2013 HEAL Appalachia Symposium Presenters
Considered both an effective and collaborative school lunch advocate in Maine, Heidi Kessler has been an integral part in changing the way Maine schoolchildren eat lunch since 2007. She takes her passion, energy and creativity to school nutrition professionals across the state of Maine to address the challenges and opportunities in providing healthy food and beverages to students, as the Let’s Go! School Nutrition Manager. She engages school nutrition programs as partners in the fight against childhood obesity, and she helps schools increase the nutritional quality of school meals, a critical component for ready-to-learn students. In addition, Heidi provides leadership and strategic direction to the overall Let’s Go! program. Previously, Heidi assisted the Vermont Department of Health in development, implementation and evaluation of a physical activity promotion program for adults. Heidi is a nationally certified School Nutrition Specialist (SNS) and is currently pursuing her Masters of Science in Applied Nutrition at Northeastern University.
Stephanie Cihon has been with ProMedica since 2001, when she joined the public relations department. Her role has since evolved to encompass community relations and advocacy. She is responsible for leading the health system’s obesity prevention initiative entitled Fields of Green, through which she has helped to develop learning maps, high school scholarship competitions and community partnerships. Her work with Fields of Green has led to additional programs and community partnerships dealing with hunger as a health issue because if its consistent link to obesity.
Ron Fink has been the School Nutrition Program Director for Bristol Tennessee City Schools for the past nine years. He is an avid herb, garlic and vegetable gardener and is often humbled by the challenges of organic gardening. At 56, Ron is a ten-year survivor of a heart attack, an experience which prompted him to thoroughly educate himself regarding the correlation between food and health. He continues to read about healthy foods and is an accomplished, self-taught chef who cooks at home on a daily basis. Beyond work, Ron cherishes time with his wife of 30 years Anita, playing guitar and mandolin, bike riding, and spending time keeping his two Cairn terriers out of mischief.
Rick Fortier, CHES
Program Manager, Let’s Go!
Rick Fortier is the program manager for Let’s Go!’s School program. He works with state and local partners to support schools’ efforts in creating policy and environmental changes that increase healthy eating and active living for children and youth. Rick also serves as a member of Let’s Go!’s marketing committee. He joined Let’s Go! at the Kids CO-OP, Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, Maine Medical Center, in May 2008 and has 13 years of experience in Public Health, working with schools, businesses and community organizations.
Prior to joining Let’s Go! Rick spent five years as a health promotion specialist with Healthy Portland, a Healthy Maine Partnership. There he coordinated physical activity, healthy eating, and tobacco free living efforts in work site, community and youth populations.
In his personal life Rick enjoys spending time with his wife and five year old daughter, being active, gardening and doing handyman work around the house.