President & Chief Executive Officer
Eleanor Garrow-Holding has worked, educated, and advocated in the food allergy community since 2004. She was inspired to start this work after her son, Thomas, was diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies to tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and sesame; eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) triggered by milk and wheat; asthma; and environmental allergies. In December 2015, Thomas had a food challenge with wheat and passed. He is no longer IgE-allergic to wheat. After a 3-month trial with wheat and another 3-month trial with milk (post wheat) in his diet and upper endoscopies, he has also outgrown the wheat and milk triggers for EoE and is in remission from EoE as of July 2016. As of October 2019, Thomas has now outgrown peanut, almond, sesame, and brazil nut and continues to avoid walnut, cashew, pecan, hazelnut, and pistachio.
As CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT), Eleanor provides leadership, development, and implementation for all of FAACT’s initiatives and programs, including Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang) – a summer camp for children with food allergies and their siblings that Eleanor founded in 2009. Eleanor has a Bachelor of Healthcare Administration degree from Lewis University in Romeoville, IL, and worked in hospital management for 16 years in Chicago and suburban Chicago prior to working in the nonprofit sector.
After Thomas was diagnosed in 2004, Eleanor established a food allergy support group in a southwest Chicago suburb, Parents of Children Having Allergies (POCHA) of Will County, focusing on education and advocacy; chaired the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy in Chicago in 2007 and 2008; was awarded the FAAN Muriel C. Furlong Award for Community Service in 2008; and advocated in the Illinois state legislature on food allergy and Eosinophilic Disorders (EGID, EoE) issues. Thanks to the efforts of Eleanor and other patient advocates, legislation to ensure insurance coverage for elemental formulas was signed into law in 2007 and legislation establishing food allergy management guidelines for Illinois schools was signed into law in 2009.
Eleanor joined the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network™ (FAAN) in 2009 as Vice President of Education and Outreach, where she oversaw educational initiatives, all food allergy conferences, the Teen Summit, Camp TAG (The Allergy Gang) now under FAACT’s umbrella, a Teen Advisory Group, support group development, and more. She advocated for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Management Act (FAAMA) in Washington, DC, with her son Thomas as part of FAAN’s Kids Congress on Capitol Hill and also advocated on Capitol Hill for the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. Eleanor served on the expert panel for the CDC’s Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs and was a reviewer for the National Association of Education (NEA) Food Allergy Book: What School Employees Need to Know. Eleanor conducted numerous radio, television, and print interviews on food allergy issues and wrote articles for Allergic Living and Living Without magazines. She presented at national and regional conferences about food allergy management in school and restaurant settings and educated personnel in schools and school districts across the country on food allergy management in schools and continues to do so with FAACT.
In 2013, Eleanor joined the Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders (CCED) as Senior Specialist of Program Management at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. There she led day-to-day clinical operations, clinical research projects, program development, marketing, and development.
Eleanor has and continues to educate employees from numerous food industry companies and entertainment venues about food allergies, such as McDonald’s Corporation, The Hain Celestial Group, Mars Chocolate North America, all SeaWorld Parks, and more.
Leading the charge at FAACT, Eleanor and the FAACT Leadership Team provides the education, advocacy, awareness, and grassroots outreach needed for the food allergy community. Eleanor serves on the DBV Technologies Peanut Allergy Patient Advisory Board, the National Peanut Board's Allergy Education Advisory Council, Sea World's Allergy Resource Team, St. Louis Children’s Food Allergy Management & Education (FAME) National Advisory Board, Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) Food Allergen Control Committee, and The EDGE Teen Center Board of Directors. In August 2015, Eleanor was inducted into The National Association of Professional Women's (NAPW) VIP Professional of the Year Circle for her commitment to healthcare and nonprofit industries. FAACT is The Voice of Food Allergy Awareness.
You may reach Eleanor at Eleanor.Garrow@FoodAllergyAwareness.org.
Amelia G. Smith, JD
General Counsel and Vice President of Civil Rights Advocacy
Amelia G. Smith, a native of Tupelo, Mississippi, practiced law in a variety of areas as a managing member of Pipkin & Murphree, PLLC before joining McLaurin Law Offices, pllc. Amelia received her B.A. in English from Mississippi University for Women and her Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi, where she concentrated on civil rights and employment discrimination.
