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MCH Nutrition Leadership Team

Marsha Spence is an associate professor of practice and Director of the Public Health Nutrition Graduate Program, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and community nutrition researcher with a focus on pediatric obesity prevention in schools and communities, leadership development, positive youth development, and parent engagement in nutrition and physical activity education programs for youth. Professor Spence, who is a first generation college graduate, was a funded MCH leadership trainee during her master and doctoral programs at the University of Tennessee. The training program provided Professor Spence with numerous opportunities to explore her leadership and professional potential and developed her passion for strengthening the MCH workforce, increasing health and social equity, and decreasing hunger, especially among the MCH population in Appalachia and the Southeast.

Professor Spence is an active leader in local, state, and national associations and agencies, including serving as past president of the Association of Graduate Programs in Public Health Nutrition; past chair, section councilor, governing councilor of the American Public Health Association’s Food and Nutrition Section; national advisory committee member for Georgetown University’s Embedding Cultural Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence: A Guide for UCEDD Curricula and Training Activities; a past board member for Our Daily Bread of Tennessee; president of the East Tennessee Childhood Obesity Coalition; and steering committee member for the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists’ Farm to Early Care and Education mini-Collaborative, Innovative Improvement Network (CoIIN) and Children’s Healthy Weight CoIIN.


Elizabeth (Betsy) Anderson Steeves is an assistant professor in the Public Health Nutrition program. She is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and holds a doctoral degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She completed her Master’s in Public Health Nutrition and Dietetic Internship at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Professor Anderson Steeves has a long standing interest in the maternal and child population. She served as an unfunded MCH nutrition trainee during her master’s degree at the University of Tennessee, and received specialized training in adolescent health when she served as a Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) funded trainee at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Professor Anderson Steeves holds several leadership positions including serving as a co-chair of the retailers sub-unit of the Healthy Food Retail Working Group of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  She is also an associate member of the Knoxville Food Policy Council. Professor Anderson Steeves’ research interests involve community-based interventions to reduce health disparities and prevent obesity among under-served populations and in conducting research to examine how social and physical (built) environments influence food purchasing and consumption behaviors of youth and families.

Funded MCH Nutrition Leadership Trainees


Julianne Evans is a dietetic intern and graduate student pursing a master of science in Public Health Nutrition with a thesis. She graduated from the University of Dayton in May 2019 with a bachelor of science in Dietetics, Food and Nutrition. Julianne has had the  opportunity as an undergraduate to participate in research focusing on cooking demonstrations and food insecure populations and her work with leadership programs on campus awarded her 2019 Ohio Outstanding Dietetic Student of Year and 2019 National Student Employee of the Year. Her experience with undergraduate research and as a summer nanny drew her to the MCH Nutrition Leadership Team because she wishes to gain more knowledge and experience on programs that influence people from diverse backgrounds, especially MCH populations. Julianne is passionate about working with medically underserved children and sustainable food systems. As a trainee, she hopes to continue learning how to best support medically underserved mothers and children.


Candace Sapp is a first year doctoral student and funded MCH trainee at the University of Tennessee, pursuing a degree in Nutritional Sciences with a concentration in Community Nutrition. She completed her combined master’s in clinical nutrition and dietetic internship at the University of Memphis where she worked as a graduate assistant at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Candace completed her master’s thesis project on the effectiveness of the Cooking Matters cooking and nutrition education program on increasing cooking self-efficacy and fruit and vegetable consumption in high school students in Memphis, Tennessee. She worked as a registered dietitian/nutritionist for three years in the greater Memphis area. Candace’s current research focuses on the implementation of nutrition interventions related to childhood obesity in minoritized populations. As part of her role as a funded trainee, Candace works with Professor Dorian McCoy, director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.


Sa’Nealdra Wiggins is a doctoral student and funded MCH trainee pursuing a degree in nutritional sciences with a concentration in community nutrition. In 2012, she received her bachelor of science degree in Health Education-Public Health from Middle Tennessee State University. She completed her dietetic internship in May, 2020 and will be taking the RD exam in 2021. Sa’Nealdra has gained years of research experience through her involvement in the REACH lab. She served as an undergraduate and graduate researcher on GetFruved, a social marketing campaign seeking to improve healthy eating, physical activity, and stress management among adolescents. Sa’Nealdra is passionate about parental modeling and dietary behavior among black women and adolescents. Sa’Nealdra is currently a Tennessee Doctoral Scholars Fellow, which is a fellowship funded by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and UT’s Graduate School. After graduation, she hopes to work in the government sector of public health nutrition.

Emily Wojtowicz received her bachelor of science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Arizona. Then, she went on to complete a combined dietetic internship and master of science program at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland, Ohio. Emily’s master’s degree is in Community Nutrition with an emphasis on child and maternal health. After completing her dietetic internship, she worked with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program as a high-risk dietitian, lactation consultant, and Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program (BFPC) coordinator. Currently, Emily is a doctoral student at the University of Tennessee and funded MCH trainee. Her research interests include barriers to breastfeeding, infant feeding, and human lactation.


This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number T79MC09805, Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Health Nutrition, $223,777, 50% funded by the University of Tennessee, Department of Nutrition. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.