Who We Are

Falon Smith, MS, PhD │Director

Falon joined the Go NAPSACC team in 2018 as Project Manager and became Director in 2024. Falon holds a Doctorate in Exercise Science from the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. Falon’s work focuses on the development and dissemination of evidence-based health practices for early care and education programs across the nation. Additionally, she is passionate about community engaged research and forming sustainable, equitable partnerships with educators and professionals in the early care setting. As Go NAPSACC’s Director, Falon is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the program and is the point of contact for anyone interested in learning more about how Go NAPSACC can help support their health initiatives.

Aviva Starr, MSW

Implementation Advisor Social Emotional Development Consultant

Aviva joined the team in 2019 and serves as serves as a Go NAPSACC Implementation Advisor and Social Emotional Development Consultant. Aviva received her Master’s of Social Work from the University of Washington in Seattle. She has focused her career on supporting our youngest children through family support programs and early childhood mental health consultation in child care programs. Most recently, she worked with ECE providers and families to decrease children’s challenging behavior by enhancing social emotional development. Aviva is excited to bring together children’s physical and emotional health in her work at Go NAPSACC. As an Implementation Advisor, Aviva guides states through the Go NAPSACC process, from setting goals, project implementation, and evaluation, providing tailored feedback and support along the way to ensure each state’s success. Additionally, through her work as the team’s So Social Emotional Development Consultant, Aviva leads the team’s efforts to enhance Go NAPSACC by developing resources to assist early care educators in creating environments and engaging in practices that support healthy social and emotional development.

Richard Rairigh, MS

Implementation Advisor Physical Activity Consultant

Richard joined the team in 2021 and serves as a Go NAPSACC Implementation Advisor and Physical Activity Consultant. Richard received his Master’s of Physical Education Teacher Education from West Virginia University and pursued doctoral studies at the University of South Carolina in the area of motor development and motor learning. For over 15 years, Richard served as the director of Be Active Kids®, an award-winning North Carolina early childhood health program. Rich is passionate about setting a stage for children’s self-directed, free play in nature as a means to develop the whole child. As an Implementation Advisor, Richard guides states through the Go NAPSACC process, from setting goals, project implementation, and evaluation, providing tailored feedback and support along the way to ensure each state’s success. Additionally, he serves as the team’s Physical Activity Consultant, providing guidance and support on the development and dissemination of Go NAPSACC’s physical activity content and training.

Emmy Clarke, RD, MA

Manager of Health & Wellness Education Nutrition Consultant

Emmy joined the team in 2019 and serves as a Go NAPSACC's Manager of Health & Wellness Education and Nutrition Consultant. After graduating from Clemson University with a Bachelor’s in Food Science, Emmy joined Teach for America as a 2014 Greater New Orleans Corps Member. Emmy taught high school science for three years in low-income areas and helped found a new charter school in Phoenix in 2016. She completed her dietetic internship through the Maricopa County Department of Public Health and is a Registered Dietitian. Prior to joining Go NAPSACC, she worked with the National School Lunch Program at the Arizona Department of Education focusing on school wellness, meal integrity, training, and technical assistance. Emmy is passionate about increasing access to healthy food to children affected by food insecurity. As an Implementation Advisor, Emmy guides states through the Go NAPSACC process, from setting goals, project implementation, and evaluation, providing tailored feedback and support along the way to ensure each state’s success. In her work as the team’s Nutrition Consultant, Emmy provides guidance and support on the development and dissemination of Go NAPSACC’s nutrition content and training.

Julie Franca, BA │ Communications Specialist

Julie joined the team in 2023 and serves as Go NAPSACC’s Communications Specialist. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology & Society from Cornell University and has previously worked in public health writing and communications, covering Latinx health inequities, family and community based public health interventions, health policy, and advocacy for research centers and non-profit organizations. Julie brings her experience writing and disseminating communications materials for various audiences to the Go NAPSACC team. She is responsible for providing educational resources and useful tips to Go NAPSACC state partner, consultant, and educators through ongoing newsletters. Additionally, she is responsible for management of all Go NAPSACC social media platforms, ensuring consistent messaging aligning with Go NAPSACC’s values and engagement with stakeholders in the early care field.

