meet the team

Steering Committee

Ayten Salahi, MS, RDN

Executive Director

Ayten Salahi, MS, RDN is a plant-forward Registered Dietitian and intersectional food policy champion on a mission to heal people and the planet through food. As the first-generation daughter of Turkish-Cypriot immigrants, Ayten learned at a young age to view food as a tool for healing, compassion, and unity, and she has committed her career to using food as a vehicle for change. She founded the Planetary Health Collective with the vision to empower and up-skill food and nutrition professionals everywhere to take high-impact action for human and planetary health, under the ethos that all individuals have unique skills that are urgently needed to counter the climate crisis today. She completed her Masters at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, where she specialized in Nutrition Interventions: Design, Operation, and Management and her Dietetic Internship at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Internationally, Ayten has worked with the Tufts Food Aid Quality Review (FAQR) and USAID Office of Food for Peace to co-author a report on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of international nutrition assistance research, and domestically she has volunteered to build, scale, and advocate for medically-tailored meal (MTM) and therapeutic food pantry program(s). She is standing Chair of the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition (HEN) Dietetic Practice Group with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), co-founder of the Friedman Food Policy Action Council (FFPAC), and owner of a plant-centric GI nutrition practice, Aysa Nutrition. Connect today:

Mary Purdy

Director of Education

Mary Purdy, MS, RDN is an award-winning integrative eco-dietitian and nutrition educator with a Master's Degree from Bastyr University, where she is currently adjunct faculty. She has been in clinical practice for 13+ years using a personalized medicine and functional nutrition approach.  She teaches and lectures for numerous Universities, institutions and professional educational platforms and presents regularly at national and state conferences on both nutrition and sustainability. She serves as the nutrition and sustainability adviser for Big Bold Health, hosts the podcasts “The Nutrition Show” and "The Good Clean Nutrition Podcast" and authored the books “Serving the Broccoli Gods" and "The Microbiome Diet Reset." She is a sought-after speaker, consultant and community builder working with organizations to create a more sustainable, just and resilient food system. Learn more about Mary at


Director of Marketing

Katie Poppe

Director of Marketing

Katie Poppe, MPH, RDN is a Community Nutrition Research Associate at the Mary Ann Swetland Center for Environmental Health at Case Western Reserve University. She is committed to empowering community members and conducting research that can be directly applied to make our surrounding communities, and beyond, healthier places for all people and the planet. She graduated from Miami University (of Ohio) with a Bachelor's degrees in Nutrition and Zoology in 2014. She received her Master of Public Health degree from The Ohio State University in 2022. Katie is also a registered dietitian, and prior to working in a research role, she helped individuals improve their health through one-on-one dietary counseling practicing functional and integrative nutrition in an outpatient setting for over six years. Katie also serves as a volunteer leader for the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on policy and communications committees where she gets to empower other dietitians to be leaders in sustainable and accessible food and water systems. Katie is also a Master Gardener and enjoys vegetable gardening and cooking

Marketing Team

Marcelina Worden

Marketing Team

Marcelina Worden, RDN is currently a prep chef and SNAP outreach coordinator. She completed her Bachelors degree at the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a minor in human physiology. She completed her dietetic internship through Community Support Services in Gaithersburg, MD. Marcelina aims to help others create sustainable eating patterns for themselves and the planet. She creates recipe and nutrition education videos on Burnalong. Marcelina is a member of the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). She enjoys plant-based recipe development and yoga in her free time and shared these on her Instagram. @yogisgottaeat

Policy and Advocacy Chair

Kristin Sukys

Policy and Advocacy Chair

Kristin Sukys, MS is an educator, activator, and advocate working at the intersection of our health care and food systems. After many years working in classrooms, trail systems, and farms, she attended the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy to study the connection between agriculture, nutrition, and sustainability and learn effective strategies for systems change. Kristin was a Policy Analyst for the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School for four years where she provided advocacy training for law students and led a variety of nutrition-related projects. Currently, she works as an independent consultant leading advocacy, strategic planning, and coalition building initiatives.

Policy and Advocacy Co-Chair

Kayla Kaplan

Policy and Advocacy Co-Chair

Kayla is a Subject Matter Expert in Nutrition Communications and a published Critical Food Studies researcher with a Master’s of Science in Food & Nutrition Policy & Programs. Additionally, Kayla is a content creator and curious vegan who spends a lot of time learning about food, thinking about food, or cooking and eating food.

