Through groundbreaking education, support, and inspiration, we’ve been empowering children and adults to take control of their health and build a community where healthy choices are accessible and affordable.

Founded in 2005 by Douglas Mercer, a visionary man committed to building a healthy community, Wellness Foundation is a small team of passionate wellness warriors doing BIG things! Our forward-thinking team and world class advisory council is made up of pioneers, visionaries, and trailblazers on the cutting edge of plant-powered health and wellness.

We teach people about the power they have to take control of their health and, as a result, help them to transform their lives. Within our community, we’re working hard to end the trend of obesity and the chronic diseases associated with it—and we’ve ignited a spark in other wellness warriors around the country who want to bring our world class programs to their communities.

Wellness Foundation is in the business of helping people build happy, healthy lives and we are committed to helping them prevent and reverse chronic disease through the power of plant-based nutrition.

President & CEO

Breathe – this is Michele’s go-to stress management tip. Tuning into yourself enough to notice that you are holding your breath, or not breathing fluidly, releases so much stress. A certified Vinyasa yoga teacher, Michele also has a B.A. from Brown University, a master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a certificate in Plant-based Nutrition from T. Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies. Michele has a strong track record of leading organizations through strategic change and growth. She was previously Executive Director of the Time Warner Foundation and a Vice President overseeing Corporate Social Responsibility at Time Warner. She served in the Clinton Administration for six years working in Education and Civil rights and was a Peace Corps Volunteer working on children’s health in West Africa. Michele has consulted and served on numerous nonprofit boards. Seeing the transformative effects of a plant-based diet and having the support of like-minded people has made Michele’s journey to healthier living both easier and more fun. In addition to her passion for wellness and yoga, Michele also loves tango dancing—so much so that she named her dog Tango! Off the dance floor and yoga mat, Michele enjoys hiking, skiing, cooking, and sharing in adventure travel with her three sons. She is committed to creating a generation of change for all children.

Vice President & Executive Director, Education & Programs

Jenn joined Wellness Foundation in 2006, bringing with her a wide range of wellness coaching/counseling and non-profit experience. She has a degree in Social Work from Gannon University and holds a certification as a Certified Health Coach from the world-renowned Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Jenn has worked with grassroots non-profits throughout her career. She also spent many years as a coach working with actress/author, Marilu Henner on her website promoting women’s health and wellness. From day one, when the WF team was just Jennifer and our founder, Doug Mercer, she has treasured being surrounded by like-minded, positive and vibrant people. Being able to truly touch people’s lives and accompanying them on their wellness journey is one of the many things that brings her joy. In addition to her role at WF, Jenn is a writer, artist, inspirational speaker and women’s wellness coach and she considers herself a professional joy seeker. She looks for joy everywhere each day. She believes that investing in your health is the best investment you can make. She is dedicated to our mission and loves knowing that the lifestyle she leads and the work we do is having a positive impact on the lives of humans, animals and the planet.

Director of Community Programs

For Sam, it’s simple things that bring her joy: a yummy and nourishing meal, being in nature, and connecting with her son, her friends and family, and the kids that she teaches. Her role as the Director of Community Programs, as well as a WKids Coach, provides her the opportunity to share with both children and adults ways of living a healthy and mindful life. Sam also enjoys heading up the social media for Wellness Foundation and coordinating Wellness Challenge 360°. Sam’s career path allowed her to meld her three great passions: art, children, and public service. She studied Art History at Christie’s in London before working at NYC contemporary art galleries Metro Pictures, Fredericks and Freiser, and the non-profit, Art Resources Transfer. After 9/11, Sam listened to her heart and followed it, pursuing work with children at a local preschool, teaching art. Following a move to the East End with her son, Sam went on to co-found Karma Kids, a non-profit dedicated to teaching kids how to give back by creating and selling their art. Sam is certified in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and eCornell. Practicing yoga and meditation and walking her dogs on the beach are Sam’s favorite forms of exercise and stress relief. And, she loves preparing healthy and delicious meals with her very sporty (and always hungry) son. She finds that the biggest benefit of living a healthy, plant-centered lifestyle is that she feels so good! It’s important to Sam to be on a path that keeps her healthy and happy so that she is available to connect deeply with the people that she loves and to live a really long life. Sam’s favorite wellness read is “The Blue Zones” by Dan Buettner, because it addresses the keys to longevity and provides terrific tips that are easy to incorporate.

