• Kristen Vanags, President, Advocacy
Kristen Vanags is the co-founder and president of Georgia PKU Connect and a leading advocate for medical foods coverage. She also serves on the Georgia Newborn Screening Advisory Committee and is the current National PKU Alliance Advocacy Chair. Kristen previously served on the board of the Southeast Regional Genetics Group and was the chair of the Southeast NBS & Genetics Collaborative Consumer Alliance. Kristen received the inaugural Applied Nutrition ROSE Award and coordinated the first National PKU Awareness Day with U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (GA). Prior to her engagement in non-profit work, Kristen was a business process consultant with Accenture and later did freelance change management consulting. Kristen lives with her husband and two children in Atlanta, home of her alma mater, Georgia Tech.
• Shiela Ryan, Vice President, Education, Clinic Coordination
Shiela Ryan has been a member of the Georgia PKU Connect Board of Directors since 2009. She graduated in May, 2017 from the Georgia State University Undergraduate Program (DPD) in Nutrition and Dietetics. During her enrollment at GSU Shiela was the Treasurer for the Nutrition Student Network, received a DPD Outstanding Student Award, and attained a ServSafe manager’s certification. Shiela also holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a focus in Human Resources Management from Columbus State University. Prior to studying Nutrition at GSU Shiela held a management position in Employee Benefits for Synovus Financial Corp. for over 10 years. While not studying nutrition, or connecting with Georgia PKU families Shiela enjoys spending time with her family, running, and cooking. Her interest in supporting the PKU community began with the diagnosis of her Nephew in 2008 and her professional journey in nutrition continues with the onset of her Dietetic Internship Fall, 2017 with Keith & Associates Dietetic Distance Internship (KADDI).
• Steve Hunt, Treasurer, Georgia’s National PKU Alliance Board of Directors Representative
• John Lorimer, Secretary
As the parent of two PKU adults, John has been actively involved in PKU issues for several decades, including serving as President of the Illinois PKU Parents Organization in the past. Professionally John worked in the fields of Communications, Technology, Human Resources and Risk Management, most recently as Vice President of Analytics Product Management for LexisNexis, specializing in fraud mitigation. John is now retired and spends much of his time volunteering with several charitable organizations, including assisting with Georgia PKU Connect.
• Adele Hunt, Events
• Cathy Lorimer, Communications
Cathy is a mom of two PKU adults (and one non-PKU child) born in the early days when the PKU collaborative study was still determining how long children should remain on diet. A native of Illinois, Cathy retired with her husband and is currently living in Georgia. Cathy served on the Illinois PKU board for two consecutive terms. She was responsible for layout and design for the quarterly PKU Press of Illinois, and helped with the annual Illinois PKU conferences. Finding few resources for managing the diet, Cathy wrote and published the “Low Protein Cuisine” cookbook in 1991 after her niece was also born with PKU. Eventually, with the advent of the internet, Cathy designed and served as webmaster for the first Illinois PKU website. Though her children are now grown, being educated and helping in the PKU world is important to her. Her PKU son and his wife are now living nearby in Georgia, and her PKU daughter lives in Illinois with her husband where she regularly speaks and writes on behalf of PKU.
• Joanne Hunt, Fundraising
• Daniel Almeida, At Large
Daniel Almeida is a senior financial executive, with 20 years of experience in investment and risk management, insurance and derivatives. After many roles within ING Group and Aflac in Brazil, Latin America and USA, he is now the Director for Global Risk Management at Intercontinental Exchange Inc. When his younger daughter was diagnosed with PKU in 2008, he met Kristen via the Emory Genetics Clinic and they have been in contact since then. Given his personal link to the PKU community and also professional background, in 2015 he was invited to join the Board of Georgia PKU Connect. Besides supporting all its activities, his main focus in the group has been on Organization Planning and Board development, determining skills, experience needed, and defining board member roles and responsibilities. Daniel lives in Atlanta with his wife and 2 daughters.
• Lindsey Coltraine, At Large