• Shiela Cochran Ryan, RDN, LD, President
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 and completed her dietetic internship Fall, 2017 with Keith & Associates Dietetic Distance Internship (KADDI). 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 her role as an outpatient dietitian working for Morrison Healthcare at Wellstar in Atlanta, Georgia.
• Kristen Vanags, Vice-President, Advocacy
Kristen Vanags is a co-founder and former president of Georgia PKU Connect and a leading advocate for medical foods coverage. She also serves on the Georgia Newborn Screening Advisory Committee and the National PKU Alliance Affiliate Council. Kristen is a trusted expert on medical nutrition legislation and has lead advocacy initiatives at the state and federal level for over 10 years. Kristen previously served on the board of the Southeast Regional Genetics Group and was the chair of the Southeast Newborn Screening & 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.
• Christina Hwang, Treasurer
Christina serves as Treasurer on the Board. Christina is originally from Philadelphia, PA and moved to Atlanta, GA with her two children, in 2011. Having moved to a new city, Christina wanted to connect with other families who live with PKU and found Georgia PKU Connect via a Google Search and connected with Kristen through the “Connect with Us” link on the website. Through Georgia PKU Connect’s annual Camp Connect, Christina’s daughter Elizabeth learned the importance of maintaining her diet and most importantly that she is not alone. In 2018, Christina was asked to join the Georgia PKU Connect, Board of Directors as Treasurer. Professionally, Christina has held various roles within the Finance & Accounting organization at Turner Broadcasting, since 2011. She is currently supporting CNN’s Digital businesses as Manager of Financial Analysis. Christina graduated from Temple University with a B.B.A. in Accounting and has passed all four parts of the CPA exams. She currently lives in Atlanta, with her son Daniel and Elizabeth.
• 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
Lindsey Coltraine is a Registered Nurse who works in pediatrics, and she is a Family Therapist where she works with couples and adult individuals. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology before going on to complete her Master’s of Nursing degree with Georgia Health Sciences University and Master of Family Therapy degree with Mercer University. She is married to Brian Coltraine, and they have a son who was born in October 2015 with PKU. They also have another son who was born in September 2019. Lindsey has been very active in the PKU community and is proud to serve on the board. Her passion is connecting with new families and helping to ease the transition into the PKU world.
• Erica Shaddix, At Large
Erica Shaddix has been a member of Georgia PKU Connect since June 2011 when her daughter, Emily, was diagnosed with PKU. Erica earned both undergraduate and masters degrees from Georgia State University in Early Childhood Education. She is a Certified Teacher in the State of Georgia for Pre-K through 5th grade and has taught in various classroom settings. Erica is currently the Director of a private preschool in the Atlanta area, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.