Meet the Fit4Kids Team
Cody grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts and attended UMass Amherst Stockbridge School of Agriculture. They moved to Richmond 3 years ago to experience something new, and of course the warmer weather and longer growing season was a major draw. Cody’s favorite vegetable to grow is tomatoes! They also love growing fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, rosemary and oregano! When asked why Cody they love gardening and teaching garden they said – “because I love feeling connected to the earth, my body and my food. I love teaching about gardening because I enjoy helping my students discover that connection for themselves. My goal, whether through farming, gardening or teaching is to cultivate a connection between people and our environment, to cultivate a love for the earth, the plants and the animals that sustain us. Learning about plants and ecosystems, getting our hands dirty, planting seeds, tending our garden and eating delicious vegetables are all a great way to experience that connection.”
Justine grew up in Virginia Beach and moved to Richmond in 2005 to attend Virginia Commonwealth University. She has a BA in Women’s Studies and a Masters of Social Work with a focus on Administration, Planning, and Policy Practice. Prior to joining Fit4Kids, Justine served as a Legislative Assistant in the Virginia General Assembly and previously taught Pre-Kindergarten in Richmond. Her favorite fruits are bananas and pineapple, and her favorite veggies are broccoli and rainbow chard. Justine is an animal lover and stays active by practicing yoga, running, and playing soccer with her dog. She lives on the Southside of Richmond by the river with her husband, Brendan, son, Avery, dog, Wendy and cat, Pumpernickel.
Whether it’s hiking the Buttermilk trail, taking in live music at one of Richmond’s many festivals, or checking out the South of James farmer’s market, Leigh loves spending time outside. Growing up, she was a track & field athlete, focusing on hurdles and pole vault, and values the role fitness and sports have played in her life and overall well-being. Leigh graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and loves watching college basketball and showing her Tarheel pride! Prior to joining Fit4Kids, she supported fundraising and community relations at YWCA Richmond and has been in human resources roles at several for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. She’s also is a mom to two energetic boys and loves exploring the outdoors with them!
Program Coordinator, Game On, Girl!
Sam is a recent graduate of VCU with a degree in Health, Physical, & Exercise Education (HPEX) and a major in Health Sciences. She loves to stay active by going on hikes and walks, as well as attending local sporting events. Baseball, basketball, and soccer are her favorites! Previously, nursing was a passion of hers and Sam would frequently volunteer in the pediatric unit at her local hospital. During Sam’s time as an intern for Fit4Kids this past spring, she found a new passion for health promotion! She loves seeing kids play and enjoy themselves and being the person to help them pursue that is a GREAT feeling! Dismantling that “one shoe fits all” norm and showing kids that the possibilities are endless when it comes to being physically active is the reason Sam is and will always be a huge supporter of Fit4Kids.
Wellness Integration Specialist
Meghan grew up in California and still considers it ‘home’ (even though she’s been in Richmond 21 years!). She attended U.C. Berkeley and San Francisco State University. She brings 21 years of experience from Chesterfield County Public Schools. Meghan is a lover of ALL music from a children’s choir in NY to Prince to the Dixie Chicks. She enjoys staying active by taking group exercise classes and walks with her family. Meghan is in all three Hopewell City Elementary Schools this year continuing the effort to bring wellness to the schools and community!
Katie McTavish Daniel
Katie grew up in Manassas, VA and moved to Richmond when she graduated from Longwood University; where she earned a BS in Kinesiology with a concentration in Health and Physical Education. Prior to joining Fit4Kids, Katie was a Health and Physical Education teacher at John Rolfe Middle School. Katie loves to cook and try new recipes. Her favorite way to stay active is taking stroller walks with her daughters and finding the best playgrounds!
Safe Routes to School Coordinator
Born and raised in New Jersey, Tara moved to Virginia to pursue two degrees from Mary Washington, a B.A. in Geography, and an M.Ed. in Secondary Education. As a pedestrian and person who bikes in the city, Tara strives to encourage others to join in the fun, while advocating for the infrastructure necessary to make the journey safer. She currently transports her kids to school by foot or bike on most days, and is excited that her two kids are sharing in her love of two-wheeled commuting. Tara also loves to garden, and her Jersey roots always get her excited about tomato season. Homegrown tomatoes make the best sauce for pizza on the grill!
Program Coordinator, Learning Gardens
Nan grew up in Hampton Roads, VA, and moved to Richmond in 2011 when she began attending VCU. She graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. Nan joined the Fit4Kids team as a Garden Educator for three years then jumped on board as our Game On, Girl! Coordinator in 2020 then Program Coordinator for gardens in 2021! Nan spends a lot of time outdoors and can either be found at a local park foraging or in her backyard gardening on the weekends! She also loves building community connections and can be found attending many festivals and events in the Richmond area. She is passionate about integrating garden-based learning into local school systems and believes that every child has a right to fresh air, nutrition education, and healthy food options!
Jada grew up in Virginia Beach, VA and moved to Richmond in 2014 to pursue a Bachelor’s in English at VCU. She prefers to stay active in a number of ways including working out at her local YMCA, taking long walks around the city, and practicing yoga at home! When she is not finding ways to be active, she can be found searching for books at the library or finding new recipes to try out! Jada feels strongly connected to Fit4Kids’ mission of improving children’s health and wellness, as well as providing role models for local youth to look up to.
Mary Dunne Stewart
President & CEO
Mary’s favorite physical activity is biking the Capital Trail with her husband and two sons. Since joining Fit4Kids and learning how easy it is to grow your own food, Mary and her family love to eat the fresh zucchini, peaches, and peppers they grow at home. As the founding Executive Director, Mary leads Fit4Kids program development and implementation, fundraising, and strategic management. Mary has a long history of working to improve children’s futures through policy research and advocacy. Her past experience includes serving as the Policy Director of Voices for Virginia’s Children, the Associate Director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, and teaching social justice and policy courses in the VCU School of Social Work. Mary was previously selected as one of Style Weekly’s Top Forty Under Forty. She has a Masters of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BA in Anthropology from the College of William and Mary.
Wellness Integration Specialist
Jeff’s journey to wellness led him to start school-based running clubs so he would have someone to motivate him to work out during the week. It’s like running with 30+ mini personal trainers! To tackle the caloric side of things, he cooks up huge batches of meals. Chicken, butternut squash, and collards are easy to reheat once they are prepped and portioned out. Jeff is a seasoned veteran of Wellness Integration. He had already completed two years of Wellness Integration in Williamsburg-James City County Schools with SHIP (School Health Initiative Program). Jeff has helped guide Marguerite F. Christian Elementary School in Chesterfield County on their path to wellness. Now he moves further south to work with Pleasants Lane Elementary School and Walnut Hill Elementary School in Petersburg, VA. Jeff earned his BS in Elementary Education from Penn State University. Bonus Fact, he was 1 of 12 Penn Staters who completed their student teaching across the pond in England!