2020 Speakers and Presenters to be announced. You can learn more about the 2019 Speakers and Presenters at the von Arx Family Foundation Florida Diabetes & Wellness Conference - Collier County below. 





Honorary Event Chairs

Dolph and Sharon von Arx have been philanthropic and service pillars of the Naples area for more than thirty years. Numerous organizations have benefitted from their generosity which, in turn, has enriched our community greatly. Organizations and institutions that have been fortunate to work closely alongside The von Arx Family Foundation include the Naples Accelerator, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Youth Haven, The Shelter for Abused Women and Children, The Community Foundation of Collier County, Hodges University, The Naples Museum of Art, The Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts and NCH Healthcare Systems, where Mr. von Arx served for 11 years as Chairman of the Board. Dolph and Sharon have been in leadership positions in almost every organization to which they have lent their names and continually strive for the betterment of our area. Serving as co-chairs of this 5th Annual Florida Diabetes Conference has raised the bar of this conference’s goals, which are to educate the public and medical community about the latest in diabetes research, treatment and prevention and to help further establish the conference as an annual mainstay event at Florida Southwestern State College.


Angelina Bernier_JSJ_6JJ2218 - Compresse


University of Florida

Dr. Bernier is an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida in the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology. She is the Fellowship Director of the Pediatric Endocrinology Program and is also the Pediatric Metabolic & Obesity Program's Medical Director, where her focus is to establish an efficacious pediatric obesity care center. Aside from clinical responsibility and education, her primary research focus is pediatric diabetes education, for which she is developing and testing new methods of improving learning for children with diabetes. Her goal is to establish a model that can be extended to other pediatric chronic disease conditions.


Angela Echeverria photo.jpg


Board Certified in General and Vascular Surgery

Angela B. Echeverria, MD is board certified in general and vascular surgery specializing in all aspects of treatment of arterial and venous disorders. Dr. Echeverria was raised in Wisconsin and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and subsequently her Doctorate in Pharmacology at Butler University in Indianapolis.  She began her career as a Clinical Pharmacist and through her work during mission trips, was inspired to return to medical school and completer her MD.  She completed her general surgery residency at the University of Arizona in Tucson and vascular and endovascular surgery fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

During her fellowship at the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor, she received training from many experts in the field of vascular disease.  She received training in complex thoracoabdominal aneurysms working side by side with Dr. Joseph Coselli, an internationally recognized expert.  She also gained experience in complex endovascular reconstruction for aortic disease. Dr. Echeverria brings her expertise and the most technically advanced, comprehensive minimally invasive options in vascular surgery to Southwest Florida.

Cindy David Lawrence Center.jpg


Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Cindy Gallo is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 35 years of clinical and administrative experience in a wide range of settings. After ‘retiring” and moving to Florida in 2016, Cindy realized that it was important for her to give back to her community. Cindy proudly took a clinical position with the David Lawrence Center (DLC), a community based, multi- faceted leader in the delivery of Mental Health & Addiction services. After Hurricane Irma, Cindy opened the Marco Island DLC Satellite Office where she provides counseling as well as training & consultation.

MSW – Loyola University of Chicago

Post Graduate Certificate in Leadership & Management- Northeastern University, Boston.

Post Graduate Certificate in Trauma Studies – Boston University

Head shot Dr Graeber.jpg


NCH Healthcare


Dr. Charles W. Graeber is Program Director for the NCH Healthcare System Internal Medicine Residency program, a position he has held since February 2016. The program is affiliated and been developed in partnership with the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Graeber currently holds appointments as Adjunct Assistant Professor for Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, as well as Professor of Medicine for the University of Central Florida Medical School. He has an extensive and varied career that spans private practice, community health care and academic medicine.


Dr. Graeber holds a degree in Chemistry from Ripon College and his medical degree from Rush Medical University in Chicago. He completed an internal medicine residency at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Additionally, he completed his Nephrology Fellowship at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics and the University Of Connecticut School Of Medicine. He has worked as Clinical Nephrologist in the Joslin Diabetes Center at The Hospital of Central Connecticut and was a Clinical Professor of Medicine for many years at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. His research interests are clinical nephrology and post-graduate medical education. He also has authored and co-authored numerous articles, many relating to nephrology.


Regarding the effects of diabetes on kidney health, Dr. Graeber has previously spoken on this topic with presentations entitled, “Renal Considerations in Hospitalized Patients with Diabetes,” and “Fluid and Electrolyte Disturbances in Diabetic Ketoacidosis.”


