2020 Awardees



Rory Caswell Pace, MPH, RD, CSR, FAND


 Acceptance Video 

Rory Pace has dedicated her career to Nephrology Nutrition, a field in which she is a leader, mentor, and patient advocate. After graduating magna cum laude from UC Davis with a degree in Dietetics, she completed a dietetic internship at the West LA VA Medical Center and a Master’s degree in Public Health at UCLA. She embraced the challenges of nephrology, developing expertise in CKD mineral and bone disorder, malnutrition, peritoneal dialysis, urea kinetic modeling, and fluid balance. Rory has published and presented on these and numerous other nephrology nutrition topics. She has helped to shape the practice of nephrology nutrition, serving as lead author of the 2020 AND/NKF Standards of Practice and Standards of Professional Performance for Nephrology Nutrition and as part of the work group for the 2014 revision. At the national level, Rory is serving a second term in the AND House of Delegates representing BAD and SVD and was recently appointed to the AND Council on Future Practice. She is currently Co-Chair of Delegates on the CAND executive board and is a member of the HR committee. Additionally, Rory has been an active leader and volunteer with the National Kidney Foundation and Girl Scouts of Northern California.

As Corporate Director of Nutrition Services at Satellite Healthcare, Rory has used her clinical and leadership experience to guide clinical practice for over 100 Nephrology Dietitians across the United States, implementing evidence-based nutrition practice in the care of over 8000 dialysis patients. She is a strong advocate for the role of nutrition in care of people with kidney disease and has been a key player in the development and implementation of numerous successful clinical initiatives.

Rory and her husband, James Pace are the proud parents of Sloane, 2018 Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen and sophomore Cal Golden Bear and Ethan, a high school junior.



 EVA Brzezinski, MS, RD, CDE

Eva is a Registered Dietitian who has been engaged with the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics San Diego District, serving in multiple positions.   At the state level she serves on the nominating committee. She will serve as chair in FY 20-21. She served as Area 1 coordinator for the Diabetes Care and Education Practice Group from 1997 to 1999 and was Ethnic and Regional Practice Series Chair from 1999-2001. This year she is a mentor through the Weight Management Practice Group Bariatric subgroup. Eva is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 1998 Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year, and 2015 Excellence in Clinical Dietetics award recipient. She has a long history of volunteerism and has contributed significantly to the field of Dietetics. 

 There is something called Tikkun Olam in Judaism that is close to my heart.  It means “an aspiration to behave and act constructively and beneficially.”  Working to make the world better. We do not live in a vacuum and I always felt that I was and that giving back was a way to thank G-d for what I was given.

 I want to thank the members of the awards committee for selecting me to receive this award. I also thank my husband Frank and my sons Szymon and Allan as they are supportive of what “mommy” does at work and outside of work.



Karmen Ovsepyan, MS, RDN

Karmen Acceptance Video

Karmen received both her Bachelor's and Master's degree from California State University Northridge (CSUN). Upon completion of her thesis project, implementing a five-week healthy eating summer curriculum for children ages eight through twelve, she realized that nutrition education/prevention was her passion. Soon after graduating from the CSUN Dietetic Internship program in 2012 and becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Karmen worked for the Network for a Healthy California Program and Glendale Unified School District Nutrition Department as a Nutrition Consultant, and then at Northridge Hospital - Center for Healthier Communities as a Project Coordinator, before heading back home to CSUN. Karmen has returned as a Part Time Faculty, Dietetic Internship Program Coordinator, and the Associate Director for the Marilyn Magaram Center for Food Science, Nutrition and Dietetics. In addition to her role on campus, Karmen is dedicated to the California Academy of Nutrition Dietetics,  Los Angeles District, where she had the opportunity to be part of the board in various elected positions in addition to leading the organization as President in 2016. Currently, Karmen is VP of Education for the CA Academy and a member of the Nutrition and Dietetic Educators and Preceptors helping “advocate for and empower educators and preceptors to lead the profession of nutrition and dietetics”. It has truly been a journey for Karmen and she is happy to be back home, mentoring future dietitians, and helping make a difference in the dietetic community.




