Our Staff

Ted Barnett, MD, FACLM

Founding President and Board Chair

Full-time unpaid volunteer
  • Dr. Barnett is the “High-Tech Doctor with Low-Tech Solutions”
  • BS from Yale University, MD from Tufts University
  • Board Certified in Diagnostic Imaging (1984) and Vascular and Interventional Radiology (inaugural exam 1995) and has practiced Radiology in the Rochester area since 1986.
  • Board Certified in Lifestyle Medicine, having passed the inaugural examination given by the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine in October 2017.
  • Partner, Borg and Ide Imaging, Rochester, NY
  • Lead lecturer for “Jumpstarting Health,”  a 24 CME Lifestyle Medicine and plant-based nutrition course
  • He, his wife and three children have thrived on an exclusively plant-based diet since 1991.

Susan Friedman, MD, MPH, FACLM

Director of Clinical Studies and Board Vice Chair

  • Trained at Northwestern and Johns Hopkins Universities
  • Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester
  • Board certified internist and geriatrician
  • Lead author of the White Paper on Healthy Aging published in 2018 by the American Geriatrics Society.
  • Board Certified in Lifestyle Medicine, having passed the inaugural examination given by the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine in October 2017.
  • Completed eCornell Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate at T. Collin Campbell Center for Nutritition Studies.
  • Special interest in healthy aging
  • Recipient of numerous research grants
  • At home, she is happy to find new plant-based recipes for her husband, and 3 boys.

Carol H. Barnett, PhD, JD

Content Expert and Board Secretary/Treasurer

Full-time unpaid volunteer
  • BA from St. Bonaventure University (class Valedictorian); PhD in English Language and Literature from Yale University; Law degree (JD) from Yale Law School
  • Co-Coordinator with husband Ted D. Barnett, MD of the Rochester Area Vegan Society since 1995
  • Vegan since 1991; raised three vegan children
  • Curriculum development for 15-Day Whole-Food Plant-Based Jumpstart Program
  • Curriculum development for CME program “Jumpstarting Health”
  • Curriculum development for alumni program “Plant-Based Together.”
  • Involved in town governance and green space protection, most recently as a founding member of the Rush Recreation and Park Association

Maria Dewhirst

Director of Operations

  • Maria earned her MPA in 2022
  • She came to RLMI with over ten years of experience as a nonprofit administrator. Most recently, she worked as the administrator of His Branches, a Federally Qualified Health Center look-alike in Rochester, NY.
  • Several years ago, Maria became plant-based after being diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 48 and is an enthusiastic WFPB advocate.

Robert Franki

Communications Director
Jumpstart Project Manager

  • Graduated with an MA in Digital Art Systems from SUNY Buffalo
  • Bloomberg Financial Markets, Senior Manager in IT
  • Contributor and manager in IT, data base management, graphics, and A/V production
  • Implemented learning management systems (LMS) in computer security and workplace harassment prevention
  • He and his wife combined homeschooling with business by developing an early music education program.
  • Completed eCornell T. Colin Campbell Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate
  • Bob’s WFPB journey has included losing 115 lbs. over a 3-year period, and he enjoys sharing “survival tips” with anyone working to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Beth Garver

Director of Strategy and Engagement

  • Graduated with a BA in Spanish/Latin American Studies, an MS in Education and a Certificate of Advance Study (CAS) in Educational Administration.
  • Diverse background in strategic planning, global marketing, grant writing, telecom, curriculum/instructional design, education, and entrepreneurship.
  • Passionate about running, animal rights and serving the underserved and at-risk.
  • Vegetarian since 1989, Vegan since 2009.
  • After participating in a 15 Day Jumpstart in 2019, adopted a low fat whole-food plant-based lifestyle.
  • Married to a supportive husband, with a loving daughter and 3 personable cats.

Brian Bell

Director of Healthcare Alliances

  • After a long career in the electronics industry with roles spanning from engineering to global account management, Brian decided to pivot and pursue a fulfilling and impactful role at RLMI.
  • Now he focuses on forming partnerships with healthcare providers and organizations to employ Lifestyle Medicine for optimal patient health and prevent and reverse chronic diseases.  He collaborates with partners to integrate RLMI programs into their patients’ healthcare plans, with the goal to scale these programs globally to positively impact as many lives as possible.
  • Vegan since 2014 and vegetarian for many years prior to that, he is passionate about the benefits of a WFPB diet, including optimal human health, the positive environmental impact, and animal rights.
  • Cycling, running, and fitness training are an important part of his life.
  • Married to a big-hearted wife who often brings an interesting array of foster animals into their home.

Bruce Pollock, MBA

Quality Improvement Manager and Database Administrator

  • Finance and Business Operations Manager at IBM
  • IBM Project Manager
  • Harvard Business School, MBA
  • Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Master in City & Regional Planning
  • University of Rochester, BA
Bruce is responsible for improving the quality and effectiveness of RLMI programs, especially the 15-Day Whole-Food, Plant-Based (WFPB) Jumpstart program. He maintains program data and produces analyses and reports to improve programs and highlight their effectiveness in RLMI collateral materials.  He began his WFPB lifestyle in 2018 to be proactive to try to avoid prostate cancer and since then he has discovered this lifestyle has improved his health, energy, and vitality.  Bruce enthusiastically enjoys the WFPB journey with all its new nutritional discoveries!

Keyome Johnson

Medical Assistant and Customer Success Specialist

  • Whole-food plant-based since 2021
  • BS in Health and Human Services from St. John’s University
  • Extensive clinical and medical administration experience
  • Singer, songwriter and musician

Kim Taylor

Program Facilitator and Health Coach

  • Graduated with a BS in Business Management from St. John Fisher
  • AADP certified Holistic Health Practitioner
  • Certificate in Nutrition from the Vegetarian Health Institute
  • Business owner, Life Coach, spent several years as a manager/district manager for a non-profit agency
  • Kim has been plant-based since 2018. After taking Dr. Barnett’s 6-week nutrition course and the Jumpstart program she adopted the whole-food plant-based lifestyle.

Bubbie Staron

Program Facilitator and Cooking Instructor

  • Currently a supervisor at Monroe County Department of Human Services, on the County’s Employee Wellness Committee since it’s inception
  • Co-founder of Rochester VegFest
  • Vice President of Animal Rights Rochester
  • In August 2019, Bubbie became a Certified Food For Life instructor. Food For Life is a program from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and is recognized as an award-winning nutrition education and cooking class program that provides an innovative approach to diet-related chronic diseases.

Brett Nyquist

Director of Technology

  • Brett came to RLMI with 7+ years experience in the IT field and has been working for PBNSG.org as their Director of Technology since 2017
  • He has been a plant-based eater and advocate since 2015, along with his wife Nicole
  • Passionate about yoga, meditation, cooking, and living a healthy lifestyle

Paul Chatlin

Consultant

  • Founder of Plant Based Nutrition Support Group (PBNSG)
  • In May of 2013, he was diagnosed with Heart Disease. One artery was 100% blocked and two others were 65% blocked. Add to that leaky valves, an enlarged heart, the thickening of the right side of his heart, a left bundled branch block and heart murmur, he was in seriously bad shape. They performed a heart catheter procedure, and a heart transplant was ruled out, thankfully but he needed triple bypass surgery. His cardiologist gave him two options: bypass surgery or try “Plant Based Nutrition”. He chose nutrition and the rest is history. After just 3 weeks, thanks to Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, his angina disappeared, his cholesterol levels dropped from 347 to 127 and today, it is at 100. He has lost 65 pounds, and has kept it off and feels great!

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