​SouthEast VSG

​​​​​2019 Chattanooga Conference Speakers

​​​​​​​​​​Paula Rubin-Jones-Emcee, Television Personality from My 600 lb Life

Paula R Jones is a television personality who has appeared on TLC's My 600 lb Life.  She began her journey weighing close to 600 pounds and in less than two years she managed to peel away over half of her body weight.  In the past 4 years thousands have followed her transformation as she uncovered a world of information, not just on nutrition and maintaining a healthy and fit life but she has found a way to defeat bingeing and emotional eating as well.  Paula is a widow who lost her husband to obesity and has dedicated her life to defeating this horrible disease.l  She is truly a champion and she has been referred to as encouraging a motivational force and a shining example of what can be done in the face of what seemed to be impossiible.. 

Dr. Daniel Cronk, MD

​​​​A native of Nebraska, Dr. Cronk obtained his undergraduate degree in Chemistry and Spanish from Texas Christian University, followed by his medical degree with High Distinction from the University of Nebraska.  After graduation from medical school, Dr. Cronk spent 11 years in active service in the United States Army.  This included general surgery training at the busiest military bariatric hospital, Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, WA.  After completion of surgical residency, Dr. Cronk then spent 5 years at Ft. Campbell, KY, performing bariatric and general surgery, and deploying for 3 tours to Afghanistan.  Upon completion of his military service obligation, Dr. Cronk then went into bariatric surgical practice in Omaha, NE, and obtained experience in duodenal switch and revision surgery under one of the most well-known duodenal switch surgeons in the country.  Since 2017, Dr. Cronk has now been practicing as a bariatric surgeon at Erlanger Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, in Chattanooga.  Dr. Cronk has extensive experience in sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, duodenal switch, and revision surgery.  His favorite part of practicing bariatric surgery is seeing the changes his patients are able to make in their health and quality of life after surgery.

Anisa Grantham, LPC, MAC

Anisa Grantham, LPC, NCAC, is the owner of Rincon Recovery Resources, LLC an out-patient counseling center specializing in substance abuse, emotional wellness, and food addiction. Anisa attended GA Southern University; she holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology (1994) and Master of Education degree (1997) emphasis-Community Counseling.  She has worked in the addiction field since 1990.   In addition to her private practice, she is the Bariatric Coordinator for Memorial Health Bariatrics in Savannah, GA- providing pre/post-operative psychotherapy and educational programs.  Anisa is a successful weight loss surgery patient (RNY-2002) and became a Licensed Bariatric Educator/Coach in 2009.  She is a featured story in the New York Best Seller (3rd edition) “Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients”, (Cook, C.M). Anisa has been the recipient of Bariatric Support Center International “Licensee of the Year” Award 2010-2015.  She is an active member of GACA, NAADAC, ASMBS, and LPCA. She resides in Rincon GA with her husband Wayne and their rescue dog, Snicker.


John Ross, Cycle Fitness Instructor  

​The year 2008 found John Ross weighing over 300 pounds with high blood pressure and having to be admitted to the Emergency Room because he thought he was having a stroke. This was a wakeup call that made his realize life was a precious opportunity not to be wasted. After much research and discussions with his family physician he opted to have the Gastric Bypass surgery in 2015. His life has not been the same since he made that life saving and life changing decision.  His physical transformation after losing 136 pounds has been remarkable and continues to astound many professionals in the bariatric community because he shows very few physical signs of ever being overweight. He used his tool along with diet and exercise to help him achieve his tremendous success in every aspect of his life.  John currently works in retail management but was recently certified as a Cycle Fitness Instructor. He’s been featured in advertisement for his surgeon and WellStar Health System. He continues to inspire and help others through numerous social media groups as well as speaking in his community.

Dawn Hurlebaus is an advocate for women on their weight loss journey, She had bariatric surgery June 30, 2016, purchased the shapewear company Slimpressions 5 months later, and is connected on a very personal level with the weight loss community. Having lost over 125 pounds and surviving many life challenges, she is often found motivating women across the globe and attending their support group meetings and conferences. Dawn is married and has been with her spouse for 30 years, and has 3 adopted children. In her free time, she is extremely active at church, helps to raise funds to assist refugees, disabled veterans, and the hungry and homeless, plus she still finds time to help coach her daughter’s basketball team and volunteer at their school.

