Meet Our Leadership Team
Our Staff Members
Katharine Ray – Executive Director
Katharine has 20 years’ experience as a strategic leader in the nonprofit cancer field. She has served in Brand, Communications, and Marketing leadership roles for several healthcare support organizations and has been integral to their program ideation, relationship development, and oncology outreach. In her patient advocacy work and as a long-term cancer survivor herself, her passion for supporting those with cancer has also included interpreting healthcare, patient support, the patient experience, and the latest in oncology care. Having led award-winning teams, Katharine has been named as a Chief Marketing Officer finalist in the Nashville nonprofit sector. She has long been active serving in the community and beyond as a volunteer and contributor to numerous cancer nonprofit organizations and cancer publications. Katharine has a M.A. in English and has also worked in the professional writing field for 32 years.
Missy Hamilton is a Nashville native who began her gardening journey at age 3. (Her parents never forgave her for “reorganizing” their patio garden.) As an adult, she enjoys working with people of all ages, but specializes in teaching young people how they can grow organic food on any budget no matter where they live. She is passionate about organic gardening and loves to learn about native plants and pollinators, companion planting, and most importantly - beneficial bugs. When she is not working at the Giving Garden, she is actively involved in her neighborhood school/community garden. She wants to be a bird watcher when she grows up.
Chef Juan Kirby – Chef and Teen Coordinator
Chef Juan Kirby
Chef & Teen Coordinator
Bijal Mehta – Volunteer Coordinator
Bijal holds a BS in psychology and began serving the Nashville community as a mental health specialist at the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital. She has 20 years of experience working in the mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence fields.
She began her role as Volunteer and Situations Manager in the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center (JCAC), which seeks to provide safety and support for victims of domestic violence who are engaging in the criminal or civil court process. In a position of leadership within the agency, she trained and mentored the volunteers and interns, partnered with universities in the area to create internship opportunities that are specific to the needs of each student, and collaborated with individuals and other organizations in the Nashville community for donations.
Robin Mizaur – Client Manager
Robin is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and Certified Personal Trainer. She has served as Director and Manager of multiple health and wellness facilities, providing services for thousands of people in all facets of their health and lifestyle. Robin has 15 years experience in the Health and Wellness Field as a Health advocate for organizations such as Whole Foods, Lifetime Fitness and the American Heart Association-Go For Red For Women. She is passionate and committed to making a difference in the lives of others. She infuses hope, inspiration, love and transformation to help restore balance and improve health. Robin has many years experience in establishing training, research and nutritional coaching for people with cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Utilizing the latest proven research, Robin provides leadership in developing programs and offers hundreds of individual consultations, corporate wellness talks and classes on exercise and nutrition. Robin is also honored to have served in the United States Marine Corps.
Susan Poteet – Kitchen Manager & Delivery Coordinator
Susan holds a BS in Food, Nutrition and Dietetics. She also holds a 2nd degree in food service management graduating from Tennessee Tech University. She has worked for over 20 years in all aspects of the food business including broker, dealer, sales, manufacturing representation, school nutrition and clinical dietary technician. She serves as a nutritional counselor to various cancer support groups in Middle Tennessee.
Kitchen Manager & Delivery Coordinator
Lexy is a registered dietitian and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of South Florida. During her two-year Master’s program, she held internship positions with several large health organizations including John Hopkins, Tampa General, and University of South Florida Diabetes Center. She did her final Master’s project with Moffitt Cancer Center with their outpatient program that provides education on lifestyle and nutrition to patients. Most recently, Lexy held a position as nutrition educator for Aramark at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Lexy has a background of extensive volunteer work in non-profits and local farms. She has a passion for teaching the importance of organic, nutrient-dense sustainable diets and providing the most up-to-date information using evidence-based data. She hopes to empower clients with this knowledge to trust themselves to make healthy choices moving forward. Lexy is honored to be working with the Heimerdinger Foundation and to be a part of the healing process for our clients.
Lexy Vogel, RD
Nan Zierden, M.A., Fundraising / Development Manager, has 20 years’ experience working in the nonprofit sector. She has worked in grant writing, public relations, volunteer management, special events, and fundraising. At the Tennessee Arts Commission, she was in Arts Education overseeing arts education grants and special events. She was also the Program Director for the Visual Arts, Craft, Media and Design program overseeing the state funding for the arts. She has worked in the local community for many years promoting and supporting local artists, arts organizations and arts education.
Fundraising & Development Manager
Board of Directors
Gwen McCoy - President
Gwen McCoy is the Director of Telehealth Operations at HCA. Gwen has been with HCA since 2008 in various roles within the IT&S and OSG organizations. She is a strong advocate for non-profit work in the Nashville area and has been involved as a volunteer and consultant to several organizations since moving to Nashville in 1998. She has helped organizations build business plans for expansion, develop grant proposals, and outline strategic plans for continued success. Gwen has led a committee for HCA’s Caring for the Community campaign to assist nonprofit agencies organize an impact project for the HCA Community Day. An Alabama native, Gwen graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. After moving to Nashville, Gwen completed her MBA at Belmont University.
