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Why Choose Duke > Our Team

OUR TEAM OF PROFESSIONALS

The Duke Diet and Fitness Center has assembled a team of experts in the treatment of obesity and related health conditions. Their achievements have been featured on such programs as Oprah and CBS News and on news sites such as U.S. News & World Report and The Huffington Post.
 
They're the experts other weight-loss programs look to for the latest in the field.
 
And they're 100% dedicated to helping you achieve your fitness and weight-loss goals.
Dr. William S. Yancy, Jr., MD,
Program Director
M.D. - East Carolina University
American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) Diplomate
 
Dr. Yancy received his undergraduate degree from Duke University in 1991 and his medical degree from East Carolina University in 1995.  He was a resident and Chief Resident in Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh from 1995-1999.  He completed a fellowship in General Medicine at Duke University, earning a Masters in Health Sciences Degree in 2001.  He is a Research Scientist in the Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Staff Physician in Ambulatory Care, and Co-director of the MOVE! Weight Management program at the Durham VA Medical Center. He is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, an instructor in the Duke Clinical Research Training Program (CRTP), and a physician in the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic. He is a Fellow of The Obesity Society and member of the Society for General Internal Medicine. He has performed multiple clinical trials investigating the safety, effectiveness, tolerability, and feasibility of diets and medications for weight loss. Through this research he has developed particular expertise with the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet as well as the low-glycemic load diet, and the low-fat, reduced-calorie diet. His research has also used large research and administrative datasets to examine the relationship of obesity with health outcomes and with utilization of health care services. Dr. Yancy has also performed a number of studies examining innovative approaches toward improving adherence to lifestyle recommendations and prescription medications. These include the use of lifestyle coaches, trained interventionists complimented with community health advisors, nurses, and spouses to enhance participants’ knowledge, motivation, and adherence. The interventions Dr. Yancy has studied have been delivered face-to-face in small groups and by telephone to increase convenience, efficiency, and reach. Dr. Yancy has most recently worked on projects aimed at improving the long-term adherence to lifestyle modifications, in particular strategies related to weight management. He has received several awards for his research including two Research Career Development awards from the VA, The Obesity Society’s Ethan Sims Young Investigator Award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and the Nutrition & Metabolism Society Award for Excellence in Nutrition & Metabolism. He also received the Duke University School of Medicine Excellence in Professionalism Award.
Bio
diet and fitness Duke Diet and Fitness Center
Susanne Jackson
Nurse Practitioner
Baccalaureate degree in Nursing from Saint Anselm College, Manchester, NH.
Master’s degree in Nursing Science from Duke University, Durham, NC.
Certification in Family Practice from American Nurses Credentialing Center.

 

Susanne provides comprehensive primary care to clients attending the Duke Diet and Fitness Center.

 

 

Bio
Dr. Nia S. Mitchell, MD, MPH
Physician
Bachelor of Science, Chemical Engineering, Tulane University
Master of Science, Chemical Engineering, University of Virginia
Medical Degree, Washington University in St. Louis
Residency, Internal Medicine Primary Care, University of Colorado
Fellowship, Primary Care Research, University of Colorado
Master of Public Health, Health Systems, Management, and Policy, Colorado School of Public Health
 

Dr. Mitchell is an assistant professor of General Internal Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine. Her commitment to weight management is motivated by the knowledge that many medical conditions can be improved with weight control.  Dr. Mitchell’s research involves weight loss interventions for underserved populations. 

Bio
Diet & Nutrition
Elisabetta Politi, RD, MPH, LDN, CDE
Nutrition Director

B.S., Food Science and Technology – University of Milan

Masters, Public Health Nutrition – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
 
Elisabetta brings more than 20 years of experience as a registered dietitian to her work at the DFC. Originally from Northern Italy, she moved to the U.S. in 1989. Her professional career has been dedicated to the prevention of chronic diseases through diet and weight management.
 
At the Diet & Fitness Center, she oversees the nutrition and food service programs, including assessment, treatment, and education.  A certified diabetes educator, she also works closely with diabetic patients.

 

Bio
Christine B. Tenekjian
MPH, RD, LDN – Clinical Dietitian

Christine received her undergraduate degree in Biology at the University of Virginia and completed her Master of Public Health and Dietetic Internship at UNC Chapel Hill. She holds a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is a Certified Personal Trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She has been on the Diet and Fitness Center treatment team since 2007.

 

Christine became a dietitian because she wanted to help people learn how to eat for a healthy and energized life. She works with clients for weight management, lipid modification, blood sugar and diabetes control, gastrointestinal issues, sports nutrition, sustainable eating, and general wellness. She loves to empower and educate individuals and groups to create practical solutions for better eating in the context of their busy lives.