Social Media Specialist

Julian brings with him six years of creative and nonprofit marketing experience. Julian graduated from Ohio University as a double major in Music Performance and Business Administration. He has spent the past few years working with nonprofit arts organizations and major classical and jazz artists in the NYC area. When Julian isn’t working on strategies or listening to the beautiful sounds of Charlie Parker, you’ll find him possibly taking photos, practicing saxophone, or cooking up a healthy and delicious meal. Julian loves using his creative energy and marketing expertise to help nonprofits grow and succeed. He is happy to work with an organization whose values and beliefs align with his.

Administrative Assistant

You’d probably never guess Tina’s favorite vegetable (golden beets) or fruit (fresh figs). From her very first job making juices in a health food restaurant, nutrition has been a big part of her life. Being a vegetarian and involved with health and wellness, she has seen firsthand the tremendous health and energy benefits of following a plant-based lifestyle. Tina was thrilled to combine her passion for wellness with public service in working for Wellness Foundation. She finds it so validating to be with other people who quite obviously love what they do and who are working for the greater good. After receiving her degree in Environmental Studies, Tina went on to work for several nonprofits before joining Wellness Foundation’s team. She loves to be outdoors and is a trail leader for the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society. Tina is also a big fan of both dancing and reading—her favorite wellness books are: “Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith,”and “Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers,”both by Anne Lamott. This author has a great conversational style that helps you feel it’s possible to strive to have a higher purpose while going about your everyday life.

Wellness Challenge 360° Coach

Chances are good that you’ve seen Peggy riding her bike—it’s one of her hobbies and favorite forms of exercise, and she rides at least 1,000 miles every year! When she’s not on her bike, Peggy loves coming up with low fat, plant-only versions of her favorite recipes. Peggy is a certified diabetes educator and a registered clinical exercise physiologist. She has worked in cardiac rehab at Stony Brook Southampton for more than 20 years, encouraging regular exercise and a plant-based diet to help reverse heart disease. Peggy also has created a diabetes and diet coaching program on the East End of Long Island to help people reverse type 2 diabetes. She holds a master’s degree from New York University in Professional Physical Education and a bachelor’s degree from Queens College in Home Economics/Sociology, and she is certified by the NEI Institute to teach plant-based nutrition. Though she never plays favorites as a WC 360 facilitator, Peggy doesn’t try to hide her preference for Japanese sweet potatoes (which supposedly help to prevent wrinkles!) or for her favorite book, “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell. Peggy has found Dr. Campbell’s courage to defend his research findings against the biggest industries in our nation and to face ridicule from his colleagues to be so inspiring, and she considers him an incredible role model.

Jumpstart 360° Coach

Kuky is a Jumpstart 360° Coach who experienced first-hand the transformative power of plant-based nutrition. Kuky is originally from Peru and describes herself as a former “junk food junkie”. When she discovered plant-based nutrition, her life changed for the better as she learned about the healing effects of micronutrient rich food. As a result, she lost weight, gained energy and increased her confidence. She enjoys vibrant and delicious food and loves creating easy to prepare and delicious recipes for her family and friends. She is also an exercise enthusiast and enjoys kickboxing and weight training. After experiencing the power of a plant-based lifestyle, she was so passionate about sharing the benefits with others that she earned her certification as a Holistic Health Coach from the world-renowned Institute for Integrative Nutrition as well as a certification in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. In her free time, she loves spending time with her husband and their two dogs, Charly and Lukas.

Wellness Coach

When she’s not in the office or classroom, you are likely to find Zoë walking her dog, Ori – her favorite form of exercise! An East Hampton native, she loves travel and exploring new places and foods. Having begun her career as a therapist, Zoë became a health coach after discovering that what she most enjoyed was helping her clients to improve their relationships with food and go on to lead happier, healthier lives. She’s been inspired by many people and books along the way, but one of her favorite wellness reads is “The Lean” by Kathy Freston; it’s packed full of real-life, practical tips and helpful information. Zoë earned her master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from New York University, an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential through the International Coaching Federation, and her certification as a Holistic Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC. Being able to help others, to leave the world a better place in some way, was what Zoë had always looked for in a career. Eager to work with an organization whose vision inspired and resonated so deeply with her, Zoë completed the Wellness Challenge and joined the Wellness Foundation team soon after. She feels incredibly lucky to work with colleagues who truly care about each other and the work that they do, and to be helping to play a part in empowering children and adults to claim their greatest health and happiness.

