Speaker and Facilitator Bios

Sandy Baker, BA
Founding Executive Director, Childhood Obesity Prevention + Education for Change, Inc.

Sandy Baker founded COPE Childhood Obesity Prevention + Education because of her own experience as an overweight child and an obese adult. After a lifetime of failing at weight loss, finally losing 125 pounds and maintaining that since 2006, she recognized our young people need the coping skills necessary to ward off food attachments and self-criticism before it takes them down the path of obesity and low self-esteem. She developed an after school program, which includes a parent engagement component, to facilitate the changes she believes will help our youth develop to their full potential.

Sandy has a BA in Psychology, is a certified L.E.A.N. Health Coach through Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, a certified BSCI (Bariatric Support Centers Int’l) instructor and a certified Bariatric (Weight Loss) Support Coach.

Her enthusiastic and positive approach to life brings hope to those desperate for change.

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Kathy Carlson, MA
Manager, St. Joseph’s/Candler Wellness Center

Kathy is the St. Joseph’s/Candler Wellness Center Manager. She has fourteen years’ experience in the Health and Wellness field and ten years as a former Physical Education Teacher. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology/Wellness in 1995 from the University of Central Florida and earned her Bachelor degree in Physical Education from Florida Southern College. Kathy is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as a Health Fitness Instructor and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).

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Lisa Hayes, MBA
Executive Director, Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council

Lisa Hayes is the Executive Director of Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council, a county-wide planning body of key stakeholders, including providers, government representatives, advocates, funders, and consumers. Safety Net works to  strengthen the health care infrastructure for primary care, improve access to healthcare and link the uninsured and underinsured to a medical home.  Ms. Hayes has more than 15 years of experience in program and financial management in the non-profit, academic, and private sectors along with extensive experience building effective partnerships. Prior to her most recent work as an independent consultant, she served as Deputy Director for two programs at the Task Force for Global Health. During that time, she co-authored the book, “Real Collaboration: What it Takes for Global Health to Succeed.” Hayes is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and received her Master of Business Administration degree from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University.

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Paula Kreissler
Director of Healthy Living and Community Development, Healthy Savannah and YMCA of Coastal Georgia

Paula Kreissler is the Director of Healthy Living and Community Development for Healthy Savannah in association with YMCA of Coastal Georgia. Paula was a longtime volunteer with Healthy Savannah prior to accepting her current position. In 2008, Paula received the Top Ten Working Women’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award from A Working Women In Need (AWWIN). Her business, Wound Care Clinic -ESU, also won the 2008 Small Business of the Year Award from the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce.

The first 25 years of Paula’s career were spent primarily in operations management at FedEx. She graduated from Concordia University and is a licensed CPA. As a volunteer with Healthy Savannah, Paula served on the inaugural Board of Directors and has demonstrated leadership within several committees: Policy and Advocacy Committee, Steering Committee, and Savannah Chatham Food Policy. Recently, Paula earned an MBA in Sustainable Business. Now, she is the Project Lead on a Healthy Savannah/YMCA grant to reduce childhood obesity in our community.

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Brittany Lightsey M.S., R.D., L.D.
Children’s Wellness Dietitian, Memorial University Medical Center

Brittany received her Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from the University of Georgia in 2011; and her Master’s of Science degree in 2012 at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA. She is currently the Children’s Wellness Dietitian with The Gulfstream Children’s Wellness Program and Center at The Children’s Hospital at Memorial University Medical Center.

In 2013, Brittany earned her Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Commission on Dietetic Registration. Brittany is an active proponent of the Kids Eat Right Campaign and served as Georgia’s Kids Eat Right Crew Member. In her current role, she is focused on wellness initiatives for the local school district and serves as the local project manager Strong4Life’s School Nutrition Program. Additionally, Brittany serves as the dietitian on a multidisciplinary team focused on comprehensive clinical care for obese children and adolescents.

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Lydia J. Martin, MSRDLD, SNS
School Nutrition Program Director, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System

Lydia Martin is originally from Vienna, GA, but has lived in Southeast GA for the past 15 years. She has been married to Wesley for 18 years and has two children in SCCPSS, Ethan 9th grade and Emily 6th grade. Yes, they eat school lunch.

Mrs. Martin is currently the School Nutrition Director for 53 schools in Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. Currently, she is the Nutrition Committee Chair for the Georgia School Nutrition Association and serves on the board of Healthy Savannah. Mrs. Martin has a total of 13 years of experience in School Food Service Management. Prior to working in School Nutrition, she worked as Regional Director of Nutrition Services for Georgia and Florida region and has worked as Clinical Dietitian in acute care and renal dialysis. She is a registered dietitian and graduate of Georgia Southern University and Mississippi State University. She has earned credentialing as a School Nutrition Specialist and Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management.

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Chintak Patel, M.D.
Pediatrician, Pediatric Associates of Savannah

Dr. Chintak Patel attended the University of Florida, where he received his Bachelors of Science in Materials Science Engineering. He attended medical school at Saba University School of Medicine and completed his Pediatric Residency at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia. Currently, Dr. Patel is a Pediatrician at Pediatric Associates of Savannah.

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Ericka Russell-Petty, M.D.
Pediatrician, PEds Health

Dr. Ericka Russell-Petty is a Pediatrician in Savannah, Georgia. After receiving her BS and MD Degrees from Pennsylvania State University, She completed her Residency in Pediatrics at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah. Dr. Russell-Petty or Dr. Petty as she is called by most of her patients, spent 12 years working with group practices in Savannah. In June 2013, she opened her own practice, PEds  Health, LLC, on Waters Avenue. At PEds Health, she continues to invest in keeping the children of our community as healthy as possible.

Professionally, Dr. Petty is the President of the South Atlantic Medical Association, SAMA, the local chapter of the Georgia State Medical Association. Through SAMA, she participates in community awareness days in which health screening and education for high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, are provided. She has also organized a job shadowing for students in the medical program at Beach High School. Dr. Petty is also an officer on the Board of the Georgia State Medical Association. In June 2013, she was awarded the George Johnson Community Service award by the Georgia State Medical Association. Dr. Petty is also a member of the American Medical Association and the National Medical Association.

Dr. Petty is married to Mr. Paul David Petty. They have three children: Myonna, Monae, and Malon. Dr. Petty has always been an active member of the PTA associated with her children’s schools. In the community, she has served on the Board for the Coastal Children’s Advocacy Center for over 10 years and is currently a Board member for the Savannah Classical Academy Charter School. Lastly, and most importantly, Dr. Petty and her family are active members of the Branded Hearts Church. Dr. Petty does believe in putting God first in everything she does. She is a Minister and Youth and Teen Leader at Branded Hearts Church International.

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Aaron Whitley
Vice President, Shuman Elementary Parent Teacher Association

Aaron Whitley serves as the Vice President of Shuman Elementary’s PTA. As a married father of three, he understands the importance of fitness at a young age. Aaron served 5 years in the US Army which included 1 combat tour to Afghanistan. His eagerness to learn from different cultures has increased his knowledge when it comes to the development of youth and customs that shape their development. As a scholarship athlete at Savannah State University, Aaron was given the opportunity to coach youth track and field. Through this experience, Aaron was able to learn more about reaching out and connecting with youth.

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