 

Outside of work Christine enjoys singing, cooking, and staying active with gardening, hiking/camping, jogging, and yoga. Her mantra: Enjoy what you want, in moderation and mindfulness, and always consider the resources it cost to get the food to your plate.

 

Bio
Behavioral Health
Sofia Rydin-Gray, PHD
Director of Behavioral Health
Ph.D., Clinical Psychology – Bowling Green State University
 
Dr. Rydin-Gray applies a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach to treating a variety of conditions that interfere with quality of life. She specializes in delivering brief clinical interventions with a focus on practical application and skills building. Her clinical expertise is in assessing and treating the behavioral components of weight management, binge eating, emotional eating and other lifestyle-related conditions. She also conducts research focused on understanding the immediate and distal triggers of binge eating and food cravings, and on behavioral weight-loss interventions. In addition to her DFC responsibilities, she is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center, a Licensed Psychologist and a certified Health Services Provider in North Carolina.
Bio
Kathy Murray
LCSW - Psychotherapist and Integrative Health Coach

Kathy has been a member of the Behavioral Health staff at the DFC since 2002. She enjoys facilitating behavior change through mind/body approaches such as mindfulness and acceptance therapies, guided imagery, and Positive Psychology. She has expertise in assisting clients going through crisis and life transitions, career changes, and relationship issues. She has a special interest in helping people explore their deeper needs and values to enable them to create a healthy lifestyle. Kathy’s prior experience was at the Duke Addictions Program working with individuals and families who struggle with alcoholism and addiction.

 

Kathy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and holds a Masters’ Degree in Social Work from New York University. She has completed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program for Professionals, and the Integrative Health Coaching Program at Duke Integrative Medicine. Her work is also informed by training in Non-Violent Communication, Positive Psychology, Focusing and EMDR.

Bio
Exercise & Fitness
Brian Housle, MED, MS
Senior Exercise Physiologist
M.S., Health Psychology – Pennsylvania State University
M. Ed., Exercise Science – East Stroudburg University
 

Brian has been a member of the Duke Diet & Fitness Center since August 2001. He is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist, a certified Wellness Coach through the American College of Sports Medicine, as well as one of the first National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coaches in the U.S. through the International Consortium for Health & Wellness Coaching.  In addition, he is a Stott Pilates Instructor and certified Yoga Instructor with 200 Yoga Teacher Training education. Brian also specializes in myofascial release and trigger point therapy. Prior to joining the DFC team, he spent 15 years teaching and coaching several sports at the high school and college levels. He has experience in both the educational and private sectors, providing personal training, exercise physiology and health education. He has worked with a wide range of clients, from youth to the elderly and college athletes to the everyday person.

In addition to his responsibilities at the DFC, he has presented at many national and regional conferences, including The Obesity Society and the American College of Sports Medicine.

 

Bio
Medical
Steve Risi
Exercise Physiologist

Exercise Physiologist

 

Steven has been with the Diet and Fitness Center since May of 2012.  He is an Exercise Physiologist certified through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and a Corrective Exercise Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).  He has continued to broaden his knowledge about the body by acquiring a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science in order to help work with those who struggle with acute or chronic joint pains.  He specializes in body movement and understanding how movement, which has strayed from the ideal, can cause aches and pains throughout the body.  Steven also focused on myofascial release techniques in order to help improve joint and muscular motion to restore energy to the body.  Steven has taught at the community college level and really enjoys presenting lectures to clients on program.  He has experience with all ages and all abilities.

 

Outside of work, Steven enjoys cooking from scratch, spending time with his wife and 3 dogs, as well as participating in boot camp workouts himself.

Bio
Darrell Sanders
Exercise Physiologist
Bio
Cari Vann
Pilates Instructor

Cari Vann, M.A., is an exercise physiologist who has been teaching Pilates and Aquatics about 20 years.   As a passionate teacher, she excels in helping people achieve a better quality of movement.  Cari is highly skilled in working with varied populations with orthopedic limitations.  She has extensive education, training, and experience and uses both modalities to help maintain the body, as well as in healing and preventing injury. Whether it is on a chair, mat, using the larger apparatus, or in the water, Cari loves to design individualized Pilates programs.  She was formerly a Senior Exercise Physiologist and Aquatic Coordinator for the Duke Diet and Fitness Center (DFC) and started the Pilates Mat Program at both the Duke Center for Living and the DFC. 

Bio
Aquatics Specialist
Jessica Bolz

Jessica is the Aquatics Specialist for the Duke Diet and Fitness Center that is certified in WaterART and water fitness instruction.

