Advisory Board Members

Playworks North Carolina’s program is benefiting enormously from the time and expertise of our Local Advisory Board members. These champions generously offer advice and guidance to staff, identify resources to support the program, and help guide ongoing growth in the region.


Julie Knaack, MPH, RD

Healthcare Consultant
Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC

Julie advises large employer groups as a Healthcare Consultant at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC. Prior to joining BCBSNC, Julie managed a state-wide program that improved student and staff wellness policies in schools. She has a master’s degree in public health and is a registered dietitian. Julie has lived in Durham since 2009 with her husband and two active teens. Her daughter now plays high school volleyball – a sport Playworks introduced to her!


Shruti Nagaraj


Shruti Nagaraj currently works as an outpatient pediatrician at a large multi-site private practice in Durham, North Carolina. She is excited to join the Playworks board after being more peripherally involved with several local non-profits and charitable organizations.

She received her undergraduate degree, MPH and MD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed her pediatric residency at UCLA. Her residency was focused on community health and advocacy training – mainly working on obesity prevention in higher risk Spanish-speaking patients.


Allison Caldrone

Product Quality Expert

Allison Caldrone is a Playworks board member located in Raleigh, North Carolina. She works for Citrix Systems, Inc. in the technical support organization as a supportability specialist. This role allows her to analyze customer problems and form projects that will improve the quality of the products offered by Citrix. She has two young kids that are 2 and 4. She champions physical activity regularly for herself and her family, and you can often find them anywhere from the yoga mat to the trails at Umstead Park.


Christina Spears

Special Assistant
Wake County Public School System

Christina Spears is the Special Assistant in the Office of Equity Affairs for Wake County Public School System and the Vice President of Wake County NCAE. A graduate of Meredith College with a Master of Arts in Teaching, and a K-12 Special Education licensure. Spears is a proud Special Education teacher and as a classroom teacher, served as step team coach and co-chair of her school’s equity team. She is a founding member of Wake Ed Partnership’s Beginning Teacher Leadership Network, a member of Wake Education Policy Advisory Council, and serves on Public School Forum of NC’s Color of Education Guiding Committee. In her role as Wake NCAE VP, she works with educators across the district and state to organize our schools to fight for the schools our students deserve. In her role as Special Assistant, Spears hopes to build district-wide support systems for teachers focused on culturally sustaining instructional practices that disrupt inequities and transform school systems.

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