FAACT's Diversity, Equity, and Advisory Board
We are excited to announce the formation of FAACT's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Board. These extraordinary food allergy community leaders, members, and advocates bring rich, diverse backgrounds and conversations to the table. Our goal is to explore how FAACT can improve the diversity of our organization, our constituents, events, and initiatives; including discovering pathways for equity and inclusion while creating a safe and equitable space for our constituents to thrive, share, and learn about living with food allergies through education, advocacy, awareness, and research.
Our commitment to the food allergy community grows deeper with the creation of this board. We are honored and humbled by the immediate response and formation of this important advisory board. Stay tuned for updates as we explore and learn together.
We are excited to start this journey with the following Advisory Board Members.
S. Shahzad Mustafa, MD, Medical Advisor
Dr. Shahzad Mustafa also serves as FAACT’s Medical Advisory Board Chair. After growing up in the Rochester, New York area, Dr. Mustafa pursued his undergraduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and attended medical school at SUNY Buffalo. He then completed his internal medicine training at the University of Colorado and stayed in Denver to complete his fellowship training in allergy and clinical immunology at the University of Colorado, National Jewish Health, and Children’s Hospital of Denver.
While in Denver, Dr. Mustafa was involved in research on peanut allergy and new therapies for asthma. Dr. Mustafa is a member of the AAAAI adverse reactions to foods committee as well as the AAAAI mast cell disorders committee. He was also a co-chair on the AAAAI sub-committee on influenza vaccination in egg-allergic individuals.
He sees patients out of the Rochester Regional Health System and is heavily involved with the allergy/immunology training program at the University of Rochester, where he is Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine. He is also the clerkship director for the allergy/clinical immunology elective at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Outside of work, Dr. Mustafa is married and has three children, including one child with allergies to peanuts and tree nuts. In addition to spending time with his family, his interests include traveling, photography, and playing squash.
Javier Evelyn, Advisor
Javier, a patient entrepreneur who personally suffers from multiple food allergies, is the Founder and CEO of Alerje, a MedTech & Digital Health startup. He's also a founding team member of MedTech Color, an organization aimed to advance the representation of persons of color in the medical device industry. He serves as a Millennial Advisory Board Member at Detroit based First Independence Bank. Javier recently made the 2019 Crain’s Detroit Business 40 Under 40 List. In 2017, he served as the 2017 Google x CODE2040 Detroit EIR. Prior to these endeavors, Javier led in the development of mobile app projects for a multi-billion dollar health insurance company and pharmacy benefit manager. Before working in the tech industry, he was a founding team member of an independent insurance agency where he led in sales and management. Originally from Chicago, IL, he received his Bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University.
Brian J. Hom
Brian Hom has advocated in the food allergy community for more than 12 years. He has made it his personal mission to raise awareness of the dangers of food allergies and to help find a cure as well as the cause of food allergies so no other families have to suffer loss of life from food allergies. Brian’s 18-year-old son, BJ Hom, died on a family vacation in 2008 after eating a dessert that contained traces of peanuts. The family was visiting a resort in Los Cabos, Mexico, to celebrate BJ’s 18th birthday and his graduation from high school. BJ did not have an epinephrine auto-injector with him because his doctors thought his symptoms would always be mild that they never prescribed auto-injectable epinephrine. Brian has two younger sons, Brandon and Steven Hom. Steven, who is now age 18, has the same severe peanut allergy as his older brother BJ and is participating in the Phase 2 Viaskin Peanut Patch Study at Stanford University with Dr. Kari Nadeau to find a cure.
Brian chaired the California Bay Area FAAN Walk for Food Allergy in 2011 and 2012 and has raised more than $290,000 through these events. He was awarded the FAAN Family Advocacy Award in 2010 and was named “Outstanding Volunteer for 2013.” Brian advocated on Capitol Hill for the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act and appeared on Lifetime Network’s television show, “The Balancing Act,” to raise awareness of the dangers of food allergies. Brian filmed a YouTube video for Mylan Corporation called “Food Allergies Don’t Take Vacations” and has appeared on NBC News Bay Area and KPIX Channel 5 and many radio talk shows, sharing his son’s story to raise awareness of the dangers of food allergies. He has also shared his family’s story in two news articles on CNN.com “"Study: Food allergies more common, more severe among children" and “8 percent of US children now have food allergies,” and the San Jose Mercury newspaper.