She has worked in the capacity of aquatics for 25 years first as a competitor and lifeguard, went on to navigate and supervise a 400 student swim program in Queens NY (2005-2010), NYS MSOA swim referee on collegiate level (2007-2012),  what was once a recreational sport has now become a lifelong passion.

Her purpose is to bring the joy of water movement to clients in a positive healing way to aid in cardio and physical fitness while keeping it fun.

Bio
Dina Lumia
Client Relations and Admissions Manager

Dina is originally from Long Island, New York, where she obtained a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration at Hofstra University. Dina enjoyed working and living in New York City where she held various positions at Beth Israel Medical Center and Mt. Sinai Medical Center. Shortly after to moving to Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2001, Dina was hired as the Client Relations Specialist at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center. She manages the DFC admissions office.

 

Dina’s communication skills and experience working directly with patients have proved valuable in her position at the DFC. Dina is responsible for ensuring client satisfaction through coordination of services provided by medical, nutrition, fitness and health psychology. Dina enjoys working in an environment that fosters healthy living and utilizes strategies that transform people’s lives.

Bio
Marvin Sanderford
Admissions Coordinator

Marvin is a native of central NC area, and joined the DFC from a short career in computer programming and web design, to a 15 year career in medical field, from clinical trials at Duke, PPD and Quintiles, to working with the largest anesthesia group in the southeast, Marvin has always been a recruiter in the various positions he has held.

Marvin initially started at the DFC in 2013 as a temp, manning the front desk and working diligently with the clientele and staff to ensure a quality experience for our clients. During his time,  between client interactions, scheduling, and information distribution, he discovered an amazing thing about the DFC. To personally witness the transformation of clients that happen before his eyes, in the few short weeks that they are at the DFC. This was his most rewarding part of the job. Late in 2013 he joined the staff in a full time capacity, offering his years of experience in customer relations as a benefit to clients and staff alike.

Marvin is now the Admissions Coordinator within the admissions department, working to recruit new clients to join the DFC and experience the lifestyle change they've been looking for. He enjoys meeting and talking with new people and to work with them in learning how the DFC can help them discover a new, healthier life.

 

Bio
Terri McBay
Admissions Coordinator

Admissions Coordinator

Bio
Bobby Cale
Business Office Manager/Financial Analyst

B.A., Business Administration - University of North Carolina

 

Bobby is a Duke veteran, with nearly 25 years of combined experience between Duke Medicine and Duke Diet & Fitness Center. Initially, he served as a Patient Accounts Representative, but quickly moved into a patient admissions role on the DFC team. He now manages the accounting and business office operations with additional responsibilities in admissions, facility management and client services.


Prior to his time at Duke, Bobby was Director of Admissions for Rutledge Junior College and an assistant football coach at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina.

Bio
Eric T. Reese, MBA
Marketing Director, Duke Health and Wellness

B.S., Biology - Dillard University

MBA, Marketing - Benedictine University

 

Eric is responsible for brand management and marketing for the Health and Wellness portfolio of the Duke University Health System. This includes Duke Integrative Medicine, Duke Health and Fitness Center and the Duke Diet & Fitness Center.

Bio
Mike Hall
Courier

Mike Hall is a Durham native, and is currently the designated courier at the DFC, providing transportation for clients to and from their appointments as well as performing other administrative duties at the center. Mike is known for his warm welcoming of all new clients at the beginning of their DFC experience.

Bio
Sally Schatz
Director of Development

Sally’s role with the Diet and Fitness Center is to raise philanthropic support for its funding initiatives and most pressing needs. Because of Duke’s non-profit status, philanthropic giving plays a pivotal role in ensuring that what we do every day enhances and advances the quality of life for so many people.  In addition to the DFC, Sally helps several other medical areas philanthropically within Duke Health

Originally from the Midwest, Sally has lived in this area for more than 20 years.  Her 13+ years at Duke have included business development work with the Fuqua School of Business’ executive programs and fundraising for athletics.  Before coming to Duke, Sally spent her early career in client management in market research consulting.   She graduated from Wittenberg University with a B.S. in Psychology and Business Administration.

Bio
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Take the First Step Today.

Whether you have questions about the Duke Diet and Fitness Center or are ready to take the next step into lifelong wellness, we’d love to hear from you. Call us at 800-235-3853 or fill out the below form. One of our team members will be in touch with you shortly to answer your questions or get you started.  
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With more than 40-year years of experience in delivering wellness and weight loss programs, the Duke Diet and Fitness Center has established itself as one of the leading weight loss and total body health destinations for health conscious individuals seeking a residential style health program focused on natural weight loss.

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