Our Team

David L. Katz, MD, MPH


Dr. Katz is the founding director (1998) of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, Immediate Past-President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, and Founder/Director of the True Health Initiative established to help convert what we know about lifestyle as medicine into what we do about it, in the service of adding years to lives and life to years around the globe.  

Katz directed the development of the Overall Nutritional Quality Index® used in the NuVal® nutritional guidance system, the world’s most robustly validated nutrient profiling system. Katz earned his BA degree from Dartmouth College (1984); his MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (1988); and his MPH from the Yale University School of Public Health (1993).  He completed sequential residency training in Internal Medicine, and Preventive Medicine/Public Health. He has received two Honorary Doctorates, and holds an appointment as adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine. 

He holds 5 U.S. patents with other patents pending, and has published roughly 200 scientific articles and textbook chapters, and 18 books to date, including multiple editions of leading textbooks in both Preventive Medicine and nutrition. Recognized globally for expertise in nutrition, weight management and the prevention of chronic disease, he has a social media following of nearly 1 million. 

For more about Founder, David L. Katz, MD, MPH visit

Jennifer Gannett, JD

Director of Development and Operations

Jennifer has a wealth of experience in environmental, food, social justice, and animal welfare policy, program and procedure work. A graduate of Lewis and Clark Law School, Jennifer has served as a litigation fellow, a consultant and a development professional for a variety of nonprofits. Jennifer is a founding board member of the Clean Water Advocacy Center, a faculty member at Main Street Vegan Academy and established JGI Roots and Shoots program in her community.

Jennifer Gannett headshot

Susan Benigas

Susan is Executive Director for the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Her work has spanned the gamut, from running political campaigns to serving in senior management and consultant roles for organizations ranging from professional sports and media to healthcare technology and worksite health promotion. Susan founded the not-for-profit The Plantrician Project and co-founded the International Plant-based Nutrition Healthcare Conference. 

Richard Carmona, MD, MPH

As a physician, police officer, and public health administrator, serving as 17th US Surgeon General, and now Vice-Chairman at Canyon Ranch, Dr. Carmona is an expert in policy systems, preparedness, health disparities and literacy, global repercussions, and direct patient care. His support and guidance of THI programming helps keep us relevant and focused on large picture culture shifts.

Beth Patton Comerford, MS

Beth received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Psychology, with an emphasis on social and organizational psychology. She serves as the Deputy Director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center where she has directed nutrition and lifestyle research for close to twenty years, Executive Director of Turn the Tide Foundation, and Treasurer for the True Health Initiative.

Christopher Gardner, PHD

Consummate research professor at Stanford University has spent 20 years with a focus on plant-based nutrition but has recently expanded his efforts to studying food systems approach to improved diet quality and the link between social movements and improved diet change. Dr. Gardner keeps THI on trend and grounded to our evidence base.

Dexter Shurney, MD, MBA, MPH

Dr. Dexter Shurney, MD, MBA, MPH is the Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President of Clinical Affairs for Zipongo​, the San Francisco-based based digital health and wellness company that focuses on enabling healthy eating -“Healthy Eating, Made Simple.” Dr. Shurney is the former Chief Medical Director / Executive Director for Global Health Benefits and Corporate Wellness for Cummins​, Inc. 

Dr. Dexter Shurney headshot

Walter Willett, MD, DRPH

A renowned author and scientist, Dr. Willett is the former Chair of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and currently Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition. His vast publications include more than 1,800 scientific articles on diet and disease and multiple retail books lend an incredible knowledge base to our council, publications and audiences.

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RDN, LD

Award winning media personality, nutrition communications expert, and consummate professional, Kathleen works with WebMD, is a contributing editor to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food & Nutrition magazine, James Beard Foundation, and more. Her background in science and nutrition journalism guides THI in our efforts to bring clarity to complex health topics.

Kathleen Zelman

True Health Initiative Interns