Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation - Promoting Healthy Living
Providing opportunities for our community to enthusiastically embrace a healthier lifestyle.


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The Pottstown Area
Health & Wellness Foundation

152 East High Street
Suite 500
Pottstown, PA 19464
fax 610-323-0047

Click here for driving directions to the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation


2013 Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds Speaker Biographies

We are thrilled to host a variety of local, regional, and national speakers who have personal insight and interest in active learning. The knowledge coming from these presenters is impressive and second only to their commitment and passion for education and fitness.

Ask the Expert*
Select conference presenters will be available to individually discuss your strategic challenges and provide valuable guidance to you and your team. This is a great opportunity to get innovative advice from leaders in education! Check out the presenter biographies below to find out what topics they are seeking to share information about.

*Follow the asterisks for these special topics and keep them in mind. Signing up to speak with Experts will be available first come first served on-site at the conference!

Mark Birdsall Mark Birdsall is the Director of Youth Programs at Triskeles Foundation. Mark has 30 years of teaching experience in public, inner city to rural, and independent elementary and middle schools in addition to his experience as an administrator of a K-12 school. He has also been an organic gardener for 30 years, and Director of Triskeles' Youth Programs for 9 years. Mark has an MEd. from Adelphi University and an MA in Russian Studies from Vermont College of Norwich University. He served as a Navy helicopter pilot during the Vietnam war.
Dr. Laura Borsdorf*

Dr. Laura Borsdorf has a Ph.D. in fitness/wellness education and is a Professor at Ursinus College in Exercise and Sport Science.  She is a former public school teacher and coach, and a National Certified Physical Best and Fitnessgram Instructor.  She is the author of the Physical Best Activity Guide (3rd edition) and national and international presenter on fitness and wellness education. 

*Fitness Education, Physical Best Resources, Fitness for Life K-12 Curriculum, Fitnessgram, President’s Physical Fitness Program

Aaron Christ* Aaron Christ has been providing customized physical activity workouts for obese children and their families in this program since 2011. Aaron Christ is a husband, father and the managing member of Fresh Start Fitness, a local business that promotes healthy lifestyles to kids and adults while strengthening the family core. For those concerned with his credentials, he is a certified personal trainer, in 3 years has gone from serving just 2 clients to owning a family fitness center, employing a handful of health professionals and providing mobile services reaching as far as South Carolina. He is also very active in the local community and most notably has partnered with Creative Health Services and The Pottstown Area Health and Wellness foundation to develop a program aimed at overweight children, their families and their social circles. Thus far that program has surpassed the national average rate of success in all measured outcomes.

*Youth & Adult Obesity

Jessica Cook Jessica Cook teaches health and physical education at Mellon Middle School in the Mt. Lebanon outside of Pittsburgh.  She is a 2008 graduate of Slippery Rock University, and a member of the PSAHPERD State Executive Board, and a certified Drums Alive Instructor. 
Sara Couppas*

Sara Couppas is the Healthy Schools Program Manager covering Pennsylvania and Delaware at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Prior to joining the Alliance, Sara served as a Youth Market Director at the American Heart Association where she worked with schools in San Diego, CA and more recently in south eastern PA.  Sara earned her BS in Recreation and Fitness Management, with a minor in Health Promotion from Lock Haven University. In Sara’s free time she loves swimming and running with her 1 year old son and her two dogs. She has been with the Alliance for over 5 years.

*Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program & Creating Healthier School Environment, addressing ways to increase Nutrition and Physical Activity in schools

John DiRenzo John DiRenzo is the owner of Tri County Bicycles, a full service bike shop located in historic downtown Pottstown. Tri-County Bicycles was voted the Readers Choice for 2011 and 2012 by the readers of The Mercury newspaper. John has over 10 years of experience in the bike business and has served as race support and bike maintenance on many area bike rides and races.
Dr. Kat Ellis*

Dr. Kat Ellis is a Certified Adapted Physical Educator (CAPE), Associate Professor of Adapted Physical Education and Deaf Culture/ASL at West Chester University.  Dr. Ellis’ main focus in on transitional programs for students with disabilities going from the educational setting into the community, as well as deaf education and deaf culture-related topics.

