The Beyond Celiac Team
At Beyond Celiac, we work day in and day out to ensure that people with celiac disease can live life to the fullest and eat without fear. We envision a world without celiac disease and work to inspire hope, accelerate research and forge the pathways to a cure. Meet our team!
Alice Bast, CEO
Alice Bast’s personal experience with celiac disease ignited her passion to help the estimated three million Americans suffering from the disease receive a prompt and accurate diagnosis.
Alice reflects that much has changed in the past 10 years. “We began with a simple goal: to raise awareness of celiac disease so people would stop suffering needlessly. Since then, we have evolved to meet new challenges and unmet needs, and expanded our mission not only to help people get diagnosed, but also make it possible to live a full and healthy life after that diagnosis.” This means living life to the fullest—to eat without fear, travel without fear, live without fear.
Alice is widely regarded as a celiac disease expert and has been a keynote speaker at major medical and allied health industry events, plus culinary and foodservice industry conferences. She has presented at the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Annual Meeting, (2010) Healthy Foods Conference (2008), International Pizza Expo (2011), Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Wellness Conference (2011, 2013), the School Nutrition Association (2013) and the Natural Products Expo East (2008, 2009) and Expo West (2011) shows. She was a featured presenter at medical conferences hosted by St. Barnabas Health Care System (2009), The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013), and Paoli Hospital (2011), along with speaking regularly to healthcare professionals at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Jefferson University Hospital.
Alice chaired a panel presentation at the 14th International Coeliac Disease Symposium held in Oslo, Norway. An abstract from the Beyond Celiac study, “The Use of Disease Symptoms Checklist in Self-Initiated Diagnoses of Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity,” was accepted to the 2012 International Meeting on Coeliac Disease, Mastering the Coeliac Condition: From Medicine to Social Sciences and Food Technology, where Alice presented the abstract in a poster session. In 2013, Beyond Celiac presented two research posters at the International Celiac Disease Symposium held at the University of Chicago.
Alice also led the autoimmune roundtable at Partnering for Cures of FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute that is bringing together the best and brightest to find a cure. Alice was invited by the American Gastroenterological Association to participate in a meeting aimed at providing recommendations to the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), an entity authorized by Congress via the Affordable Care Act.
Alice and Beyond Celiac have supported research throughout the organization’s 10-year history. In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awarded Beyond Celiac the first-ever grant to conduct research in the field of gluten in medications, an area that Beyond Celiac has long championed.
Alice’s story has been featured in Good Housekeeping Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, US News & World Report, and on nationally televised programs such as ABC’s “The View” and CNN. Among her accomplishments, Alice co-authored an article titled “Celiac Disease and Reproductive Health Issues,” which was published in the Journal of Practical Gastroenterology. She was the Principal Investigator on an NIH funded grant titled, “Novel Educational Aids for Celiac Disease.” Alice was also awarded the 90th Annual Philadelphia Award in May 2011, one of the city’s most prestigious honors given each year to a citizen who has acted and served on behalf of the best interests of the community. And, she has been awarded the SmartCEO Brava Award recognizing exceptional women leaders in the Greater Philadelphia community.
In May 2011, Alice was awarded the 90th annual Philadelphia Award, one of the city’s most prestigious honors given each year to a citizen who has acted and served on behalf of the best interests of the community. Alice works out of the Ambler, PA office. Email Alice Bast.
Kate Avery, Director of Research and Patient Engagement
Kate joined Beyond Celiac in March 2017. As Director of Research and Patient Engagement, Kate supports and engages patients and caregivers who share their experiences and stories with us in pursuit of increased diagnosis and improved disease management and treatment. She has worked on multiple qualitative and quantitative research projects focused on understanding the diagnostic and disease management experience and has long been interested in health communications and the patient journey. Kate holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Notre Dame and an MPH in Health Behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kate works in the Ambler, PA office. Email Kate Avery.
