Our staff has a strong commitment to serving the many constituents of our organization across Southeast Ohio. But first and foremost, they focus their energies on those who take advantage of our programs and services, from CHIP to Live Healthy Kids and everything in between.
Heidi graduated from Kent State with a degree in Food and Nutrition and has a Masters of Science in Nutrition and a Masters of Public Health from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Prior to joining Live Health Appalachia (LHA), Heidi worked for Ohio University WellWorks as the Education and Special Events Coordinator. Heidi is a graduate of LHA’s Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) and has facilitated CHIP classes since 2012. She is passionate about self-care and the physical and mental wellbeing of others. For self-care, Heidi enjoys reading, meditating, yoga, cooking (whole food, plant-based, of course!) and spending time outdoors with her husband and three children.
Jacob graduated from Miami University with a degree in Health & Sport Studies and has a Master’s of Science in Sports Administration from Valparaiso University. He is also a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Prior to joining Live Healthy Appalachia (LHA), Jacob worked for the City of Columbus in employee wellness and managed a wide variety of wellness services for employees. Jacob also worked at the YMCA of Central Ohio in various wellness roles. Jacob is passionate about serving and helping people through exercise and nutrition. Jacob enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter. He also enjoys a good DIY home project and doing work on his family’s new farm.
Program Expansion Manager
Alexandra is originally from Boston, Massachusetts. She studied environmental policy at Boston University
and moved to Athens in 2021. She is passionate about healthy living; local, sustainable food; and connecting with people, cultures, and communities through
Alexandra has been vegan for over 8 years and loves finding creative ways to transform traditional comfort foods
into satisfyingly delicious plant-based dishes. Her other hobbies include both taking and teaching indoor
spin classes, listening to podcasts, and learning about the many forageable plants and mushrooms in and
around her new home town.
Director of Children's Education
Christopher moved to Athens in 2015 and has a Bachelor of Science in Education, as well as a Master's of Education, both from Ohio University. Christopher's experience working in education is coupled with over a decade working in the health and wellness, public health, and local non-profits -- including Ohio Valley Summer Theater. Having previously lived in Chicago, Christopher performs in comedic improv, as well as in musicals and plays with his wife Alexis and daughters Eden and Harmony.
Margaret moved back to Athens, Ohio in 2013 with her family, as they wanted to raise their daughter in a community that encourages sustainable living and healthy, local food. Margaret is also the administrator of Appalachian Institute for Creative Learning and is a board member of The Birth Circle. Margaret holds a M.A. in Women’s Studies from Ohio State University and a B.A. in English from Mount Union University. Margaret lives outside of Athens with her husband, her daughter and a trove of animals.
Syd was born and raised in southeastern Ohio and is proud of their Appalachian heritage. As a teenager, they moved to western Pennsylvania where they later studied Digital Communications at their local technical center. Syd has spent the majority of their young career serving Nonprofit organizations and local businesses and is thrilled to return to their Ohioan roots.
In addition to being LHA’s VISTA member, Syd is a freelance illustrator and enjoys drawing fictional characters and worldbuilding. In their spare time, Syd also enjoys singing, baking, hiking, and drinking copious amounts of hot tea.
Maddi is from Greensburg, Pennsylvania. She attended Ohio University and earned a degree in Journalism and a certificate in Festivals, Events and Entertainment Management with specializations in outdoor recreation. Knowing she wouldn’t be ready to leave Athens after graduation, she applied to AmeriCorps and currently serves LHA through COMCorps. She is passionate about programming and community building, particularly with women and youth, and has prior service experience in urban poverty. She loves animals (especially her cat, Oliver), roller skating, anything outdoorsy, iced coffee and dyeing her friends’ hair crazy colors.
Sonya has lived in Athens County for her entire life. She earned a bachelor's degree in Environmental Geography and a certificate in Food and Society from Ohio University. She previously served as the Food Education Coordinator COMCorps member at Community Food Initiatives where she focused on school gardening and Discovery Kitchen programming. She loves gardening, traveling, and spending time with her cat.
Our Board of Directors
Our board represents a cross-section of our community and has a passion for our organization and those we serve. The members work hard to ensure long-term sustainability of the organization and oversee that the funds raised directly affect those in need.
Michelle Oestrike, Chair
Michelle Oestrike was the first AmeriCorps COMCorps Member at LHA and helped establish Live Healthy Kids. Michelle loves seeing how LHK has evolved and how the community has been impacted by LHA’s programs. Michelle holds an M.A. in Geography focusing on food insecurity. She currently serves as Vice President of Jackie O's Pub and Brewery. In her spare time, she also likes to travel, visit breweries, and see live music. Michelle was elected to the LHA board in Fall 2016.