*Disability-specific topics, deafness, deaf culture, sign language

Tim Fenchel

Tim Fenchel is the Grants Program Coordinator at the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.  He manages three regional grant programs focusing on the Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape, the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund and the Heritage Towns and Tours community revitalization program. In addition to his roles with the grant program Tim also manages regional and community projects.  Together, John and Tim manage and administer the Bike Pottstown bike share program, one of only three free bike share programs in the nation.

Joe Gallo Joe Gallo is a presenter for the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) pipeline at the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). He was also a presenter/trainer for POLAR technology from 2001-2011, and provides staff development workshops (classroom and physical education teachers, aides, paraprofessionals) for Pennsbury School District 1998-current. He is a presenter for the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (PSAHPERD), a presenter “Tools for Teachers” series, a presenter for the Southeastern District PSAHPERD, has 23 years of teaching experience, and received the PSAHPERD Teacher of the Year award in 2004.
David Genova

David Genova graduated from Slippery Rock University where he earned his Bachelors of Science Degree in Health Science with a concentration in Public Health and a minor in Psychology.  David is a Personal Trainer, certified through A.C.E (American Council on Exercise) as a Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach and Health Coach and is a Certified Sports Performance Coach through Parisi Speed School.  David has successfully completed the Pennsylvania School Health Leadership Institute to create healthy school communities and align health and education.

David Genova is an accomplished fitness professional in the corporate health and fitness field.  David currently is the District Wellness Coordinator at Pottstown School District.  David previously served as the Program Director at the Sinking Spring YMCA in Berks County where he managed personal training and the youth sports department. He also served as a Sports Performance coach training athletes as young as 7 years of age to college athletes. Previous to that, David was employed at Universal Athletic Club/Parisi Speed School, which was ranked in the top 5 Parisi Speed Schools in the Country. There he was an avid Personal Trainer, Fitness Coach, Fitness Advisor and Certified Sports Performance Coach.
Dr. Chris Gilbert

Dr. Chris Gilbert is a partner at RTSG Neuroscience, and evaluates the effectiveness of exercise programs for this company. He has designed studies on the use of the Kinect in schools for Microsoft, on evaluating the effectiveness of police wellness programs, on the use of exercise as a clinical treatment, and on exercise as an educational tool in schools such as Eagle Hill and Landmark East, and in studies with Specialized Bikes and Cycle Kids, among others. He studied computational neuropsychology at McMaster University, and completed his PhD thesis on learning and the brain (simulating executive functions and memory through computer models of the brain).

Diana Gulick

Diana Gulick, M.Ed. is a Senior Coordinator, Health Promotion in the Worksite Wellness department at Independence Blue Cross.  She received her Bachelors of Science in Public Health from West Chester University and her Masters in Health Education/Public Health from the University of Georgia.  She has over fifteen years of experience in the design, development, and implementation of health education and health promotion programs.

Cindy Hess*

Cindy Hess is the co-creator of the Action Based Learning Lab ™.  Cindy’s presentations give teachers real time use of recent brain research and its applications to developing the entire child/learner through physical education. Cindy taught for 30 years in Ephrata School District, as well as supervision of student teachers at West Chester University for the past 5 years.

*Action Based Learning
Chris Kemmerer*

Chris Kemmerer, Environmental Education & Interpretation Section Chief at PA State Parks. Chris Kemmerer is PSAHPERD’s 2011 Community Recreation Professional of the Year Award recipient. He’s the former Chief of the Outdoor Recreation Programming Section but now manages all personal programming for PA State Parks.  He continually works to promote and encourage Pennsylvanians to get active and explore their public lands.

*Outdoor Recreation & information on obtaining lessons and equipment as well as the benefits of life-long recreation and how best to incorporate into P.E. classes
Annette Lemma*

Annette Lemma is a certified Yoga Instructor, and completed her training with ChildLight Yoga in 2011. She has taught yoga to hundreds of children in the schools and in yoga studios. Annette is an RN and Certified School Nurse and has worked for both the Pottstown and Owen J Roberts School Districts for 13 years. Her first career in nursing extended over 10 years as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Neuroscience Nursing. She is married and a mother of 3 very active children, ages 19, 17 and 15. Her nursing education includes: Master’s Degree in Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Certification in School Nursing, Kutztown University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, Hahnemann University, and an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, Alvernia University.