Maureen Bligh, MA, RDN

Maureen Acceptance Video 

Maureen Bligh, MA, RDN, is Program Director, Marketing and Communications at Dairy Council of California. As a practicing registered dietitian nutritionist for 40 years, her passion for educating and empowering families and children to develop lifelong healthy eating habits remains strong. Maureen believes all children and their families deserve access to healthy foods and nutrition education to promote optimal growth and development while reversing childhood obesity trends. By working together, we can create healthier communities.

Maureen’s expertise includes developing nutrition education resources for children, families and health professionals; content marketing aimed at health professionals and educators; marketing and communications; translating the latest in nutrition science and making it approachable to all audiences; understanding the latest in nutrition and education policies; and leveraging the latest in education and behavior change theories to foster positive change.



Carol Berg Sloan, RDN, FAND

Carol Acceptance Video 

Carol Sloan is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and consultant with expertise in food and nutrition communications and food service management. Carol is the Health Research Director for the California Walnut Commission where she leads project implementation and oversees active research studies internationally and domestically. Carol also collaborates with the public relations and marketing departments to translate this scientific research for broader audiences, including consumers and health professionals.  She is also a freelance journalist specializing in delivering scientifically sound, realistic information all about food, nutrition and health. Carol currently provides a nutrition column for School News Roll Call and was nutrition editor for LA Parent Magazine for 20 years. She is nutrition consultant to several healthcare facilities in southern California and is a member of the Bayer Crop Science Leaders Engaged in Advancing Dialogue (L.E.A.D.) Initiative. Carol served two terms as a delegate to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She served on the Executive Board for the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is a member of many Academy Dietetic Practice Groups including Healthy Aging, Diabetes in Care and Education, Oncology, Research, Vegetarian, Food and Culinary and Dietitians in Business and Communications. She is currently the editor of the Nutrition Education for the Public DPG newsletter.  She is a member of the American Society of Nutrition, The Obesity Society, the American Heart Association, Institute of Food Technologists and American Association of Diabetes Educators and received both the Excellence in Private Practice, Business & Communications Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Carol serves as a preceptor to the Individualized Supervised-Practice Pathway Program at California State University, San Bernardino and the Master’s Dietetic Internship at California State University, Long Beach and she is a member of the Dean’s Council for the Department of Agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona. For more information about Carol: T: @CBSRD I: @carolbergsloan Living the Dream Nutrition: http://www.livingdreamnutrition.com/



 Kristine M. Smith, MS, RD


Kristine Smith is a registered dietitian and Senior Director of Nutrition Services at Neighborhood House Association (NHA).  Ms. Smith served eight years in the United States Navy, has an undergraduate degree in Dietetics from Kansas State University and graduate degree in Environmental Science/Human Nutrition from the University of Alabama.

Ms. Smith oversees a large food service and transportation department that prepares and delivers over 6,000 breakfasts, lunches, and snacks daily.  She leads a team of 26, including culinarians, transportation, and fiscal employees, and is responsible for an annual budget of over $3M.  Some highlights of her work include transforming the former heat-and-serve menu for preschoolers to one that is now made from scratch; instituting the agency’s Farm-to-Preschool program, which includes school gardens, serving seasonal produce on the menu, and a cooking experience program for preschoolers; serving as the lead to design a new commercial kitchen and administrative offices facility, and coordinated the relocation of the operation and staff four times; developing an enhanced catering menu which increased sales by 120% in one year; and creating a new program: the Culinary Education and Training Center, which will teach parents of the preschoolers how to cook healthy meals. Her work has been recognized by nutrition professionals at noteworthy institutions including Pew Charitable Trusts & the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, however, the top award for which she was a lead in obtaining at NHA, is from former First Lady Michelle Obama: the “Let’s Move Child Care” Recognition Award.   

In her spare time, she serves on the Education Committee for the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – San Diego Chapter, is Treasurer for her Home Owners Association, and is an Instagram Moderator for Stagram group Media.



Avtar Nijjer-Sidhu, Ph.D., R.D.


Avtar Nijjer-Sidhu, Ph.D., R.D., is a Clinical Program Manager for Health Net in which her goals are to 1) to improve member experience, 2) improve the quality of care and 3) to reduce health care costs.  Over her 17 years, Dr. Nijjer-Sidhu worked in clinical, community, and public health programs focusing on improving food access through implementation of farmers’ markets, community gardens, and corner store conversions.  In addition to creating healthy environments, Dr. Nijjer-Sidhu worked closely with city and county planners to develop health policies and zoning ordinances for walkable communities.  This allowed her to present at planning commissions and city councils on how chronic disease rates are directly related to the built environment.  She educated policy makers on the need for adopting policies that improved health.