After her son, Robert, was diagnosed with food allergies, Amelia founded Food Allergic Children’s Education in Tupelo (“FACE IT”), the only support and education organization for families with food allergies in Mississippi at the time. Once she learned about the challenges students and families with food allergies face in childcare centers and schools, Amelia developed an interest in special education law. She is a 2012 graduate of William & Mary School of Law’s Institute of Special Education Advocacy. Amelia is admitted to the Bars of the State of Mississippi, the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Mississippi, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. She is a member of the Mississippi Bar Association, Lee County Bar Association, and Lee County Young Lawyers Association.
As a member of the FAACT Leadership Team, Amelia’s focus will be on Civil Rights Advocacy, advocating for food-allergic individuals’ rights to safely and equally participate in activities alongside their non-allergic peers.
You may reach Amelia at Amelia.Smith@FoodAllergyAwareness.org.
Susan Kelly, BSN, RN
Vice President of Education
Susan Kelly is a passionate food allergy advocate and educator from Lynbrook, New York (a village in Long Island). She has four daughters and is a food allergy and Eosinophilic Esophagitis parent. She co-leads the FAACT-recognized Friends Helping Friends Food Allergy Support Group, focused on providing food allergy education, support, and empowerment.
Susan is a graduate of the University of Scranton and was the recipient of the University’s 1996 Excellence in Nursing Award. She currently works for a board-certified allergist and immunologist and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. Her clinical background includes general medicine, cardiology, intensive care and emergency room nursing. She has worked at NYU Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and St. Francis Hospital.
Today, Susan’s work includes writing, public speaking, and educating communities on the seriousness of food allergies as well as anaphylaxis recognition and response. She held Food Allergy Public Awareness Forums for her local assemblyman and has helped schools create and implement inclusive food allergy management and anaphylaxis policies, as recommended by the CDC’s voluntary guidelines for food allergy management in the school setting. In 2017, Susan was named the Lynbrook Community “Citizen of the Year” for her efforts. She blogs about food allergy life at www.MomNurseFoodAllergies.wordpress.com.
Susan successfully advocated for Lynbrook’s police officers to be trained in anaphylaxis recognition and response and to carry stock epinephrine auto-injectors. Susan was also instrumental in passing food allergy training legislation for restaurants in Nassau County. She was recently appointed as the Health and Wellness Chairperson for the Village of Lynbrook.
As FAACT’s Vice President of Education, Susan will oversee food allergy education in schools, support group development, and other education initiatives and will represent FAACT at medical conferences. Susan looks forward to continuing her mission of community health and wellness and maintaining her strong commitment to bringing more education and awareness on the issues that accompany food allergies to our families, communities, and schools with FAACT.
You may reach Susan at Susan.Kelly@FoodAllergyAwareness.org.
Vice President of Programs
Linda Menighan has been passionately educating, advocating, and volunteering in the food allergy community for more than 17 years after her daughter, Bailey, was diagnosed with multiple food allergies. Linda graduated from King’s College in Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in Gerontology and Biology. Linda worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 17 years, including research and development for a large biotech company, where she sequenced DNA for prostate and ovarian cancer patients. She expanded her working knowledge in the laboratory environment as she moved into a technical sales role while assisting scientists with manufacturing their pharmaceutical product.
Faced with a busy travel schedule and a child with life-threatening allergies, Linda moved to a business development position in pharmaceutical manufacturing that allowed her to work from home and travel less. As the pharmaceutical industry became more fluid, Linda found herself in her element consulting with families of children with food allergies, sharing the knowledge she had gained from preparing Bailey for school, sports, and other social situations. Helping families with food allergies is Linda’s true passion in life.
Linda is currently the Director of Sales and Marketing for a local assisted living and skilled nursing retirement community. She manages the sales process while executing sales and marketing strategies outlined in her marketing plan, and she is responsible for quarterly community and professional outreach events.
