Nimali Fernando, MD, MPH

Founder, Chief Visionary Officer

Dr. Nimali Fernando (aka "Dr. Yum") is a pediatrician practicing in Fredericksburg, VA, and a founder of the website and The Dr. Yum Project. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and School of Public Health with an M.D. and Masters in Public Health. She completed residency and chief residency in Pediatrics at The University of Texas Health Sciences Center Houston and served there for two years as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics. She is the owner of Yum Pediatrics, a full-service general pediatrics practice with a focus on wellness and prevention through a healthy diet. Yum Pediatrics shares a large teaching kitchen and teaching garden with The Dr. Yum Project. She is also co-author of, ”Raising a Healthy Happy Eater” and “Dr. Yum’s Preschool Food Adventure.” She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is a proud mother of two boys and enjoys cooking with her family, running, and skiing.

Heidi DiEugenio

Founding Board Member, Director of Programs

Heidi is at her core, passionate about connecting busy families with great resources available to make their lives easier, healthier and all-around more fulfilling. Growing up with a younger brother diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 3, she knows first hand how important it is to understand the connection between food and health and to empower families to celebrate the affordability, ease, and deliciousness of healthy, fresh food. Heidi is the President of HD Solutions, a small, woman-owned consulting firm specializing in marketing, social media, and project management. Prior to starting HD Solutions and her time with clients like Fredericksburg Parent and Family Magazine, Heidi was the founding Executive Director for Blue Star Families, a non-profit organization created to support, empower and connect military families. Her background also includes eight years in roles as a Shopping Center Marketing Director in California, Maryland, Virginia and Hawaii, and 13 years as a small business owner with Barefoot Moments Custom Photography. In her personal life, Heidi and her husband Dave stay busy with their active sons aged 21 and 17 with the typical school, sports, and extra-curricular activities and enjoy making time to run, hike, surf, ski, and travel as much as life allows.

Santhi Nair, MD

Founding Board Member

Santhi was born in India. Her family moved to the United States
 when she was 5 years old. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Science
 from The George Washington University. She earned her Medical degree 
from Ross University School of Medicine (Dominica, West Indies). She 
completed her Pediatric Residency and Chief Residency at Crozer Chester
 Medical Center in Pennsylvania. She went on to work as an Attending 
Physician in General Pediatrics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In 2006 she and her husband moved to Fredericksburg, VA to be close to their families. Currently she is practicing pediatrics at ALL Pediatrics of Lakeridge/Lorton in Virginia. She is Board Certified with the American Board of Pediatric and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Nair is very passionate about fighting the epidemic of Obesity. She is and wants to be involved in promoting a Heart Healthy Lifestyle for her patients and her community. Her husband Sudeep Menachery is a physician at the Hematology Oncology Associates of Fredericksburg. Together they have two daughters, Riya and Rehka. She enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, gardening, reading, traveling and experiencing different cultures.

Laura Visioni

Board President, Director of Art and Photography

Laura is a photographer and lover of home cooking and the good ol’ days of family dinners. She is originally from Maryland and moved to the Fredericksburg area in 2015. She resides in Spotsylvania with her husband, Dr. Agostino Visioni, and their four children Guido, John, Sofia, and Rocco. Laura and her husband met as undergraduates at Johns Hopkins University where Laura majored in International Relations and Spanish. Prior to moving to the Fredericksburg area Laura had a nearly 20-year career as a management consultant with Vantage Partners of Boston, MA. There, she specialized in negotiation process design, mediation, conflict resolution, and multi-party alignment. Her clients were primarily pharmaceutical companies struggling to collaborate effectively with their drug development partners. Since her youth, Laura has found fulfillment in volunteer work, beginning as a candy striper in high school, and later traveling abroad to work with street children in Mexico City. In addition to her work for the Dr. Yum Project, Laura is a volunteer photographer for the Fairy Godmother Project and a Cuddler in the Mary Washington Hospital Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit. She enjoys cooking, hiking, camping, travel, cross-cultural immersion, and learning new things. Laura always has her camera and when she isn’t photographing food or other people’s families, she is working on her own Project 365, taking a photo a day, in a constant quest to document the art of the ordinary and the fleeting joys of parenthood.

Wendy Cannon

Cooking Program & Outreach Specialist, Preschool Curriculum Creative Director

Wendy is a graduate of Mary Washington College. She is an early childhood educator and preschool program director. Her work with The Dr. Yum Project includes cooking instruction, community outreach, new recipe development, and helping to maintain the teaching garden. She also serves as the Preschool Curriculum Liaison for Dr. Yum’s Preschool Food Adventure. The mission of the Dr. Yum Project extends to Wendy's volunteer work with The Table at St. George's. This market-style pantry provides fresh produce and staples to the food insecure in the Fredericksburg community, where she is able to share her love of fresh fruits and vegetables to teach people ways that they can prepare them at home.

