Meet our Panel of Experts in the Field of Childhood Obesity

Once you submit a question, it will be answered by a member of our esteemed panel of experts in the field of childhood obesity and advocacy, within one week.

Bonnie Gance-Cleveland PhD, RNC, PNP

Associate Professor, Director, Center for Improving Health Outcomes in Children, Teens & Families, Arizona State University

Dr. Bonnie Gance-Cleveland, PhD, RNC, PNP, is the Director of the Center for Improving Health Outcomes in Children, Teens, and Families at the Arizona State University College of Nursing & Health Innovation. She brings many years of experience as a pediatric nurse practitioner in clinical, research, and academic settings. From 1997 to 2004 she was an assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Nursing, Denver (1997-2004). More recently, she was an associate professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, holder of the Endowed Chair in Pediatric Nursing, and Director of Nursing Research at the Arkansas Children's Hospital, Little Rock. Her extensive publication record includes articles and book chapters on school-based health centers, motivational interviewing as a strategy to enhance families' adherence to treatment regimens, faculty practice, and children with addicted parents. Her recent funding has focused on studies related to substance abuse prevention, school health, family-centered care of the infant toddler, and school-based obesity prevention.

Kathy James DNSc, FNP-BC

Associate Professor of Nursing, University of San Diego’s Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science

Kathy James is an associate professor of nursing at the University of San Diego's Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, nurse practitioner, researcher, speaker and writer. She is a women's health and family nurse practitioner who has maintained a private weight-management practice for 24 years. James, who has a doctorate in nursing science, received the Public Health Championship Award in 2003 for her commitment to obesity care. Dr. James has had a private counseling practice, for 20 years, treating overweight children and adults. Dr. James has firsthand experience on obesity. Twenty years ago she lost 60 pounds. She also has her own Web site,, with tips for quick, high-energy meals and snacks.

Helen Jones, MD, FACP

Internal Physician, Golden State Medical Association

Helen Jones, MDHelen Jones MD is an Internal Medicine physician with Golden State Medical Association in Fresno, California. Dr. Jones has spent years leading and supporting grassroots obesity prevention efforts. As a key player in the formation of the CMA Foundation’s Obesity Prevention Project, Dr. Jones sat on the expert panel that developed the project and co-chaired the panel that created a series of obesity prevention toolkits for health care providers. With the Fresno Unified School District, she helped create and adopt a Wellness Policy to increase access to healthy foods and emphasize physical activity for Central Valley students.

Ellen Lawton, JD

Executive Director, National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership

Ellen Lawton, JD, served as Executive Director of the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children from 2001-2008, developing its National Center in 2006.  She is now Executive Director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership.  Before becoming Executive Director of MLPC, Ms. Lawton was a staff attorney with the organization responsible for a federally funded Welfare-to-Work advocacy project at Boston Medical Center.  She has expertise in poverty law generally, and in the area of family law and interpersonal violence.  Ms. Lawton is nationally recognized for her leadership in developing the medical-legal partnership model, and has published an array of articles describing this work in both clinical and legal journals.  She was a 2004 Harvard Law School Wasserstein Fellow.  Ms. Lawton is a 1993 graduate of Northeastern University School of Law.  Prior to her work at MLPC, she clerked for the Honorable Frederick L. Brown of the Massachusetts Appeals Court and then served as Staff Attorney for the Massachusetts Department of Social Services.

Dexter Louie, MD, JD, MPA

Associate Medical Director, Chinese Community Health Plan

Dexter Louie, MDDr. Louie is an otolaryngologist in private practice in Chinatown, San Francisco, since 1977, and the Associate Medical Director of the Chinese Community Health Plan, a community-based HMO, since 1994.  Dr. Louie is a Trustee (elected 1999) and current President of the Governing Board of the Moraga School District, Moraga, California.  He is a Past President of the San Francisco Medical Society. He has been on the California Wellness Taskforce and is a consultant to the CMA Foundation’s Obesity and Type II Diabetes Prevention Project.  Dr. Louie is on the Steering Committee of the Network of Ethnic Physicians Organizations, a project of the CMA Foundation, Chair of the Board of the National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians, and Vice-Chair of the Board of the Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum.  These organizations focus on issues of minority health and healthcare disparities, healthcare access, and cultural competency. As the current Chair of the CMA Foundation Board of Directors, Dr. Louie provides leadership and expertise to the CMA Foundation’s projects.  Dr. Louie has worked with the Obesity Prevention Project to recruit and train physician champions to develop and carry out their own obesity prevention programs.

Robert Murray, MD

Director, Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition, Nationwide Children's Hospital

Dr. Murray is Director of Nationwide Children's Hospital’s Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition and a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Murray spent 20 years at Children’s Hospital in the field of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition and served as the Director of the Borden Center for Nutrition and Wellness. He served for three years as the Pediatric Medical Director for Ross Labs, a division of Abbott Labs before returning to Children’s in his current role. Dr. Murray has worked on the issue of obesity prevention in children for more than a decade. He is the chair-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on School Health and has been their representative to the national Action for Healthy Kids initiative, promoting school policies that combat obesity. Dr. Murray is also the Chair of the health sector for Central Ohio’s Healthy and Fit project, a community-wide effort to coordinate local resources aimed at curbing obesity.

