Where are you from originally? I was born in Scranton, PA and lived there until I moved to Pittsburgh for college. My family still lives there so I go back to visit often.
What is your current job position and duties? I’m a clinical dietitian for a short-stay rehabilitation unit and a long-term care unit at the Coatesville VA Medical Center. I also assist with diabetes education for veterans across the campus as a CDE, serve on several workplace committees, and cover outpatient, mental health, and other units as needed. The best part of my job is that I get to work with veterans. Every day they inspire me. It’s a privilege to serve them.
Why did you decide to focus on nutrition as a career? I became interested in nutrition after meeting with a dietitian myself in my early teens. I always loved food and considered a culinary career, but without having a concept of good nutrition and healthy eating habits, I was making poor food choices and was overweight. When I told my mother I wanted help to improve my diet, I’m lucky that as a nurse she knew to seek the expertise of an RD. It was a life-changing experience that sparked my passion for nutrition. I’m living proof that RDs have the power to make a huge impact!
Where did you go to school? College and internship: I went to the University of Pittsburgh for my undergraduate degree and the University of Pittsburgh Coordinated Master’s Program for my graduate degree and dietetic internship. My internship site was the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Mercy.
Tell us a little about any awards you’ve won in the past or any position you’ve held for PAND or AND.
I served on the PAND Nominating Committee and as a Co-Chair for the 2017 PAND AME Committee. I learned a great deal about PAND and our profession in both roles. I also met many incredible colleagues and friends. Being a part of the 2017 PAND AME Planning Committee Members was an especially rewarding experience. We had such a dedicated and talented group who worked tirelessly to make it a fantastic event.
As the PAND Pres-elect, what are some of your responsibilities and what challenges do you face? What are your goals for PAND?
My primary responsibility as PAND president-elect is to learn as much as I can from PAND President Shawnee Kelly and the rest of the PAND board to prepare for next year. I also assemble the monthly PAND e-newsletter. I know I have big shoes to fill. I’m fortunate to have so many excellent mentors in current and past PAND board members. My goals for PAND include increasing member involvement and our public visibility.
Can you describe any community service you participate in?
Over the past several years I’ve primarily volunteered with PAND as detailed above and I’ve volunteered for events with the Philadelphia Dietetic Association. I previously served as the PR Chair for the Philadelphia Dietetic Association.
How do you like to spend your free time? I enjoy reading, cooking, running, traveling, the outdoors, and birdwatching. I’m active in the Conshohocken Running Club. It’s such a fun and supportive group. I lived in Pittsburgh for nine years and I’m still a big fan of the Steelers and other Pittsburgh sports teams. I also love exploring new restaurants and breweries. Philly has an incredible food scene.
What did your family teach you about food?
Coming from a large family, I’ve learned that food is the best way to bring everyone together.
What is your favorite food? Is there anything people would be shocked you like or hate?
That’s a tough call. I’m a big fan of barbecue. I love trying different regional varieties when I travel. I also love brussel sprouts, especially roasted with lots of garlic.
What do you feel are benefits of being a member of AND or PAND?
Professional development, continuing education, networking opportunities, and enhancing leadership skills, to name a few. Members receive the latest updates on what’s happening in our profession and tools to get involved, such as political action alerts and the Public Policy Workshop. Members also have access to many valuable resources including the Evidence Analysis Library and the PAND CMS Long Term Care Rule Change toolkit.
If you could change anything about our profession what would it be?
I would like more people to recognize RDs as the leading experts in nutrition and for the public to have increased access to our services.