Claire Baker, Director of Communications and New Media
Claire joined the Beyond Celiac staff in July 2014 with 20 years of non-profit management experience in Philadelphia. Diagnosed with celiac disease in 2010, she sought to improve the lives of others who need to live gluten-free through her blog, gluten-free product and restaurant reviews, social media presence, and publications. Prior to joining Beyond Celiac, Claire served as Director of Gardening Programs for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS). She managed the PHS City Harvest program and led community engagement and greening teams focused on gardening education, parks revitalization, youth environmental stewardship, Pop Up Gardens and more. Claire formerly served as Director of Operations and Interim Executive Director of the Metropolitan AIDS Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA), Executive Director of the William Way LGBT Community Center, and Manager of Off-Air Civic Engagement Activities and Events for WHYY. Claire works out of the Ambler, PA office. Email Claire Baker.
Jackson Buttery, Digital Content Coordinator
Jackson Buttery joined Beyond Celiac in March 2019. As a member of the communications team, he works to promote the efforts of Beyond Celiac and support the celiac disease community via social media, our website content and other digital mediums. Prior to joining Beyond Celiac, Jackson worked for Indian Orchards in Media, PA and the National Park Service in Georgia. Diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002, he broke five bones in the year before his diagnosis, including the same arm twice. He is also a Type 1 Diabetic. Jackson received a BA in English and German from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. Jackson works out of the Ambler, PA office. Email Jackson Buttery.
Maya Cheeks, Administration Assistant for Development
Maya joined the Beyond Celiac team in November 2018, assisting in the development department. She developed her passion for event planning while in college as a volunteer for the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities in Cape May, New Jersey. There she assisted in several fundraisers. Maya also volunteered for many years with a nonprofit organization that focused on services for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Maya received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology while attending Cabrini College (University). She later attended the University of Hartford where she earned a Master of Science degree in Organizational Psychology. Maya works out of the Central NJ area. Email Maya Cheeks.
Nancy Ginter, Director of Administration
Nancy Ginter joined Beyond Celiac in June of 2004 after working extensively for AT&T leading a global sales team focused on the needs of multi-national corporations. At Beyond Celiac, Nancy works across departmental lines to assist in operational matters along with programming, Philadelphia area events, contracts and sponsorship. Nancy also is responsible for coordinating efforts with the Beyond Celiac Board of Directors and Business Advisory Council, contributing to Beyond Celiac publications and working on Beyond Celiac programs for raising awareness. Nancy works out of the Ambler, PA office. Email Nancy Ginter.
Jilian Hunt, Fundraising Field Manager
Jilian joined the Beyond Celiac team in February of 2018. She is the mother of a young daughter with celiac disease and suspects that she too has the disease. Once her daughter was diagnosed, Jilian’s passion for raising awareness and funds for celiac disease emerged. She was the Chair of the inaugural Step Beyond Celiac KC5K, the first event of its kind for Beyond Celiac that has paved the way for big dreams to replicate similar events across the country. Working with Beyond Celiac allows her to advocate for a cause that she is extremely passionate about as well as connect with others across the country. Jilian works out of the Kansas City area. Email Jilian Hunt.
Maria Luci, Assistant Director of Digital Media
As an assistant director on the Beyond Celiac communications team, Maria works to provide the celiac disease community with the latest news and research concerning celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders. Through online content, social media, emails and newsletters, Maria engages with the Beyond Celiac community, raising awareness and building an informed audience. Having been through her own celiac testing journey, Maria understands the challenges and frustration involved in obtaining an accurate diagnosis. Prior to joining Beyond Celiac, Maria became passionate about helping others take charge of their health through her work as a writer and editor at Rodale. Maria holds a BS in Mass Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University, where one of her proudest achievements included being a team leader for CreateAThon @VCU, a program where students deliver pro-bono marketing materials to area nonprofits. Maria works out of the Ambler, PA office. Email Maria Luci.
