Executive Committee 2017-18



Margaret Cook–Newell, PhD, RDN, LD, CDE, CN, MLDE

Margaret ‘Maggie’ E. Cook-Newell, PHD, RDN, LD, CDE®, CN, MLDE, has been practicing dietetics for over 35 years.  She has been active in the field of diabetes since 1981 and uses her role as faculty at Western Kentucky University to encourage students in all health care professions to attend or advocate for the Kentucky Diabetes Camp for Children Inc., ‘Camp Hendon’ as a tool for learning how to manage life with diabetes.  Maggie has been active in AND at the local and state level and is looking forward to involvement at the national level.  As a registered dietitian/nutritionist her professional opportunities have been exciting and rewarding and still allow for future adventures in the field.









Sara Carrion Perrone, MS, RD, CSP, LD

Sara Carrion Perrone has been a Registered Dietitian for over 18 years and is a Sodexo Clinical Nutrition Manager at Corpus Christi Medical Center. Sara has a vast knowledge in dietetics including a background in adult and pediatric clinical nutrition, weight and diabetes management, community nutrition, breastfeeding promotion, teaching at the university level, and management experience. Sara has held leadership positions for LAHIDAN in the past as both Secretary and Regional Coordinator and has been an Academy Member for almost twenty years.

Sara has served in leadership capacities at both the local, state and national levels. She was President of the Corpus Christi Breastfeeding Coalition and helped secure grant money to build a website aimed to better serve breastfeeding moms in the coastal bend area. She has also volunteered her time to the Texas Academy of Nutrition as Nominating Committee member and currently serves as Scholarship Coordinator for the South Region of the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Sara has also held specialty certifications including Board Certified Specialization in Pediatric Nutrition (CSP) and Child and Adolescent Weight Management. She was also tapped as an expert content writer/committee member for the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s Specialty Exam in Pediatrics.

In her current managerial position, Sara was recently awarded with the Sodexo Cornerstones of Cares award for Service: Patient/Resident Experience in her region for her dedication to patients. She was also recognized as a Sodexo Clinical Matter Expert helping to orient new Sodexo clinical dietitians to their role.






Diana Romano, MS, RD, LD

Diana Romano, MS, RD, LD currently works as an assistant state specialist for the Community Nutrition Education Programs (CNEP) at Oklahoma State University. Mayor responsibilities include curriculum development and training of area coordinators and paraprofessionals. Prior to holding this position, Diana worked as a Family and Consumer sciences Educator teaching community nutrition programs both in English and Spanish and as the Farm to You Exhibit state Coordinator. She completed her Dietetic Internship and received her Master in Nutritional Sciences from Oklahoma State University in 2008. Diana earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from the Xaverian Pontific University in Bogota, Colombia in 1995. After graduating she worked as a sales dietitian at Baxter Laboratories and then as a Food Service Dietitian at San Ignacio Hospital. As part of her job teaching community nutrition, several newspapers and TV networks, both in English and Spanish, have interviewed Diana. She loves being a dietitian and influencing people’s lives in a positive way. She recently received an award from the National Hispanic Medical Association for her leadership role as chair of LAHIDAN and as chair-elect of the Diversity Subcommittee of NEAFCS (National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences)







Magaly Hernandez, MPH, RDN, LDN

Maggie Hernandez has been a dietitian for 39 years. She has diverse experience. She has been a food service director for 5 years, worked as a renal dietitian, diabetes educator, pediatric dietitian and long term care. She has work as an assistant professor at Andrews University for 14 years (2002-2016). During those 14 years she taught in the Department of Public Health, Nutrition and Wellness. Some of her main responsibilities were teaching clinical courses to dietetics students and directing the Dietetic Internship of Nutrition and Dietetics. Also she was a relief clinical dietitian for Lakeland Health for the 9 years (2006-2015), her responsibilities were to work as a clinical dietitian.

She relocated to Orlando, Florida on June 2015. She continues to work at the university setting where she teaches nutrition for nurses, pre-med students and other health professionals at the Adventist University of Health Sciences.

She has a passion to impart nutrition knowledge to everyone. She enjoys networking with dietitians, and other health care professionals.

Her motto is to live life to the fullest and to help people to have happy and healthy lives.





Nathan Myers, MS, RD, CDN

Nathan Myers is a clinical dietitian at the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx, NY, where he works with veterans in the weight management and bariatric surgery program. Originally from a tiny farming community in northeastern NY, he is now a proud resident of the Bronx and also serves as a health coordinator for the Bronx Health REACH "Towards a Healthier Bronx" Initiative. He received his M.S. in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, where he currently lectures as an adjunct professor. Previously, he worked as a clinical dietitian at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Nathan is active in the Greater New York Dietetic Association and his areas of interest, in addition to weight management, include nutrition public policy, sustainability in food systems, and nutrition for athletic performance and wellness. When not on the job, Nathan’s favorite pursuits involve experimenting in the kitchen, reading, tending his house plants, and physical activity of almost any kind, including biking around the city, distance running, hiking, and dancing; in a nod to his home borough, he recently took up the dance style of b-boying. Living and working with a majority Latino population sparked Nathan’s desire to help empower the Latino and Hispanic community through optimal nutrition and he hopes to contribute to this vision as LAHIDAN’s treasurer.







Nominating Chair

Crystal Rivero Young, RDN

Crystal is a Japanese-Mexican-American Registered Dietitian Nutritionist residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated with her Bachelors in Dietetics at Michigan State University. Since graduating, Crystal’s career path has followed the management route as she has been both a Director of Clinical Nutrition and Food Services. For the past 8 years, Crystal has been volunteering with the Commission on Dietetic Registration as a practice area expert and has contributed to developing and revising questions for the registration exam for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and Dietetic Technicians Registered. Crystal is a past LAHIDAN Chair and the 2016-2017 LAHIDAN Nominating Chair Elect.








Nominating Chair-Elect

Virginia Tijerina Walls, MS, NC

Virginia Tijerina Walls is a Mexican dietitian with 25 years of experience who has practiced the profession in several areas including clinical nutrition, education, research, health promotion and nutrition communication. She holds a MS in Nutrition from The University of Oklahoma and is PhD Candidate on Management and Public Policy from Medicine School at National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Virginia is Professor at the School of Public Health and Nutrition at the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon (UANL) and she is the Communication Manager of the Mexican Observatory of Noncommunicable Diseases. Also, she is the Founder and Director of Nutrien Nutrition & Health, a consulting agency for food and nutrition. Virginia is Past-President and Country Representative from Mexico of American Overseas Dietetic Association, the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has received several awards during her professional career; some of the most important are AODA 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year and Excellence in Professional Development by the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon in the same year. Virginia is an international speaker and her main research interests are health policy and childhood obesity prevention.








Mentoring Coordinator

Julie Plasencia, PhD, RDN

Dr. Julie Plasencia is a registered dietitian and is currently an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky. Her research interests are in investigating how culture influences dietary behaviors in Mexican-Americans with type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Plasencia started as a LAHIDAN student member in 2007 and subsequently held the positions of Newsletter Editor, Treasurer, Chair and is currently the Mentoring Program Coordinator. She was named the 2011 Nevada’s Recognized Young Registered Dietitian of the Year award recipient for her volunteer work in the dietetics profession, specifically for her involvement with LAHIDAN. She looks forward to increase participation in LAHIDAN’s mentoring program to help student and mentors mutually enhance each others skills.