Chairperson Merry Gerard*, M.Ac., has served for a number of years as the Board Chair and seen the Academy through many stages of growth including a change of location from south Florida to Gainesville, the hiring of a new Executive Director, the scouting of real estate for the purchase of our two buildings, and several fundraising campaigns. She has been practicing and teaching Five Element acupuncture for more than 30 years. Merry is based in Newton, Massachusetts, where she maintains a thriving private practice.

Vice Chairperson Dale Block*, M.D., is board certified in Family Medicine and Medical Management. He has been a licensed, practicing family physician for 23 years. He has achieved success in private practice, academia, corporate medicine, and in the health insurance industry. Dr. Block has authored two textbooks on health care management as well as several articles and abstracts. Dr. Block opened Premier Family Care of Mason to serve the
needs of patients from infants to the elderly. He has a special interest in sports and occupational medicine. Dr. Block lives in Centerville, Ohio.

Secretary-Treasurer Gale Mowry*, M.Ac., is a 2002 graduate of the Academy. She was a student of the first clinical internship group in south Florida, as well as a graduate of the Academy’s first Chinese Herbal Studies program. Gale was instrumental in developing new procedures for the student clinic and organizing the Academy’s initial Chinese herbal dispensary. Since graduating, her dedication to the school has taken many forms, including teaching preparation courses for the national exam, developing policies for professional conduct, and developing curriculum. Gale practices acupuncture full­time in her private practice in Helena, Montana.

Nancy Dowd, J.D., is the Chair of Family Law and the Director of Center on Children and Families at University of Florida, Levin College of Law, in Gainesville, Florida. In addition to her experience as a lawyer in private practice, she is familiar with both teaching and administration in higher education, having worked in a university setting throughout her career. She is a published author whose works include numerous books on family law as well
as articles and chapters in numerous legal publications.

Michael Kowalski, B.Ac., is an acupuncturist in private practice in Jacksonville, Florida. He is also Founder/Director of the 5 Element Institute of Jacksonville, which provides continuing education courses for physicians, nurses, and acupuncturists. His interest lies in building an interprofessional bridge between the acupuncture profession and biomedicine through research, treatment, and educational programs rooted in the tradition of Five Element acupuncture. His objective is to encourage collaborative and integrative clinical practices that enhance the patient experience, improve health outcomes, and lower healthcare costs. He
has been an acupuncture educator for more than 30 years.

Misti Oxford­-Pickeral*, M.Ac., is the Chief Executive Officer of the Academy and a member of the Board’s Executive Committee. Misti provides leadership both for the school and at the national level, where she was recently named President of the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM). She is an alumni of the school as well as the former admissions coordinator for the Academy. She consistently receives the highest possible marks for her teaching and clinical supervision in both the acupuncture and herbal studies programs. Prior to joining the Academy staff, Misti maintained a full­ time private practice in acupuncture and herbal medicine and served as an adjunct faculty member at Bluefield State College.

Angela Xistris, M.A., works in higher education as a teacher and administrator and is currently the Substantive Change and Graduate Assessment Coordinator at the University of California, Merced. In addition to expertise in graduate level programs, she has an intimate knowledge of our academic programs and the functions of the administrative team. Following her tenure at the Academy as the admissions coordinator and registrar, she consulted on several writing assignments including the Academy’s website and marketing materials. She is also a writing consultant for graduate students.