Luis Guardia, President (beginning March 1, 2020)
Alexandra Ashbrook, Director of Special Projects and Initiatives
Lauren Badger, Senior Government Relations Associate
Colleen Barton Sutton, Communications Director
Susan Beaudoin, Special Projects and Initiatives Associate
Rashan A. Datcher, Human Resources Coordinator
Nighisti Dawit, Child Nutrition Policy Analyst
Crystal FitzSimons, Director of School and Out-of-School Time Programs
Wendy Forbes, Content Writer/Technical Editor
Diane Girouard, Child Nutrition Policy Analyst
Michelle Griffin, Staff Associate
Julia Gross, Anti-Hunger Program Associate, Maryland Hunger Solutions
Heather Hartline-Grafton, Senior Researcher, Nutrition Policy and Community Health
Clarissa Hayes, Senior Child Nutrition Policy Analyst
Geraldine Henchy, Director of Nutrition Policy and Early Childhood Programs
Melissa Jensen, Anti-Hunger Program Associate, D.C. Hunger Solutions
Alison Maurice, Senior Child Nutrition Policy Analyst
Denise Odell, Executive Assistant to the President
Etienne Melcher Philbin, Senior Child Nutrition Policy Analyst
Emily Pickren, Senior Manager, Communications
Paige Pokorney, Anti-Hunger Program Associate for Child Nutrition, D.C. Hunger Solutions
Alan Sharpe, Technology Coordinator
Marko Stankovic, Development Associate
Ellen Teller, Director of Government Affairs
Polly Thibodeau, Senior Manager of Foundation Relations
Ellen Vollinger, Legal/Food Stamp Director
Barbara Western, Director of Human Resources and Operations
Beverley Wheeler, Director, D.C. Hunger Solutions
Michael J. Wilson, Director, Maryland Hunger Solutions
Patrick Youngblood, Director of Development
Alex is the Director of Special Projects and Initiatives, where she works to implement cross-program projects and drive new nutrition and anti-hunger strategic initiatives at the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).
From 2007–2015, Alex served as the director of D.C. Hunger Solutions, an initiative of FRAC. Through a combination of advocacy, outreach, policy, and public education, Alex led D.C. Hunger Solutions’ efforts to create a hunger-free community and improve the nutrition, health, economic security, and well-being of low-income residents of the nation’s capital. Under her leadership, D.C. Hunger Solutions succeeded in sharply reducing the number of people who would have otherwise lacked sufficient food by maximizing local use of federal nutrition programs. She participated in many citywide coalitions, chairing the Mayor’s Healthy Youth and Schools Commission (2010–2015) and the Mayor’s Commission on Food (2008–2010) and serving as the co-chair of the Obesity Plan’s Policy Committee (2009–2010) and on the steering committee of the Fair Budget Coalition (2008–2015).
Alex joined FRAC in January 2007, bringing extensive advocacy experience to her role, much of which focused on the needs of vulnerable youth. While at Georgetown Law School’s D.C. Street Law Project (1994–1996), Alex supervised law students teaching at DC public high schools. From 1996–2006, Alex served as a senior program director at Street Law, the national nonprofit dedicated to transforming democratic ideals into citizen action. Alex received her J.D. and LL.M. from the Georgetown University Law Center and her B.A. from Haverford College.
Lauren joined FRAC in July 2017. As the senior government relations associate, she assists with the development and implementation of FRAC’s legislative agenda, working with Congress, national organizations, and FRAC’s network of state and local anti-hunger organizations to strengthen domestic anti-hunger programs for low-income individuals and families. She also manages planning of the annual National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference.
Before joining FRAC, Lauren was an anti-hunger program associate at D.C. Hunger Solutions, an initiative of FRAC. In this role, she worked to improve Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation and policies, and help reduce senior hunger in D.C. She has also worked with SNAP and other federal nutrition programs in previous roles at the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services and the University of Georgia Department of Foods and Nutrition.
Lauren has a B.S. in both dietetics and consumer foods from the University of Georgia and an M.S. in foods and nutrition from the University of Georgia. Lauren also completed the dietetic internship at the University of Georgia to become a Registered Dietitian.
Colleen joined FRAC in October 2014, as communications director. In this role, she spearheads the development and implementation of a multi-faceted strategic communications framework to help advance the organization’s mission to end hunger in America.
