients. She was also recognized as a Sodexo Clinical Subject Matter Expert helping to orient new Sodexo Clinical Nutrition Managers and Dietitians. Born and raised in Texas, Sara earned her Bachelor of Arts in Biology from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio and her Master of Science in Nutrition from the University of Incarnate Word, San Antonio. Sara lives with her husband David and daughter, Isabella, a new freshman at Texas A&M University College Station- Whoop! In her spare time, Sara serves as the Co-Treasurer of the Corpus Christi Aggie Mom’s Club and volunteers at her church.


Professional Development Committee 2020-2021


Committee Chair

Nancy Correa-Matos, PhD, RD, LDN

Nancy Correa-MatosNancy J. Correa-Matos, PhD, RD, LND is an Associate Professor in the Nutrition and Dietetics Program at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. She received her PhD in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. As a member of LAHIDAN, she collaborated in the Nominating Committee and the Mentorship program. She has many peer-reviewed publications and authored book chapters in nutrition and chronic diseases. She is a co-author in the book “Latino Food Lover’s Glossary”. With more than 30 years of experience as a clinical dietitian, teacher and researcher, her work has been focused in the relationship between dietary fiber and the prevention of childhood obesity in Latinos.


Diversity Liaison 2020-2022


Sandra Arevalo, MPH, RDN, CDN, CDE, CLC, FADA

Sandra ArevaloSandra is the Director of Community and Patient Education at Montefiore Nyack Hospital. Her commitment is to provide culturally sensitive health care and education to the most underserved and diverse families. She is a recognized national expert on Latino culture and health, health education, diabetes, pre-diabetes, nutrition, chronic diseases, obesity, lactation, and social determinants of health. Her work on prevention and treatment of obesity, lactation, and diabetes has been presented at various national conferences, and featured in national and international TV, including Telemundo and NatGeo, as well as in numerous printed media outlets, radio, and peer reviewed journals. She is a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. She has served as chair of various local and national professional organizations. Among her numerous nominations and awards are the Award of Excellence from NEP DPG for Best Nutrition Education Program (2012), the Award of Excellence from the National Hispanic Medical Association for her leadership in nutrition for Latinos (2013), Mom On A Mission, next to Michelle Obama (2017), the Garden State Diabetes Educator of the Year Award (2018), and the Academy's Preceptor of the year award (2019).