Staff

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Danielle Robbins-Gregory
President
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Danielle is a healthcare executive and children’s advocate with nearly twenty years of experience developing health and wellness programs and speaking out on behalf of children and adults across the Kansas City metro area.

Previously Danielle served as vice president of quality development at ReDiscover, a community mental health agency with a staff of 600 healthcare professionals who serve 10,000 clients annually. In this role, she created and managed cross-system collaborations among community organizations and secured funds to sustain programming. The scope of her work at ReDiscover involved Kansas City area children’s services, health departments, service agencies, school districts, health clinics and support service agencies.

Earlier in her career, Danielle served as associate director at Resource Development Institute and as a case manager at Cornerstones of Care’s Gillis Campus. She held a clinical instructor appointment at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, for 12 years.

Danielle holds a Master of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Black Hills State University.

“KC Healthy Kids’ board, staff and volunteers work hard to identify opportunities for improving the health and quality of life for our youth. I’m proud to lead an agency that works so consistently to make sure all kids have access to healthy food and safe places to play,” says Danielle.

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Rhonda Erpelding
Vice President, Programs
Project Director, Healthy Kids Bright Futures
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Rhonda is responsible for designing, executing and overseeing the organization’s programs. As project director for Healthy Kids Bright Futures, Rhonda provides leadership and fosters partnerships to strengthen early education, health and food systems.

Rhonda began her career teaching two-year-olds at a large Early Head Start/Head Start program in Waterloo, Iowa. Within a few years, she was promoted to oversee a new 18-hour center that served families working late-night and early-morning hours.

In 2005, she accepted a position as program director for YMCA of Greater Kansas City. Under her leadership, the YMCA’s early care and education center achieved national accreditation through National Association for the Education of Young Children and earned a three-star rating in the Quality Rating System in Kansas.

Rhonda was director at Bright Horizons, an employer-sponsored early care and education center at Research Medical Center, for six years, and just prior to joining KC Healthy Kids, she was a program manager at American Heart Association. There she was partnered with early care and education programs in Wyandotte and Johnson counties to address childhood obesity. She helped centers create wellness policies and trained center staff on topics such as infant feeding, nutrition, physical activity and screen time best practices.

Rhonda is a professional development specialist with the Council for National Recognition: Child Development Associate® National Credentialing Program. She holds an undergraduate degree in early childhood/elementary education from the University of Northern Iowa and a master’s degree in early childhood from Capella University.

“I’m thrilled that KC Healthy Kids supports very young children. It’s so important for us as a society to give children what they need in the early years, so they are better able to grow into healthy adults,” Rhonda says.

Committees and Appointments

  • Alive and Thrive, Healthy Communities Wyandotte, since 2015
  • Turn the Page KC, 2018
  • Wyandotte County Early Childhood Interagency Coordinating Council, since 2014
  • Educare Head Start Policy Council, 2015-2016
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Beth Low-Smith
Vice President, Policy
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Beth leads efforts to shape policies in government, schools and businesses so that everyone has opportunities to make healthy choices wherever they are. She works closely with community leaders, political officials and many other organizations to improve the regional food system and built environment in the Kansas City metro area.

Beth came on board in 2010 to serve as the Greater KC Food Policy Coalition’s director. In that role, she is responsible for advancing the coalition’s policy agenda and creating a presence for the coalition through regional food system activities.

“First and foremost, I’m an advocate for increased opportunities for everyone,” Beth says.

Advocacy and policy have always been at the heart of Beth’s work, whether she was serving the Missouri Pro Vote as a community organizer, Hope House as a social worker or her constituents as an elected official.

During her three terms as a Missouri State Representative (January 2005- January 2011) she served on several committees and earned a number of Outstanding Legislator awards from the Missouri Bar Association, Missouri Judicial Conference, Heartland Multiple Sclerosis Society and Partnership for Children. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, as well as numerous other civic and community organizations. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Missouri.

Awards

  • Greater KC Women’s Political Caucus Torch Award: Young Woman of Promise, 2003
  • Missouri Association of Social Welfare’s Pillar Award for Outstanding Community and Public Service, 2010
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Lucinda Noches Talbert
Vice President, Operations
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Lucinda oversees the day-to-day workings of KC Healthy Kids, including general office operations, financial management, human resources, IT support and fund development. She started at KC Healthy Kids in 2013 to lay the foundation and secure grant funding for programs like Champions for Health, Healthy Communities Initiative and Farm to School Academy.

She has nearly 20 years of management experience in program planning, grant writing and fund development at government and non-profit organizations in Kansas and Missouri. She has served as treasurer of Riverview Health Clinic and currently serves on the Board of the Nettleton Foundation.

Lucinda continually strives to provide excellence in leadership. She is a 2014 graduate of the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City Leadership Academy and a 2011 graduate of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Centurions Leadership Program. In 2018, she received a volunteer of the year award from United Way of Wyandotte County.