Beckee Moreland, GREAT Kitchens Consultant
Beckee Moreland is a recognized gluten-free market expert with Beyond Celiac and has worked as a gluten-free consultant for companies in the food industry since 2008. She currently manages the Beyond Celiac Gluten-Free Resource Education and Awareness Training (GREAT) Foodservice programs, which are ADA and ACF accredited training programs for foodservice professionals and dietitians. Beckee also heads the GREAT Business Association, which promotes networking and best practices for safety and transparency in gluten-free food preparation and manufacturing. Beckee’s restaurant industry experience dates back over ten years. In 1992, she and her husband opened Sportscaster’s Bar & Grill in Lincoln, NE, which they currently own and operate. Beckee holds a Bachelor of Science, Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Born and raised in Omaha, NE, she currently resides in Lincoln, NE, with her husband Dave and son Cole. Email Beckee Moreland.
Amy Ratner, Medical and Science News Analyst
Amy Ratner joined Beyond Celiac in July 2016 as Medical and Science News Analyst. She has extensive experience reporting on and writing about celiac disease. She was editor-in-chief, associate editor and contributing editor for 23 years at Gluten-Free Living magazine, where her work touched on all topics related to celiac disease, including lifestyle, diet, nutrition, and medical and research developments. When Amy’s daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease as a toddler 24 years ago, she was set on a path that combined her commitment to improving life for those with celiac disease with her journalism training. She holds of Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the Pennsylvania State University and was an award-winning newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania before working in alumni relations for Goucher College in Baltimore and in communications for the Service Employees International Union in Washington, D.C. Her writing about celiac disease has also appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Baby Talk magazine, Allergic Living and other publications. Amy lives in Baltimore with her husband, Andrew, and near her grown children, Alexander, Amanda and Austin. (Yes, everyone in the family has a name that starts with A, including her new daughter-in-law, Anna.) Email Amy Ratner.
Marie Robert, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Marie Robert is a nationally recognized gastrointestinal (GI) liver and pancreatic surgical pathologist with 25 years of experience in clinical diagnosis, teaching and collaborative scientific endeavors across a wide spectrum of diseases, including inflammatory and neoplastic conditions of the GI tract.
Dr. Robert served for 10 years as the Director of the Program in Gastrointestinal Pathology and Director of the Fellowship in Gastrointestinal Pathology at Yale University. She is an invited author of gastroenterology guidelines for use in practice for the American Gastroenterology Association, North American Society for the Study of Celiac Disease (NASSCD), and the Rodger Haggitt Gastrointestinal Pathology Society.
Dr. Robert began studying celiac disease during her residency training at UCLA, performing a study of longitudinal biopsy findings in refractory celiac patients. She is the lead author on the recently published Statement on Best Practices in the Use of Pathology as a Diagnostic Tool for Celiac Disease: A Guide for Clinicians and Pathologists in the American Journal of Surgical Pathology. She is also the senior investigator on a study of the pitfalls of testing biopsies in the evaluation of refractory celiac disease. Additional publications on celiac disease include the chapter on inflammatory conditions of the small intestine in the Odze, Goldblum and Crawford (eds) textbook “Surgical Pathology of the Gastrointestinal Tract, Liver, Biliary Tract and Pancreas,” considered the definitive text in GI surgical pathology worldwide. Currently, Dr. Robert leads a multinational study of more than 15 institutions on causes for and findings in repeat duodenal biopsies in celiac disease patients.
In addition to serving as the Beyond Celiac CSO, Dr. Robert is also Professor of Pathology and Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Robert is part of an international consortium of pathologists and gastroenterologists defining biopsy findings in early histologic stages of celiac disease. She is a frequently invited speaker on celiac disease nationally and internationally. Email Marie Robert.
Mary Tackett, Director of Donor Relations
As Director of Donor Relations, Mary handles a wide range of development functions, including communications and special events. She joined Beyond Celiac in April 2016 shortly after the organization’s rebranding and shift in focus to accelerate research. Previously, Mary worked as a clinical medical librarian after completing a post-graduate fellowship with the National Library Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. She was introduced to development work through community outreach work in Chester County while raising her now college-aged children. She holds a BA in English from Cornell University and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Maryland. Mary works out of the Ambler, PA office. Email Mary Tackett.