Brian is also co-founder of the Food Allergy Zone Web site with Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino, which is dedicated to helping us all stay alive and thrive with food allergies and to find the cause and cure for food allergies. Brian has been on the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board.
Brian has a Bachelor’s degree in Managerial Economics and a Master’s degree in Business Management and has been working in the high-tech industry for more than 34 years as a Global Commodity Manager for IBM, Hitachi, and HGST Inc. a Western Digital Company and also owns a Vitality Bowls franchise. Brian also serves on FAACT's Board of Directors.
Stephanie Labile, Advisor
Stephanie Labile is a wife and mother of two beautiful, loving little girls born with many, life-threatening food allergies. Stephanie shares their journey with Celiac disease, unspecified muscular dystrophy, eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), FPIES, EDS (connective tissue disease), GERD, and Autism. Her goal is to advocate, educate, and raise awareness for multiple conditions. Stephanie is a FAACT-recognized support group leader for the No Nuts Mom Group of Orange County in California and speaks fluent (and writes) Spanish and Italian.
Helen Look, Advisor
Helen Look is a food allergy advocate from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is an academic librarian with over ten years of experience in public health. Helen has published and presented on topics of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within librarianship and higher education. She is currently serving as Co-Chair of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature where she champions diversity in literature. Helen’s long-term commitment and advocacy efforts have been recognized on multiple occasions on local, state, and national levels.
Her oldest daughter was diagnosed with multiple food allergies as an infant. As a food allergy parent, Helen remains steadfast in her commitment to addressing racial health disparities and identifying better ways to provide support to underserved populations within the food allergy community. Helen has worked on various community outreach projects in Ann Arbor. She currently serves as a FAACT-recognized support group leader for the No Nuts Moms Group Food Allergic Families of Ann Arbor.
Erin Matthews, LCSW, Advisor
Erin Matthews is a psychotherapist and founder of Living In Empathy, LLC which helps white people unpack whiteness while taking steps to authentic action. Having received training in multicultural therapy and being a woman of color, Erin has spent years honing what does and does not work for clients. Erin works extensively with racism, inclusion, and acceptance of both one’s own racial and ethnic identity and being able to move through the world with confidence. Realizing how oppression and identity impact clients has been a crucial part of her work in helping clients move forward and feel high levels of self-worth. Being able to identify client’s struggles within their family, community, and social systems has allowed her to deepen the work that she does for clients. Erin feels strongly about education around how racism impacts both community and individuals in and outside of the therapy room. Working with white people who are unfamiliar with interacting with oppressed or marginalized populations has become an integral part of her desire to both educate and promote improving racial relations.
Keith Norman, Advisor
As a veteran Marine and with 20 years in the culinary arts field, Keith Norman brings a sense of discipline and order to everything he does, both in the business world and in the culinary world.
Chef Norman has a passion for food safety and sanitation that is apparent in his role as Assistant Executive Chef and Food Safety Manager for the South Point Hotel & Casino and as a culinary arts instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Las Vegas. In both roles, Chef Norman is responsible for training and educating students and culinary professionals in one of the most important facets of the food service industry.
Chef Norman has worked his way up the culinary ladder at Las Vegas properties, including Bally’s, the Mirage, Treasure Island, Paris, Suncoast, and South Point hotels and casinos. He is a certified professional food manager, certified HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) manager, NEHA (National Environmental Health Association) certified food trainer, NRA (Nevada Restaurant Association) certified food safety trainer, a certified registered OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) trainer and a master certified food executive. Chef Norman has trained through the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the areas of foodborne illness investigation, agro-terrorism and food systems disasters.
Chef Norman is also a member of the Casino Management Association, International Food Safety Council, Alliance of Black Culinarians, Nevada Food Safety Task Force, Stop Foodborne Illness, and is a member of FAACT's Board of Directors.
Nima Novak, M.S., CCC-SLP, Advisor
Nima Novak is an Indigenous Speech Language Pathologist from the Mohawk Tribe of the Iroquois Nation. She holds a Bachelor's of Arts in Psychology and a Master’s of Science in Speech Language Pathology. She has worked extensively in marginalized communities, specifically on the west side of Chicago, where she has seen first hand the negative effects of trauma on speech, language and fluency development. She is currently studying somatic therapies, NeuroAffective Touch, and Reiki to promote healing across the communities she serves, with the intention of loving kindness for all. Her focus on evidence-based practices and empirical research serves to bridge the worlds of healing and science which are often relegated to different categories. Nima’s holistic approach of resilience and education teaches how research-based mindfulness practices can be used to manage trauma in the body for both her students and colleagues experiencing the effects of secondary trauma. She is dedicated to empowering her students and all womxn to pursue their passions through the cultivation of resilience and self-worth. In her school based speech therapy and basketball coaching Nima takes a trauma-informed approach to support BIPOC and all students at every level. She is also the Co-Founder, Creative Director, Speaker on Indigenous history and COO of Living in Empathy, LLC.