Over the years, Linda has helped with FAACT’s Camp TAG, Teen Retreat, and the TEAL FunFest. Linda volunteered her time as a committee member in local food allergy walks and still speaks publically about living with food allergies. She attends medical conferences and seminars to represent FAACT and to learn what’s new in the world of food allergies. She also trains school staff, nurses, and teachers in her New Jersey school district how to safely include students with food allergies.
As FAACT’s Vice President of Programs, Linda will oversee logistics for FAACT programs and events such as Camp TAG, Food Industry & Research Summit, Leadership Summit, Teen Retreat, TEAL FunFest, and more. Linda will also continue to help create resources and continue to educate and advocate for families and individuals living with food allergies.
You may reach Linda at Linda.Menighan@FoodAllergyAwareness.org.
Emery Gewirtz, M.A.
Director of Behavioral Health
Emery Gewirtz, a native of New Jersey, has been heavily involved in the food allergy community for over ten years. Emery began her collaboration with FAACT as a volunteer teen counselor for FAACT’s Camp TAG when it launched in 2010 and was a counselor every summer in our New Jersey location through 2018. She has also been a teen leader for FAACT’s Teen Retreat for the past six years. Emery enthusiastically shares her stories and experiences of living as a young adult with food allergies. Topics she has covered include: preparing for college, dating, dining out, and mental health. Emery has lived with anaphylactic food allergies to dairy, fish, shellfish, and peanuts her whole life, and has a deep understanding of how to stay safe, healthy, and happy with whatever comes her way!
Emery holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a concentration in Health Communication from the The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) and a Master’s of Arts in School Psychology from Rowan University. Since graduation Emery has worked to develop health programs in inner city schools, as well as held several small groups on mental health management. Emery is currently pursuing her Education Specialist degree (Ed.S.) to become a certified School Psychologist.
As FAACT’s Director of Behavioral Health, Emery will create various behavioral health resources for children, teens, young adults, parents, and adults with food allergies. She will also be involved with FAACT’s Roundtable Podcast, conduct LIVE streams, as well as lead education sessions at FAACT’s Camp TAG, Leadership Summit and Teen Retreat.
You may reach Emery at Emery.Gewirtz@FoodAllergyAwareness.org.
Director of Community Engagement
Caroline Moassessi is the founder and author of the food allergy and asthma blogsite Gratefulfoodie, but her passion for spreading awareness is fueled by the food allergy community and her family. She speaks nationally to the food industry, state, and local groups to raise awareness and to encourage food allergy-related change through policy and education.
After a brief move back to her home state of California, Caroline discovered a life-changing parent support group. After experiencing the power of connecting with other parents, she co-founded the long-running (over 16 years) Northern Nevada Asthma and Food Allergy Education Group, which is a FAACT-recognized support group. Caroline has appeared on Sirius XM – Doctor Radio, her local ABC affiliate network, and local radio. She also served as past board president and as treasurer for the American Lung Association Southwest Regional Board.
Caroline was the lead advocate for mandated school stock epinephrine law in the State of Nevada; in addition to presenting the need for epinephrine legislation at the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), with deceased NCSL past present, Senator Debbie Smith. Caroline co-authored the first school food anaphylaxis policy in the State of Nevada and continues to volunteer her time with the Washoe County School District to support revised policymaking.
Her passion for making change and raising awareness has brought her to Capitol Hill twice to discuss food allergy-related legislation. It continues as she reaches out to her elected officials.
Her belief that communication and sharing of information continued as Product Editor and contributor for Allergic Living Magazine. Caroline’s past work includes Huffington Post contributor and a frequent visitor on the Parenting Food Allergy Podcast. She never passes up an opportunity to speak or talk about tools for successful living with food allergies and asthma.
Caroline has a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and has traveled the world as a trainer in this industry. An avid baker, she is finally dabbling in bread making and more cooking. Caroline loves reading, learning, and making jewelry. But most of all, she enjoys living a simple life with her family. She lives in Reno with her husband, college-aged son and high school-aged daughter who manage food allergy and asthma.
Growing FAACT’s communication and engagement with the food allergy community, Caroline will also be hosting FAACT’s Roundtable Podcast. Stay tuned for FAACT’s exciting lineup of guests that you won’t want to miss.
