The Gem Academy Team

Jim Hershey

Founder / Executive Director

For the last decade Jim has specialized exclusively in therapeutic work with overweight teens and young adults, with an emphasis on immersion programs, long term treatment and aftercare. He has amassed over 5000 hours of direct client work in this specialty putting Jim in a small, exclusive group of clinicians in the world. As a member of the Obesity Action Coalition Jim is a constant advocate and educator regarding the causes of obesity and effective interventions.

His work in this field began in 2007. This was after 4 years as a clinician working with college athletes in the field of sport psychology.  Jim moved from Phoenix Arizona to Fresno California to take a position at the world’s first boarding school for overweight teens. During his tenure he held the roles of therapist, clinical consultant, and program director and clinical director.

Among his peers he was known for his tireless determination and commitment to the kids and their families. Mark Twain once said, “the two most important days in a person’s life are the day they were born,  and the day they find out why.”

Shorty after Jim began his career at the boarding school his “why” was realized. “There was a level of bravery, sacrifice and hope that I would see every day in the kids.  It made you want to be the absolute best you could be for them. With everything they were bringing to the fight, they deserved every bit of that”

Jim’s dedication to the students and their families allowed him to build long standing relationships. Through Jim’s investment and continued involvement with his students and families, Jim recognized the need for a far more comprehensive support structure for recently transitioned students. This became the catalyst for Gem Academy as a long term solution for adolescent obesity.

Gem was born over a decade long process of evaluation of prior experience, refined practice, the latest health research and new research into areas of achievement, performance, habit formation and character. But the most critical influence into building Gem has been the shared personal experiences of hundreds of students over the last ten years. Sharing their successes and challenges has created a better understanding of what is critically needed to support these students for the long run.

Through his professional and educational pursuits Jim has had diverse and eclectic experiences as a tradesman, working musician, on-air radio personality, and collegiate athlete and captain.

Jim is a Wisconsin native but has been a resident of the Phoenix area for 11 of the last 15 years. He and his wife have a three and a half year old little boy and a newborn baby girl.

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Britney Fiandra

Registered Dietician & Culinary Director

A New Jersey native, Britney traded her beloved shore breezes for the beautiful desert sunshine to join the Gem Academy team. Her passion for nutrition was ignited by observing the direct relationship between daily food choices to overall health. Britney earned her Bachelors degree in Culinary Nutrition from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, where she mastered the art of preparing healthy and delicious meals. She completed her Dietetic Internship and Masters degree in Nutrition and Physical Performance at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Britney aspires to inspire others in the community by leading culinary nutrition classes in schools and outpatient centers. She leads dietetic and nutrition trainings in health resorts, weight-loss facilities, and athletic complexes from coast to coast. She deploys effective, evidence-based tools to optimize the nutrition and weight status of her clients. She specializes in designing customized nutrition plans based on individual genetics, environment, and medical background. Her creative and comprehensive approach catapults her clients toward their goals.

One bite at a time, Britney inspires the students of Gem Academy to enjoy the taste of success by building healthy lifestyles that last a lifetime. Outside of Gem, Britney enjoys rock climbing, hiking, paddle-boarding, and creating new, adventurous, healthy recipes.