Annual Conference Speakers

Hilmar Wagner, MPH, RDN, LN, CD

Hilmar Wagner, MPH, RDN, LN, CD

Dietitian’s Role in the Treatment of ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Feeding and Intake Disorder)

Hilmar Wagner is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist (RDN), licensed in Minnesota and Washington State. Hilmar has experience working in a variety of clinical, outpatient, community, and management settings. Hilmar joined the Emily Program in 2006 and has served in a number of clinical and management roles, both at the site, regional and organization-wide levels. He currently serves as a Clinical Outreach Specialist. In this role Hilmar has presents on a wide range of eating disorder and related nutrition topics at local, regional, and national conferences. Hilmar received his bachelor’s degree in Nutrition/Dietetics and Master’s in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Minnesota. He has worked in the field of eating disorders for the past 16 years. Hilmar has extensive experience working with clients of all eating disorder diagnoses in both individual and group settings. He has a particular interest in the application of mindfulness and body-centered, somatic approaches to the nutritional treatment of eating disorders.

Betsy Anderson Steeves, PhD, RDN

Betsy Anderson Steeves, PhD, RDN

The Role of Food in Healthcare

Betsy Anderson Steeves is a Registered Dietitian with a PhD in Public Health Nutrition. She has over 10 years of experience in food access and nutrition security research with a focus on federal food programs and charitable food system usage. She is a Senior Research Scientist at the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, which is a national nonprofit research institute focused on healthy eating and active living, improving food security and healthy food access, promoting local food systems and applying a health equity lens across all initiatives.

Courtney Liles, MS, RDN, LND

Courtney Liles, MS, RDN, LND

The Role of Food in Healthcare

Courtney Liles was born and raised in East Tennessee. She graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a BS in Nutrition in 2016 and with her MS in Public Health Nutrition + dietetic internship in 2019. After a brief stint practicing in long-term care, she accepted the Nutrition Access Program Manager position at Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee in March 2020. The Nutrition Access team provides food and nutrition education through the lens of a program-wide Nutrition Philosophy, which emphasizes choosing foods that align with one’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. While Courtney loves her job at the food bank, she believes in advocating for policies that address the underlying causes of food insecurity, in addition to providing short-term solutions through the charitable food system. In Courtney’s free time, she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, 15-month-old daughter, and two cats.

Megan Baumgardner

Megan Baumgardner

The Role of Food in Healthcare

Megan Baumgardner is a pediatric psychology intern at Cherokee Health Systems and a doctoral candidate in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Tennessee. Megan provides integrated behavioral health services to children, adolescents, and families at Cherokee to address a variety of concerns related to physical and mental health, nutrition, and development. Previously, Megan earned her M.Ed. in Child Studies from Vanderbilt University and her B.A. in Psychology from Bucknell University.

Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Eating Beyond the Headlines: Sorting Evidence from Emotion

Neva Cochran is a Dallas-based registered dietitian nutritionist who has served as a nutrition communications consultant to a variety of food, nutrition and agricultural organizations for over 30 years. She is passionate about promoting fact-based food and nutrition information to help people eat beyond the headlines and enjoy a variety of nutrient-rich foods. An active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, she has served as President of both the Dallas and Texas Academies, Chair of the Academy Foundation and member of the Board of Directors and the House of Delegates. She was a 2012 recipient of the Academy’s Medallion Award and the 2016 Texas Academy’s Outstanding Preceptor Award and the 2021 Dietitians in Business and Communications DPG Founders Award. And in May 2016, she was invited to present the keynote speech, “Take Opportunities, Make Opportunities and Walk Through Fear,” at the Texas Woman’s University College of Health Sciences commencement. After receiving her BS degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Oklahoma, Neva completed a dietetic internship at Texas Health Resources Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas and earned a Masters in Nutrition at the Texas Woman’s University.

