The Food Allergy Support Group of Minnesota is run by two employees and many volunteers. The executive director and the board of directors work closely together to run most aspects of the organization. See our Group Coordinators page for our Operations Manager and program coordinators.
Rebecca Ayaz- Executive Director
Rebecca joined FASGMN as Executive Director in April, 2012. Her personal interest in food allergies began in 2004 when she was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. She recently completed a master's degree in Public Affairs with a concentration in Global Health Policy from the University of Minnesota. Rebecca has been employed as a development director for a health-related charity and as a program director for a youth development organization. Her educational and professional experiences include leadership, fundraising, program evaluation, advocacy and marketing.
Nicky Forsyth - Operations Director
Nicky joined FASGMN as Operations Director in February, 2012. She has been a member of the organization since 2004. Her son was diagnosed with severe food allergies to milk, eggs, and peanuts in 2003 when he was nine months old. FASGMN was a bright spot for her family during the early years when they were learning about food allergies, and it seemed overwhelming and scary. Nicky has a background in Accounting and Finance.
Jeffrey M. Vinocur, MD- Vice Chair, Board of Directors
Jeff's interest in food allergy & intolerance stems from his background as a pediatrician and from having a wife with celiac disease (not diagnosed until well into adulthood). He was elected to the FASGMN Board of Directors in January, 2011. Jeff is currently undertaking advanced training in pediatric cardiology at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital.
Jenny Vierzba- Board of Directors
Jenny was elected to the Board of Directors in the summer of 2011. One of her twin daughters was born with a complex congenital heart defect which is complicated by severe food reactions. She cannot tolerate milk, soy, citrus, DHA, and various other foods and medications. Now that she has gone through her heart repair, more time can be spent on education and finding "safe" foods to wean her off of elemental formula- her main nutrition. Her twin sister and their older brother have no known food allergies. Jenny is employed as a sales supervisor for an investments firm and has various securities licenses.
Melissa Berggren- Board of Directors
Melissa (Missy) Berggren has a daughter with severe food allergies to eggs, milk, peanuts and tree nuts, and an older son with no known food allergies. Her daughter’s diagnosis at 12 months led Missy to learn as much about food allergies as possible. She shares her experiences with food allergies as helpful articles on her parenting blog Marketing Mama and is a trusted ally and advocate for parents of children with food allergies. Missy has 15 years of experience in marketing and communications in the health care arena and is currently a marketing manager with Allina Health.
Tracy Olmscheid- Board of Directors
Tracy Olmscheid joined the FASGMN board of directors in January, 2012. Her interest in food allergies stems from having a son with a peanut allergy and probable asthma and from a career as a pediatric nurse. Her son recently started school, which brought about a whole new level of dealing with potential allergens and training non-family members in responding to allergic reactions. Tracy is currently in graduate school to be a nurse anesthetist and hopes to continue to work with children in that role.
Rob Schlegel- Chairperson, Board of Directors
Rob Schlegel joined FASGMN after learning of his daughter’s numerous life threatening food allergies and other multiple health challenges. At one point, Rob’s daughter was taken off of all foods and put on an elemental formula. Rob and his wife Heather have spent countless hours working with parents and families who are living with food allergies. They even allowed a local news team to follow their daughter’s journey in hopes to help other families. Rob believes that educating others as well as empowering his daughter to make educated decisions is the best way to help prevent accidental exposures. Rob and his family have helped raise money for FAAN and have been volunteers with FASGMN. Most recently, Rob was Co-Chair of the Food Allergy Resource Fair. Rob has a younger daughter with no known food allergies. He joined the Board in January of 2012.
Abby Anderson - Board of Directors
Abby Anderson has a three year old son with severe food allergies. He was diagnosed at 6months old and had an anaphylactic reaction at 18 months. She also has a 10 month old with no known food allergies. Abby is continuously educating herself and family on food allergies and is committed to helping other families who are affected as well. Abby has 9 years of experience in event management and currently owns a floral design business. Her passion for raising awareness of food allergies and love of coordinating events are relevant skills she brings to FASGMN.
Jessica Tjornehoj - Secretary, Board of Directors
Jessica was diagnosed with celiac disease as a teenager. Following her diagnosis many other family members, including her mother, brother, sister, and a handful of cousins, aunts, and uncles, were diagnosed as well. Jessica and her family spent years knowing something was wrong, but not knowing what. With a background in business leadership and management and a legal education that is in progress, Jessica is thrilled to have the opportunity to bring food allergy awareness to the community through her role on the FASGMN board.
Tristan Roux - Board of Directors
Tristan has had food sensitivities since childhood and his daughter was recently diagnosed as lactose intolerant. He believes in improving people's lives through design and technology. He founded Foodergy.com based on conversations with friends and family who dealt with food allergies. Tristan is an Interactive Creative Director with over 12 years of experience in the design and technology space.
Kristin Bendixen - Treasurer, Board of Directors
Kristin has a 6 year old daughter who deals with multiple severe food and airborne allergies. She was diagnosed at the age of 7 months of age. She has helped many families with learning to live with food allergies. Kristin has spent most of her career in sales.
Mary Ann Scott - Board of Directors
Mary Ann's interest in food allergies stems from research and concern a decade ago for a work colleague who finally was diagnosed in her 20s with celiac disease. More recently she developed a sulfite sensitivity of her own. Accidental over-consumption of sulfites landed her in the ER less than a year ago, and after that she resolved to learn as much as she could about foodborne sulfites so as to prevent another such hospital visit. Recently retired, she has held various career positions including information researcher in business settings, college library director, and public librarian. She and her husband moved to Minnesota only last August. Lifelong Michiganders up to that time, they have been married for 41 years, and have a son and daughter-in-law who live in Hopkins.
Contact Mary Ann: