Taking Steps Together Program: Staff

Roman Gonzalez, CHW Sr.

Roman Gonzalez is a Community Health working for Hennepin County Medical Center at the Richfield Clinic and he also speaks Spanish. His role as a CHW is to provide care coordination for patients when they have a medical condition he also provides them with information for services in the community when they need them like food shelves, nonprofit agencies and more. He has been trained to be a facilitator to provide classes for the Diabetes Prevention Program. This is a program that helps patients who are at risk for Diabetes as a chronic condition. The classes are available in Spanish and English languages. He has also been trained to be a facilitator for the Taking Steps Together Program that is provided in Spanish and English languages. This is a program that teaches kids and their families to eat healthier and be physically active to maintain good health for their future.

John Anderson, MD

John Anderson Photo

Dr. John Anderson grew up in Minneapolis, graduated from Macalester College with a biology degree, and completed medical school at the University of California, San Francisco. He was a pediatric resident at the University of Minnesota where he also served for a year as chief pediatric resident. He is currently a pediatrician in general practice at HCMC, seeing patients at both the downtown and Richfield clinics.

When he saw increasing numbers of young patients who were either living with obesity or seemed headed in that direction, John and his colleagues talked about how they could work to reverse or prevent this problem. They wanted a way to involve children and their families in creating their own solutions for healthy living. That is when he became involved with the Taking Steps Together program and helped to start the Windom class.

The outdoors, especially hiking, canoeing and camping has always been a source of fun and joy for John. He enjoys running and feels lucky to live in the Twin Cities, one of the best urban running spots in the country. John and his wife live in St. Paul with their sons Porter and Miles, and dog Lincoln.

Diana Cutts, MD

Dr. Diana Cutts TST Photo

Dr. Cutts graduated from the University of Illinois. She completed her residency training in pediatrics at Boston University and Harvard University. She has been involved with clinical care, teaching, and research for over twenty years in the Twin Cities. Her work on childhood hunger and related adverse outcomes have been published and provided testimony at state and national congressional hearings.

Dr. Cutts is the Assistant Chief of Pediatrics at Hennepin County Medical Center and directs the Children's Growth and Nutrition Program. She is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Also a mom, Dr. Cutts benefits from continuous in-the-trenches training at the hands of her four children.

Laurie Hanson, Masters in Nutritional Science, RD

When asked about her involvement in Taking Steps Together, Laurie said, “I have been involved since the beginning, about five years ago. It's been fun to see how it has grown over the years!”

Laurie Hansen Photo

At HCMC, Laurie works with a variety of patients from premature infants to teens. She really enjoys working with kids and teenagers. She especially enjoys working with families.

Laurie’s favorite part of TST is trying new things. She loves introducing kids and teens to the new foods we cook in class and seeing how surprised they are that they like them (like green smoothies).

Laurie loves walking her dog, doing yoga, gardening and reading great books. Laurie has two children, a 25-year-old daughter (pictured here) and a 22-year-old son. Laurie lives in Rockford, west of Twin Cities, with her dog, Teddy.

Patty Barland, RD

Patty grew up in Minneapolis and graduated from Regina High School and from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Clinical Nutrition. With over 25 years of service to HCMC, she is the longest-serving employee on the TST Team. During that time, Patty has seen an increased number of young patients living with obesity or headed in that direction.

Patty Barland Photo

Patty and her colleagues at the Richfield Clinic discussed ways to prevent or reverse the increase in childhood obesity. They thought the TST program at HCMC-downtown presented a successful model to emulate. They partnered with TST program staff and the Windom Community Center and thus a second TST program was born. Patty also works in diabetes education and as a lactation consultant.

Patty’s philosophy for a healthy life is simple: Spend less time in front of the television. Spend more time in the kitchen. Make preparing real food fun. She has helped make that a guiding principle for all of the TST programs.

The outdoors, especially gardening, biking, running and beekeeping are Patty’s favorite ways to spend time with her family and enjoy nature. If you visit the Huerta del Eden (TST-Family Community Garden) you might see Patty and her husband working on the adjacent plot.

Pa Xiong, CHW Sr.

Mariela Ardemagni-Tollin, CHW Sr.

Originally from Uruguay, in South America, Mariela came to MN in 2001, and has been working for HCMC for over 13 years. Mariela started working as a Community Health Worker in 2010, providing care coordination services to patients, and among other things, encouraging them to adopt healthy lifestyles and eating habits.

Currently, Mariela supports TST, with enrollment, documentation and tools to ensure that the TST staff has all the materials needed for the delivery of the program. One of Mariela’s favorite activities is to garden at her house in Blaine, a northeast suburb of Minneapolis.

Kristen Godfrey Walters, Program Manager, Healthcare Home