Mindfulness Coach

30 seconds – Kristen demonstrates to her team that we can all find that much time to stretch, feel our feet on the ground, and connect with our bodies at different points throughout the day; it makes a huge difference! Kristen is an educator with a passion for wellness, recently developing a series of mindfulness classes for children. She has worked for years as both a classroom teacher and Reading Specialist. After completing her B.A. at Hofstra University where she held a dual major in Elementary Education and Psychology, Kristen went on to earn her master’s in Reading from Queens College. As a mother of two young children, Kristen is always looking for ways to make the most of the time she has. “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle is her favorite wellness read; it created a tremendous shift in perspective for her. And her favorite time-saving dinner tip? Cutting all produce needed for meals the night before so the prep is done! Kristen considers it a privilege to be part of Wellness Foundation; being able to use her teaching experience to inspire and empower children to lead their healthiest lives has been transformational for her.

WKids Educator

You might have once seen Colette competing in regattas across the East End. Now, her life as a teacher and a mom to two young boys requires even more energy, and she credits a plant-centered lifestyle for giving her all that she needs!

Colette holds a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Vermont and a Masters in Literacy from Long Island University. She is a certified special education teacher and brings to Wellness Foundation years of teaching experience with a variety of different age groups and ability levels. Colette is enthusiastic about empowering children to take control of their health, both at school and at home—she has made it her mission to incorporate yoga, movement activities, and healthy eating lessons into her curriculum. Colette is a huge believer in teaching to the whole child and, in doing so, incorporating health, wellness, love and compassion into each day.

Many of Colette’s ideas about wellbeing are reflected in The Wellness Project by Phoebe Lapine; she feels the author does a wonderful job describing her year-long wellness journey and highlighting which wellness efforts were worth the investment. Colette is thrilled to be a part of Wellness Foundation’s team and is eager to make a meaningful difference in our community of learners.


One of America’s leading advocates for health, nutrition, and higher standards in research, Neal Barnard, M.D., is a physician, clinical researcher, author, and adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Barnard is the founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The Physicians Committee provides direct medical care through its subsidiary, Barnard Medical Center. Dr. Barnard works with patients with diabetes, obesity, and other chronic conditions in clinical research studies aiming to improve the prevention and treatment of these health problems. Dr. Barnard’s articles have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the American Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Scientific American, the American Journal of Cardiology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Lancet Oncology, Preventive Medicine, and in many other scientific and medical journals. He is the editor-in-chief of the Nutrition Guide for Clinicians and the author of 18 books for lay audiences. In 2015, Dr. Barnard was named a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, and he received the American College of Lifestyle Medicine’s Trailblazer Award in 2016. He is an active member of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia, the American Medical Association, and other organizations working to improve health and medical care.


For decades T. Colin Campbell, PhD has been at the forefront of nutrition education and research. Dr. Campbell’s expertise and scientific interests encompass relationships between diet and disease, particularly the causation of cancer. His legacy, the China Project, is one of the most comprehensive studies of health and nutrition ever conducted. The New York Times has recognized the study as the “Grand Prix of epidemiology”. Dr. Campbell is the coauthor of the bestselling book The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health, and author of the New York Times bestseller Whole, and The Low-Carb Fraud. He is featured in several documentaries including: the blockbuster Forks Over Knives, Eating You Alive, Food Matters, PlantPure Nation and others. He is the founder of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and the online Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate in partnership with eCornell. Dr. Campbell has conducted original research both in laboratory experiments and in large-scale human studies; received over 70 grant-years of peer-reviewed research funding (mostly with NIH), served on grant review panels of multiple funding agencies, actively participated in the development of national and international nutrition policy, authored over 300 research papers and given hundreds of lectures around the world. He was trained at Cornell University (M.S., Ph.D.) and MIT (Research Associate) innutrition, biochemistry and toxicology. Dr. Campbell spent 10 years on the faculty of Virginia Tech’s Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition before returning to Cornell in 1975 where he presently holds his Endowed Chair as the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry in the Division of Nutritional Sciences.