Linda Pennington, MS, RDN, LDN

Linda Pennington, MS, RDN, LDN

An Alphabet Soup of GI Diseases

Linda Pennington received her Bachelor of Science in Home Economics with a Food and Nutrition Option from Mississippi State University and her Masters of Science in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University in Houston. She completed her Internship at the Houston Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Houston, Texas. Linda is President and owner of Dietitian Associates, Inc, which she and Dee Pratt co-founded in 1995.
Previously, Linda’s career path included serving as Chief Clinical Dietitian for Methodist Hospital – Germantown, Clinical Dietitian at The MED, and Adjunct Faculty to the University of Memphis and Shelby State Community College. Linda also served as the College Program Coordinator for Central Texas College in Hanau, West Germany while her husband was stationed there in the military.
Linda has presented numerous lectures on topics including IBS, Wound Care, and Physical Nutrition Management. She has been interviewed on FOX 13 and WREG & for the Commercial Appeal and Memphis Magazine. She is a Past President of the Memphis Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and also of the Memphis Area Nutrition Council. Linda served on the national level for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a member of the Legislative and Public Policy Committee. 
Linda received the recognitions of Outstanding Dietitian of the Year for the State of Tennessee in 2012, Outstanding Dietitian of the Year for the Memphis Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2008, Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year for the State of TN 1996, Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year for Memphis in 1996 and Outstanding Dietetic Intern in 1986.

Kristen Johnson, PhD, RDN

Kristen Johnson, PhD, RDN

University of Tennessee Extension Nutrition Programming: Our Work and Opportunities for Partnership

Dr. Johnson is an Assistant Professor and Extension Nutrition Specialist with the University of Tennessee Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Department. Dr. Johnson is a registered dietitian and received a PhD in foods and nutrition and a graduate certificate in gerontology from the University of Georgia. As an Extension Nutrition Specialist, Dr. Johnson’s work focuses on promoting healthy eating patterns for chronic disease prevention and management and increasing opportunities for accessing healthy foods in Tennessee communities. She is currently working with an interdisciplinary team of Extension Specialists and faculty to design and implement extension programs to promote health and well-being among older adults in Tennessee. Prior to her role as an Extension Nutrition Specialist, Dr. Johnson was employed at the Medical University of South Carolina as a postdoctoral scholar and the Northeast Georgia Area Agency on Aging as a regional wellness coordinator.

Susan Roberts, DCN, RDN, LDN, CNSC, FAND

Susan Roberts, DCN, RDN, LDN, CNSC, FAND

Paving the Path to Placing Feeding Tubes – Tips & Tools for RDNs and Preceptors

Susan Roberts received her B.S. and combined internship/M.S. in Nutrition from Texas A&M University.  She obtained her Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition from Rutgers University in 2018.  Susan was formerly the Dietetic Internship Directo and Area Director of Clinical Nutrition at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.  She is currently the System Clinical Nutrition Director for Morrisons Health Care at the Health First hospital system in Melbourne, Florida.  Susan has been a volunteer leader for many years for Dietitians in Nutrition Support and the Academy of Nutrition.  

Rachelle Baker, RDN, LDN, CNSC

Rachelle Baker, RDN, LDN, CNSC

Paving the Path to Placing Feeding Tubes – Tips & Tools for RDNs and Preceptors

Rachelle Baker, an accomplished Registered Dietitian (RD), Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (LDN), and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC), brings over 15 years of diverse healthcare experience. Rachelle began her journey at Radford University by obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition and completing her dietetic internship at the University at Buffalo. She is currently continuing her education at Radford University to obtain her Master’s in Business Administration.  She is currently serving as Lead Clinical Dietitian at Health First non-for-profit hospital system.  She manages daily operations, leads performance improvement initiatives, and advocates for evidence-based nutrition protocols. 

 Rachelle played a pivotal role in obtaining approval from the Florida Board of Medicine for dietitians to place feeding tubes in acute care settings. This accomplishment reflects her commitment to advancing healthcare practices and improving patient care in the state of Florida.