Andrew Koutnik photo.jpg



Timothy S. Harlan practices internal medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine. His love of food began as a teenager working in the restaurant business. Starting as a dishwasher, he worked his way up to managing his first restaurant at the age of eighteen and owning his first restaurant at twenty-two. He operated Le Petit Café as a chef/owner until he closed the restaurant to return to school.  


After finishing an undergraduate degree in Anthropology, Dr. Harlan went on to study medicine at Emory University. Working as a caterer throughout school, he continued to be involved with food and cooking, but noticed a lack of knowledge in the medical field about nutrition and eating healthy while still eating well.  


In medical school, Dr. Harlan wrote It’s Heartly Fare, a food manual for patients with cardiovascular disease.  Since then he has published numerous books focusing on translating evidence-based diet and nutrition information for the public. He is the publisher of the popular web site DrGourmet.com where information garnered from the Mediterranean diet literature is translated in a practical way for use in the American kitchen. 


He currently serves as Associate Dean for Clinical Services at Tulane University School of Medicine and is the Executive Director of the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine, the first of its' kind teaching kitchen, operated by a medical school. The center offers an innovative program teaching medical students about diet and lifestyle that bridges the gap between the basic sciences, clinical medicine, the community and culinary education.  Medical students work side-by-side in the kitchen with culinary students to teach each other and, most importantly, teach the community and patients how to take what they learn, return to their kitchens and transform their health. 


Andrew Koutnik PhD

University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine


Andrew is a Research Scientist, Type-1 Diabetic, and patient advocate at University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition studying the influence of nutrition and metabolism on health, disease, and performance. He originally began his research path at Florida State University in Exercise Science studying the influence of nutrition, exercise, supplementation, and environmental extremes on health-based outcomes in normal and clinical populations resulting in several original research publications. From Florida State University, Andrew was awarded the Presidential Fellowship to undertake Biomedical Research with the Metabolic Therapeutics Lab at University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine with a focus on studying metabolism and metabolic therapies for health, disease, and performance outcomes resulting in numerous research publications. While at USF, Andrew also developed and implemented multiple research projects on NASA NEEMO 22 as a part of USF and IHMC research team. In 2018, Andrew was selected to participate in TEDxUSF event where he presented on Nutrition and Type-1 Diabetes. Personally, Andrew Koutnik uses exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle factors to manage Type-1 Diabetes for over 12 years. Type-1 Diabetes has and continues to give an incredible in-depth personal journey into the world of our metabolism, how it works, how day-to-day life (sometimes moment-by-moment choices) influences it, and how these changes on metabolism can have far reaching effects over other aspects of our physiology. This combination of researching nutrition and exercise, but also dealing with its benefits and consequences daily as a Type-1 Diabetic, created a strong appreciation for the metabolic role nutrition and lifestyle can play into disease prevention and management.



Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Dr. Jaclyn Kovach is a retina specialist and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Kovach has lived in Naples and cared for patients at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute locally for the past 12 years. In 2015, in an effort to bring cutting-edge treatments for retinal disease to the Naples community, Dr. Kovach created a Clinical Trial Center at BPEI Naples. In addition to pursuing her mission of excellence in patient care, Dr. Kovach has created and directs a rotation for medical students, a medical retina fellowship based at BPEI Naples and an annual retina conference that draws retina specialists from across the nation. Dr. Kovach has published more than 90 book chapters and peer-reviewed articles and has presented her research with a focus on macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy in more than 100 lectures around the world. She is the recipient of the Castle Connolly "Top Doctors" award, an American Academy of Ophthalmology Achievement Award and an Honor Award from the American Society of Retina Specialists




Air Force, Inc.

Dr. Piero Policicchio (friends just call him Piero), has been practicing family dentistry in Holland, Michigan and surrounding cities for more than 30 years. In treating patients, Dr. Policicchio uses cutting-edge technology, combined with patient education and high-level patient involvement.


Born and raised in Dearborn, Michigan, Dr. Policicchio received his degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry. He is the inventor of Dental Air Force and CEO of Air Force, Inc. His latest clinical trial studies, using his Dental Air Force system versus toothbrush and floss on diabetic patients showed a reduction in HbA1c (diabetic blood marker) by over 1% in conjunction with periodontal therapy. Dr. Policicchio has developed a periodontal program to help with pathogens that standard protocols have not been able to eradicate. Dr. Policicchio is passionate when he speaks about the most devastating disease on the planet - periodontal disease.

He has published many articles on periodontal health as it relates to heart disease, respiratory health, diabetes, strokes and other systemic diseases. He is the former Executive Editor for the "Journal of Experimental Dental Science,” and contributing author to "Hospital Infection Control: Clinical Guidelines".  He is also the author of Never Brush Your Teeth Again! and is an international speaker.