Kristin M. Osborne, Advisor
Kristin M. Osborne is a native of Virginia and a certified disability advocate who works tirelessly in her local community and state for those with developmental disabilities, life-threatening food allergies, and anaphylaxis. She is the founder of Virginia Food Allergy Advocates, a FAACT-recognized support group, whose mission is to educate and advocate for families navigating food allergies.
Kristin is also owner of The Prioritized Group, where she works with families whose children have ADHD and food allergies. She helps bridge the gap between diagnosis and daily life from the classroom to the kitchen.
Kristin is a 2016 graduate of the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities Partners in Policy Making Program. As a certified disability advocate, Kristin navigates food allergies, asthma, ADHD, and anaphylaxis in the community and at home. Her husband and three sons all have various food allergies to wheat, dairy, egg, peanut, tree nuts, shellfish, and fish.
As an advocate for over sixteen years, Kristin has helped school systems in Virginia by providing food allergy training and section 504 workshops for parents. She was instrumental in changing Virginia Beach Public Schools' food allergy guidelines to include epinephrine training for bus drivers, which allows drivers to administer epinephrine to students who self carry as needed.
When Kristin is not advocating in the community, you will find her at the beach with her family and friends.
Karen Palmer, Advisor
Karen Palmer is a certified professional coach and consultant who supports emerging and established leaders who want to improve their capacity to motivate and inspire their teams. Her coaching practice serves clients in education, nonprofit, journalism, business, and the arts.
She worked for over 20 years as an assignment editor, producer, and senior producer at CBS News, CNN, and MSNBC on day-of-air, long-form, and special events programming. She received four Emmy Awards at CBS and shared a Peabody Award and a Headliner Award with her colleagues at CNN for coverage of the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina.
Karen has served a variety of advocacy, social service and educational organizations including the New York Women’s Foundation, Human Rights Watch, and the World Science Festival as a media trainer, presentation coach, and event producer.
She was recruited as the founding director of operations for a charter elementary school in her hometown of Brooklyn, NY, supervising student recruitment, health, transportation, meal programs, security, and human resources. After that, she started an operations consultancy to help more schools across New York City develop effective systems to support student learning and improve staff performance.
Karen is the mother of a teenager who was born with allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, and sesame, and later developed eosinophilic esophagitis, triggered by dairy. She is a longtime advocate for the needs of food allergy families in her community and in the schools where she works.
She graduated from Princeton University and received her coach training certification from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC).
Ivy Anna Rizzo, MA, LPCC, Advisor
Ivy Anna is deeply invested in the intersection of food allergy advocacy, racial equity and justice, disability rights and community mental health.
She is the owner of Fano Bread Co., a 26-year-old New Mexico nut free and allergy-aware business. Fano Bread Co. serves statewide to grow workers' rights initiatives which disproportionately impact communities of color and immigrant communities.
Ivy Anna is a bilingual psychotherapist who believes in growing cultural humility and anti-racist action in psychotherapy. At Southwest Neuropsychology and Behavioral Health, she specializes in disability, neurodiversity, trauma, anxiety, chronic illness, body focused repetitive behaviors, and insomnia disorder.
In 2014, Ivy Anna founded Anaphylactic Food Allergy Support New Mexico, a statewide FAACT-recognized food allergy support group. Also in 2014, Ivy Anna became involved in addressing and healing activist burn out in both anti-racism activism and food allergy activism using her mental health knowledge to support organizations and individuals at the front lines of these movements.
Ivy Anna has worked and lived in Mexico, Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam and currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Thomas Silvera, Advisor
Thomas Silvera holds a degree in Surgical Technology and is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Health Education and Sciences. Following his Bachelor degree, he plans to obtain a Master's degree in Public Health and Epidemiology.
Thomas and his wife, through their grief, created The Elijah-Alavi Foundation in honor of their son Elijah-Alavi who passed away on November 3, 2017 from anaphylaxis due to a food allergen that was given to him while attending a NYC daycare. As a food-allergic parent with another son with food alleriges, Thomas has been working to create lasting change in the food allergy community and beyond.
