Pediatrician Staff

Meet our friendly, experienced pediatricians and staff at Pediatric Associates of Auburn! Our entire team is dedicated to helping you and your child feel at home from the moment your walk through the door. We're proud to be members of the Auburn community and serve the needs of their children.

We pride ourselves in being an exceptional clinic where children come first. Our child-focused practice works hard to meet the needs of children from infancy through adolescence. Compassionate, knowledgeable and supportive staff is the cornerstone of Name of Pediatric Associates of Auburn's quality care. All of our pediatricians and medical staff are highly trained professionals, and maintain the highest level of accreditation in pediatrics to address the special needs of infants, children, and teens.

We strive to treat each and every patient as we would want our own children to be treated. Our doctors and staff look forward to building a relationship with you and your family.

Dr. Richard Freeman

Dr. Freeman grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, and graduated from North Carolina State University where he received a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics. Subsequently, he was employed as an Aerospace Environmental Engineer in Tullahoma, Tennessee by ARO, Inc. Later, he began medical school at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC. Dr. Freeman then completed his post-graduate medical education at Children’s Hospital, University of Alabama Hospitals and Clinics in Birmingham. After completion of training in Birmingham, he served as a medical officer at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, Department of Pediatrics. He then came to Auburn after leaving the Navy and established the current practice, which has been here for over 30 years. Dr. Freeman has served as Vice-President and Secretary- Treasurer of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. Additionally, he completed nine years on the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners. Dr. Freeman has served on the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Board of Directors.

Dr. Freeman is also a designated medical examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration. He holds a commercial pilot certificate and was also a part-time flight instructor for Auburn University.

Dr. Freeman and his wife, Sherry Spann Freeman, live in Opelika, Alabama and have six grandchildren to enjoy. When not working, he and Sherry enjoy visiting grandchildren and traveling. Additionally, he enjoys photography and brewing coffee.

He is board certified and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Ellen Royal

Dr. Ellen Royal is a native of Alabama.  She grew up in Birmingham, received her undergraduate degree in English and Chemistry from Emory University, then returned to Alabama to attend the University of South Alabama for her medical degree. After graduating from medical school, she attended the Medical University of South Carolina pediatric residency program. She stayed in Charleston four years, then returned once again to Alabama the summer of 1998 to join the pediatric practice of Dr. Richard Freeman. She is a board certified Pediatrician.

Dr. Ellen Royal is married to Dr. Kevin Royal who practices internal medicine in Opelika. They have three children: Emma, Patrick and Ben. They live in Opelika and are active members of First United Methodist Church of Opelika.

In her free time, Dr. Royal enjoys spending time with her family.  She also enjoys running, reading  and traveling. She is a member of Lee County Medical Society, MASA, and the AAP. She is on active staff at East Alabama Medical Center.

Katie H. Meadows, CPNP

Katie Meadows grew up in Opelika, AL. She attended nursing school at Southern Union State Community College and graduated in 2010.  Upon graduation, she worked as a pediatric nurse prior to working as a neonatal ICU nurse in Columbus, GA.  In 2014, Katie began working on the pediatric floor at EAMC while attending UAB to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Jacksonville State University in 2016 and received a Master of Science degree in nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2020. She is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner in both acute and primary care and a member of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.

Katie is married to Conner Meadows, an Opelika native, who works as a mechanical engineer in Columbus, GA. They live in Opelika and have two sons, Nate and Grant. Her family also includes her dog Abby. The Meadows are active members of Church of the Highlands in Opelika.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling and spending time at the lake with her family.

Dr. Gretchen Vandiver

Dr. Gretchen Vandiver grew up in North Alabama. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at Auburn University. She then attended the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, where she was elected to the Gold Humanism Honor Society. She was also a member of Christian Medical Ministries of South Alabama, where she spent time in both Peru and Rwanda on medical mission trips.

She completed her internship and residency in Pediatrics in Greenville, SC in 2019. While in residency, she was awarded the Jill D. Golden Primary Care Award. She is board certified in pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as a member of Medical Association of the State of Alabama and Lee County Medical Society. Dr. Vandiver has been in practice in Lee County since completing residency in 2019.

In her free time, Dr. Vandiver enjoys spending time with her family and playing with her dogs, Poppy and Scout. She also loves baking, gardening, and traveling.

Dr. Victoria Benes

Dr. Benes is a graduate of Auburn University and received her medical degree from A.T. Still University in Kirksville, Mo. She then completed her residency at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.

Dr. Benes chose to work in pediatrics because she enjoys helping children grow and develop into productive, intelligent, and compassionate members of their communities.  Her medical interests include pediatric primary care, educating children and families about healthy living, and medical student education.

In her spare time, Dr. Benes enjoys traveling, gardening, and British historical dramas.

Dr. Ayesha Nettles

Dr. Nettles' family is from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and she is second generation born in the United States. She is originally from Jersey City, NJ but moved to Orlando, FL area just before middle school. She stayed in the area until college, and attended the University of Florida for undergraduate school where she received her bachelor's degree in psychology while completing her premedical school requirements. 

Dr. Ayesha Nettles

Dr. Nettles attended medical school at Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences in beautiful Puerto Rico. She received the Health Professionals scholarship from the United States Army where she completed her Pediatric Residency at Madigan Army Medical Center in Joint Base Lewis McChord, WA. From there she worked as a pediatrician for the United States Army from 2015-2019 in Fort Moore, GA. She stayed serving as a civilian until 2023 until joining Pediatric Associates of Auburn. 

Dr. Nettles and her family moved to Opelika in 2017 and absolutely love it here. She is married to Keonn Nettles, who is currently a school principal for Lee county, and has 3 beautiful girls, ages 12, 9, and 3. She enjoys traveling, reading fantasy novels, attempting to garden, trying new foods, and spending time with her family. She also enjoys exercise, particularly lifting weights and any type of kickboxing/Muy Thai type of classes.