Advisory Board

Colleen Heflin | Syracuse University

Colleen Heflin is the chair and professor of public administration and international affairs and associate dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is also a faculty affiliate at the Center for Policy Research and the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. As a research and policy scholar for nearly twenty years, Heflin is regarded as a national expert on food insecurity, nutrition and welfare policy, and the well-being of vulnerable populations. Heflin’s research has helped document the causes and consequences of food insecurity, identify the barriers and consequences of participation in nutrition programs, and understand the changing role of the public safety net in the lives of low-income Americans. Heflin has published over 70 research articles and her work has appeared in leading journals such as the American Sociological Review, Social Problems, Health Affairs, Medical Care, and the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Her research is regularly funded by the National Institutes for Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation. From 2012-2017, Heflin was supported by a five-year award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service as Family Self-Sufficiency and Stability Research Scholar to explore how multiple program participation affects vulnerable families’ well-being. Heflin has experience engaging with federal policymakers, recently providing expert testimony before Congress, providing technical assistance to states working to improve access to food and nutrition assistance programs, and working with county agencies to redesign their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) application process.

Loren Bell | Altarum Institute

Loren Bell is a national expert in food assistance and nutrition education policy and program operations. He has more than 25 years of experience working with WIC and SNAP at the state and national levels. Under Mr. Bell’s leadership, Altarum Institute has emerged as a leading provider of technical assistance and evaluation services in the area of food assistance and nutrition education programs. He has managed a number of projects, including studies of food purchasing patterns of WIC clients, food stamp nutrition education, WIC vendor management practices, a needs assessment of adolescents participating in WIC. Mr. Bell has also managed a number of technical assistance efforts, including projects to help states revise funding of local WIC agencies; develop participant-centered nutrition education; and use program data to improve program management. For 11 years, Mr. Bell directed the Washington State WIC Program. He received three national awards from the USDA for this work.

Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, Ph.D. | Yale School of Public Health

Professor of Public Health, Director of the Office of Public Health Practice, and Director of the Global Health Concentration at the Yale School of Public Health. He is the PI of the Yale-Griffin CDC Prevention Research Center (PRC). His global public health nutrition and food security research program has contributed to improvements in breastfeeding and other maternal, infant and young child nutrition outcomes, iron deficiency anemia among infants, household food security, and early child development. His health disparities research involves assessing the impact of community health workers at improving behavioral and metabolic outcomes in vulnerable communities. He has published over 280 research articles, 3 books/monographs, and numerous journal supplements, book chapters, and technical reports. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine (elected in 2019) and served in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) Food and Nutrition Board from 2012-18. He has been a senior advisor to maternal-child community nutrition programs as well as household food security measurement projects funded by the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, UNICEF, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the U.S. Agency for International Development, The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH),The World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Governments in Latin America & Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Europe . He obtained his BS in Chemical Engineering from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and his MS in Food Science and his PhD in Nutrition from the University of California at Davis. His postdoctoral training at UC Davis focused on the link between nutrition and early childhood development.

Lorrene Ritchie | Nutrition Policy Institute

Lorrene Ritchie, PhD, RD, is the inaugural Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist in the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The mission of NPI is to conduct research that informs nutrition policy and programs for healthy children, families, and communities. NPI provides nutrition policy leadership built from ANR’s numerous research, and education activities, and works in synergy with research and outreach efforts being conducted throughout the UC system.

Dr. Ritchie has devoted her career to the development of interdisciplinary, science-based and culturally relevant solutions to child obesity and food security. She has conducted studies in numerous settings on the impact of nutrition policies and programs. Current research interests include evaluation of the relationship of school-level programs and policies on student dietary intakes, the impact of policy on nutrition practices in childcare settings, and the relationship of federal, state and community-level programs and policies with child nutrition, weight status and health.

Mary Story | Duke University

Dr. Mary Story is a Professor of Global Health and Community and Family Medicine, and Associate Director of Education and Training, Duke Global Health Institute at Duke University. She is Director of the national program office for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research program that supports research on environmental and policy strategies to promote healthy eating among children to prevent childhood obesity. Dr. Story’s PhD is in nutrition science and her interests are in the area of child and adolescent nutrition, and childhood obesity prevention. Dr. Story has conducted numerous school and community-based obesity prevention studies and has been Principal Investigator on several NIH grants. She has 450 scientific publications on child/adolescent nutrition and obesity prevention. Dr. Story was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2010. She has been a member of several IOM Committees including Food Marketing and the Diets of Children and Youth; Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools; Childhood Obesity Prevention Actions for Local Governments; Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols; and the Standing Committee for Childhood Obesity Prevention. She currently serves on the IOM Food and Nutrition Board. She is also a member of the DHHS/USDA 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. She has received numerous awards for her research and work in the field of child and adolescent nutrition.

Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach | Northwestern University

IPR Director Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach is an economist who studies policies aimed at improving the lives of children in poverty, including education, health, and income support policies. Her work traces the impact of major public policies such as the Food Stamp Program, school finance reform, and early childhood education on children’s long-term outcomes. She is the Margaret Walker Alexander Professor in the School of Education and Social Policy.

Schanzenbach has published in many top-tier economics journals. Her research is regularly cited in top media outlets, and she has testified before both the Senate and House of Representatives on her research.

From 2015–17, she served as director of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. She is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a research associate at the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Education and the National Academy of Social Insurance.

PhD, Economics, Princeton University, 2002