Lucinda holds a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science from Virginia Tech and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas. She is originally from Topeka, Kansas and has lived in the Kansas City metropolitan area for 15 years.  

“I believe health is a human right, not a privilege. At KC Healthy Kids, I can align that belief and apply my skills toward our efforts to  create a more equitable system and healthier society overall,” Lucinda says.

Committees and Affiliations

Nettleton Foundation Board of Directors, Since 2012
Upsilon Rho Omega Chapter Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Since 2016
Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Centurions Leadership Program, 2011
Riverview Health Services Board of Directors, 2012-2018

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Michelle Dake
Director, Youth Initiatives
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Michelle joined the KC Healthy Kids team in 2014. In her role as the Youth Initiatives Director, she creates resources for schools and community organizations to empower students to speak out for healthy schools and communities. As a classroom teacher for 6 years, she is intimately familiar with the challenges facing teachers, students and schools when it comes to promoting a healthy lifestyle.

In her current role, Michelle oversees the coordination and administration of all aspects of the Champions for Health and Walking detective programs as well as serving as the event chair for the annual youth summit.

Michelle received both her Bachelors of Music Education and Masters of Secondary Education from Vanderbilt University where upon graduation, she received the Outstanding Educator Award, which is presented to the graduate student in secondary education with the most outstanding professional promise. She is currently an active member of the and CoRPs, Commodore Recruitment Program, alumni volunteer.

“KC Healthy Kids’ approach to youth initiatives allows me translate my teaching experience into programs, services and products that can help everyone in the school community speak out for what they need,” Michelle says.

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Heather Winslow Gibbons
Creative Director
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As creative director, Heather oversees communications for KC Healthy Kids. She also builds strategic partnerships with artists and arts organizations to encourage broader civic and community involvement around our policy and programmatic priorities. Heather’s big-picture thinking paired with a strategic focus and collaborative approach allow her to effectively work across channels and with diverse partners to advance the organization’s mission.

Before coming to KC Healthy Kids, Heather worked for the American School Health Association, the Missouri Coordinated School Health Coalition, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, and other health-focused organizations. She also spent 10 years developing product at Hallmark Cards, where she led creative teams in the development of gift and stationery products, music collections, and seasonal cards, including licensed products like Harry Potter, American Girl and classics like Peanuts, Winnie the Pooh and Mattel characters. She also established Hallmark’s grassroots EcoTeam, which is now supported by the company’s social responsibility department.

“As a longtime advocate for local food, I’m thrilled to be putting my creative communications skills to work for KC Healthy Kids’ mission. Our staff and partners are doing amazing work and they make it easy to share the results of their talent and hard work with our communities,” Heather said.

Awards
2017 Philly Awards, Media Relations Silver
2016 Philly Awards, Award of Distinction with Dazium Design

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Rachael McGinnis Millsap
Director, Farm to Institution
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As director of the farm to institution programming, Rachael works with local growers, distributors and schools districts to make fresh, locally grown foods more available to students. She also builds crucial partnerships and provides training to empower districts to overcome barriers to serving local food.

She helped found the Johnson County Food Policy Council and has served as vice chair since 2017. She also chairs the council’s Local Food Development Work Group.

Rachael has a long career of bringing about social change through agriculture. She spent nine years as nutrition and gardening educator for the University of Missouri Extension and was director of the Eating from the Garden program in Jackson County, which taught gardening and nutrition concepts to elementary students. Through KC Healthy Kids’ partnership with Community Housing of Wyandotte County, Rachael operates Splitlog Farm and Orchard, which is owned by the housing agency.

“Schools and communities have a huge potential to address health disparities by reinventing themselves as places that promote healthy eating and active living and educate families about healthy food,” she says.

Rachael graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelors in Plant Science and received her Masters in social work from UMKC. She stays active in that field by facilitating direct intervention and group counseling at a local medical center on a part time basis.

She holds a certificate from Community Development Academy, a series of intensive, experiential courses offered by the University of Missouri Extension Community Development Program.

Other Committees & Appointments
National Farm to School Network Kansas Core Partner, 2017-2019
Farm to School Consultant, Lawrence Public Schools, Since 2017

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Gina Piccinini
Director of Grants and Quality Improvement
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As our resident data analyst, Gina works to embed evaluative thinking across programs. She has nearly a decade of evaluation expertise, with specific skills in design, implementation and analysis. Gina also provides critical support to staff in preparing grant proposals and reports.

Gina’s background is in health and social services, specifically in assessment of locally-funded non-profit initiatives. This includes evaluating advocacy and policy efforts as well as social justice programming.

She has served as a grants and advocacy administrator, preparing local and state grant proposals for children’s services, mental health, education and substance use services. She designs programs and works to secure the funding to sustain them. She actively engages funders, elected officials, media, stakeholders and the general public in policy issues.

