Feeding Matters is led by an exceptional team of professionals who dedicate their passion and unique expertise to affect systemic change for pediatric feeding disorder.
Jaclyn Pederson, MHI
Chief Executive Officer
With more than a decade of experience in program development, Jaclyn Pederson’s broad knowledge of programming in the public and social sectors includes program and strategic initiative design, fund development, special events, grant writing, and community engagement. A system thinker and positive team builder, she uses transformational leadership principles to develop energized and efficient workgroups that influence significant organizational and systemic change for all affected by pediatric feeding disorder –such as the development of the expanded PFD Alliance. Jaclyn also manages Feeding Matters’ strategic partnerships with numerous professional associations including American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, and the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN).
Kathy M. Thomas, CPA
Chief Operations and Finance Officer
With a passion for listening and helping others achieve their goals, Kathy M. Thomas joined Feeding Matters as chief operations and finance officer (COFO) after more than 25 years as a certified public accountant helping nonprofits and small businesses remain sustainable and fiscally responsible. As executive director for Cancer Support Community Arizona, Kathy put her skills to use – expanding the nonprofit’s services and successfully launching Program Latino. With Kathy at the helm, Cancer Support Community Arizona marked a 30% increase in program services and a 60% increase in the youth and family program in 2015. In her role with Feeding Matters, Kathy oversees compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, coordinates annual fiscal audits, ensures proper controls are established, and works in partnership with CEO Jaclyn Pederson to facilitate the annual budget and strategic plan.
After spending many years as a special education teacher, Gabi uses her passion for neurodiversity-affirming, trauma-informed care to support the overall operations of Feeding Matters. In her role of Administrative Assistant, Gabi supports the CEO as well as the other members of the Executive Team, Board of Directors, and related Councils to ensure effectiveness in accomplishing our mission and vision.
Family Support Contractor
Paula Benzing is an Arizona native, and Arizona State University grad who loves everything about Arizona – especially the weather. After dealing with PFD with her own children, Paula became heavily involved with Feeding Matters, first as a mentee in the Power of Two Program. She then became a volunteer coach in 2021 for the Power of Two program and has served on the Family Advisory Council, the Feed the Cause fundraising committee, and several other Feeding Matters volunteer opportunities. Paula’s family was also the featured family in the 2019 Feeding Matters Community Luncheon Event. Paula is now a contractor for the Power of Two program and is responsible for providing resources for families, onboarding new coaches, and facilitating Power of Two requests. Paula is passionate about helping others struggling with PFD by giving them resources, understanding, and connecting families together.
Kari Fischer, M.ED.
Program Manager Contractor - Strategic Initiatives
With 25 years of experience in teaching and counseling in the public high school system, Kari is enthusiastic about applying her educational experience and love for helping children to her work with Feeding Matters. She aspires to make a meaningful contribution to enhancing the quality of life for children affected by pediatric feeding disorder (PFD) through managing and monitoring programs in the Strategic Initiatives domain.
Programs and Events Manager
With a background in Communication Studies, Management, and Education, Athena Flicek oversees the planning and facilitation of the International Pediatric Feeding Disorder Conference. She has over 16 years of experience in the education field and a son with pediatric feeding disorder. Athena will be combining all of her passions and experiences to continue delivering exceptional programming for the PFD community.
Jen Lambert, M.Ed.
Director of Programs & Events
A veteran in program delivery that promotes awareness, understanding, and collaborative care, Jen Lambert plans, implements, manages, and evaluates the organizations family support, professional support, and volunteer programs – most notably facilitating the International Pediatric Feeding Disorder Conference. Prior to joining Feeding Matters, Jen held leadership positions of increasing responsibility at Head Start –a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.
Heidi Van der Molen
Mother to a charming son who has pediatric feeding disorder (PFD), Heidi Van der Molen is uniquely suited to help families in the midst of their own journeys with PFD. After three years as a passionate volunteer with Feeding Matters, Heidi officially joined the organization in 2015 – managing the organizations volunteers and family support programs, including Power of Two parent-to-parent coaching, caregiver guide, and educational family support offerings.
Cuyler Romeo, MOT, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC
Director of Strategic Initiatives
Occupational Therapist and Pediatric Feeding Specialist Cuyler Romeo’s extensive leadership and clinical experience are instrumental in the execution and management of Feeding Matters’ strategic initiatives. In partnership with the CEO, Jaclyn Pederson, Cuyler collaborates with constituents to identify, track, and assess innovative approaches to the PFD system of care. Cuyler also facilitates strategic partnerships with select professional associations including the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Prior to joining Feeding Matters, Cuyler served as a founding partner of Mealtime Connections, LLC, and gained valuable insight on funding trends and industry implications as the director of clinical innovations at Therapy 2000. She is currently a treating clinician in Banner-University Medical Center’s NICU and works to advance the feeding skill domain by facilitating AOTA’s mealtime Occupations: Feeding, Eating, and Swallowing Community of Practice.
Communications and Awareness Specialist
With an educational background in family dynamics, Jalenna Francois combines her passion for supporting families and children with her creativity to coordinate awareness and communications for Feeding Matters. In her role as Communications and Awareness Specialist, Jalenna works to make resources easily accessible to families and healthcare professionals through the Feeding Matters website and outside communications.
Web Development Contractor
Jeff Ruoss brings over 18 years of web development experience, focusing on creating online platforms that are both visually pleasing and highly functional. He contributes his expertise to Feeding Matters by developing a website that is user-friendly and mission-aligned, making vital resources easily accessible for families and professionals in the pediatric feeding disorder community.
Public Relations Contractor
Stephanie Sanstead is a proven, creative and accomplished PR/Marketing communications leader with more than 18 years of public relations, media planning, email and social media marketing, copywriting, and special events experience. She is the Founder/Owner of Communicadence PR Agency.
Core competencies include the ability to create publicity campaigns and online/social media marketing programs that directly support objectives with positive storyboarding, imaging and visibility. She is an expert in marketing through content creation, advertorial writing, securing earned media placements as well as social media content calendar planning and implementation.
Stephanie has worked with a variety of different clients from major luxury brands, to non-profits, lifestyle, retail and events. She has secured hundreds of top-tier media opportunities for clients and would love to do the same for your organization.
Previous experience includes; serving as Director of PR/Marketing with Marriott Hotels and responsible for brand management and marketing of Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass Resort, Forbes Five-Star/ AAA Five-Diamond KAI restaurant and Forbes Four-Star Aji Spa as well as in leadership roles in the Communications and PR Departments at Visit Phoenix, and Experience Scottsdale where she worked to promote the tourism destination on a national and international level.