Prior to FRAC, Colleen was the founder and principal of Red Jacket Communications, LLC, a boutique public relations and event firm. Colleen designed and executed strategic communications plans for global and national policy and program initiatives, research reports, brand development, fundraising promotions, product launches, and major events. Her clients included government contractors, small businesses, and international and national nonprofits. In her previous work with nonprofits, including Catholic Charities USA, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and Save the Children, Colleen created and implemented communications efforts that increased awareness, advocacy and greater investment in programs and services aimed at underserved populations. At Save the Children, she built a media program in a newly created public affairs department, and led the U.S. agency’s media response to major humanitarian crises, including post-9/11, the Indian Ocean Tsunami and Haiti Earthquake as well as the agency’s first advocacy-awareness campaign, Every Mother, Every Child and its signature research report, The State of the World’s Mothers.
She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Homestretch, a nonprofit in Northern Virginia that helps transition families out of homelessness.
Colleen received her B.A. in English, with a public relations concentration, from the State University of New York at Fredonia.
Susan joined FRAC in September 2012. In her current role as special projects and initiatives associate, she supports work to implement cross-program projects and drive new nutrition and anti-hunger strategic initiatives at FRAC. In her previous role as FRAC’s senior development associate for state initiatives, she was responsible for fundraising activities to support FRAC’s state-based efforts with D.C. Hunger Solutions and Maryland Hunger Solutions.
Prior to joining FRAC, Susan served as coordinator of the Food and Health Network of South Central New York and worked with the Washington Youth Garden and the Rural Health Network of South Central New York.
Susan holds a B.A. in political science from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate from the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership at Georgetown University.
Rashan joined FRAC in May 2011 and is FRAC’s human resource coordinator. In this role, Rashan works closely with the director of human resources and operations on a variety of office procedural, HR-related, and administrative fronts. She also coordinates processes related to position openings and coordinates the internship program.
Rashan has a B.A. in business administration from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta Georgia and an M.A. in human resource management from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
Nighisti joined FRAC in January 2019 as a child nutrition policy analyst. In this role, she works with an extensive network of national, state and local anti-hunger groups as well as education and youth development partners, to expand low-income children’s access to the afterschool and summer nutrition programs.
Before joining FRAC, she worked for the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) in their Office for Policy and Communications as a policy associate, where she monitored federal policies as they related to children, and prepared correlative resources for both policy and research audiences.
Nighisti has a M.S. in social policy and planning from the London School of Economics and Political Science as well as B.A. in psychology and a minor in human development from the University of Maryland, College Park.
As director of school and out-of-school time programs, Crystal directs FRAC’s work on the child nutrition programs that serve school-age children. She analyzes policy to advocate for legislative and regulatory improvements to increase low-income children’s access to the nutrition programs. She helps develop strategy and direct field efforts to achieve program improvements. She provides technical assistance, conducts training, and develops materials for national, state, and local organizations. She frequently speaks at national afterschool conferences and meetings. Crystal is the author or co-author of numerous publications, including Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report (2009). Her previous work experience includes the Center for Community Change as a policy analyst on transportation issues and Housing Comes First, Missouri’s statewide low-income housing coalition, as director of tenant organizing. She holds a B.A. in philosophy and sociology from Carroll College and an M.S.W. from Washington University.
Wendy joined FRAC in September 2015 as a content writer/technical editor. In this role, Wendy edits and proofreads a variety of content that is published on FRAC’s website, including blogs and program resources, and in print, such as news releases and materials for events. Wendy also assists with managing the editorial process and editorial calendar. Wendy has an MPA and a BA in English and political science.
Diane joined FRAC in February 2018 as a child nutrition policy analyst. In this role, she works with anti-hunger organizations and state and national agencies to expand access to school breakfast programs for low-income children.
Before joining FRAC, Diane was a policy analyst for several years under both houses of the New York State Legislature on the education and higher education committees.
Diane has a B.A. in political science and policy studies from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Michelle Griffin joined FRAC in May 2016 and is a staff associate. She works closely with the Director of Human Resources and Operations and the Director of Finance. Michelle has over 15 years of bookkeeping, accounting, payroll, and accounts payable experience and has worked in both the nonprofit sector and in banking.
Michelle has an Associate Degree in accounting, and she plans to return to complete her studies to acquire her bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Julia joined Maryland Hunger Solutions, an initiative of FRAC, in October 2018. In her role as anti-hunger program associate, she works to support and expand participation in child nutrition programs around the state of Maryland through advocacy, community engagement, and the promotion of best-practices.
Before coming to Maryland Hunger Solutions, Julia served in Peace Corps Albania from 2016-2018 as a Health Extension Specialist, where she taught health education and life-skills development in primary schools. Prior to Peace Corps, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA to support after-school and summer nutrition programs in Maryland, and again as a health educator at a center for low-income and homeless women in Spokane, WA.