Dawn Hurlebaus has a very diverse background in industries such as Retail, Information Technology, Cybersecurity and Education. She has been an Executive for over 30 years and has been recognized across North America by top Information Technology Partners winning National awards on a consistent basis for Sales, Marketing, Quality of Excellence, Director Awards and Partner of the Year Awards.

Renora Orr, Merit Financial Advisor
​Renora Orr began her career with Charles Schwab, Edward Jones, and Allegiance Retirement Solutions before joining Merit Financial Advisors. Renora holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and has over 14 years of experience in the financial industry. Her current licenses are a Series 7, 63, and 24 registrations through LPL Financial and a Series 65 through Merit Financial Group.

She believes in using comprehensive financial planning so that each client can understand and overcome the current trends in retirement planning to help them with their income during the retirement years. Renora enjoys the process and finding the strategies for every client need, in order to pursue their retirement goals.

In her spare time, she enjoys reading and writes a blog for parents of children with learning disabilities and autism. She also partners with the non-profit, WIFE.org as a Divorce Workshop Leader where she promotes financial literacy for women going through a divorce. She has been married for 17 years and has an 11-year old son. Renora also serves as an officer for a local chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

Dr. Cindy M Mccord, MD, is a Plastic And Reconstructive Surgery specialist in Chattanooga, Tennessee and is a partner at Associates in Plastic Surgery. She attended and graduated from medical school at St. George University School of Medicine, and completed her plastic surgery training at the Medical University of South Carolina. She was previously practicing in Gadsden, Alabama and has over 14 years of diverse experience, especially in Plastic And Reconstructive Surgery. Her personality, training, and skill set will mesh well with our high standards of patient care and reputation in the Southeast for exceptional cosmetic surgery results.  

Bill Streetman, A writer/blogger and frequent speaker at weight loss conferences
Bill's favorite topic is speaking on living healthfully after gastric bypass. Following his surgery in Oct. 2010, he successfully lost over 200 pounds, and has kept it off. When Bill's journey to a healthier life began he weighed 404 pounds. He could no longer participate in his favorite activities, such as biking, snow skiing, or soccer. On October 4, 2010, he had gastric bypass surgery at St. John’s Weight Loss Center of Excellence in Madison Heights, Michigan. One year later, on October 3, 2011, he weighed 202 pounds – exactly half his former weight. He began training for a 500-mile bike ride and ran his first 5k in 10 years. He carefully managed his diet and nutritional needs, using his gastric bypass tool to support his efforts. Beyond losing the weight, Bill discovered a “new life.” His rebirth has changed his perspective on life, bringing him increased energy levels and a greater ability to focus on what truly matters. In 2016 Bill founded the Tour of Hope – an annual bike ride that raises awareness of obesity and funds for weight loss surgery grants. In 2017 he was awarded the Male BariAthlete ® of the Year Award. In 2017 he was elected to the WLSFA Board of Directors in 2017 and continue to serve on the BOD. To learn more, visit Bill's blog site, https://www.whs-newlife.com.

Ursula Minor, Certified Zumba Instructor
Ursula admits that she has struggled with her weight all her life.  She has always been very active and enjoyed going to the gym, walking and other activities.  She has lost many pounds over the years, only to gain them back with interest.  It became serious however when she began having issues with her blood pressure and chronic swelling of her ankles and feet.  As a correctional officer it was becoming difficult to effectively do her job at 5’3” and over 250 lbs. She decided as a mother and now grandparent that she wanted to live a long healthy life and decided it was time to investigate some weight loss options. 

In August 2015 after much research decided to have the Vertical Gastric Sleeve (VSG) done in Mexico. This decision proved to be one of the best choices in her life. This weight loss procedure literally gave her the life she always dreamed of. Now with a lifestyle of heathier food choices and routine physical activity, to include running and strength training, she has been able to maintain a healthy weight.
Ursula believes exercise has to fun, so she began taking Zumba classes at the local wellness center, when the instructor left suddenly she decided to step up to the plate and become a licensed Zumba instructor.  Now she is teaching Zumba at her local YMCA not only doing something she enjoys but also sharing wellness with others while holding herself accountable to her own fitness goals. She is looking to broadening her skillset and teach a variety of classes.