*Starting an after-school Yoga for Kids program in your school
Renee Lentz

Renee Lentz is a staff member of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Middle States, currently serving as the Tennis Service Representative in Eastern Pennsylvania.  She works closely with the Reading Recreation Commission’s COR tennis program.  She is a certified tennis professional and a member of the Professional Tennis Registry.  She has been involved with the USTA programs for nearly her entire adult life and is an avid player and promoter of the game.  Lentz is a National Recreational Workshop and 10 and Under Workshop Trainer for the USTA.

Joanie LePage

Joanie Lepage has been teaching Elementary PE for 22 years. For the last 10 years she has taught in the West Chester Area School District. Her BS and MS are from West Chester University. She was the PSAHPERD Teacher of the Year in 2001.  She has presented on the local, state and national levels.

*Anything Elementary PE, Class Management strategies, Jump Rope

Lou Lepore Lou Lepore has worked as a Health and Physical Education Teacher in the Reading School District for 7 Years. For the past 5 years, he has worked with the Reading Recreation Commission to build a bridge between the schools and community.   He has worked as a Tennis Instructor with COR Tennis and has presented at the USTA Community Workshops.  He currently is a COR Site Supervisor for 2 school based “Early Bird” tennis programs” as well as a summer club site supervisor.
Adam Lieb Adam Lieb is Physical Education Teacher and Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach at the Boyertown Area School District.- He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
Matthew Lubas Matthew Lubas is the Recreation Supervisor for the new Reading Recreation Commission. The Reading Recreation Commission is a partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources (DCNR), the Reading School District, and the City of Reading.
Dave Lyth

Dave Lyth graduated from Bridgewater State University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and went on to earn his Master of Education from Fitchburg State University in May 2013.  Dave is currently in his 5th year as a Physical Education teacher at Kennedy Middle School in Natick, Massachusetts.  Prior to KMS, he worked at Wellesley Middle School, Wellesley, MA.  He attended the Sparking Life Institute at Eagle Hill School during August 2011.  In March 2012 Dave presented "Exercise and the Brain - How to Increase Physical Activity in Schools to Help Students Learn" at the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Wellness Workshop.  He also co-directed a study with his mathematician colleague regarding the link between physical activity and academic performance. He is the director of the Bay State Flash AAU Basketball Program (grades 4 - 11).  He also coaches JV boys’ basketball and 8th grade girls’ soccer.

Heather McDanel Heather McDanel founded Students Run Philly Style in 2004. A runner and committed public health advocate, Heather has over fifteen years of experience with program design and implementation. In her role as Executive Director of Students Run Philly Style, she oversees all aspects of the program and ensures financial stability for its operations. Heather has been influential in developing relationships with key stakeholders such as community organizations, government agencies, schools, running clubs, corporate sponsors, and grantors.  During Heather’s tenure, the program has grown from 50 students, to 880 students in 50 teams throughout Philadelphia and has expanded in breadth to include academic support and intensive leadership training in addition to mentorship through long distance running. Prior to this role, Heather was a research scientist whose talent led her to apply her skills to addressing childhood obesity.  Heather has a B.A. in Biology and a Master's in Public Health from Temple University.
Charlie McGarvey

Charlie McGarvey teaches Physical Education and Health at St. Jane Frances de Chantal School in the Diocese of Allentown. Mr. McGarvey has been teaching for 39 years. He has a BA and M.Ed in Health and Physical Education from East Stroudsburg University.

Scott Miller

Scott Miller teaches mathematics at Naperville Central High School in Naperville, Illinois. He’s the Mathematics Department Coordinator and author of the “Energizing Brain Breaks” books with David Sladkey. He works with Paul Zientarski on the Learning Readiness Physical Education program at Naperville. For more information, visit www.learningreadinesspe.com or www.energizingbrainbreaks.com.

Steph Petri

Steph Petri is now Assistant Principal at Boyertown Area Senior High School, in Boyertown, PA. Previously she was the Lead Physical Education teacher for the Boyertown Area School District. She also serves as wellness coordinator for the district. Steph has organized and designed the Boyertown Health & PE conference for the past 7 years and was instrumental in redesigning this year’s new summer institute. She leads the Boyertown “Brain-Body Connection” program to promote health and wellness across the district.

