Amir Alakaam, PhD, MS, RDN, MBChB
Associate Professor with the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga
Dr. Amir Alakaam has over six years of clinical experience as a physician in family medicine and general surgery, and several years of teaching and research experience in the area of dietary habits, breastfeeding, food policy, and community nutrition. Dr. Alakaam has served as a guest speaker, book reviewer, and invited reviewer for grants and journals. He is a professional member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Public Health Association, American Diabetes Association, and other national and state associations. His publications have appeared in several professional journals such as the Journal of Epidemiological Research, Journal of Human Lactation, Journal of International Students, and AIMS Public Health. Amir is volunteering for CAND to form a deeper connection with the dietetics community in Chattanooga. His interests include research in breastfeeding and community nutrition.
melissa powell, phd, rdn
Assistant Professor in the ACEND and CEPH accredited Master of Public Health, Nutrition and Dietetics (MPH ND) program at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga
Melissa began her study of nutrition in Birmingham, AL where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Samford University and completed a Dietetic Internship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. After working as a clinical dietitian in a rural hospital and long-term care facility in Alabama, she moved to Chattanooga to accept the position of Nutrition Director for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County WIC Program as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. She completed a doctoral degree from UTC while working as a Lecturer in the Department of Health and Human Performance. She enjoys volunteering as a community nutritionist and board member at the Northside Neighborhood House and writing for Rooted Ministry, a faith-based Christian ministry to parents and youth ministry leaders. She is married and has two children.
AMANDA KIRKPATRICK, MS, RD, LDN, CLC
Clinical Dietitian at Parkridge Valley Child and Adolescent Campus
Amanda received her undergraduate degree from UTC, completed her internship at Southern Regional Medical Center, and Master’s Degree at the University of Alabama. Amanda has been a Registered Dietitian since 2009. In her time as a Dietitian, she has worked as a Clinical Dietitian at Erlanger Medical Center, transitioned to the Pediatric Nutrition world as the Nutrition Director for Hamilton County WIC, and is currently a Clinical Dietitian at Parkridge Valley Child and Adolescent Campus. Amanda has played an active role in the CAND and served on the board in different capacities.
felicia boyer, rd, ldn, cdces
Registered/Licensed Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist
Felicia is a native Chattanoogan and a graduate of UTC and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is licensed in both Tennessee and Georgia. As a member of CAND, AND, and the Diabetes Care and Education practice group, she has worked alongside individuals with Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes in the Chattanooga area for twenty years. Felicia enjoys practicing yoga and took her practice one step further by becoming a certified yoga instructor. She also enjoys reading and hiking.
Brian Jones, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES, CCM, FAND
Dietetics Clinical Program Manager at AssureCare and adjunct instructor for TN eCampus
Brian attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale where he obtained his bachelor’s and combined masters/Dietetic Internship with a focus on Community Nutrition. Brian has been a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist since 2007. He started his career in the clinical setting, working in acute care hospitals in Chattanooga eventually managing clinical dietetics for the two major regional hospital systems. From there, Brian pivoted to a population health position in the managed health arena and was able to create roles for dietitians in an entirely new sector. Currently, he is employed by a health technology company and is an adjunct instructor for the state of Tennessee eCampus.
Brian has been a member of CAND and has served on their board for several years. He is also very involved with the Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (TAND) and is the Nutrition Services and Payment Specialist as well as a Past-President of that organization (2018-2019), having served as President Elect-Elect, President-Elect, President previously. Brian is also an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Case Management Society of America, and the Nutrition Informatics Practice Group.
“I volunteer with CAND because I feel that for the strength of our profession, we need a strong professional organization. The guidance, advocacy, and leadership from the Academy is paramount for the safety of the public and I am proud to serve at the local level to support that!”
marissa mcelrone, PhD, RDN
Scholarship and Awards Committee
Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) in the Department of Health and Human Performance
Marissa teaches courses and advises students in the UTC Master of Public Health Program. Marissa completed her Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from Penn State University and earned her doctoral degree at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in Nutritional Sciences with an emphasis in Community Nutrition, where she also completed a Dietetic Internship. Marissa brings years of public health nutrition experience with previous positions including Minority Health Promotion Coordinator, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program Nutritionist, Nutrition Leadership Trainee through the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the State Project Coordinator on the multi-state, USDA-funded iCook 4-H research project, and a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania, East Africa. Marissa’s research aims to explore and address cultural, socioecological, and behavioral factors related to disparities in nutrition/food security and health equity among diverse, marginalized, and under-resourced populations through community-based interventions and policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change approaches.
Hannah Parrish, MS, RD, LD
Registered Dietitian at Erlanger Behavioral Health
Hannah Parrish started her dietetics journey in Waco, Texas where she attended Baylor University. She completed her Master’s in Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Lipscomb University in Nashville, then fulfilled her Dietetic Internship at UT Martin in Memphis. She finally landed home in Chattanooga as a Registered Dietitian at Erlanger Behavioral Health. Hannah’s passion for nutrition grew from home-cooked meals and gathering around a table, as well as, her time spent as a college athlete. Hannah joined CAND to be a part of a community of dietitians striving to improve our city and profession with the unique perspective only a nutrition expert can bring.
Emily Maddux, MS-MPH, RDN, LDN, FAND, ACE, CHC
Professor at University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
Emily Maddux attended Lipscomb University where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Nutrition. She attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville to complete her dual Master’s Degree and Dietetic Internship. Emily has been a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist since 2007. She started her career in the clinical setting, working in acute care hospitals in Memphis and Chattanooga, then she worked in Corporate Wellness as a health coach and Wellness Director. Emily is currently a professor at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.
Emily has a passion for corporate wellness, public health, and sports nutrition. She played college volleyball at Lipscomb University, where her drive and passion for sports nutrition started. She has since competed in many half marathons and triathlons in the southeast, including her first 70.3 in her hometown of Chattanooga. Emily is married and has two active children under the age of 7.
Emily has been a member of CAND and has served on their board for a number of years. She is also very involved with the Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (TAND) and is a Past-President of that organization (2019-2020), having served as President Elect-Elect, President-Elect, President previously. Emily is also an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association.
Danielle Townsend, RDN, LD
Social Media Chair
Registered Dietitian with Dynamic Dietetics, Inc.
Danielle received her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and completed the Dietetic Internship at Nicholls State University in her home state of Louisiana. She has over a decade of experience in clinical dietetics, clinical management, food service management, and outpatient counseling. She is employed by Dynamic Dietetics, Inc. and currently provides services to the patients of Primary Healthcare Centers [of Northwest Georgia] to help people meet their nutrition and health goals. She is an editorial and PR whiz and is the editor of a monthly nutrition newsletter. She has been featured in Chattanooga’s HealthScope and Chatter magazines and contributes to articles for the Times Free Press online newspaper. She is a local go-to RD for public speaking and has appeared on Rossville, Georgia’s UCTV The Morning Show and Night Talk, and also Chattanooga’s This ‘N That several times. In her free time, Danielle enjoys cooking, reading, binging on Netflix, hiking and walking, and loving on her four cats.