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Dr. Gerald A. Wilson is a recently retired surgeon who practiced both general and peripheral vascular surgery at Midlands Surgical Associates, PA in Columbia, South Carolina. Prior to his career as a surgeon, Dr. Wilson received his undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina and a medical degree at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Wilson completed an internship at Richland Memorial Hospital and a general surgery residency at Richland Memorial, Medical University Hospital, and the Dorn VA Medical Center. Dr. Wilson has a strong record of leadership in the medical community. He has chaired the State Health Planning Committee from 1998 till 2012 and the executive board of the Palmetto Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association since 2009. He is a past president of the Columbia Medical Society, the South Carolina Medical Association and the Congaree Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association. Dr. Wilson has served the American Medical Association as a Delegate of the South Carolina Delegation to the AMA. Dr. Wilson has held additional numerous leadership positions throughout his career including Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery. In addition, he has been involved in organized medicine both nationally and locally through his various roles at the Columbia Medical Society, the South Carolina Medical Association, and the American Medical Association. Dr. Wilson also has served as a clinical instructor in the USC School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery, as a member of the Palmetto Health Foundation Board of Directors and a board member of the MUSC Foundation.
However, Dr. Wilson is most notably known for his work and volunteerism in the Midlands Community where he has served on numerous committees, foundations and advisory boards. He has received the President’s Award from the South Carolina Medical Association and the Columbia Medical Society, he was recognized by the SC DHEC Board for Distinguished and Outstanding Leadership for dedication and commitment to the goal of eliminating health disparities in 2004 and he was awarded the Order of the Palmetto on May 6, 2017 for his activities. He has been a lifetime member of the USC and MUSC alumni associations. He has a passion for promoting health and minority health disparities in his community.
Dr. Wilson has a particular passion for Diabetes awareness and has provided much guidance on the issue for the Midlands Community. Dr. Wilson is currently the Chair of the Diabetes Action Council of South Carolina (DAC), which is a statewide organization that promotes the education and prevention of type 2 diabetes for South Carolinians. Dr. Wilson has a very hands-on approach to facilitating the DAC as he attends Quarterly Meetings, Executive Meetings, and individual breakout Pillar workgroups to keep up with the DAC’s progress. Dr. Wilson recently spearheaded the creation of a Sustainability Committee and Bylaws Committee with DAC to ensure that the goals and reach of DAC regarding diabetes prevention in the state can be maintained and that communities across South Carolina reap the benefits of diabetes prevention and awareness tools and programs.
Statewide Infrastructure Coordinator
Kenishia Golden-Smith DHA, MS, BSW, the Statewide Infrastructure Coordinator for the Diabetes Action Council of South Carolina (DAC). Working with the Council’s chair, she provides management and administrative oversight for the group representing the interests of over 30 organizations focused on diabetes prevention and management. She has spent the last 8 years working in various fields and specialties within public health, to include, most recently working for the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control . She holds a doctorate in Healthcare Administration from Virginia University, a master’s degree in Public Health Education and Promotion from Walden University, and a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Savannah State University. Kenishia’s research interests are primarily in stress prevention and management to prevent the lifelong impacts of chronic stress in the body and mind.
DAC Pillar 4 Co-Chair
Heath Neilson received a Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Science from East Carolina University. His career started as the Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Sandhills YMCA. Heath then went on to his role as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist for Cape Fear Valley Hospital, where he worked with cardiac and pulmonary populations as well as patients in physical therapy. Through the development and management of various programs in his clinical role at Cape Fear Valley Hospital, he saw just how impactful education was on patients. His passion and interest for the prevention of chronic disease led him to Prisma Health in November 2015 as a Health Educator. He then transitioned at Prisma Health into the role as the Diabetes Prevention Program Coordinator at Prisma Health in the Upstate in 2018. Heath leads the Diabetes Prevention Program with Joshua Peake and Candice Hipp for Prisma Health. Heath and his wife Sarah live in Greenville, South Carolina with their dog, Maddie.
DAC Pillar 4 Chair
Richard Lomax is the Regional Account Manager with Novo Nordisk, specializing in diabetes and obesity disease states.
