Resident Experts

Meet the people behind the SparkPeople program!

SparkPeople is made up of a small team of healthy lifestyle experts and staff members. Learn about the experts behind the site and meet the SparkPeople team here!

Additional SparkPeople Staff Members

"I've been fortunate to achieve great results using the SparkPeople program; now it's exciting that millions of other people are using this program to reach countless goals, too!"
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Chris Downie, Motivation Expert and SparkPeople Founder

Chris earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Cincinnati. He started his career at Procter and Gamble, where he used proven health, goal-setting and motivation techniques to get fit, manage stress and create the fuel he needed to reach his goals. He left P&G to co-found an early Internet company, which became eBay's first acquisition. With the freedom and capital to do whatever he wanted, Chris founded SparkPeople so that he could SPARK millions of PEOPLE to get healthy and reach their goals, too. Since 2001, Chris has invested $5 million of his own money to create and operate

A hands-on CEO, "SparkGuy" is an avid exerciser, leader of several SparkTeams, and active member of SparkPeople's positive Community. As SparkPeople's founder and resident motivation expert, Chris corresponds directly with members every day. He has written more than 10,000 personal messages to members, offering encouragement and congratulations alike. In addition to talking to members directly on, Chris frequently speaks at meetings and events and has "spread the spark" to millions through media interviews and appearances with FOX, "Entertainment Tonight," The New York Times and more.

Chris' first book The Spark was published by Hay House on Dec. 29, 2009, followed soon after by an expanded paperback edition by the same title. Writing and publishing the book was a team effort involving the resident experts from SparkPeople and its members, too. The Spark tells the inspiring account of how Chris founded SparkPeople and distills the best of the SparkPeople program, along with new strategies and secrets of success, in an easy-to-follow 28-day plan. Learn about Chris's new book The Spark.

"When you eat healthy, delicious food, you never feel deprived. You'll love what you eat--and still lose weight."

Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert and World Master Chef

At, Chef Meg Galvin develops healthy recipes, tests some of our best member-submitted dishes and teaches the fundamentals of cooking through informative and entertaining videos, blogs and articles. She's the author of SparkPeople's first cookbook "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight," published by Hay House in October 2011. A World Master Chef since 2005 (one of only 20 women in the world with that title), Chef Meg hosted the regional television show "The Dish" and a series of cooking videos on a local FOX affiliate. She has appeared on TV and radio, and in print, both locally and nationally as a SparkPeople expert. A faculty member at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, she trained at Le Cordon Bleu in London and uses classical French cooking methods and farm-fresh foods to create flavorful and satisfying healthy dishes.

Raised in a large farm family in central Kentucky, Chef Meg now lives in northern Kentucky with her husband and three teenage sons. On any given day, this world-class chef can be found hitting the pavement on long runs or cheering on her boys at their numerous sporting events. She balances her busy schedule by incorporating her home life and career, bringing her kids into the kitchen and testing recipes on--and with--her family.

Chef Meg's food philosophy is simple: Food should go straight from the farm to the table. No food is off limits, but it should be as unprocessed as possible. Eat what's fresh and in season, with plenty of variety. Above all, she likes to create dishes that are healthy and easy to make!

"You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down but the staying down."
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Jen Mueller, Fitness Coach and Community Leader

Jen's background is in business, but she left the corporate world because she wanted to make a difference in people's lives. She earned a master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati and then worked for two years as Program Director for the YMCA in Memphis, Tennessee. After returning to Cincinnati, she began working for SparkPeople. Jen is an ACE-certified Personal Trainer, ACE-certified Health Coach, ACE-certified Medical Exercise Specialist, ACE-certified Behavior Change Specialist and certified Prenatal and Postpartum Fitness expert. A proud mom of four, she also loves to run and has completed several marathons.

Jen is SparkPeople's Community Director, which involves overseeing the message boards, SparkTeams, challenges, and the development of new community-related features. She also writes and reviews fitness articles for the site and has been interviewed as a fitness expert for both print and television news stories. Jen's passion is coaching people to help them reach their fitness and health-related goals. She says the best part of working for SparkPeople is helping members realize that they didn't need her as much as they thought they did. "They've had what it takes to make a healthy change inside of them all along. I just pointed them in the right direction!"

"Consistency is the key to success! If you are consistent in reaching smaller goals, that leads to bigger goals, and you'll be successful no matter how you look at it."
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Denise Tausig, Community Moderator

Denise's first introduction to SparkPeople was January 1, 2004--as a member. It took her eight months to lose 40 pounds and reach her goal weight, which she's maintained since thanks to regular walking, yoga, and fitness videos. Losing weight and committing to an exercise program inspired Denise to change her life. She went back to college and earned a bachelor's degree in wellness from Lincoln University in Missouri and also become an ACE-certified personal trainer. Now a SparkPeople employee, she helps others achieve their health and fitness goals, including the 13- to 17-year-old members of our sister site,, where Denise works as the Community Leader. At SparkPeople, you'll find her throughout the Community, answering questions, leading SparkTeams and challenges and providing support to members.

"I know firsthand what it takes to change one's lifestyle, and the struggles people face when losing weight, but I also understand it from a medical perspective. I hope my experience can help others achieve their goals, too."
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Birdie Varnedore, M.D., Resident Medical Expert

Birdie joined SparkPeople as a member in 2007 and lost 140 pounds the healthy way while balancing her demanding roles as a full-time neurologist, wife, and mother of five young children. Because of her amazing success, she has appeared in People magazine's annual "Half Their Size" issue, and on "Good Morning America" and "Oprah's Ultimate Weight Loss Finale."

A graduate of the University of Miami, Birdie has been practicing medicine since 2004. Board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in neurology and vascular neurology, she is a full-time neurologist at a hospital in Florida, and a member of her hospital's telemedicine stroke team.

Birdie enjoys spending time with her family and continues to make healthy living and exercise a part of her daily life, and is passionate about helping others do the same. As SparkPeople's Resident Medical Expert, Birdie helps review our health and medical content for accuracy, speaks to the media about weight-loss and medical news and healthy living, and also writes blogs and articles for our sites about the health and medical implications of both obesity and weight loss.

Do you have a question or need to contact SparkPeople?

Dave manages product development at SparkPeople. He loves finding ways to improve the site to help people better reach their goals. You'll often see him posting announcements about new features on the site.


Kelly is our Office Manager and one of our resident experts who assists with monitoring the message boards. Kelly also mails all of the promotional prizes that members win during contests, giveaways and by spinning the SparkPoints wheel. She joined the SparkPeople staff in 2004 and has enjoyed living a healthy lifestyle with her family ever since. With the help of SparkPeople and healthier fitness and eating habits, she was able to finally kick her smoking habit. WOOHOO!


Paul is a software engineer who joined the SparkPeople team in 2005. In addition to launching new features and SparkPeople websites, such as and, he also films some of our online workout videos!

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