Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D., President

I earned my BA in Cognitive Science from U.C. Berkeley in 1997, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. I attended graduate school at the University of Rochester and earned my Master’s in 2001 and my Ph.D. in 2003, both in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. I then completed two years of Post-Doctoral training in Psychology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
My first professorship was a two-year appointment in the Psychology Department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. In 2007, I accepted a position as full-time faculty in the Psychology Department at Monroe Community College. I received tenure in 2012 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2013.
I have two publications in peer-reviewed journals, and several refereed conference presentations.
In 2011 I received the NISOD Excellence Award, an honor bestowed annually on select professors in the United States for their outstanding contributions and leadership.
For over six years I taught a college course on the psychology of eating. I have special interest and expertise in the neurobiology of food addiction. I also have over twenty years of experience counseling food addicts and overeaters, and helping them to lose weight. As a formerly-obese woman who is now slender and in the top 0.01% of successful weight loss maintainers, the topic of sustainable weight loss is very personal to me.
In 2014, I founded Bright Line Eating Solutions, LLC, a for-profit company whose mission is to disseminate the psychology and neuroscience of sustainable weight loss and help struggling eaters to get “Happy, Thin, and Free.”
In 2016 I resigned from my position at Monroe Community College and accepted a position as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester, a position I hold to the present day.
My life’s mission is to help people to lose all their excess weight and keep it off long-term.

Nathan Denkin, Ph.D., Secretary/Treasurer

My education included undergraduate study of nuclear engineering with Bachelor of Arts conferred by Queens College, NY, and Bachelor of Science conferred by Columbia University, NY.  My graduate study of physics earned Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees conferred by California Institute of Technology, CA.

I began work as a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories in 1976 and through a process of merger and acquisition stayed with that company (then known as Alcatel-Lucent) until I retired at age 65 in 2012.  I was promoted to Distinguished Member of Technical Staff in 1988 and to Consulting Member of Technical Staff in 2000.  During my career, I was involved in the design of numerous optical fiber transmission systems and was awarded 14 patents.

My education and engineering/physics experience have allowed me to develop both strong research and writing skills.  I have a personal curiosity about sustainable weight loss since my largely sedentary career and poor diet left me with coronary artery disease as well as other inflammatory diseases.  I have neither had any connection with the food or health care industries nor any financial interest with any interested person or entity. I reached my goal weight of 155 on July 31, 2015 and have maintained it since then.

Ocean Robbins

Ocean Robbins is co-founder and CEO of the 350,000+ member Food Revolution Network, adjunct professor in Chapman University’s Peace Studies Department, and co-author of Voices of the Food Revolution and of Choices For Our Future. He launched the non-profit Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!) at age 16, and directed the organization for 20 years. Ocean has spoken in person to more than 200,000 people and facilitated hundreds of gatherings for leaders from 65+ nations. He is a recipient of many awards, including the Freedom’s Flame Award, the Harmon Wilkinson Award for distinguished contribution to the humanities and social sciences, and the national Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service.

Ari Whitten

Ari Whitten is the author of the #1 Amazon bestselling book Forever Fat Loss and the creator of the Energy Blueprint system. He is a fitness and nutrition expert with a Bachelor’s of Science from San Diego State University in Kinesiology. He holds two advanced certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine and recently completed coursework for his PhD in Clinical Psychology, an education which rounds out all aspects–nutrition, fitness, and psychology–of his approach to optimal health. He has been working with people to improve their health and body composition for over a decade. Ari is a tireless researcher who has obsessively devoted the last two decades of his life to the pursuit of being on the cutting-edge of the science on health, fitness, and nutrition. In a world fixated on diet, exercise, and simple calorie numbers, he has also brought forth a paradigm which is inclusive of many important and often neglected factors that have now been shown to be integral players in our health and body composition, such as the importance of circadian rhythm and sleep, non-exercise activity thermogenesis, stress, the body fat set-point system, and environmental pollutants. Ari’s work centers around energy enhancement and the science of sustainable, permanent fat loss.

Fatimah Shehadeh

I am a systems engineer at Nokia. I work in design of optical fiber transmission systems. I earned a PhD in electrical engineering from City University of New York, and an MBA from Columbia Business School. I am active volunteer in the IEEE (The Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers) promoting STEM education to students in Monmouth County. I live in Freehold, NJ with my husband and two children.

Tony Vassallo

Tony Vassallo began his life-changing journey in early 2010, shedding 130 pounds and eliminating a host of medical issues, including Type II diabetes, gout, acid reflux, sleep apnea, joint pain, high cholesterol, and other illnesses. In the years since, he has maintained his weight and is living medication free.

As a life-long foodie, Tony used his love of cooking as a tool for change. He began by hosting culinary workshops, teaching people to eat their way to weight loss. It was this passion for helping others that persuaded Tony to leave a 15-year career in the IT industry. He studied Nutrition and Wellness at George Brown College and focused on researching obesity, nutrition, weight loss, and food addiction. For three years, Tony acted as a keynote speaker for a men’s weight loss support program, educating and inspiring hundreds toward their own success.

Today Tony is the owner and founder of MODA Nutrition Inc. and facilitates a weekly weight loss support group in Toronto, Canada. He is the author of Weight Loss Never Tasted So Good, a cookbook of recipes he used during his weight loss journey and still uses today. Tony is the Executive Producer of a documentary exploring the journeys of 15 individuals who have each successfully sustained their weight loss for 5 years or more. The film is scheduled for release in late 2017.

Elizabeth Burnett

I come to this Board with a passion for supporting research into and increasing the awareness of what is required to maintain long-term, sustainable weight loss. This issue has been front and center in my life for many years.
I received my Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee in 1993 and my B.A. in Mathematics at the University of Mississippi in 1985. I have also been awarded the professional designation of Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA).
Presently, I work as a Trust Protector in Nashville, Tennessee. Prior to operating my own business, I worked as a Trust Advisor for SunTrust Bank in the Private Capital Division for Middle Tennessee. My experience in private practice and as a trust advisor have helped me develop skills in organizational dynamics.
I have previously served on the Board of a non-profit organization. Currently, I serve on the board of a for-profit business service organization operating regionally. I also serve as a director for a family held private trust company.