Family Foot & Leg Dr.      Pelucacci.png

Dr. Lauren Pelucacci, DPM, AACFAS

Family Foot & Leg Center

2016 - 2019 -  Geisinger Community Medical Center, Scranton, PA Chief Resident, Podiatric Medicine and Surgery Residency/Director:  Guido A. LaPorta, DPM

2012 - 2016 -  Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine, Philadelphia, PA  Doctor of Podiatric Medicine

2008 - 2012 - University of Scranton, Scranton, PA  Bachelor of Arts and Science, Cum LaudeBiology Major

Prerna Poojary-Mazzotta_MCM-0137.jpg
Prerna Poojary-Mazzotta_MCM-0137.jpg


University of Florida

Prerna Poojary-Mazzotta joined the University of Florida on February 2018. Poojary-Mazzotta graduated in 2010 from L.T. Medical College in India, with a degree in Occupational Therapy, and earned a Masters in Rehabilitation Sciences, with a concentration in Occupational Therapy, from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. In 2016, she completed her Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Next Poojary-Mazzotta conducted research, primarily in nursing homes, and also worked at an in-patient rehabilitation center while continuing didactic work for the Ph.D. program. In 2015, Poojary-Mazzotta accepted a position as an Instructor at the University of Saint Augustine for Health Sciences. She continued conducting her Ph.D. research work while she taught at the university and started practicing as a home health therapist. Poojary-Mazzotta has a total of four certifications:  in wound care (2016), lymphedema therapy (2016), oncology & lymphedema management (2017) and in gerontology, with a specialization in mental health (2016). Her research interests include conducting qualitative and quantitative research in the fields of Assistive Technology, Online Education, Blended Learning, Lymphedema and Patient Care Outcomes.


Family Foot & Leg Dr. Powers.jpg

Dr. Jake R. Powers, DPM

Family Foot & Leg Center

2018 - 2019 - Chief Resident - DVA - Maryland Health Care System/Sinai Hospital of Baltimore/RIAO  (PMSR-RRA)

2016 - 2018 - Resident - DVA - Maryland Health Care System/Sinai Hospital of Baltimore/RIAO (PMSR-RRA)

Affiliated Institutions: Sinai/Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics, Baltimore VA Medical Center, University of Maryland Medical Center, DC VA medical Center, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center, Malcolm Grow Medical Center, Martinsburg VA Medical Center.

Training Includes: Foot and Ankle Surgery, Advanced wound care/limb salvage, Charcot Reconstruction, External Fixation, Flaps, Sports Medicine and Trauma, Pediatric deformities including club foot.

Professional Interests:  Foot and Ankle Surgery, Sports Medicine and Wound Care.



Session: An Integrative Approach To Managing Diabetes 

Peggy Sealfon is a personal development coach, author, motivational speaker and an internationally-recognized expert on dealing with stress and anxiety. Sealfon effectively coaches clients (and corporate groups) in her IntegratedLifePlan.com, a customized blend of Western and Eastern traditions. Her fast-track, cutting-edge system improves performance and helps create a balanced, productive, happy and healthful life. She is also the author of the best-selling book Escape From Anxiety-Supercharge Your Life With Powerful Strategies From A to Z.  Sealfon founded Florida’s Paradise Coast Wellness Alliance and co-founded the online hub for health and wellness at BeWellinParadise.com. Her website is PeggySealfon.com.




University of Florida

Marci Schneider, MHS, OTR/L is a pediatric occupational therapist. She has dedicated her 20+ years career to providing school-based occupational therapy services to children and youth, ranging from age 3 through 22, throughout North Central Florida. She earned a Masters of Health Science and is presently a doctoral candidate in the Rehabilitation Science Ph.D. Program at the University of Florida. Her current research is focused on establishing grip strength procedures and norms in children ages 5-15, as well as the relationship between grip strength and children’s health status with a primary emphasis on obesity and the metabolic syndrome. She has presented her work at the Florida Occupational Therapy Association's (FOTA) Annual Conference and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Annual Conference and Expo.


Diana Sherifali photoweb.jpg


McMaster University

Diana Sherifali, RN, Ph.D., CDE, is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  Sherifall is also an Associate Scientist at the Population Health Research Institute and a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Diabetes Care and Research Program at Hamilton Health Sciences. Sherifali is also the Co-Director of the McMaster Evidence Review and Synthesis Team, which supported the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and, more recently, Diabetes Canada. Sherifali's research interests include identifying and implementing innovative approaches, such as coaching, synthesis and guidelines and testing novel approaches to optimize patients’ participation in diabetes care.