He has a 30-year career in pharmaceuticals working collaboratively with managed care organizations, large employers, health systems, coalitions, and Medicaid. Richard’s passion is collaborating with different healthcare stakeholders for a common cause such as diabetes and obesity prevention so that all South Carolinians can live healthier. Richard has an MBA from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and a Bachelor of Science degree from East Carolina University
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DAC Pillar 2 Chair
Sarah is an Assistant Professor at the Weight Management Center, the Director of Diabetes
Prevention for Population Health, and the Service Champion for Outpatient
Teleconsultation Nutrition Services at the Medical University of South Carolina. She
received her bachelor's degree from Sewanee before completing her master's in social
work and a doctorate in public health at the University of South Carolina. Sarah also has
been board certified by the Commission on Dietetic Registration as a specialist in obesity
and weight management. Sarah’s clinical and research interests are primarily in designing
and implementing behavioral interventions to prevent chronic disease, developing mobile
apps for weight loss and diabetes prevention, and the use of mobile and wearable
technology to improve access to weight management services.
DAC Pillar 1 Chair
Marcey Westerbeck serves as the Diabetes Programs Manager at Health Care Partners of South Carolina (HCPSC). The Diabetes Program area’s primary purpose is to work together with health care providers and high-risk patients to provide case management and education to work toward positive health outcomes. It is important to Marcey to assist every patient to gain access to diabetes self-management education, diabetes prevention, supplies, and medications. Her passion is patient advocacy and teaching.
She has been a licensed practical nurse for 27 years with a strong endocrinology background.
Marcey Westerbeck also is a certified lifestyle coach, Program Coordinator and Master Trainer Select for the National Diabetes Prevention Program. She has facilitated her DPP program to full CDC recognition since 2017.
Marcey is partnering with MUSC for the TACM study to assist patients in lowering A1C and Blood pressure through telemedicine. She has reached a greater than 2% reduction in a six-month period for her patient population.
Marcey was named the Diabetes Specialist of the year in 2017 from SCDHEC and recently received the award for Diabetes Prevention Program of the year. She is serving as chair to Pillar 1 of the SC Diabetes Advisory Council, which she has been a member of since 2017.
Marcey served as cochair for multiple JDRF walk events for the Myrtle Beach area since 2016.
Marcey and her department have been awarded as Myrtle Beach Herald’s “Best Nutritionist in Diabetes Prevention” for 2021.
She has been an employee of HCPSC since January of 2011. During her career with this Federally Qualified Health Center, she has held numerous positions including Clinical Care Coordinator and staff nurse. She is working to initiate a certified DSME program.
Westerbeck earned her nursing degree in Pennsylvania. She holds an AAS degree and Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Administration and Management from South University in Savannah, GA. She will begin her master’s degree in late June.
Marcey moved to SC from PA in 2006 and has two children. She is looking forward to becoming a grandmother to her first grandchild in November 2021!
Michael (22) is currently attending Georgia Southern University for Elementary Education
Christopher (28) is Grad of North Carolina State University dual Engineering degree- employed as Assistant Superintendent at Westrock in Dublin GA
When she is not working or going to school, Marcey spends all of her time with her furry children, dogs, Ally and Sammie. She loves to cook and to read.
DAC Pillar 3 Chair
LaShandal Pettaway-Brown serves as a Practice Transformation Consultant for the South Carolina Rural Health. She is responsible for coordinating the activities of the Medical Oral Expanded Care Collaborative and Practice Transformation which provides technical assistance, practice assessment, change facilitation and consultation as rural providers adapt to change. LaShandal is a Patient Centered Medical Home Content Expert.
Prior to her role at the South Carolina Office of Rural Health, she served as a Quality Improvement Coordinator at The Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence where she focused on The Million Hearts Initiative, Physician Quality Reporting System, Meaningful Use and Patient-Centered Medical Home.
LaShandal received a Master in Business Administration and a Master in Healthcare Administration from Webster University. She earned her Bachelors of Science with specialization in Healthcare Administration from Austin Peay State University.
Evaluation Subcommittee Chair
Kelly Kavanaugh is a Program Evaluator within the Division of Diabetes and Heart Disease Management at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Kelly is the evaluation lead for the Diabetes Advisory Council’s Statewide Comprehensive Diabetes Prevention Plan and is responsible for evaluating additional statewide efforts related to community-clinical linkages. Kelly holds a Master’s of Public Health from the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist and is a member of the South Carolina Public Health Association.
