NEHA March 2024 Journal of Environmental Health


about the great programs and activities going on in your associa- tion. This month we are pleased to introduce you to two NEHA sta members. Contact information for all NEHA sta can be found on pages 46 and 47. Daniela Ramirez

the vice president of consulting for Paster Training, Inc., where I consulted and taught food safety around the U.S. for 8 years. I started at NEHA in February 2023 as the senior food safety program specialist for the EZ department. I am thrilled to be part of this team where I provide subject matter expertise in food safety. I pride myself in being true to the regulations and providing expert advice on FDA Food Code interpretation and all things food safety. I enjoy supporting our team in anything that is needed such as book revisions, teaching FDA courses, course revisions, grant reviews for the RFFM, and preparation for the Retail Program Standards Symposium. It has been my pleasure to work with such a superior team in EZ and I look forward to a long history ahead until my next—and final—retirement. I do have a life outside of food safety. I am married and we have two girls, 23 and 27, who are the pride of my life. They are begin- ning their own lives now and we are becoming (almost) empty nesters. An interesting fact about me is when they were younger, my girls were competitive cheerleaders. My husband and I, along with a few other brave families, started a nonprofit organization that focused on competitive cheerleading rather than football, where girls were not the primary focus. After bumps, bruises, and broken bones (it is a rough sport), after being coach and cheer coordinator, and after my husband served as president of the orga- nization, we retired from cheerleading when the girls were both out of school and headed o to college. It was a very rewarding 10+ years of my life where my family got to spend lots of time together, albeit at our gym and at competitions, and sometimes in the emergency department. Now I enjoy spending lots of time with my dogs and cats, and my husband. We have been through many ups and downs with our pets, but somehow, we keep getting them and I honestly do not see a future without some kind of fur baby running around the house. The largest dog I had was a female English Masti who weighed 220 lb. At that time, we had a total of 520 lb of dogs in the house. As many of my EZ team members know, my favorite day at NEHA is when we have Pet Day on our virtual FDA courses. Aside from family and pets, not much in my life has been more rewarding than protecting the public from foodborne illness, even if it is one class or one book at a time. I look forward to many years to come doing all things food safety at NEHA.

In February 2023, I started my role as a project coordinator for the NEHA-FDA Retail Flexible Funding Model (RFFM). My diverse professional background includes experience in mental health and administration, which have pre- pared me for the various responsibili- ties of this position. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Univer-

sity of Texas at El Paso, my journey is motivated by a passionate commitment to making a meaningful impact on my community, aligning with my skill set and academic foundation. As a project coordinator, I handle tasks such as monitoring proj- ect progress, compiling thorough meeting notes, and ensuring smooth communication across internal teams. I collaborate exten- sively with the Entrepreneurial Zone (EZ) and Marketing teams, playing a significant role in our project. Beyond my professional pursuits, my personal interests include crafting, playing board games, and spending quality time with family and friends. Since joining NEHA, the organization has proven to be an ideal platform for channeling my passion for community impact. I con- sistently contribute to meaningful projects that align with both my professional expertise and academic background. Melissa Vaccaro

As a graduate of Shippensburg Univer- sity with a bachelor of science in biol- ogy and environmental education and a master of science in biology, I began my career as a food safety sanitarian with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture where I was “boots on the ground” inspecting retail and manufac- turing facilities. As my career advanced,

I became the food safety program specialist for the Retail Food Pro- gram, while also dabbling in manufactured foods. After 24 years, I retired from the state and went into private industry to serve as

Did You Know?

Check out our online store of NEHA-branded items at You can find NEHA apparel, drinkware, and accessories to show o your pride in your association. Your purchase also supports students as a portion of the sales will go to the NEHA/AAS Scholarship Fund.


March 2024 • Journal of Environmental Health

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