Gwen lost her mother to cancer in 2007 and continues to be passionate about cancer advocacy – from early diagnosis and treatment to overall wellness and health for prevention. She is extremely blessed to be a part of the Heimerdinger Foundation and is passionate about using her skills to the betterment and expansion of the mission. She currently chairs our largest fundraiser, the Drive 4 Dinger, a two-day golf tournament and celebration held in June of each year.
Gwen is married to her husband, Scott, and they have two boys, Gray (12) and Eli (8). She enjoys spending time watching her boys play sports (any and all of them) and traveling.
Senior Publicist at
Essential Broadcast Media
Lynda was born in Louisville, KY; however, she moved to Nashville when she started first grade. She attended Woodmont Elementary, Nashville Christian and David Lipscomb High School. She attended Florida College in Temple Terrace, FL where she was the first student government female president and was named Miss Florida College. After college she lived in the Lexington, KY area where she was an agent for Lloyds of London insuring thoroughbred race horses. Later she was in the Indianapolis area where she got her introduction into manufacturing in sales for Bell Fibre Industries. When she returned to Nashville, she worked at International Abrasives as the Sales Manager and later became President of the company. After having her daughter, Whitney, she decided to work building a construction business for her husband. The business had 5 divisions – new construction, rehab, vinyl siding, gutters and rental properties. When this business closed, she began working with Endodontic Associates – currently an 8 doctor, 3 location dental specialty practice and currently still manages this practice.
Lynda has been involved with the Interfaith Dental clinic which provides dental work for low-income families as well as Sacred Selections which provides funds for families to adopt children. She has taught the TN Handgun Permit class at Vol State Community College since 1994. She sang with the Nashville Symphony Chorus for 9 years.
Practice Manager at Endodontic Associates
Don has been with GE Healthcare Financial Services since 2011 and with GE since 2003, holding several positions including joining GE in the Commercial Leadership Program, where he focused on commercial excellence, Financial Services Account Manager, which brought him to Nashville in 2012, and currently holds the Strategic Accounts Leader role where he leads HFS’ efforts with their largest and most strategic for-profit clients.
Don is a member of the Nashville Healthcare Council, he serves on the board of the Heimerdinger Foundation, which strives to provide nutrient-rich meals to patients fighting cancer, and he has a passion for helping children with life threatening disease by supporting the local chapters of both St. Jude (ALSAC) and Make-a-Wish of Middle Tennessee.
He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and received his MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is currently enrolled in the Masters of Management in Healthcare program at Vanderbilt University.
VP, Financial Services Account Manager at GE Healthcare
Kevin is an Associate at Waller, practicing in the Trial and Appellate group. Clients depend on Kevin when facing litigation that can shape the trajectory of their business and rely on him for practical advice while navigating complex legal disputes. Kevin represents clients in intellectual property disputes, securities litigation, healthcare litigation, government enforcement actions, franchise litigation, and other general litigation matters. Clients ranging from publicly traded corporations in the healthcare and financial services industries to individuals and closely held companies rely on Kevin when their interests are at stake.
Kevin joined the Board in late 2019. Around the same time, his father-in-law had been diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer. Because of this, the Heimerdinger Foundation’s mission and provision of nutrient-rich meals to those who are in the fight with cancer has taken on a personal note for Kevin.
Aside from work, Kevin is a land-locked scuba diving addict who will take any opportunity he can to get under water. He and his wife Jenna are new parents to their son Connor, and have two German Shorthaired Pointers who love the outdoors as much as they do.
Associate Attorney at Waller Lansden Dortch and
Director, Ascension Saint Thomas Health
A graduate of Eastern Illinois University, Kathie holds a degree in Home Economics in Business. She worked in the retail and insurance industries after graduation until she chose to forgo her career in order to raise a family.
While Kathie’s husband, Mike, was battling cancer she became aware of the importance of nutritious meals and a healthy lifestyle. She realized the impact they can have on improving the health of all people, but most importantly the difference that eating right can have on the bodies of those battling disease. By founding the Heimerdinger Foundation, she is hoping to allow caregivers the opportunity to focus on their loved ones while providing nutritious meals to those fighting for their lives.
Kathie has dedicated herself to the community by serving on committees and volunteering her time to several educational and non-profit organizations including The Patricia Heart Foundation, the Williamson County United Way, the Department of Children’s Services, and the Salvation Army angel tree program.
Founder of The Heimerdinger Foundation
Christa Gassler is the Senior Director of Affordability at eviCore Healthcare, a Cigna subsidiary. Christa originally joined eviCore in 2015 as the leader of the Client Accounting team and has since transitioned into product development work focused on helping patients achieve the most appropriate care at lower cost settings. She has previous non-profit experience with the Alzheimer’s Association and was a founder of her company’s employee resource group for women. She is passionate about helping organizations achieve efficiency and successes through process development and improvements. Christa grew up and still lives in Murfreesboro, where she graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, and then later completed requirements to become a CPA. She is married to her high school sweetheart, John, and is an empty nester as her daughter, Lili, is pursuing her degree at MTSU. Gardening, exercise, and time with friends are her favorite free time activities so she is very excited to support Heimerdinger Foundation in their work teaching others about organic foods and the related health benefits.
