Interested in Attending but Have Questions about What to Expect?

The Convention Welcome Committee serves as your inside-scoop to all things Convention. Have questions about Convention? Want to learn more about what Convention has to offer you? If so, our Convention Welcoming Committee can help answer any of your questions and provide you with more information about this ground-breaking event.

2017 National Convention Welcome/Attendee Relations Committee

Rob Portinga Rob PortingaWelcome/Attendee Relations Committee Chair 
Rob is attending his fourth convention and this is his third year as a member of the Convention Committee, helping to plan another great event for all attendees. He is passionate about addressing various health/obesity related issues, in particular weight-bias, through blogging, podcasting and public speaking. Rob also serves on the OAC's Weight Bias Committee and was awarded the 2014 Barbara Thompson Award for Advocacy and the 2015 Member of the Year awards. 
To contact Rob Portinga, please email

Michelle Vicari

 Michelle Vicari, Convention Committee Chair 
Michelle is a member of the OAC National Board of Directors and also serves as the Chair of the Convention Committee and the Convention Promotions Subcommittee. She is well-known for her popular Blog, The World According to Eggface. Michelle is a gastric bypass patient and dedicates her life to supporting individuals on their weight-loss journey.To contact Michelle Vicari, please email

Nanette Adams

Nanette Adams, LPC 
Nanette returns to the Convention Welcoming Committee for her third year of service to the Obesity Action Coalition. She resides in New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband Jonathan, and is a licensed professional counselor in private practice, working with clients affected by obesity and eating disorders. She has been a member of the OAC for four years . To contact Nanette Adams, please email

Sarah BrambletteSarah M. Bramblette, MSHL
Sarah is member of the OAC's National Board of Directors and Weight Bias Committee. She also serves as the Board Secretary and Ohio Team Leader for the Lymphedema Advocacy Group, where she utilizes her advocacy training to lobby for the passage of the Lymphedema Treatment Act. As an individual living with both Lipedema and Lymphedema, she writes about her life experiences at Sarah also shares her story in various media outlets to advocate against weight bias and stigma, specifically in healthcare settings and the workplace. Her advocacy efforts also earned her the honor of being the OAC’s 2014 Member of the Year. To contact Sarah Bramblette, please email

Maria Caprigno

Maria Caprigno
Maria is an active OAC advocate and the winner of the OAC's 2013 Barbara Thompson Award for Advocacy. Maria will be receiving her bachelor's degree in May 2016, and will be pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration this fall. Maria is a bariatric surgery patient who has been a voice for children and teens affected by obesity. She has visited Capitol Hill on multiple occasions to speak with legislators about the importance of individuals having access to treatment for obesity. To contact Maria Caprigno, please email

Jaime FivecoatJaime Fivecoat, MBA 
Jaime served three years as the first Chair of the OAC National Board and is currently still serving as a board member. Jaime was the sixth member to join the OAC. Jaime currently serves on the OAC Convention Planning Committee, the OAC Nominating Committee and is the Chair of the Long Range Planning Committee. Jaime has spoken Nationally on the subject of access to care at events including the World Congress on Obesity, Business  Coalitions on Health, ASMBS State Chapters and numerous other venues. To contact Jaime Fivecoat, please email

YWM2017_headshots_deb_v02.jpgDebera Gau
Debe has been an OAC member for 6 yrs and is returning to the convention for the 5th time. She is honored to have been selected to the Convention Welcoming Committee for the 2017 convention and is excited to see many members in NOLA.   Debe like many OAC members has been personally affected by Obesity and chose Bariatric surgery as a treatment in 2001. Debe is passionate about sharing her 16 years of post wls experience in supporting others in achieving their goals of becoming healthier.  Debe is a proud Minnesnowdan and considers herself a true snowbird staying north during the winter months where you may spot her ice fishing or walking on one of those 10,000 frozen lakes.  To contact Debe Gau, please email

YWM2017_headshots2.jpgJeff Newell
Jeff Newell has been an OAC member since 2014, where he attended his first YWM convention and made the decision to change his life.  At the time, Jeff weighed 533 pounds and was struggling with the decision of whether weight loss surgery was the right choice for him. The following December, Jeff had gastric bypass surgery and since then has maintained a 300 pound weight loss. Jeff has chronicled his weight loss journey on his page and through several social media outlets. Jeff serves on the OAC's Weight Bias committee. This year's event marks his 4th convention and his first on the Welcoming Committee.  To contact Jeff Newell, please email