Founded in 2010, Food Directions LLC, is a boutique government relations firm specializing in agriculture, food safety, and nutrition policy, led by Beth K. Johnson. Below you will find our team’s biographies.
Beth Johnson, MS, RD, Principal & Founder
Elizabeth (Beth) Johnson, MS, RD, founded Food Directions LLC in February 2010. Johnson’s unique experience and skill set helps clients gain valuable insight into the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Capitol Hill. Johnson also has strong relationships with thought leaders at NGOs, food associations, and consumer groups, which help Food Directions gain a diverse perspective on food issues. Johnson is regularly tapped to speak at food related conferences and events.
Prior to starting Food Directions LLC, Johnson served as Executive Vice President for Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association where she oversaw government affairs, public policy and communications for the organization. In 2008, Johnson was named Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA where she lead and oversaw the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), USDA’s public health agency that ensures the nation’s commercial meat, poultry, and certain egg products are safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. In addition to her service as Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety, Johnson was deputy chief of staff and senior advisor for the Secretary of Agriculture at USDA, where she focused on agricultural trade, animal health, food safety and nutrition. She joined the department in 2002 after nearly four years at Fleishman-Hillard, Inc., where she was a vice president with clients in the food and agriculture arena. Her previous experiences include positions as a senior professional staff member at the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; a nutritionist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and a research dietitian at USDA. Johnson also worked at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as associate director for food policy.
Johnson is a member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), serves on the National Food Policy Conference Advisory Committee, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) host committee, and on Dunkin Brands’ Nutrition Advisory Board and is a Food Cowboy Advisor. Johnson serves as the interim coordinator of The Nutrition Coalition, which works to ensure nutrition policies are based on rigorous and strong nutrition and health science. Johnson has been quoted in numerous media outlets including USA Today, HealthDay, Supermarket News, Food Navigator USA, AdWeek, Washington Times, Politico, and The Hill, among others.
Johnson holds a BS in Dietetics from Ball State University and an MS in Nutrition from the University of Maryland. Johnson lives in Maryland with her husband Bill and daughters Hanah (10) and Sara (13).
Want to connect with Beth directly? E-mail her at: BethJohnson@FoodDirectionsDC.com
Maggie Sommers Gentile, MS, RD, Senior Director of Food & Nutrition Policy
Maggie Gentile joined Food Directions in 2011 as the Senior Director of Food and Nutrition. Maggie manages day to day client needs, executes client projects, participates in food industry coalitions, and monitors all activities in the food space. Until May 2011, she worked as a Senior Account Executive supporting Edelman’s growing nutrition and food policy and promotion activities. Prior to this role she worked alongside Beth Johnson at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) where she maintained issue expertise for their Food and Healthy Living program at Federal, state and regulatory levels and communicated the NRA’s position on emerging nutrition public policy issues to key stakeholders.
Gentile is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and the Food & Culinary Professionals Dietetic Practice Group. From 2012-2015 Gentile has served as the Public Policy Coordinator for the D.C. Metro Area Dietetic Association (DCMADA) and participates as an Advisory Council member for Common Threads, a program focused on teaching low-income children to cook wholesome and affordable meals to prevent childhood obesity.
Gentile holds a BS in health and sports studies at Miami University (Ohio) and earned a MS in the Dietetic program at Loyola University Chicago. Gentile lives in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C with her husband.
Want to connect with Maggie directly? E-mail her at MaggieSommers@FoodDirectionsDC.com
Registered Dietitian and Certified Athletic Trainer, Lindsay Yarabek joined Food Directions in September 2014. Prior to beginning at Food Directions, Yarabek completed the Virginia Tech (DC area) Dietetic Internship Program. During her internship program, she gained valuable nutrition policy experience working for two offices within the Department of Health and Human Services: 1) on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans within the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) and 2) developing nutrition and health promotion communications strategies with The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN). In addition to HHS, Yarabek expanded upon her policy experience working directly with the Director of Government Relations at the American Association for Cancer Research.
Yarabek is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and the American Society for Nutrition (ASN). She also serves on the board of the DC Metro Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (DCMAND) as the State Media Representative, coordinating the Social Media Communications Committee and working in partnership with the Public Policy Committee.
Yarabek completed her BS degree in Sports Medicine at the University of South Florida and her MS degree in Nutrition at Drexel University. She currently resides in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Northern Virginia.
Want to connect with Lindsay directly? E-mail her at: LindsayYarabek@FoodDirectionsDC.com
Ellen Swary joined Food Directions in May 2013 as a summer intern. In 2014, Ellen was promoted to Policy and Regulatory Specialist where she assists the Food Directions team by incorporating her knowledge of nutrition science, environment, trends, and federal guidance into client counsel. She also manages the FD 50, the company’s state monitoring report.
Ellen is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND) and the Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND).
In May of 2014 Ellen graduated from Miami University (Ohio) with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Health. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Science in Dietetics at Loyola University Chicago in combination with her Dietetic Internship. Ellen currently works remotely form her residence of Chicago, Illinois.
Want to connect with Ellen directly? E-mail her at: EllenSwary@FoodDirectionsDC.com.