Communications Subcommittee Chair
Amy Weaver is the Communications & Marketing Coordinator within the Division of Diabetes and Heart Disease Management at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Amy is the Communications lead for the Diabetes Advisory Council and she is responsible for managing the rebranding and development of materials disseminated on behalf of the council. She has many interests in public health, including food systems work and recently completed her term on the City of Columbia’s Food Policy Council.
Dr. Wilson has a particular passion for Diabetes awareness and has provided much guidance on the issue for the Midlands Community. Dr. Wilson is currently the Chair of the Diabetes Advisory Council of South Carolina (DAC), which is a statewide organization that promotes the education and prevention of type 2 diabetes for South Carolinians. Dr. Wilson has a very hands-on approach to facilitating the DAC as he attends Quarterly Meetings, Executive Meetings, and individual breakout Pillar workgroups to keep up with the DAC’s progress. Dr. Wilson recently spearheaded the creation of a Sustainability Committee and Bylaws Committee with DAC to ensure that the goals and reach of DAC regarding diabetes prevention in the state can be maintained and that communities across South Carolina reap the benefits of diabetes prevention and awareness tools and programs.
Joshua W. Peake, MPH, is the Manager of Chronic Disease Prevention and Community Population Health at Prisma Health–Midlands Affiliate. In this role, he provides direct oversight of the chronic disease prevention intervention programs, including the Prisma Health Diabetes Prevention Program. He also oversees all adult and youth community education, community health care coordination, and community outreach. Prior to his current role, Joshua spent five years working as an Exercise Physiologist and three years as the Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Fairfield Memorial Hospital. During his time at FMH, he developed a passion for the prevention of chronic disease and a desire to assist patients in adopting healthy behaviors to reduce their risk for disease.
Joshua earned a BS in Exercise Science from the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health. He later returned to USC to complete a Master’s in Public Health with a focus in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior. While working on his MPH, Joshua was selected by the Arnold School of Public Health for the I Am Public Health distinction in July 2017. He was recognized by Palmetto Health when he received the Community Pillar of Excellence Award, as well as a Man of Impact nomination. Early in Joshua’s career, he was awarded a Certificate of Recognition for Extraordinary Personal Action by the American Red Cross.
Elizabeth Todd Heckel is a native of Columbia, South Carolina. She received a BA in psychology and Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of South Carolina after having attended St. Mary’s Junior College in Raleigh, NC.
For the past 20 years she has been the Program Director for the Diabetes Initiative of South Carolina/University of South Carolina Site housed at the Family Practice Medicine Center at the USC School of Medicine in Columbia. She was awarded the “Outstanding Service Award for Extraordinary Leadership and Dedication to Diabetes Service in SC” in 2000 by the Association of Black Health Professionals. In March of 2012, she was named “Certified Diabetes Educator of the Year” by DHEC. Currently she serves on the Diabetes Initiative of SC Board and the DAC Board.
She has lived with Type 1 diabetes for 51 years. Over the last 24 years she has been Chairman and member of the Camp Adam Fisher Board, the Carolina’s largest overnight camp for children with diabetes. Currently, she is camp “grandmother”.
Ava Dean is the Statewide Infrastructure Coordinator within the Division of Diabetes and Heart Disease Management at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Her previous experiences include Program Manager for The National Kidney Foundation for 2 years, a Project Manager at Palmetto Health for the Office of Community Health in the Diabetes Health Initiative for 12 years, Assistant Administrator for an Assistant Living facility and Nurse/Nurse Tech in Long Term Care Facilities.
Ava received her BSN from Lander University, Master of Leadership for Evangelism and Discipleship from Columbia International University and her Master of Public Health from the University of South Carolina.
Ava has a passion to see people’s lives transformed. Her purpose in life is to be obedient to Ephesians 4: 11-13 and to educate, equip, and train people to live a healthy lifestyle in all aspects of their lives.
Ava has been married to Scottie Dean for 25 years and has two sons Joshua and Jonathan. She believes that life is short, and you simply need to have fun and live. She loves to dance.