Yvonne Post*

Yvonne Post holds a bachelor's degree in Community and Human Services from Empire State College and graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City in 2005. She has recently completed her certification with Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists (ACBIS) as a Brain Injury Specialist. In 2002, Yvonne created an Early Education Center in Hillsdale, NJ, incorporating hands-on cooking and nutrition into her developmentally-appropriate curriculum. She later spearheaded the Middle States Accreditation project titled, “Brain Friendly Learning” assisting school administration in successfully maintaining their accreditation. Three years later, Yvonne co-founded Cooking For Real, a hands-on cooking and nutrition education company, where she currently designs and teaches programs, workshops and educator trainings in whole food cooking and nutrition throughout the greater Philadelphia area. Yvonne's mission is to the facilitate the understanding of food, from source to outcome, teaching children, teens and adults empowerment and health through hands-on, whole food cooking and nutrition in the greater Philadelphia area.

* Creating/Teaching easily reproduce-able Hands-on Whole Food Cooking and Nutrition programs within school day and afterschool for all grade and learning levels

Jo-an Rechtin*

Jo-an Rechtin became involved in the wellness field from the food and public relations side. A practiced chef, writer, and consultant; she has been spokesperson for national food products on QVC and consulted to restaurants, schools, and food stores. Jo-an is an active and strong advocate for family meals, healthy children, and opportunities for physical activity. She presently manages Public Relations and Wellness Programming for Owen J. Roberts School District where healthy habits are becoming part of the culture. Owen J. Roberts has been recognized by state and national organizations for successful outcomes in promoting a healthier generation.

* School Wellness Campaigns, Farm to School programs

Whitney Sharp

Whitney Sharp is a pre-professional Physical Education Teacher Education major, and received the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) Major of the Year award, where she is a student at West Chester University.  Whitney has experience presenting on various disability-related topics at both the local, state, and regional levels, specifically on disability sport and incorporating sign language into Physical Education.  She serves on the administrative staff for Camp Abilities at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Lindsay Shaw Thornton Dr. Lindsay Shaw Thornton has her doctorate in Counseling and Sport Psychology. Previously, she taught first grade and researched Positive Psychology. Her doctorate and post-doctorate research focused on better understanding psychophysiology (the relationship between psychology and brain/body responses) and optimal performance. She has published several papers and chapters in this domain. She is interested in identifying and teaching “expert” strategies to those with less expertise in order to accelerate development and performance. Lindsay has worked with elite sports teams, military, corporate, and educational organizations.
Sandy Sherman*

Sandy Sherman is the Director of Nutrition Education at The Food Trust, and has 40 years of experience in conducting national and local demonstration projects designed to increase access to food and nutrition education resources in low-income communities. Since coming to The Food Trust 20 years ago, she has worked extensively on school wellness, youth leadership, corner stores, after school programs and farmers’ markets. The Food Trust has been a proud partner with PA Action for Healthy Kids for many years working to increase healthy eating and physical activity in schools and communities.

*School Wellness best practices, resources, and youth-led wellness work
Irene Shetron Irene (Bunny) Shetron is a Public Health Educator with the Chester County Health Department. She coordinates the Safe and Healthy Communities grant for the county and is also active in various county-wide initiatives including Activate Chester County and the Coatesville Farmers Market Association. She also promotes worksite wellness in an advisory role with the TriCounty Worksite Wellness Initiative and through a partnership with the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry. Bunny received her Bachelor's of Science in Public Health from West Chester University.
Alyssa Simon*

Alyssa Simon supports The Food Trust’s partnership with Fuel Up to Play 60, coordinates the community and youth education component for The Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store initiative and supports youth-led wellness work in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia through the Healthy You, Positive Energy campaign, which works with 200 Philadelphia schools to inspire youth to be leaders of healthy change in their schools and communities.

*School Wellness best practices, resources, and youth-led wellness work

Mike Spinka*

Mike Spinka is a teacher at Boyertown High School and has been an educator for 10 years at the high school level. As the head strength and conditioning coach at Boyertown high school, he has always had an inner passion for health and fitness and helping others achieve their goals.

*Nutrition, Body composition, Fat loss, Muscle gaining, Strength Training / Injury prevention, Functional Movements, Cardiovascular Training
Dave Spurlock

Dave Spurlock is the Coordinator of Physical Education, Health, District Wellness, Athletics and ROTC for Charleston County school District in Charleston, South Carolina.  He was a teacher and coach for 38 years before taking on duties at the district level. His association with Dr. John Ratey, Eric Jensen, Jean Blades and Phil Lawler led to the exercise and brain connection that he brought to Charleston County Schools.  His on the ground and in the classroom application has proven that a quality physical education program and infusion of physical activity in the classroom enhances academics, behaviors and physical fitness.