She received her B.A. in Anthropology from San Diego State University, and holds a Master of Public Health from Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
Heather is senior researcher, nutrition policy and community health at FRAC. Heather’s work primarily focuses on obesity, dietary quality, and health outcomes among low-income and food-insecure children and families, with emphasis on how the federal nutrition programs improve health, nutrition, and well-being. She also is actively involved in FRAC’s work on screening for and addressing food insecurity in health care settings.
Heather, who joined FRAC in January 2009, has a rich background in nutrition policy research, obesity prevention, and healthy eating strategies, including her prior work at the American Cancer Society, Mathematica Policy Research, and Tulane University. She is a Registered Dietitian and holds honors bachelors’ degrees in nutritional sciences and dietetics from the University of Delaware, an M.P.H. in nutrition from the University of North Carolina, and a Dr.PH. in community health sciences from Tulane University.
Clarissa Hayes joined FRAC in February 2015. As senior child nutrition policy analyst, she works with anti-hunger organizations as well as with local, state, and national governments to expand the use of afterschool and summer nutrition programs.
Before joining FRAC, Clarissa was an anti-hunger program associate at Maryland Hunger Solutions (an initiative of FRAC) and worked to increase participation in the child nutrition programs across the state. She has also completed two years of national community service through AmeriCorps NCCC and AmeriCorps VISTA.
Clarissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology from the University of Wisconsin.
Geri is the director of nutrition policy at FRAC. Geri’s work focuses on nutrition policies, such as increasing the healthfulness of nutrition programs, necessary to reach the goals of eradicating domestic hunger and improving the nutrition and health of low-income individuals and families.
Geri is a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Committee to Review the Child and Adult Care Food Program Meal Requirements, which has the task of creating nutrition standards to bring the meals served into compliance with the Dietary Guidelines. Geri is the current chair of the legislation and policy committee of the American Public Health Association’s Food and Nutrition section. She currently serves on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Management Improvement Task Force.
She has been honored to receive awards for her work on the Child Nutrition Programs from the Sponsors Association, the National Sponsors Forum and the California Roundtable. Most recently, the National Association of Family Child Care honored Ms. Henchy with their Advocate of the Year Award.
Geri is the author of numerous policy briefs on the federal child nutrition programs. She has co-authored a number of publications, including Making WIC Work for Multicultural Communities: Best Practices for Outreach and Nutrition Education, Time for a Change: WIC Food Package Guide, WIC In Native American Communities: Building a Healthier America, and WIC Partnerships and the Nurturing Parent. Ms. Henchy is also the author of a number of web-based tools, including most recently the Child Care Wellness Tool Kit: Child and Adult Care Food Program.
She is a Registered Dietitian and has an M.P.H. in nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley.
Melissa joined D.C. Hunger Solutions, an initiative of FRAC, in August 2018 as the anti-hunger program associate – SNAP and senior hunger. In this role, she works to increase participation in the SNAP/Food Stamp Program in the District of Columbia, and on nutrition issues related to hunger among older residents. As a part of D.C. Hunger Solutions’ team, she also engages and educates the public and policymakers about the issue of hunger, and works to identify solutions to end hunger in our nation’s capital.
Before joining FRAC, Melissa worked at Utahns Against Hunger in Salt Lake City, Utah as the outreach manager. There, she managed the statewide SNAP Outreach Program with the Utah Department of Workforce Services. She also provided information about federal nutrition programs to the community, assisted community members with SNAP applications, and produced outreach materials, including the UAH newsletter. Melissa also piloted a series of Food Access Workshops with Salt Lake Community College to help combat food insecurity on Utah campuses.
Melissa received a Juris Doctor from William and Mary Law School and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin.
Alison joined FRAC in February 2017. As senior child nutrition policy analyst, she works with anti-hunger organizations and state and national agencies to expand access to school breakfast programs for low-income children. Alison is a national expert on the Community Eligibility Provision and specializes in ways school districts can offer school meals at no cost to all students and best practices for increasing school meal participation.
Before joining FRAC, Alison served through AmeriCorps as a case manager at a health clinic for homeless adults in Washington, DC, with a primary focus on connecting individuals with public benefits. During her master’s program, she interned at FRAC with the child nutrition team before joining the staff.
Alison has a B.A. in psychology from Ohio Wesleyan University and a Masters of Social Work from The Catholic University of America.
Denise is the assistant to FRAC’s President, Jim Weill. At FRAC, she supports the activities that promote FRAC’s mission, its President and Board of Directors. She brought to the position her board relations, membership, fundraising and administrative experience.
Prior to joining FRAC, Denise was the membership director at Partnership for Caring, a nonprofit focusing on end-of-life issues.