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Allie Lansman, MPH, RDN, LD


Allie Lansman (she/her) is a fat, queer RD and MPH candidate at Des Moines University. She is a sustainable food systems specialist and owner of Allie Lansman Sustainable Nutrition Writing & Education Services. As a freelance consultant, Allie works with like-minded brands, organizations, and publications committed to stimulating just, holistic food and agricultural systems change. On her social channels, Allie advocates and activates for elevating RDs as environmental health, resilient agriculture, and nutrition and climate justice leaders. Connect with Allie on Instagram @the.sustainable.dietitian or at

Board of directors

David LeZaks, Ph.D., Senior Fellow

David LeZaks, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, is an environmental scientist and financial activist whose work is centered around developing innovative mechanisms for financing the transition to agroecological farming and food systems. Before joining Croatan Institute, Dr. LeZaks led the Regenerative Food Systems initiative at Delta Institute in Chicago, where he managed a portfolio of projects that focused on the design and deployment of disruptive mechanisms to unlock substantial capital flows into regenerative agriculture. Previously, he served as an RSF Social Finance Integrated Capital Institute fellow. He has served as Managing Scientist of the Knowledge Systems for Sustainability Consortium and Program Director of the university’s Agricultural Innovation Prize. Currently, he serves in advisory roles to Mad Agriculture, the Savanna Institute, Nourishn, Council of Development Finance Agencies’ Food Systems Finance Advisory Council, and the Transformational Investing in Food Systems initiative, an allied initiative of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.

Chef Jameeale Arzeno

Jameeale Arzeno is a professionally trained Chef who has managed and cooked in fine dining since 1996. She has had an illustrious career, which began with apprenticeship at Le Grand Louvre in Paris, after receiving an Associates in Hospitality Management from New York City College of Technology. She has worked as a pastry chef, manager, and consultant in the New York restaurant scene with internationally known top chefs and consulted on restaurant openings, menu development, and staff cultivation with restaurants in Miami, New York, and San Francisco. Chef Jameeale has taught as an adjunct professor for Monroe College in the Bronx and has been a workshop coordinator speaker and panelist for Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC), which supports food service workers who face workplace injustice, as well as the Start Small Think Big, org. She owns a private catering company and her current passion is  teaching kids to cultivate their inner chef through her organization “CHICpeas, Inc.” She has served as the first Culinary Director of the esteemed James Beard Foundation since October 2018. She is a mother, daughter, a Bronx-NY native and dynamic individual who believes in honesty, transformation, love, and the power of food.

Marie Spiker, PhD, MSPH, RDN

Marie Spiker, PhD, MSPH, RDN is an Assistant Professor in the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington School of Public Health. As a core faculty member in Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health, she teaches interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate courses that prepare students to join an evolving food systems workforce. Dr. Spiker conducts research on public health nutrition, sustainable food systems, food loss and waste, systems modeling, and food systems governance. Dr. Spiker completed her PhD in human nutrition at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and is a registered dietitian nutritionist.

Daphene Altema-Johnson, MPH, MBA, RD

Daphene Altema-Johnson completed her BA in Nutrition and Fitness at Florida States University followed by an MPH in Health Policy at George Washington University. After working in academia and public service for 15 years, Ms. Altema-Johnson changed career directions to focus on solutions to diet-related illnesses among vulnerable and low-income populations. She obtained a second Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from the University of Northern Colorado before going on to work at the Food Communities and Public Health Program at the Johns Hopkins Center fora Livable Future.

Denee Bex, MPH, RDN, CDCES

Denee Bex is currently an outpatient Registered Dietitian employed with a Navajo Nation Hospital and an advocate for healthy traditional Navajo diets and home-grown foods in Native communities. She was born and raised on the Navajo Nation and she is the Charcoal Streaked Division of the Red Running into the Water Clan. Her concentrations are in diabetes nutrition, community health education and intuitive eating. Denee also contributes gardening articles for a local Native community newspaper and is the founder of Navajo Land Gardeners and Farmers on Facebook. Lastly, Denee is the owner and founder of Tumbleweed Nutrition LLC.