Dr. Antonia Demas is a professor of Food Studies. In 1999 she founded the Food Studies Institute. Dr. Demas has received national recognition for her research in food studies. In 1994, her food education curriculum won national awards for the Most Creative Implementation of the Dietary Guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture and Excellence in Nutrition Education from the Society for Nutrition Education. In 1999, Dr. Demas’ curriculum was published, as ‘Food is Elementary’. Articles by Dr. Demas on the topic of achieving acceptance of healthy, low-fat, meals in schools have been published in ‘New Century Nutrition’ and the ‘American Journal of Cardiology’ among others. As a consultant and speaker, Dr. Demas works with schools, non-profit organizations, vegetarian societies, and corporations across the country.


Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. was a researcher and clinician at the Cleveland Clinic for more than thirty-five years. In 1991, he served as the president of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons and organized the first National Conference on the Elimination of Heart Disease. In 2005, he became the first recipient of the Benjamin Spock Award for Compassion in Medicine. He is the author of “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”, backed by the irrefutable results from his 20-year study proving changes in diet and nutrition can actually cure heart disease. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and an M.D. from Western Reserve University.


The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan That Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds” was created and implemented by Rip Esselstyn, a former world-class professional tri-athlete and the son, grandson and great-grandson of renowned physicians. After saving the lives of a many as a firefighter, now he is saving millions more with The Engine 2 Diet – his groundbreaking nutritional program with indisputable, dramatic results in lowering cholesterol and losing weight in just 4 weeks. Rip left his job as a firefighter in 2009 to team up with Whole Foods Market as one of their Healthy Eating Partners to raise awareness for Whole Foods employees, customers and communities about the benefits of eating a plant-strong diet. As the founder of Engine 2, Rip develops and implements a range of programs and events geared toward education, inspiring and nurturing plant-strong living for individuals, families and organizations across the globe. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and national television shows, including the Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. Rip is a New York Times Bestselling Author who has published four books. Rip lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Jill, and their three beautiful children, Kole, Sophie and Hope.


Through his medical practice, as well as his New York Times best-selling books and PBS specials, Dr. Fuhrman has helped thousands of people lose weight permanently and reverse chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and chronic pain syndromes, including migraines, using a nutrient-dense, plant-rich eating style that he calls the Nutritarian diet. Dr. Fuhrman is the President of the Nutritional Research Foundation, and is a frequent guest on The Dr. Oz Show, for which he serves on the medical advisory board. An internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, Dr. Fuhrman is also a health and fitness enthusiast, whose athletic background gives him a keen insight into the importance of diet and physical exercise. Before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Dr. Fuhrman was a world-class figure skater who placed third in the 1976 World Professional Pairs Skating Championship. Dr. Fuhrman devotes his life to nutritional research, staying up-to-date on the thousands of articles published in scientific journals, and working with nutritional researchers around the world. His expertise includes 25 years of experience caring for more than 10,000 patients with serious medical conditions and in most cases facilitating their recovery via nutritional methods. His books have no preconceived philosophy, agenda or bias; they are an uncompromising assessment that offers the gold standard of nutritional excellence to foster the greatest potential for disease prevention, reversal and extending human lifespan.


A former financial and food industry analyst, Robyn O’Brien has been called “food’s Erin Brockovich” by the New York Times. She triggered an allergic reaction in the food industry when she asked: “Are we allergic to food or what’s been done to it?” Today, she is a sought after advisor and speaker, inspiring organizations and individuals to engage in the “New Food Economy.” Robyn has worked in the food industry for twenty years, first as a financial analyst on a team that managed $20 billion in assets, then as an advisor to the industry, analyzing the impact that our food system has on the health of our children and families. Robyn is the author of the bestseller “The Unhealthy Truth.” Her 2011 Tedx talk has been viewed by millions. Robyn has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, CNBC, NBC Nightly News and TEDX.