Dr. Nijjer-Sidhu’s path to nutrition began with both her Bachelors of Science in Dietetics and her Doctorate in Nutrition from the University of California, Davis.  She completed her dietetic internship at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Dr. Avtar Nijjer-Sidhu would like to thank the Central Valley Dietetic Association for the nomination of this award and to CAND in the selection for this prestigious award.




The Humane Society of The United States c/o Lauren Pitts, MA, RD

Lauren Pitts is a registered dietitian with Forward Food, a program of The Humane Society of the United States. She is receiving the award on behalf of the organization.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) operates the only initiative that partners with the country’s largest foodservice companies, as well as individual institutions, on plant-based nutrition education, culinary trainings, menu development, recipe creation, and marketing with the goal of increasing plant-based options. The HSUS team of chefs and dietitians works with hundreds of K-12 schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, dietetic associations and other institutions all over the state of California providing trainings for foodservice leaders and clinicians, from hands-on learning events to plant-based professional development conferences. The trainings address the health and environmental impacts of food, ways of marketing plant-based foods, and strategies on recipe development. All of the resources provided by the HSUS are free of charge.







David Wiss, MS, RDN is the founder of Nutrition in Recovery, which specializes in: Addictions, Eating Disorders, Mental Health, Gut Health, Body Image, and General Wellness. Mr. Wiss works closely with individuals to help them revolutionize their relationship with food and has shared his expertise with numerous eating disorder and addiction facilities throughout the greater Los Angeles area. David is a published author and a nationally recognized expert in nutrition for addiction, currently working on his PhD in Public Health from UCLA.




Silva Bou Mjahed, RD – Silicon Valley District

Silva Acceptance 

Silva Boumjahed graduated from San Jose State University Suma Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics. Silva is passionate about science, research, and the field of Dietetics and is currently in the Master's program at SJSU. She was a guest lecturer for MNT classes at SJSU for the past 3 years.

As a Registered Dietitian, Silva started working as a Consultant for Nutrition Therapy Essentials in 2018. Aside from clinical work, Silva's job at NTE helped build her management and leadership skills. She also had the opportunity to serve as a preceptor to interns. After completing the Academy's Nutrition Focused Physical Exam Training, Silva helped train her colleagues on NFPE. In 2019, Silva started working as a Clinical Inpatient Dietitian at Kaiser. Furthermore, she had the opportunity to work with the interdisciplinary team in the Kaiser Bariatrics Clinic as well as the Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics focusing on gestational diabetes.


As a proud dietitian, Silva believes that strengthening and advocating for the profession is every RD's goal. She also believes that dedicated members should not merely ask or hope for change; they should work for it. To help contribute to the profession, Silva aspires to advance her knowledge, do research, and earn a doctorate degree in Nutritional Science. Silva is the current president of Silicon Valley District of CAND. Silva is grateful to be selected for the Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year Award. And she promises to continue to serve SVD, CAND and the Academy in fulfilling their mission to advance the profession and empower their members. 




                                         Marisol Ortiz, MS, RDN – Orange District


Marisol Ortiz is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, who currently resides in Santa Monica, California. She earned a Master of Science in Nutrition, Healthspan and Longevity from the University of Southern California. 

She credits her father, an Agricultural Engineer, for her passion in whole foods for health and well-being. Marisol’s mission is to create positive, tasteful and cultural culinary experiences that inspire others to include more plants – “one baby carrot at a time.” In addition to, cultivating sustainable practices that are good for the body and kind to the planet.

 When she isn’t experimenting in the kitchen, she can be found exploring the outdoors with her loved ones and/or checking out new plant-based restaurants.