Gina holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She completed the Grantsmanship Training Program in 2017 and plans to continue her education in public health to strengthen her skills from a community-based perspective.

“I am dedicated to finding ways to help people improve the health and wellbeing in their communities. My role at KC Healthy Kids is challenging and incredibly rewarding in that aspect,” Gina says.

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Cynthia Wilson
Manager, Fund Development
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Cynthia is responsible for building strong relationships with funders, coordinating fundraising events and writing grants. She came to KC Healthy Kids in 2017 through Americorps VISTA, and continued to assist with fund development and capacity building as a consultant before permanently joining our staff.

Cynthia has more than 20 years’ experience in business management, fundraising and volunteer mobilization. She has devoted countless hours in volunteer service for national organizations and causes. She has served as a disaster relief volunteer with the Red Cross and has assisted in mobilizing food banks and has served as an election judge in Platte County, Missouri and in Broward County Florida. Since 2016, she has funded school supplies and admission for students in Dakar, West Africa.

Cynthia holds a Bachelor of Health Science from University of Missouri-Kansas City, and interned as a health educator at Platte County Health Department.

“When my youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I immediately began learning everything I could about food and nutrition. Through that work, I gained a better understanding of “adult-onset” health problems that are impacting kids more these days. KC Healthy Kids helps me make a difference in that area,” Cynthia says.

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Ashley Castillo
Graphic Designer
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As the in-house graphic designer for KC Healthy Kids, Ashley delivers strong design sensibility and craft to communication projects. She combines art, photography, and design throughout her practice to create a sense of connectivity between KC Healthy Kids and our community. From day-to-day, Ashley strives to bring fresh, on-brand experiences through both print and digital platforms. Ashley is a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts focused in Graphic Design. During her time at KCAI, she was awarded with the Katherine McCoy Award for her exemplary design research approach. Ashley is a practicing creative that explores through mediums such as photography, printmaking, and illustration.

“My dedication to designing for social change grows every day at KC Healthy Kids,” said Ashley.

Affiliations and Awards

  • American Institute of Graphic Arts, since 2015.
  • Society for Experiential Graphic Design, since 2018.
  • Goodman Grant, 2018
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Luis Colón
Community Navigator
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As a community navigator, Luis supports families with children ages zero to three who are enrolled in Healthy Kids Bright Futures’ participating early care and education centers. He conducts quarterly child development screenings, connects families to resources and services in their communities, provides training on topics as requested by families, helps teachers build upon their strengths, and supports early care and education centers to increase the quality of their programs. Prior to joining KC Healthy Kids, Luis was a case manager at Sheffield Place. There, he provided trauma counseling to homeless mothers and their children and connected them with resources they needed to become self-sufficient.  Luis holds a bachelor’s degree in social science & criminology with a minor in Spanish from Kansas State University.

“Throughout my career, I’ve worked with kids and their families to promote safety and well-being. KC Healthy Kids allows me to leverage my background and expertise and demonstrate my commitment to helping others,” Luis says.  

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Jennifer Robinson
Community Navigator
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As a community navigator, Jennifer supports families with children ages zero to three who are enrolled in Healthy Kids Bright Futures’ participating early care and education centers. She connects families to resources and services in their communities, and works with early childcare centers to facilitate growth and improvement in the quality of their programs.

Jennifer came to KC Healthy Kids from Giles County, Tennessee, where she was a family development specialist providing intensive in-home treatment to children and families receiving mental health services. Jennifer also has experience as a case manager and has worked to advocate for families and monitor and connect them to community resources that promote upward growth.

Jennifer holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology/History from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in human services at Amridge University.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of KC Healthy Kids because I believe we can make a positive impact on the community by educating children and families of the importance of healthy eating, active lifestyles and resourcefulness for sustainability,” Jennifer says.

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Markesia Tatum
Executive Administrative Assistant
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As executive administrative assistant, Markesia supports all aspects of KC Healthy Kids’ work by organizing internal activities as well as external meetings and events. She also maintains accounts payable/receivable and provides key support to our fund development team.

Markesia has 8 years’ experience in child care and a strong desire to serve her community. She has managed a successful freelance career in makeup artistry since 2008 and is active in a local food pantry ministry.

“I feel impassioned and inspired by what we do here,” Markesia says. “As someone who grew up in Wyandotte County, I know what it’s like to live in a place where healthy food isn’t available to everyone,” Markesia says.

Committees
Recurrent Meningitis Association Board of Directors, Since 2018

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David P. Ross
Consultant, Business & Fund Development
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David Ross has been with KC Healthy Kids since the very beginning. His main responsibility is raising funds to support KC Healthy Kids’ efforts to reduce childhood obesity.

David has been instrumental in acquiring the organization’s Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funding, hiring core staff in the organization and developing school-based programs.

Before joining the organization, David spent 38 years with Bank of America. In that time he managed the bank’s charitable trust department.