Dr. Pam Popper is a naturopath, an internationally recognized expert on nutrition, medicine and health, and the Executive Director of Wellness Forum Health. The company offers educational programs for consumer and healthcare providers that facilitate evidence-base, collaborative and informed decision making for health-related matters. Dr. Popper serves on the Physician’s Steering Committee and the President’s Board for the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington D.C. She served as part of Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s teaching team at eCornell, teaching part of a certification course on plant-based nutrition. She has been featured in many widely distributed documentaries, including Processed People and Making a Killing and appeared in the acclaimed documentary Forks Over Knives, which played in major theaters throughout North America in 2011. She is one of the co-authors of the companion book, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for 66 weeks. Hermost recent book is Food Over Medicine: The Conversation That Can Save Your Life. Dr. Popper is featured as one of the lead experts in Food Choices, which was released in September 2016, and is co-author of the companion book for this film. She will be appearing in The Yoyo Effect, to be released summer 2018 and is writing the ompanion book for this film as well. Dr. Popper is also a lobbyist and public policy expert, and continually works toward changing laws that interfere with patients’ right to choose their health provider and method of care. She has testified in front of legislative committees on numerous occasions, and has testified twice in front of the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.


Judiann Carmack­-Fayyaz is an Agriculture and Robotics educator at Bridgehampton School on the East End of Long Island. To promote the use of gardens and growing as educational tools, she co-founded the Edible School Gardens Group (ESG), a network of approximately 30 school districts with gardens and/or greenhouses that aim to promote food literacy and environmental stewardship. She served as President of the board of ESG from 2009-2018 and authored the Delicious Nutritious FoodBook, a manual to demysitify food, nutrition and cooking.  In 2016, Judiann was the recipient of the New York State Agriculture in the Classroom Award and a National Excellence in Teaching Agriculture Award from the U S. Department of Agriculture. She has been very involved in the Slow Food movement and served as Chairperson of Slow Food East End from 2013-2015 and as Slow Food Governor of New York State from 2015-2017. In 2018, Judiann was awarded an Angel Award by the Equity First Foundation for her community service work.


Joe Cross is a filmmaker, entrepreneur, author and wellness advocate. He directed, produced and was the subject of the award-winning documentaries “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 1 and 2”; authored the New York Times best-seller “The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet” book; and is credited with having accelerated the plant-based eating movement by media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The Times of London and The Dr. Oz Show. His website, rebootwithjoe.com, has become an integral meeting place for a community of millions of Rebooters worldwide. His third documentary film, “The Kids Menu”, was released in 2016 and featured Wellness Foundation’s WKids Program. Joe is passionate about the work Wellness Foundation is doing and believes that providing education, inspiration and opportunity is the key to inspiring people to change behavior that leads to smarter and healthier choices when it comes to overall wellness. He believes Wellness Foundation is doing this every day in a very impactful way and he is proud to be a part of this change!


Barbara Layton is widely known as the visionary behind—and proud owner—of Babette’s restaurants, located in East Hampton, NY and in Newport Beach, CA. Known for organic and sustainable food, Barbara’s intention with Babette’s has always been to support farmers and growers who do the right thing. Food has been one of the many ways in which Barbara has worked to promote the health of individuals and communities; she is also actively involved in promoting policies that support wellbeing through her work in the political arena, and she is a board member of The Source of Synergy Foundation. In addition to her own beautiful son, Zach, Barbara has over 15 years’ experience working with children as a Montessori teacher. She is also a Certified Breathworker. Barbara is pleased to join Wellness Foundation’s Board of Directors and support them in their mission to promote healthy people and a healthy planet.


Robert Murphy is COO, CMO & Co-Founder of MINDBODY, Inc. the largest global provider of web and mobile business management solutions for the health, wellness and beauty industries. Bob holds a B.S. in communications from Boston University. Apart from MINDBODY, he enjoys his yoga practice (especially his wife’s classes), a good game of golf and spending time with his wife and three children.


Michele has a strong track record leading organizations through strategic change and growth. Michele was previously Executive Director of the Time Warner Foundation and a Vice President overseeing Corporate Social Responsibility at Time Warner. She served in the Clinton Administration for six years working in Education and Civil rights and was a Peace Corps Volunteer working on children’s health in West Africa. She has consulted and served on numerous nonprofit boards. She has a B.A. from Brown University and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a Certificate in Plant-based Nutrition from T. Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies. She is a certified Vinyasa yoga teacher and is passionate about a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She has 3 young sons and is committed to creating a generation of change for our children.

Douglas Mercer, Founder, and Anthony R.H. Gerard, Leasa Meyer and Michael Worthen are founding Board members of Wellness Foundation and the Foundation gratefully acknowledges their service from 2005-2012. They will remain Board Members Emeritus.