Sarah Moran, RDN

Registered Dietitian

Sarah is a registered dietitian who uses intuitive eating and a weight-neutral approach to help individuals and families take the stress out of eating, ditch diets, and enjoy food again. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics at James Madison University and went on to complete her Dietetic Internship at Virginia Tech. Since 2013, Sarah has produced and published food and nutrition videos on the Sarah Moran Nutrition YouTube channel. She reaches thousands of people each month through online video with a focus on practical tips, meal ideas, and nutrition education. Through her work with individuals, groups, and her online community, Sarah aims to help change the culture around food and eating and reduce the confusion that many feel about health and nutrition. Find more about Sarah at

Jessica Bruce

Dr. Yum's Food Adventure Preschool Program Manager

Jessica has worked in early childhood education for the last 15 years as a preschool teacher in both Maryland and Virginia. She is uniquely qualified to lead this program since she has participated in Dr. Yum's Preschool Food Adventure not only as a teacher and preschool director, but as a parent. She says it is because of the Dr. Yum Project that her kids prefer grape tomatoes over candy! She has witnessed firsthand children, including her own, learn to love foods through their experience with this curriculum. In her free time, Jessica loves to make memories with her kids, so you can catch her just having fun! She also loves to craft and create. She and her husband enjoy woodworking together and creating things for their home!

Trudie Knapp

Dr. Yum Food Adventure Teacher Success Specialist

Trudie graduated from Durham University in the United Kingdom and has over 25 years of experience working with young children both in the UK and the United States. She began her journey with the Dr. Yum Project after spotting the curriculum in a classroom she was working in and fell in love with the idea of children seeing, touching, tasting, and talking about food. When not mentoring and supporting early childhood educators, she loves to spend time with her husband, two daughters, and English Bulldog Lionel, cooking, hiking and gardening.

Melanie Potock

Pediatric Feeding Specialist

Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP, is an international speaker on the topic of feeding babies, toddlers and school-age kids. She is the co-author of the award-winning Raising a Healthy Happy Eater: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating (2015) and Baby Self-Feeding: Solutions for Introducing Purees and Solids to Create Lifelong Healthy Eating Habits (2016). The tips in her cookbook for parents & kids, Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes (2018) are based on the latest research and Melanie’s 20 years of success as a pediatric feeding therapist. Melanie’s children’s book You are Not an Otter takes preschoolers on a food adventure, exploring all the ways that various animals eat! Melanie’s advice has been shared in a variety of television and print media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Parents Magazine. Contact her at for more articles, professional tips, and helpful videos to raise your adventurous eater and follow Mel on Instagram and Facebook too!

Dianna Thomas

Dianna Thomas is a second-year nutritional sciences graduate student at the University of Georgia. She has experience in community nutrition research and is a certified CDC Diabetes Prevention Program lifestyle coach. She plans to enter a dietetic internship upon completing her graduate degree to pursue a career in dietetics. Dianna received her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Kennesaw State University. She holds certifications as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor and loves enlightening others on the power of movement alongside a well-balanced diet. Her work with the Dr. Yum Project includes nutritional analyses of newly developed recipes. Dianna aims to improve the health of individuals and families all over the world through the power of nutrition education!

Matthew Krom

Emily Hanson

Noah Swartz

Cooking Instructor and Outreach Team

Noah is a recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, holding a degree in Health, Physical Education, and Exercise Science. Noah was born and raised in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Growing up with the Dr. Yum Project, Noah quickly became passionate for serving his community on a local level. From the very first Dr. Yum cooking lesson, Noah has been a valuable team member in the coordination, promotion, and execution of the Dr. Yum Project’s values and mission as a cooking instructor and outreach team member. Noah currently works as a Financial Advisor in Richmond, Virginia.

Since moving to Richmond in 2017, Noah enjoys the diverse selection of hobbies and activities that the greater Richmond area has to offer. When not in the office, Noah can be found running on Belle Isle with his dog Finnegan, playing kickball and dodgeball in a recreational league, or simply trying a new recipe at home. Noah is thankful to live close to family and the Project and makes frequent visits to work with the Dr. Yum Team and spend time with his parents, siblings, nieces & nephews.

Ashleigh Buyers Kassock

Multimedia Designer

Ashleigh Buyers Kassock is a multimedia designer and illustrator living in downtown Fredericksburg. She started working with the Dr. Yum Project team in 2011 when she was still in college at the University of Mary Washington. Ashleigh designed the original Dr. Yum character featured in the Dr. Yum Project preschool curriculum along with the most recent character redesign. More of her illustrations can be seen within the pages of this inspirational project and as well as in Dr. Yum’s “Raising a Healthy Happy Eater” book. As a new mom herself Ashleigh is proud to be part of the Dr. Yum Project team. A group of enthusiastic people working to inspire a new generation of happy, health-conscious eaters, and their families.

Jonathan Stevens

Master Gardner

Jonathan Stevens became a Master Gardener Volunteer after retirement in Fredericksburg and conducts hands-on workshops to encourage people to compost their kitchen and yard waste. It was at a composting seminar that he learned about the Dr. Yum Project and its instructional garden. Jonathan says he fell in love with the Dr. Yum Project’s mission and its hands-on approach, and he has been volunteering ever since. He has worked tirelessly in the garden to help grow delicious food and help students of all ages to appreciate the joy of composting.

Jonathan had a prior career in healthcare management and personal financial planning, including serving as Director of an early healthcare data consortium in Vermont and Director of a PPO program for John Hancock in Chicago. He served as a consultant in employee healthcare benefits to Fortune 500 Companies with Towers Perrin in Chicago and as a Financial Advisor and Certified Financial Planner® for executives and business owners in Boston, MA, and Reston, VA. He is a graduate of Yale University where he earned a BA and UNC where he earned a Masters in Public Health.

Jonathan and his wife Peggy have also participated in a number of community activities over the years. Jonathan is currently on the Board of the Fredericksburg Food Co-op, a start-up community-owned grocery store, where he has just completed a year as Chair of the Board, and now serves as Vice-Chair.