Kari Boyle, Secretary
Kari Boyle is the Grants & Outreach Manager for the COMCorps program at Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (HCOM) Community Health Programs. Kari cares deeply for the Southeast Ohio region and is very passionate about addressing public health issues, specifically social determinates of health. Kari is a Certified Health Education Specialist, received her bachelor’s in Community Health Services from Ohio University, and is currently pursuing her master’s in public health. Additionally, Kari has served in the Ohio Air National Guard as a Public Health Technician for the past 12 years. She loves spending her free time outside in nature and watching her nieces and nephews grow up.
Sue Jago, Treasurer
Sue Jago is retired after working for Ohio University for 26 years. She served in several capacities there, most recently as Director of Payments. She helped start the Athens Food Rescue and served as its treasurer for several years. Sue has volunteered for LHA as a cooking coach and as cooking club facilitator. She believes that nutrition choices fuel quality of life and fully supports the mission of LHA. Sue likes to spend her time trying new recipes, hiking, camping, swimming, cycling, and spending time with her animals.
Randy Leite is the Executive Director of the Appalachian Children's Coalition, an organization dedicated to bringing resources to the children of a region facing many profound challenges. He is honored to have the opportunity to work with so many committed individuals and organizations to make a meaningful impact in our region.
Randy recently retired as dean of the College of Health Sciences and Professions at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio after twelve years. As dean, he worked with hundreds of dedicated people to make a difference in the lives of thousands of students and to bring positive impacts to communities across the state.
P.J. currently serves as Chief External Relations Officer at Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (HCOM). In that role, he oversees the College’s Communication, Fundraising, Alumni Outreach, and Government Relations efforts. Prior to his role at OHIO, P.J. served as the Senior Director of Philanthropy at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) where he oversaw major gift fundraising for the organization. P.J. sees his personal passion for health, wellness, and preventative healthcare through diet align with LHA’s overall mission and is eager to help move the organization forward. P.J. lives in Athens, Ohio with his two kids Kieran and Quinn.
Sara Hartman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teacher Education in The Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education at Ohio University. She has a Ph.D. with a specialization in Teaching, Curriculum & Learning and a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction, both from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She received her Bachelor of Science from Ohio University in Elementary Education. Before working with preservice teachers, she had the pleasure of being a classroom teacher. A native of southeastern Ohio, Sara is passionate about increasing access to learning opportunities for children in rural areas and believes strongly in the work of LHA. She joined the LHA board in 2020 and is excited to contribute to the organization’s important mission.
Beth Ferrier is an Athens attorney with more than three decades of legal experience working in both large and small law firms during her career to assist employers, nonprofit organizations, and individuals with their legal matters. A resident of Athens since 1990, she has served on a number of local nonprofit boards and advised nonprofit clients over the years, from incorporation to dissolution and everything in between. She currently focuses her solo practice at Ferrier Law Office, LLC on business law and estate planning. Beth’s personal success with Live Healthy Appalachia’s CHIP program in 2019 led her to serve on the Board. Beth enjoys gardening, travel (especially to the National Parks), and cooking in her spare time.
Caitlin Bond is the UpBEAT (Be Educated and Active Together) Program Coordinator at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, a program to support the health and wellness of individuals 55 years and older. She is honored to have the opportunity to work with members of UpBEAT, to create an environment for remaining active and engaged throughout life. She has a B.A. in Food and Nutrition and is a registered and licensed dietitian. Caitlin is passionate about promoting healthier lifestyles through focus on body, spirit, and mind. She enjoys biking, gardening, knitting, and spending time with her family.
Cassidy Staten was born and raised in Athens, Ohio with her two beloved siblings. Growing up, her mother, Nana, and Aunt Jess always expressed the importance of healthy living. Thanks to these pivotal figures in her life, Cassidy continues to carry the belief that how we feel directly correlates with how we are nourishing our bodies and minds.
Cassidy graduated from Ohio University with a bachelors in Integrated Healthcare Studies. She currently works at Athens County Children Services and is passionate about our community. Cassidy enjoys helping others learn about ways to better fuel their body. Her hobbies include weight lifting, yoga, and spending time in nature with her partner and pups, Rosie and Axel.
Our Advisory Board
Tom Kostohryz is the co-founder of LHA in 2010 and an active part of our advisory board. Now a part-time health and wellness consultant, Tom spent the first 30 years of his career as an employee benefits consultant, founding Southeastern Agency. Tom volunteers his time with LHA developing program sites in the Midwest region for CHIP and is excited about the gradual changes in attitudes toward healthy lifestyles. Tom holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ohio University and lives with his wife Barbara in Athens and Colorado. Tom has served continuously since 2011.
John Kotowski is an active member of the Athens community. Besides serving actively as a part of our advisory board for LHA, John is also a member of the Owner’s Board for the Ohio University Inn. He also chairs the Donor Development Committee at Rural Action. John envisions LHA impacting the rural communities of Appalachia. He holds science and architecture degrees from Kent State University. John is an avid cyclist and loves to travel.