Kelly Warner, MPH, RD – Los Angeles District

 Kelly Warner, MPH, RD, is a Public Health Nutritionist at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Nutrition and Physical Activity Program. In her role, she works to reduce the prevalence of obesity and diet-related chronic disease among low-income individuals and families through nutrition education, physical activity promotion, and policy, systems and environmental changes. Kelly assists with leading the County Nutrition Action Partnership (CNAP), where she coordinates collaborative efforts among community organizations to address root causes of obesity, including food insecurity and poverty. She serves as a preceptor to all incoming dietetic interns and is leading efforts to establish partnerships linking local health departments with state universities as a model for training future public health dietitians. Kelly serves as Chair for the California Conference of Local Health Department Nutritionists (CCLHDN) Policy Committee, which advocates for nutrition policies and programs at state and local levels, and acts in an advisory capacity to the California Conference of Local Health Officers. Kelly also serves as Co-President of the Los Angeles District (LAD) of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where she is responsible for the strategic planning, policy development and fiscal management of the local district representing nutrition professionals, interns and students in Los Angeles County. 

Prior to her role at the Department of Public Health, Kelly worked as a Clinical Dietitian at a community hospital serving a diverse population of low-income patients. Kelly received her Master’s in Public Health from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and completed her dietetic internship with the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. A double Bruin, Kelly holds a bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies from UCLA. 




Jacqueline Burke

Jacqueline Burke is a Central Valley native who was born in Fresno, California. Jacqueline graduated from California State University, Fresno with a B.S. in Food and Nutritional Sciences and a B.A. in Political Science. Currently, she is completing the dietetic internship offered at California State University, Fresno. Jacqueline’s internship experience is unique in that she interviewed and received a specialty pathway with Nutrition Therapy Essentials exclusive to one intern within the cohort. Her interests include nutrition research, policy analysis, and community outreach. Jacqueline served on the Public Policy Council as the Student Liaison for the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND) and continues to serve with CAND as the Public Policy Representative for the Central Valley District (CVD). Alongside the CVD Executive Board, Jacqueline is assisting in the planning of an in-district event to promote Public Policy. Jacqueline plans to pursue a career in nutrition policy and program development.




Jessica Gutierrez

Jessica Gutierrez is a future Registered Dietitian. Her passion and life experiences has given her the ambition to instill healthy dietary habits in people so that they can live life vigorously. Jessica graduated from Cabrillo College Spring 2017 and received an “Honorable Mention” while obtaining her Associates in Health Science/Community Health. Jessica completed her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from San Jose State University in December 2019. During her time at San Jose State, she was an active officer in the Nutrition and Food Science (NuFS) club.

Jessica is also very involved in her community. She volunteers at different facilities including Valley Harvest, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, Loaves and Fishes Community Garden, and Just in Time Food Bank. Jessica strives to stand out and to make a difference at any given moment. Volunteering has made Jessica feel very fulfilled as it has fed her appetite for promoting nutrition and wellbeing to the community. Jessica is currently living in Santa Cruz, CA and is in the Dietetics internship program at SJSU awaiting to be placed in an internship starting in Fall 2020.




 Ranier Castillo, ACSM-CPT

Ranier Acceptance 

Ranier attended California State University, East Bay majoring in Kinesiology, with an option of Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness. He had the privilege of assisting in research where he studied the effects of fitness on cognitive health. His work in his academics and research awarded him the 2017 Outstanding Student in Kinesiology Award during his time at East Bay. Currently, Ranier is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and is certified under ACSM as a certified personal trainer. Ranier was fortunate to have been admitted to University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, where he is currently working towards his Master of Science in Nutrition, Healthspan, and Longevity. During his time at his coordinated program, he has worked in various internship sites such as Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Torrance Memorial Hospital, and St. Jude Medical Center. Ranier is part of the Healthy Aging DPG, SCAN DPG, Oncology DPG, and Asian American and Pacific Islander MIG. He has written a handful of articles for some of these affiliates that covered multiple topics such as creatine supplementation for older adults, and health disadvantages among sexual minority adolescents. Ranier expects to graduate in May 2020. From there, he will take his CDR exam to become a registered dietitian in order to work his way up on becoming a food service director, and teaching future generations of prospective registered dietitians.



50year Members

Barbara L. Burger

Sue E. Dickey, MS, RD

Joyce Y. Ezaki-Yamaguchi

Harriet L. George, MBA

Nancy H. Henn, BS, RD

Desiree S. Jorge

Rita A. Mitchell,  RD

Barbara Resnick,RD

Rose Marie A. Shramick, MA, RD

Diane E. West, RD

Susan A. Wilkie, MBA

Janice M. Young, MS, RD