Executive Board

President 2018-2019

Golnaz Friedman, RD 

What's the best advice you've received from a mentor?
GOLNAZ: The best advice I ever received from a mentor was “Say yes to the things that scare you most!” As an early career dietitian, I have been inclined to say yes to many opportunities that have come my way as I view these opportunities as the key to my professional growth. However, I have been quick to want to turn down the more challenging opportunities—the ones that I did not think I had enough experience, knowledge, or skills to pursue. Over the years I have found that saying yes to these opportunities, even when I did not believe in myself, is what led to not only my professional growth but also overall growth. I have found the secret to making it through is to have a support system—a professional mentor, a trusted colleague, a best friend who is always a phone call away and a loving family who is always there. Even then, it’s okay to not always get it right the first time around. But don’t stop trying!


President Elect/ President 2019 -2020

Nancy Banda, MHA, RD 


What excites you most about being a volunteer leader?
NANCY: For me, volunteering has been about helping those in need by giving of myself.  When I was younger, I volunteered; now I coach and mentor, which allows me to give back to others because of my life’s experiences.  I have gained much knowledge and learned and perfected new skills through volunteering that has made an important difference in my life. Volunteerings has provided me:

  • a chance to learn and practice new skills as I move along life’s journey, which helps me overcome fear and build self-confidence;
  • an opportunity to meet new people from completely different walks of life, which has allowed me to develop life-long relationships;
  • a chance to do something that important, which brings me happiness when doing the work so I want to spend more time volunteering; and
  • an opportunity for continued activity that helps keep me mentally and physically fit.

 In closing, I want to share a quote that remains an important part of my life.

If you want to touch the past, touch a rock.
If you want to touch the present, touch a flower.
If you want to touch the future, touch a life.
- Author Unknown

President Elect 2019-2020

Dorothy Chen-Maynard, PhD, RDN, FAND

Immediate Past President

Ruth Frechman, MA, RDN, CPT  


Secretary & Treasurer

Carrie Der Garabedian, MBA, RD, CFPM


What excites you the most about being a volunteer leader?
CARRIE: There are so many opportunities that excite me!

V=Variety of ways to volunteer 
O=Opportunities to learn new skills 
L=Leadership development, lifelong friendships 
U=Using my talents in ways I never imagined 
N=Networking is priceless 
T=Tremendous personal gratification 
E=Energizes my creativity 
E=Empowering myself to stretch my boundaries 
R=Realistic opportunities for collaboration

Working with dynamic, earth-moving, heart-warning people, the latitude to help shape the organization’s direction, and mentoring less experienced colleagues are a few of reasons I LOVE to work with California Academy members. My personal growth is impossible to quantify.  It is my honor and privilege to work with my esteemed colleagues!


VP Communications

Lisa Underwood, MBA, MS, RDN

Lisa Underwood

What excites you most about being a volunteer leader?

LISA: Affecting change to enhance membership benefits is the most exciting part of serving as a volunteer leader. Volunteer leadership with the California Academy, a valuable membership benefit, offers members the opportunity to match their skills and passion with many diverse volunteer opportunities. With experience in marketing and sales, I learned that a non-profit organization can grow and meet the needs of their members by viewing members as “customers.”  After four years of volunteer leadership service, I am thrilled to have led the California Academy’s improved membership communication that includes a new affiliate logo and branding, enhanced website, increased social media presence, the webinar education program, and direct e-marketing.  


Co-Chair of Delegates

Joanne Graham, PhD, RD

Joanne Graham

What professional traits do you believe are most valuable in our profession, and why?
JOANNE: The ability to be versatile, adaptable, forward thinking, an advocate, and a team player. One of my favorite movies growing up and remains a favorite today is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. We can relate one of the movie’s famous quotes to dietetics. “[Nutrition] moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around, you could miss it.” This saying is pertinent when it comes to our profession as it relates to innovation (e.g., industry, markets, foods, technologies) and networks (e.g., people, platforms, environments). Being a team player doesn’t mean you aren’t looking out for you. It’s important to prioritize yourself in your visualizations of how you want your professional life to be. Once you’ve fulfilled your vision, you can be a better contributor to others’ visions. Being a team player means you listen and acknowledge other contributions and that you also can provide expertise equitably hopefully elevating results.


Co-Chair of Delegates 

Rory Caswell Pace, MPH, RD, CSR


What professional traits do you believe are most valuable in our profession, and why?
RORY: I believe that dietitians can do anything and have the skills to achieve success in numerous roles. Critical thinking, seeing the big picture, and commitment to lifelong learning are three key traits. Healthcare systems and the health of our patients are complex. The ability to think critically through scenarios and prioritize needs is key. A related skill is big-picture thinking. In dietetics we evaluate the whole patient, considering the interactions of medical, social, and psychosocial factors. RDs can apply this big-picture thinking to achieve success in a wide variety of roles. Lastly, successful RDs never stop learning. We can always increase both the depth and breadth of our knowledge and experience. 


VP Education

Wendy Buchan, PhD, RDN

Wendy Buchan

If you could, what advice would you today give yourself when you started your career? 
WENDY: The profession is run by those who show up. Start attending and joining professional groups and organizations to learn and become a part of developing the future of our profession.


VP Public Policy 

Brenda O'Day, MS, RDN, CNSC 

What excites you most about being a volunteer leader?

BRENDA: Following a career path in nutrition is such a diverse, challenging, and rewarding journey. Even better is becoming involved in the California Academy with amazing people who give so much time and talent; it’s an honor to serve with them. We welcome the opportunity to have a say in the direction we are headed. I believe in a bright future for our profession. It’s exhilarating to be out in front with a full view of what’s ahead!


Ex-Offico Chair, Membership Benefits

Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND


What California Academy members do you most admire, and why? 
AMY: I admire volunteer leaders across our great state who give their precious time and valuable expertise to our organization, especially district leaders who do so much without support from staff or contractors. I also admire the volunteer leaders who go beyond the call of duty and volunteer to do more than what is listed in their position descriptions to demonstrate they truly care about our organization, our state, and our profession. Leaders who express new ideas are great, but leaders who can turn a great idea into action deserve our utmost admiration, respect, and gratitude.


Ex-Officio Chair, CA Academy Foundation

Michelle Wien, DrPH, RD, CDE

How do you balance your work, family, and volunteer responsibilities?
MICHELLE: I have only assumed volunteer responsibilities when I had the support from employers that recognized the importance of individuals who are willing to serve in leadership positions.