Vivek Murthy, MD

President and Co-Founder, Doctors for America

Vivek Murthy is an internal medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He received his undergraduate degree in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University, his MD from the Yale School of Medicine, and his MBA from the Yale School of Management. Dr. Murthy is the co-founder of VISIONS and the Swasthya Project, international health non-profit organizations focused on HIV/AIDS education and women’s health, respectively. He is also the co-founder and chairman of Epernicus, LLC a web-based professional networking service for individual researchers and scientific institutions. Dr. Murthy’s past research has focused on the participation of women and minorities in cancer clinical trials; his current research interests include physician satisfaction and burnout. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Dr. Murthy served as a member of the Obama Health Policy Advisory Committee and the Obama New England Steering Committee.

Jyoti Rau, MD, PhD

Internal Physician, Santa Clara Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente

Jyoti Rau, MDDr. Rau received her B.S. from the University of California at Los Angeles in Biology and Engineering. She went on to receive her medical degree from New York Medical College in 2002. Dr. Rau completed her residency in Internal Medicine at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Santa Clara in 2005 and joined the staff at Kaiser Permanente. She also received her PhD. in Public Health/Epidemiology from the University of California at San Diego. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.  Dr. Rau’s medical interests include obesity and weight loss, women's health, ethnic differences in disease prevalence and public health/epidemiology.  Dr. Rau also participates as a Regional Physician Advocate for the Obesity Prevention Project at the CMA Foundation. As an advocate, she will mentor other physician advocates in her community and address policy issues related to obesity prevention.

Victoria Rogers, MD

Director of the Kids CO-OP, Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center

Dr. Victoria Rogers is the Director of the Kids CO-OP at The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center. Over the past few years, she has focused her efforts on combating the childhood obesity epidemic. Some of the statewide initiatives targeting childhood obesity that she has been involved with include: the Countdown to a Healthy ME Program, the Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative (MYOC), and 5-2-1-0 Goes to School. At a national level, she is involved with the Childhood Obesity Action Network (COAN). Most recently, she has been appointed as the Physician Advisor to the Let's Go! Initiative in Greater Portland. Dr. Rogers also serves as a Program Advisor for the AH! Program.

Joseph Schuchter, MPH

Epidemiologist, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Joe is focused on identifying and addressing social determinants of health in the policy and built environments. He has been supporting community, state and national efforts to enable healthy lifestyles and prevent childhood obesity. Prior to coming to Cincinnati Children’s, Joe was a field epidemiologist for Doctors Without Borders. He has also worked in public health, academic and non-government organizations performing research, surveillance, investigation, and monitoring and evaluation. He is a graduate of Thomas More College and the University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Public Health. He is also now finishing a Master’s of Community Planning at the University of Cincinnati. His thesis examines how healthy urban planning can be incorporated into the school setting process.

Lisa Simpson, MB, BCh, MPH, FAAP

Director, Child Policy Research Center, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Prior to coming to Cincinnati Children's, Lisa Simpson, MB, BCh, MPH, was the ACH Guild Endowed Chair in Child Health Policy and Professor of Pediatrics, Nursing and Public Health at the University of South Florida. She also serves as the National Director for Child Health Policy for the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality and serves as an elected member on the board of directors of two national professional associations, AcademyHealth and the Ambulatory Pediatric Association. She also serves on numerous national and state advisory groups.

Dr. Simpson served as the Deputy Director at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality at the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) from 1996-2002. During her seven years as AHRQ's Deputy Director, she worked on shaping the transition of the Agency from AHCPR to AHRQ helping to manage periods of serious budget cuts (1996) as well as budget growth (1997-2001). She also spearheaded initiatives to increase the quality and quantity of child health services research sponsored by the Agency.

Frank E. Staggers, MD

Chair, California Medical Association Foundation

Frank Staggers, MDPrior to his recent retirement, Dr. Staggers was in private practice. He was also the Chief of Urology at the Alameda County Medical Center. Dr. Staggers is retired from the military as a Commander.  He served 28 years in both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy. He received his medical training at the U.S. Naval Hospitals of Long Island, New York, Yokosuka, Japan, and Oakland, California. Dr. Staggers has been an active member of the American Medical Association (AMA), the California Medical Association (CMA), and the Alameda-Contra Costa County Medical Society (ACCCMS) since 1962. He has served as President with both the CMA and ACCCMS, and as a member of the CMA Board of Trustees. He is also a past president of the National Medical Association and Golden State Medical Association. He is a co-founder of the Ethnic Health Institute in Oakland. He is currently the Chair of the California Medical Association Foundation. Dr. Staggers received his BS in Zoology from Virginia State College in Petersburg, VA and his MD from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. He is board certified in Urology.