Denise — a native Washingtonian and University of Maryland alum — is a professional photographer that exhibits her artwork at fine arts galleries throughout the United States.
Etienne joined FRAC in November 2007. In her current role as senior child nutrition policy analyst, she works with a diverse group of national and state partners to expand the use of the School Breakfast Program among low-income children and increase the number of schools offering breakfast in the classroom free to all students in target states, school districts and schools.
In her previous role as FRAC’s Senior Legislative and Public Affairs Associate, she worked with FRAC’s network and Congress, advocating for federal legislation to improve access and participation in domestic anti-hunger programs.
Prior to joining FRAC, Etienne worked with RESULTS’ domestic policy campaign on early childhood development issues.
She has a B.A. in political science and religious studies from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN.
Emily joined FRAC in October 2016 as a senior manager, communications. She develops and implements media relations strategies and manages outreach to media, stakeholders, and the public. She provides strategic communications support to staff across all of FRAC’s program areas.
Emily brings a decade of experience to her role. Before joining FRAC, she worked at the National League of Cities and managed communications for NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. Emily has also served as a consultant for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, working to tell the stories behind their work and shed light on how public programs and services can make a difference in the lives of Americans from all walks of life.
Emily holds a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida, where she studied anthropology and English.
Paige joined D.C. Hunger Solutions, an initiative of FRAC, in September 2018 as the anti-hunger program associate for child nutrition. In this role, she uses engagement, advocacy, and education to inform the public on childhood hunger and increase access to child nutrition programs in the District. Paige analyzes policies and practices, leverages data and reporting, and provides technical assistance to maximize participation in child nutrition programs.
Before joining D.C. Hunger Solutions, Paige worked on anti-hunger and food access issues with various local and national organizations, including the Capital Area Food Bank, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Share Our Strength. Paige received her B.S. in Biobehavioral Health from Penn State and her Masters of Public Health with a focus on nutrition from George Washington University.
Alan is FRAC’s technology coordinator. For nearly 27 years, Alan has served in various support capacities as a member of FRAC’s administrative staff. Initially secretarial, his duties have expanded with technology and the onset of computerized office functions. In his current position as senior administrative assistant/information systems coordinator, he oversees FRAC’s information technology needs, provides in-house computer “help desk” and administrative support for program staff, and serves as liaison between FRAC and its various IT consultants and vendors.
Marko joined FRAC in April 2012. As development associate, his job duties include doing research on prospective funders, maintaining communication with donors and grantmakers, submitting grant proposals and reports, processing all donations and grants, and event management. Prior to joining FRAC, he had fundraising internships at the International Student House and Education USA. Marko holds an M.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University.
As director of government affairs, Ellen Teller directs the development and implementation of FRAC’s legislative agenda. Working with Congress, national organizations, and FRAC’s diverse state and local grassroots field network, Ellen advocates for improved access and participation to domestic anti-hunger programs for low-income individuals and families.
Ellen joined FRAC in 1986 as a staff attorney and had previously worked at the American Bar Association’s Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the Consumer Federation of America.
Ellen has a B.A. in political science and English literature (1978) from the State University of New York College at Oneonta, and a J.D. from Western New England College School of Law (1983). She is a Member of the DC Bar and serves on a the Boards of the Coalition on Human Needs (Chair); Manna Food Center, Rockville, Maryland; ActionAid USA; and the Bill Emerson Hunger Fellows Advisory Committee, Congressional Hunger Center. Honors include: National WIC Association Leadership Award, 2006; Commodity Supplemental Food Program Association Award, 2003 & 2010; and the Congressional Hunger Center Emerson Fellows’ Fairy Godmother Award, 2008.
Polly joined FRAC in February 2013 and is senior manager of foundation relations. In this role, she crafts funding proposals and reports for institutional funders in support of FRAC’s breadth of work.
Polly has 15 years of experience writing and managing grants. She previously served as the Director of Development at Joy of Motion Dance Center, where she was responsible for planning and implementing all of its contributed income activities. Prior to that, Polly provided comprehensive research and grants administration for a portfolio of externally funded projects, including a $3 million Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Center for Risk Science and Public Health at The George Washington University. She has also written grants for the local modern dance company Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co. and Rebuilding Together Montgomery County.
She has a B.A. in sociology from Hood College and a B.A. in dance from The George Washington University.
Ellen Vollinger is legal director for FRAC. She has responsibility for directing FRAC’s advocacy on behalf of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps). Ellen has led FRAC’s efforts to bolster SNAP/Food Stamps, particularly to serve working families, legal immigrants and victims of disasters. She has worked with administrators, elected officials, industry representatives, and nonprofit partners on strategies to provide a more accessible and effective nutrition assistance safety net. She serves on the eGovernment Payments Council.