You may reach Caroline at Caroline.Moassessi@FoodAllergyAwareness.org.
Director of Support Group Development
Lisa is a native of Ohio who currently lives in Michigan with her husband and two sons. Lisa has been managing food allergies since 2011, when her oldest son was diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy at the age of three years old. Lisa knows first-hand how isolating and overwhelming it can be when you first get a food allergy diagnosis, and she is dedicated to supporting, educating, and connecting other people living with food allergies. Lisa is the Founder of a food allergy group called NNMG Food Allergic Families, formally known as No Nuts Moms Group. Her passions are her family and educating others about food allergies.
When Lisa’s son was diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies to peanuts and tree nuts, she learned as much as she could to educate herself and everyone around her about food allergies. She soon realized that going on play dates with other kids was going to be challenging and searched everywhere for a food allergy group offering play dates for moms and children with food allergies. Lisa’s search ended in a dead end, so she decided to start her own group for food-allergic families looking to meet and connect with others in the area. The word about No Nuts Moms Group quickly spread, and requests for local groups in the United States and Canada came rolling in. Lisa gave other moms a chance to start their own local groups, and now No Nuts Moms Group is internationally known for supporting and connecting people with food allergies. When Lisa started the group, she had no idea about the impact she would make in the food allergy community. Lisa has helped thousands of families across the country.
Lisa has set up educational food allergy booths at local schools and other venues in Michigan. By doing so, she has reached out to other families that didn’t have access to epinephrine for their children and didn’t understand the seriousness of food allergies and anaphylaxis. She also plans food-free events for food-allergic families, such as Halloween and Easter events. Lisa was also instrumental in getting the Stock Epinephrine Bill passed into law in Michigan.
As FAACT’s Director of Support Group Development, Lisa will manage support group development throughout the country, as well as FAACT's education initiatives for the school setting and more. She will also continue to educate and raise awareness for those living with food allergies and anaphylaxis.
You may reach Lisa at Lisa.Rutter@FoodAllergyAwareness.org.
Natascia Simone, MBA
Natascia Simone, a native of Connecticut, has been heavily involved in the food allergy community for over ten years. Her interest in the healthcare industry stems from her early diagnosis of a life-threatening allergy to tree-nuts at seven-years-old. She had adult-onset with shellfish allergy. Starting as a volunteer for FAACT’s Camp TAG in New Jersey in 2010, she grew into the position of Brand Ambassador and Spokesperson, and Natascia now serves as FAACT’s Program Director. She has represented FAACT at various national conferences, as well as serving as a leader for FAACT’s annual Teen Retreat. She is a role model for children, teenagers and young adults, as a young adult herself. She shares her stories and experiences of various aspects of life, including: middle/high school, college, dating, traveling, dining out, work life, etc. As a world traveler, she has a global perspective on how to manage food allergies abroad. Her passion and dedication to the food allergy community and the FAACT family is valued by many individuals across the country.
Natascia received a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Connecticut, with a concentration in Healthcare Management, and a Bachelor of Business in Marketing Communications & Advertising from Western New England University. Following graduation, she served as a MBA Intern in the Medical Staff Administration at Yale New Haven Hospital working on various health & wellness initiatives.
Natascia is also involved in the Miss America Scholarship Organization. She currently holds the title of Miss Mountain Laurel 2019 and competed for the title of Miss Connecticut 2019 in June. Representing the state flower, during her reign she has the flexibility to serve various communities across Connecticut sharing her social impact, Food Allergy Advocacy: Empowering a Healthy Lifestyle. She founded the program “Be Aware, Share & Prepare” in 2013, which focuses on steps to further educate those with and without food allergies and how to manage mental and physical health issues that may arise due to having a food allergy. She also encourages and sparks interest in young women to become business leaders and be part of breaking the glass ceiling.
As FAACT’s Program Director, Natascia will assist with logistics of all programs and events, such as Camp TAG and Teen Retreat, as well as attend medical conferences. Natascia will also help create education resources for individuals and families and continue to educate and advocate for families and individuals living with food allergies and anaphylaxis.
You may reach Natascia at Natascia.Simone@FoodAllergyAwareness.org.