Thomas has been working tirelessly to create change in legislation. He advocated in the passing of Elijah's Law, named after his son, which was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on September 12, 2019.
Ashley Smith, Advisor
Ashley Smith, a native of Michigan, moved to California in 2009. As a food allergy parent for over ten years, she has learned how to live life to the fullest while managing multiple food allergies, environmental allergies, idiopathic anaphylaxis, oral allergy syndrome, and asthma. She knows firsthand how isolating and overwhelming one can feel when trying to advocate alone on behalf of their child. She has advocated against food allergy bullying and strives to achieve full inclusion for all children regardless of their health conditions, race, or socioeconomic status.
Ashley has proudly served the Los Angeles community and surrounding areas as a FAACT-recognized support group leader for the No Nuts Moms Group Food Allergic Families of Los Angeles since 2014. In addition to providing online support, she enjoys utilizing her creativity to organize allergy friendly events and uses social media to share her journey as a food allergy parent.
A committed advocate for increasing food allergy awareness and education, Ashley has provided schools, serving low-income students, various awareness & educational materials. For food allergy awareness week, she has had several proclamations for the City of Los Angeles signed by Mayor Garcetti. Ashley has appeared in the 2015 PBS documentary, Natural Health Breakthroughs with Brenda Watson. She has also been interviewed by local university journalists and Allergic Living magazine.
With a background working in early education and childcare, she also takes pride in her commitment to her community by serving various PTSA board positions, community partnership committees, and is a regular parent volunteer at her children’s schools. Her interests include studying American Sign Language, creative arts, and history. While her greatest pleasure is spending time with her family, she also enjoys traveling, cheering on her son’s various extracurricular activities, and decorating cakes. A 2015 graduate from Pennsylvania State University, Ashley has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology.
Carolina Soto, MSW, Advisor
Emily Brown, Consultant
Emily Brown is the Founder and CEO of Food Equality Initiative. Her responsibilities include the strategic direction and growth of the organization, WIC advocacy and the educational aspects of FEI. As a former preschool teacher, she empathizes with the importance of being knowledgeable about your medical condition(s), and how to advocate for those with these condition(s).
Without her family’s struggles with multiple food allergies, FEI would have never come to fruition. Emily learned her daughter was allergic to peanut, eggs, dairy, wheat and soy when her daughter had an anaphylactic reaction at the age of one to peanut butter. Once learning of her daughter’s allergies, they had to make many changes to her diet. Emily and her husband quickly became overwhelmed with the cost of the allergy free foods and decided to get assistance from the Women, Infant & Children (WIC) program to help feed her daughter. She soon learned that her daughter was unable to eat many of the foods offered by WIC due to her allergies. She then sought assistance at local food pantries, but again, her daughter’s allergies prevented her from taking full advantage of the foods the pantry offered. Emily realized that there is no safety net for low-income people diagnosed with food allergies or Celiac disease.
A serious advocate for individuals facing food insecurity and managing a medically necessary diet, Emily passionately shares her personal experience with food insecurity and food allergies at speaking engagements with local nonprofits, health organizations, government leaders and more.
FAACT Is Learning to Live in Empathy
A Statement from the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team about Racism, Food Allergy Disparities, and Health Inequities
June 7, 2020
We at the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT) stand in solidarity with the Black community and condemn systemic racism. Recent devastating events have left many in our nation and in our food allergy community grieving and suffering pain, anger, and fear in which no words can accurately describe. Within our food allergy community, overwhelming racial, economic and health inequities exist. But we can stop systemic racism and address these inequalities.
FAACT is standing up to structural racism and food allergy disparities.
We are listening. We are listening to Black and people of color food allergy leaders who have been suffering in our own community and nation to hear their words clearly.
We are learning. We are starting with ourselves and are internally addressing implicit bias, structural racism and diversity and inclusion. We are committed to having the hard conversations. We commit to meeting with Black and people of color community leaders to learn how we can support their efforts.
We are acting today. We are committed to long-term sustainable practices, diversity and inclusion in our leadership, volunteers, events, and activities. We commit to encouraging food allergy researchers to focus on food allergy disparities. We commit to racially safe and inclusive events and activities. We will continue to work to support the food insecure and those who are at-risk. And, we commit to creating a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board to help us better understand and serve our community.
We need to do better. We will do better. Not just for today, but every day.