Michelle Herr, MPH │ Training & Content Development Lead

Michelle joined the team in 2019 as a practicum student and transitioned to Go NAPSACC’s Training and Content Development lead in 2021. Michelle received her Master’s of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from UNC Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health in 2019. Through her experiences in her studies and working with the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, Michelle led the development of Go NAPSACC’s Breastfeeding and Infant Feeding training and created resources for early care educators on the most up-to-date breastfeeding and infant feeding research and recommendations. As Go NAPSACC’s Training and Content Development lead, Michelle is responsible for overseeing the creation and refinement of many helpful resources available on the Go NAPSACC platform. She is also responsible for making sure the Go NAPSACC Tips & Materials library stays up to date with the most useful resources for educators looking to make healthy changes in their program.

Ian Coleman, MS │ Senior Web Developer

Ian joined the team in February 2020 as the lead Web Developer for Go NAPSACC. He holds a Master’s in Computer Science from the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University. His previous work has involved developing web-based learning platforms. During his time with Go NAPSACC, Ian spearheaded the development of the Go NAPSACC trainings platform, that has been accessed by over 11,000 early care educators across the nation. As lead developer, Ian oversees other web developers working on the project, and is responsible for ongoing maintenance and updates, as well as any new feature builds.

Erik Willis, MPH, PhD │ Data Analyst

Erik joined the team in January 2019 as Go NAPSACC’s Data Analyst and is now Director of the Children's Healthy Weight Research team. He holds a Doctorate in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kansas and a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Yale University. His research interests include both public health and clinical approaches to understanding the beneficial effects of physical activity, weight loss, and decreasing sedentary time on a variety of health outcomes in both children and adults. Erik is responsible for assisting Go NAPSACC states in annual progress reporting on the impact of Go NAPSACC on their state health initiatives.

Aditi Saha, BS │ Research Assistant

Aditi joined the team in 2021 and serves as a Research Assistant on Go NAPSACC. Aditi graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health and a minor in Social Work from Appalachian State University. She did her public health internship with Wine to Water, a clean water non-profit which provides clean water to communities. She also did research projects in Bangladesh based on Violence against Women in rural areas of Chittagong district. She is passionate about maternal and child healthcare among the immigrant and refugee populations. For Go NAPSACC, Aditi assists the team with many day-to-day task and is responsible for monitoring Go NAPSACC consultant certifications.

Brenda Schmunck, MA │ Spanish Translator

Brenda joined the team in 2023 and serves as Go NAPSACC’s Spanish translator. Brenda received her Master’s of Arts in Spanish in December of 2022 and is currently pursuing her PhD in Spanish. She is passionate about South American theater and cinema, with a focus in Argentina, her country of origin. ​For Go NAPSACC, Brenda is responsible for the translation of Go NAPSACC’s self-assessments, tips & materials resources, and training subtitles.

Dianne Ward, EdD │ Founding Director

Dianne’s career at UNC, Chapel Hill began in 1998, where she served as a Professor in the Department of Nutrition, an Associate Dean for Administration in the Gillings School of Public Health, and a Research Fellow in the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. In 2001, Dianne, along with collaborators at the North Carolina Division of Public Health created the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care Programs – NAPSACC. This tool was among one of the first that allowed early care educators to assess their nutrition and physical activity practices, evaluate their alignment with national evidence-based standards, and create action plans for change. For the 20+ years that have followed, Dianne continued to serve as NAPSACC’s steadfast leader. As director, she understood the need to make the tool accessible to more educators across the nation and led the development of the online version – Go NAPSACC. As a result of Dianne’s commitment to improving the quality-of-care young children receive, Go NAPSACC has been made available to over 20 states, reaching over 400,000 children. While Dianne passed in 2023, Go NAPSACC aims to continue her legacy and honor her passion in all that we do. For more about Dianne's life, work, and impact visit: https://gonapsacc.org/resources/news-updates/go-n-a-p-s-a-c-c-mourns-the-loss-of-founder,-dr.-dianne-s.-ward

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