Senior Director of Affordablity at eviCore Healthcare, a Cigna subsidiary
James O Brien
James serves as Director of Client Experience at AltoIRA. AltoIRA is a Nashville-based financial technology company that helps investors utilize their retirement savings to participate in alternative asset investments. James in entrepreneurial by nature and a total startup junkie. His dedication to helping people drives him to create the best possible customer experience at Alto and is what first attracted him to The Heimerdinger Foundation. Before joining Alto, James co-founded ShaveFace, a consumer products shaving startup in 2014, and, since then, has acted as a consultant to a number of businesses, at various stages, ranging in industry from private dining events to women’s cosmetics.
James, like too many of us, has had friends and family members who have lived or are living with cancer. He strongly believes that food is the root of health and that there is no better time to remember that than when someone is actively undergoing chemotherapy.
James moved to Nashville from Boston in 2013 with a band, and now lives in East Nashville with his partner, Lauren, and their English bulldog, Hank. James loves cooking, yoga, travel, singing, the ocean, and just about anything he can read. He’s from coastal Connecticut, and has a bachelor’s from Colby College.
VP, Partnerships at AltoIRA
Sharon D. Peters, PhD. - Secretary
Sharon Peters is Executive Director for Community College Initiatives at Tennessee State University. This division of academic affairs was designed to develop partnerships and pathways with Tennessee’s 13 community colleges. Dr. Peters also coordinates programming for transfer and commuter students at the university. Prior to this position, she was the Director of Off-Campus Programs and Evening/Weekend College and responsible for the development and management of TSU course and degree offerings at satellite locations throughout Middle Tennessee. Her unit coordinated the evening and weekend degree programs and the recruitment activities targeting potential adult and transfer students. Prior to her tenure in higher education, Dr. Peters was a partner in a research firm which provided training and technical assistance to juvenile justice residential facilities for adolescent females. She has taught in the disciplines of sociology and public administration for over 25 years. She holds a Ph.D. in Public Administration from Tennessee State University, a master’s in Sociology from Southern Illinois University and a baccalaureate degree in Sociology from Appalachian State University.
Board Secretary: Executive Director for Community College Initiatives at Tennessee State University
Wade Weaver – Treasurer
Wade Weaver is a Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, where he has served in various roles since 2010. He is a graduate of Young Leaders Council and has enjoyed volunteering and leadership positions with United Way and Leadership Healthcare.
With a number of friends and family having experienced various forms of cancer, Wade and his wife Lauren have developed a passion for advocacy. Wade joined the Heimerdinger Foundation's Board of Directors in 2017 and currently serves as Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee.
A native of Huntsville, Alabama, Wade earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Master of Accountancy from the University of Alabama. He is a Certified Public Accountant.
Wade and Lauren moved to Middle Tennessee in 2011, where they live with their children, Avery, Hudson, and Jude. Wade enjoys cooking, traveling, reading, and following the Braves, Titans, and Preds.
Board Treasurer: Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP
Chris Wobensmith is the Vice President of IT&S Clinical Informatics at HCA. Chris joined HCA in 1999 as a manager for EHC.com’s internet services department and since then has held various leadership roles and provided oversight for a number of HCA’s integral systems. Before returning to Nashville in 2014, Chris served as CIO for the HeathONE system in the Continental Division in Denver, Colorado. Chris grew up in Virginia and served over six years in the United States Air Force. He earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and his Bachelor’s degree from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville. Chris has been married to his wife, Jennifer, for over 16 years. They are both passionate about cancer advocacy after losing their mothers to cancer early in their marriage. Chris enjoys spending time Fly Fishing with his dog, Winston.
VP, Clinical Informatics
Lacy graduated from Furman University in 2007 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Exercise Science.
She then attended Lipscomb University to obtain her certificate in dietetics and went ahead to complete her internship through Lipscomb as well.
She then worked at Nashville Medical Group at Saint Thomas Midtown for a year and then transferred to work with the St. Thomas Bariatric Center, where she worked for another year.
Lacy then provided nutrition consulting, mostly working with newly diagnosed celiac patients as she has that disease, and it is one of her specialties. She became certified as a Lifestyle Eating and Performance (LEAP) dietitian, allowing her to work with patients to analyze blood-work and walk them through a food sensitivity protocol.
Her love is Integrative Dietetics. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is also a member of the subgroup – Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine.
She is currently with Berry Hill Chiropractic and has been running the nutrition practice there for almost 2 years. She purchased the nutrition practice from Berry Hill in June 2018. Her practice name is Nashville Holistic Nutrition, and she practices using a technique called nutrition response testing and is trained through the professional level in that technique.
She was also recently certified as an NAET practitioner (which allows her to perform a food sensitivity elimination technique on patients). She continues to offer the LEAP protocol to her patients as well as genetic testing as other tools to help her patients.
Lacy Wright, RD, LDN, CLT