Michelle Williams, Certified Zumba Instructor
Michelle Williams was never a small person. She at one time weighed 361 pounds and developed several co-morbidities over the years. She had the Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch in 2007. In 2009, she received a Zumba Fitness Xbox game for Christmas and was hooked. Michelle acquired her Zumba Basic & Gold licenses in 2016, is the owner/instructor of Michelle's Fun Fitness and teaches a gospel zumba class at Cross Culture Church, both in the Metro Atlanta. Michelle has opened several parades, participated at zumbathons,  fitness events, and is also a guest instructor for SAMA Bariatrics in Monroe Ga. Her goal is to disguise the ‘required’ exercises that we need to tone our bodies underneath the fun of a dance workout routine.

McElhiney, Linda F, McElhiney, PharmD, MSP, RPh, FIACP,  FASHP, FACA, DPLA
Compounding Pharmacist
Dr. McElhiney had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy on 09/01/2015.  She has lost 120 pounds, and has maintained her goal weight. She attributes her success to following the bariatric team’s instructions, tracking, exercise, weighing/measuring her food, and regularly attending bariatric support group meetings. She earned her B.S. in Pharmacy from Purdue University in 1984 . While working full-time at IU Health, Dr. McElhiney earned a Pharm.D. from the University of Florida through the Working Professionals Pharm.D. (WPPD) program in 2002. In 2014, she earned her Masters from the University of Florida Master in Pharmaceutical Policies and Outcomes.

Dr. McElhiney is now educating pharmacists, physicians, other healthcare professionals, and patients about bariatrics and how to modify drug therapies to meet the specific needs of bariatric patients.

Rebecca Carney is an Atlanta-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and currently working in the field of bariatrics.  She uses a balanced approach to nutrition, working alongside patients to find balance in their lives. Becky graduated with a bachelors degree from Central Michigan University and completed a Dietetic Internship through Southern Regional Medical Center. After becoming a Registered Dietitian, Becky moved to California to work at a weight loss camp and then moved back to Atlanta to continue working with bariatric patients.  When Becky is not working, she loves to create fun recipes, explore the outdoors and travel. 

​Sara Payne, Owner & Mandy Hickman, General Manager-Cooking Demo, We are a meal prep delivery service. It is our belief that nutrition is the foundation of health and that eating clean doesn’t need to be a sacrifice. We realize there is an insatiable demand for convenient, healthy food and we strive to make great tasting meals that fit into any lifestyle. Whether you are looking for a quick and delicious meal, need some advice on how to hit a goal, or just want support on your journey to improve your health, we are here to support you! Convenience is a high priority as we pride ourselves on going above and beyond the “norm” to make life easier for our customers! We do the shopping, cooking, and cleaning... all you do is heat and enjoy!!

Carolyn A Hampton
Carolyn is originally from the city of Binghamton in upstate NY.. She spent over 40 years working for IBM Corporation but retired in 2014.  She's lived and worked in Charlotte, NC, Tampa, Fl and currently resides in Atlanta Georgia.  She's mother to Karissa who is a professional figure skating coach and adult competitor who won the 2018 Masters Intermediate-Novice Ladies Championship in Boston, Massachusetts.  Carolyn had gastric sleeve surgery in October 2013 and lost over 141 pounds.  Although retired from corporate america she has not retired from life.  Carolyn is currently an Ambassador for the Medtronic Corporation (medical implants) as well as PCORI (Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute). She is on the Board for the IBM Quarter Century Club and her local HOA. Carolyn
is fun loving and enjoys warm weather, traveling to new places, dancing, is an avid Steeler girl (loves Sports) all while making time to visit and assist family in various parts of the country.

Andrew Stewart, Television Personality from Family by the Ton Television Show
Drew Stewart is an American actor/ motivational speaker.  Stewart made his television debut in 2018 on the TLC network documentary “Family By The Ton”, which showcased Drew alongside his family the Andersons.  Drew is known for his remarkable accomplishment of losing 350 pounds during his weight loss journey, earning him the name the “Fat Ambassador”. Drew can be seen on TLC’s “Family By The Ton” Season 1 (2018) and Season 2 (2019) alongside his two cousins striving to meet their weight loss goals after enduring life changing weight loss surgery. In Drew’s spare time, he motivates other individuals on their weight loss journeys via his weekly Instagram blogs (IG@drewbytheton), and through motivational speaking engagements. Drew's goal is to speak to the masses through various media platforms about the cause and effects of obesity, being a bariatric patient, and the pros and cons of WLS.
CONTACT-IG: Drewbytheton, FB: Andrewbytheton, E-MAIL: BIGDREWSTEW@gmail.com


Equip. Encourage. Motivate.