Dr. Alex Thornton

Dr. Alex Thornton, a teacher for seven years, has his doctorate in Educational Leadership. His post-doctoral work has been with Dr. John Ratey focusing on using exercise to change school cultures and optimize student learning. He also collaborates closely with other leading thinkers to bring findings from sleep, nutrition, play, and Neuro/Biofeedback research to educational and organizational settings. Alex’s goal is to merge neuroscience with education.

Noel Vigue Noel Vigue, M,Ed., Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) is a health/physical educator at Kennedy Middle School in Natick, Massachusetts.  Noel has been teaching and coaching adolescents for over 18 years.  He teaches the Fitness for Life program for 7th and 8th grade students.  For the past four years, Noel has been working to establish Natick Public Schools as a district that puts evidence-based research into practical applications.  Helping the students to be better learners and live healthier lives.  He also directs the strength and conditioning summer program and coaches and consults with several teams throughout Greater Boston working to prevent injury and improve athleticism.  Noel has been an integral part of many Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) individual and state championships (AHS softball ’98, baseball ’00, QRHS wrestling ’04, Newton North HS indoor track ‘05, and 2010) during his career. From 2004 to 2009 he served as the head coach for strength and conditioning at the Boston University (BU) Athletic Enhancement Center.  At BU he worked with hundreds of youth, high school, collegiate and adult athletes helping them prevent injury and improve performance.  Before coming to BU, he was an athletic trainer and health educator at Quabbin Regional Middle/High School (Barre, MA) as well as Ashland (MA) Middle/High School.  Through his experience as a coach and athletic trainer he found that the majority of athletic injuries were preventable and due to a lack of proper conditioning.  He founded his own company Go APE! in 2000 to help decrease the incidence of injuries and provide performance enhancement training for young athletes of all levels.
Larry Zerbe

Coach Larry Zerbe is the Director of Tennis for the Reading Recreation Commission’s COR tennis program.  “Coach Z” has directed the COR Tennis program for 7 years.  He was recognized as the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) Professional of the Year in 2011.  Through his direction the program has evolved from an 8 week summer program to a year round program with locations throughout the city park system and numerous schools.  Under his leadership the program was recognized as the United States Tennis Association National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) Chapter of the Year and United States Tennis Association (USTA) Middle States NJTL Chapter of the Year in 2009.  Coach Z’s biggest satisfaction is the commitment of COR graduates who “give back” to the youth in the program.

Paul Zientarski

Paul Zientarski is the Learning Readiness Physical Education (LRPE) Coordinator for Naperville School District 203 in Naperville, Illinois where he spent the last 26 years as the Department Chairman for PE, Health and Drivers Education at Naperville Central H.S.  Paul retired in May 2010 after 40 years in education.

Through LRPE, Naperville Central High School has seen dramatic improvements in test scores, behavior, and childhood obesity.  School districts from across the country and around the world visit to learn why this program is so successful.  Many of these schools are using concepts learned by visiting Naperville Central, including Denmark, China, and Canada.

The Learning Readiness PE program has been highlighted on PBS “Needs to Know”, CBS’ “Early Morning Show”, ABC, NBC, CBC and FOX network news casts.  ESPN and HBO also ran segments on this highly successful program.  Documentaries of the programs at Naperville Central High School have been produced by TV affiliates in Denmark, South Korea, Sweden and China.   Videos can be viewed by visiting www.learningreadinesspe.com.

Paul holds a BS in Physical Education and an MS in Communication Science along with an Administrative Certificate.  Zientarski is the Co-Director of DuPage County Institute for Physical Education and has held this position since 1986.

Paul has been awarded the “Healthy School Hero” by the Action for Healthy Kids and has been inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at Quincy University. 

In addition, Paul has made presentations across the country on Learning Readiness PE, PE4LIFE philosophy, Childhood Obesity, Physical Education Curriculum, Technology Use in Physical Education, Small-Sided Games, and Brain Breaks in the classroom.  He has done presentation in 17 states to all kinds of audiences, including the President’s Council on Health, Fitness and Nutrition in Washington D.C.