All of us at WellStart bring diverse passion and experience to one unified mission: Devoting our talents to ending the chronic disease epidemic and boosting quality of life for people everywhere.
Olivia Kelly, MPH, began her lifelong expedition in healthcare by starting a fitness training business in her undergrad days at UCLA, where she earned her bachelor's degree in psychology.
After gigs teaching surfing on Maui and writing for the Rough Guides, her father informed her that she would have to go indoors to earn a living. A stint working in the first dot com boom for an early internet service provider got her thinking about how to harness social networks and mass communication to inspire healthier lifestyles.
Her writing and communications background led her to a communications director and speechwriter role with a Los Angeles city council member, whom she helped position for a subsequent role as U.S. Congresswoman. It was her experience in the council deputy job that inspired Olivia to study health policy. After graduating from UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health in 2013, in the department of Health Policy and Management, Olivia worked at UCLA’s Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, spearheading an impact investing project focused on improving population health throughout the lifecourse.
An idea Olivia first developed in one of her MPH courses just wouldn't go away, and, a few iterations later, is what has now become WellStart Health.
Olivia is perpetually excited about sharing the innumerable benefits of a healthy lifestyle with others. Her favorite vegetable is eggplant – yes, a nightshade -- and she loves spending time with her family, running, surfing, skiing, camping, traveling, and cleaning up cereal spills, along with an affinity for Latin American culture.
Olivia Kelly, MPH CEO
Howard Jacobson, PhD is Chief Behavioral Science Officer at WellStart Health. He is contributing author to Whole, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and Proteinaholic, by Garth Davis, MD, and the host of the Plant Yourself Podcast.
As co-founder of WellStart Health, Howard guides clients to adopt and maintain lifestyle and dietary habits in alignment with their health goals and life values. Howard has been coaching high performers since 2001. He sits on the advisory board of the International Coach Certification Alliance, and is a certified in Peter Bregman’s QUICC Coaching methodology, BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits, and Glenn Livingston’s Never Binge Again system. He is a visiting scholar at Duke University’s Institute for Advanced Hindsight.
Howard is also a digital marketing strategist. The author of Google AdWords For Dummies, he has consulted and taught marketing strategy in the US, Europe, and South Africa. He is a columnist for Fast Company and The Huffington Post, and has contributed to Harvard Business Review. Howard earned his MPH and PhD in Health Studies from Temple University, and his BA from Princeton University.
Howard lives on an ecological farm in rural North Carolina, where he writes, gardens, plays Ultimate Frisbee, runs ultra marathons, and practices Russian Martial Arts. Howard’s goals include shaking up healthcare, sharing how delicious and joyful a healthy life can be, save the planet, and reintroducing people to their most authentic, bipedal, plant-eating, antifragile, best selves. And maybe someday not finish last at the Leadville Marathon.
Howard Jacobson, PhD Chief of Behavioral Science
A passionate advocate for eating plants and running, Josh LaJaunie has been featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America, People magazine, Runner’s World magazine, and the Rich Roll Podcast.
Josh grew up in Thibodaux, LA, and proudly embraced all aspects of his culture: hunting, fishing, playing high school football, rooting for the Saints, and eating and drinking to excess. In his early 30s, Josh tipped the scales at well over 400 pounds. As more and more friends and family members suffered and died too young from chronic diseases caused by their diet and lifestyle, Josh woke up and decided to turn his life around.
Through pragmatic experiments, Josh explored weightlifting, Atkins, paleo, and many other approaches to weight loss. When he began running, the first hundred pounds melted away like magic. When he adopted a whole food, plant-based diet, the second hundred disappeared. At under 200 pounds, Josh discovered a passion and talent for running, one that led him to appear on the cover of Runner’s World magazine in December, 2016.
As his family, friends, and wider community observed the stunning changes in Josh, he became an accidental guide and mentor to others who wanted to emulate his success. His immediate family has lost over a thousand pounds. The secret Facebook group that Josh co-founded, the Missing Chins Run Club, includes men from all over the world who are losing hundreds of pounds, reversing their diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and finding joy through living a healthy lifestyle.
At WellStart Health, Josh spends most of his waking moments pounding the drum of plants and running as a way to achieve a natural, non-diseased, authentic human existence; and swinging a giant sledge hammer at the current health paradigm that ignores lifestyle and simply manages disease once it arises. He teaches, coaches, and promotes the concept that we can take the reins of our health destiny.
Josh LaJaunie Chief Brand Ambassador
Dr. Stancic is founder and owner of Stancic Health & Wellness, LLC where she is a board certified Lifestyle Medicine physician.
She received her M.D. degree from New Jersey Medical School in 1993, and is board-certified in Infectious Diseases. For a near decade she served as Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Hudson Valley Veterans Administration Hospital in New York. She was later recruited by Roche to conduct clinical studies while maintaining a clinical practice at the Bronx VA Hospital in New York city. She has authored several research papers in peer-reviewed journals. She serves as Mentor to the Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group at Rutgers, New Jersey Medical School in Newark, NJ.
Dr. Stancic’s interest in Lifestyle Medicine evolved from her 20 plus year battle with multiple sclerosis, and experience as a practicing physician over more than two decades.
She has been an invited author for Forks Over Knives, and the Center for Nutrition Studies, and has been interviewed on national podcasts, radio and television shows. She was the subject of a cover story in the August 20, 2015 issue of Dirt Magazine, and was named one of the “17 People to Watch in Health in 2015” in the January issue of 201 Magazine. She has served as keynote speaker on a national stage, and has been an invited speaker at conferences including Plant Stock, Plant Based Prevention of Disease, The American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Prevention and Reversal of Heart Disease in Women, International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine, and the International Plant-based Nutrition Healthcare Conference.
She is currently producing a documentary film, code blue: redefining American medicine, which will spotlight the practice of Lifestyle Medicine to prevent, treat, and reverse chronic illnesses. code blue is planned for release in early 2019.
Saray Stancic, MD Chief Medical Officer
Anthony Dissen, MA, RDN, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in community and public health, plant-based nutrition, and holistic and integrative healthcare modalities. Working in the field of community nutrition and health education since 2005, Anthony is currently an Instructor of Health Sciences at Stockton University and an Integrative Dietitian at CentraState Medical Center.
He graduated from Rutgers University with a BS in Dietetics, completing his Supervised Clinical Practice in Dietetics from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 2009. Anthony also holds a Masters in Holistic Health Studies from Georgian Court University, and is currently completing a Master of Public Health Degree with a concentration in Public Health Nutrition. He worked as the Outpatient and Community Education Dietitian for University Medical Center of Princeton, and was the Lead Educator and Chef for the Whole Foods Market Wellness Club in Princeton.
Anthony Dissen, MA, RDN VP of Nutrition
John is a seasoned designer, programmer and entrepreneur. His expertise is in software development for startups. After completing General Assembly’s backend web development program in 2014, he’s co-founded and developed several successful startups. He’s also helped many existing business bring their businesses online through app and platform development.
When he’s not writing code you can find John jogging or dabbling in photography.
John Salzarulo Technology
Board & Advisors
Fred Toney CEO Launchpad Digital Health
Andrew Freeman MD, FACC FACP Department of Cardiology, National Jewish Health
Brian T. Kelly, MBA Entrepreneur, Health Care COO
Lindsey Mcilvena, MD, MPH Lifestyle Medicine Physician
Leah Vriesman sPhD, MHA, MBA Associate Adjunct Professor UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
Jenn Walsh Benefits Expert & Consultant
Bojana Jankovic Weatherly, MD, MSc Advisor
John Carew Experienced healthcare CEO Business Operations Expert