Her prior positions include serving as director of the nonprofit National Committee for Full Employment as well as a practicing attorney with the Washington, DC law firm of Ross, Dixon and Masback.
Ellen has a B.A. in American Studies from Smith College, master’s degree in Legislative Affairs from The George Washington University, and a J.D. magna cum laude from the American University’s Washington College of Law.
Melissa joined FRAC in September 2019 in the role of development associate, state initiatives. In this role, she crafts funding proposals and reports for institutional funders in support of the work done by D.C. Hunger Solutions, and Maryland Hunger Solutions, both initiatives of FRAC.
Melissa has ten years of experience in nonprofit work in various roles, including fundraising, grant writing, and program execution. She previously served as the Development Coordinator at Kids Enjoy Exercise Now, Greater DC, where she was responsible for carrying out KEEN’s plan for continued revenue growth. Prior to that she was the Education Director at National Farmers Union where she ran a beginning farmer program, as well as executed several national conferences to support farming communities. Melissa first came to the District to serve as the Farm Manager of Common Good City Farm, where she grew food for the local communities.
She has a B.A. in English from Georgian Court University and later went back for her M.A., studying Holistic Health and conducting research on food access throughout New Jersey.
Barb joined FRAC in March 2012 as the director of human resources and operations. In this role she is responsible for overseeing overall organizational operations, including the technology infrastructure, and is directly responsible for human resources policies and employee benefits and relations.
Barb has over 20 years of experience working with national nonprofit organizations in a variety of areas that include: human resources, operations, finance, board development and support, fundraising, events management, strategic planning, and advocacy. Most of her skills were acquired through her many years of work at OMB Watch, where she played a variety of roles, most recently the Director of Operations. Prior to her work at OMB Watch she worked for Legal Times.
Barb has a B.S. in journalism from Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism at West Virginia University and a Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate from the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership at Georgetown University.
Beverley joined FRAC in 2015 as the director of D.C. Hunger Solutions. In this role, she is responsible for leading the efforts to improve public policies to end hunger, reduce poverty, promote nutrition and increase the availability of healthy affordable food in low-income areas; maximize participation in all federal nutrition programs (SNAP, school meals, early childhood nutrition, WIC, and summer meals); and educate the public about both the stark reality of hunger’s existence in the nation’s capital and the real opportunities for effective solutions.
Dr. Wheeler has over 30 years of progressive experience in all phases of public and private sector policy development working in process development, crisis resolution, civic engagement, community/economic development, and planning as well as policy development and implementation. She has 20 years of experience working with the District of Columbia (DC) government and the DC Council at the executive level as Executive Director of the State Board of Education and Neighborhood Action; Chief of Staff to Phil Mendelson; and Special Assistant to three City Administrators. She is the former president and CEO of Center City Public Charter Schools.
She holds a B.S. in social and decision science, an M.S. in management and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Master’s and Doctorate in Education from Harvard University.
Michael joined Maryland Hunger Solutions in July 2013 as Director. In this role, he is helping to lead Maryland’s premier hunger advocacy, education, and outreach organization as it works to end hunger and improve the nutrition, health, economic security, and well-being of low-income families in Maryland. Michael serves in a leadership role in many statewide coalitions and is a core advisor in the Governor’s Partnership to End Childhood Hunger.
For more than three decades, Michael has been a leading advocate for economic and social justice. He worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative and press assistant for the late U.S. Representative Charles Hayes (IL). He also served in numerous positions at the U.S. Department of Labor, culminating as Chief of Staff in the Employment Standards Administration where he coordinated legislative, regulatory, communications, and policy development. Michael also was an international officer and director at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union where he headed the legislative and political department and led the union’s efforts in food policy and worker advocacy. Michael served as a FRAC Board Member for more than a decade, as well as a Board Member for the Consumer Federation of America and Americans for Democratic Action, where he also served as National Director. He received the Community Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association of the National Capitol Area in 2009, the Secretary of Labor’s Exceptional Achievement Award in 1997 and 1999, and a Special Commendation from the Wage and Hour Division in 1997.
Michael has a B.A. in communications arts and sciences from Michigan State University.
Patrick joined FRAC in January 2004 as director of development. In this role, he is responsible for managing all aspects of FRAC’s fundraising activities.
He has over 25 years of experience in nonprofit fundraising. Before coming to FRAC, he served as assistant manager of major gifts at the Kennedy Center, associate director of development for major gifts at the Washington National Opera, and director of development at American Rivers.
He holds an M.A. from Vanderbilt University and a Ph.D. from the University of London.