September 2017 Member Spotlight

Where do you live? York, PA.

Where are you from originally? Selinsgrove, PA.

What is your current job position and duties?
About 1.5 years ago I went to work part-time for Leg Up Farm, a unique pediatric outpatient therapy center in Mt. Wolf, PA as their first dietitian. The center provides therapeutic equine therapy, PT, OT, Speech, and behavioral health services. Our company also owns a full service natural foods grocery store called Leg Up Farmers Market. My week might include teaching a public nutrition class, providing outpatient counseling for adults and children, or doing a shopping tour.
As a freelance writer I’ve written magazine articles and text book chapters since early in my career. I began working for Nutrition Dimension, a division of OnCourse Learning as a writer about five years ago. When I switched jobs I became a reviewing editor for the company. As an editor and writer I review the work of other dietitians to create up-to-date continuing education courses and periodically teach webinars for a certified diabetes educator prep course. This year I edited long courses on sports nutrition, heart failure, integrative nutrition and recently a super interesting course on ethics for dietitians. As an outpatient dietitian covering multiple specialty areas for a decade I was challenged to stay current on nearly every topic under the sun. Little did I know how that would help me in my current job.
I’ve also been an adjunct instructor in the Stabler nursing department at York College since 2003 where I’ve taught nutrition to bachelor’s level nursing students.

Why did you decide to focus on nutrition as a career?
Growing up across from a candy store, I’ve always had an affinity for sweets. Early on though I was concerned about my body and maintaining health. I even remember making a meal plan for myself in 4th grade! I randomly came across dietetics in a course catalog and I remember thinking- Wow! Chemistry, food, health, fitness- this is the perfect fit for me. My high school German teacher actually discouraged me from being a dietitian, stating I should just be a journalist. I knew though that to write about nutrition with authority required achieving actual credentials as an important stepping stone.

Where did you go to school?
I completed my bachelor’s degree at Messiah College and my internship through a distance program with Sodexo in New England. At that time there were very few distance programs available to become a dietitian. I went on to write about distance dietetic internships for my first published article for Today’s Dietitian.
My master’s degree from Penn State is in adult education with a focus on distance education methods. I actually wrote my final thesis on continuing education methods for RDNs via distance education which is totally ironic considering I wasn’t working for Nutrition Dimension at that time.

Tell us a little about any awards you’ve won in the past or any position you’ve held for PAND or AND.
This is my second go round serving on the board of directors for PAND. I previously served as the legislative chair for both the state and then federal issues for several years for PAND and CPAND. Five years ago I stepped into the position of PR chair. At that time PAND only had a LinkedIN account and a facebook group. I began adding social media accounts at that time. Now as PR/Social Media Co-Chair I manage the facebook page, Instagram, twitter, LinkedIn group, and Pinterest accounts (yes, we have a Pinterest!). I’m a previous winner of the Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year award for the central district.

As a PR/Social Media Chair, what are some of your responsibilities and what challenges do you face? What are your goals for PAND?
Along with managing the social media accounts for PAND on a daily basis, I participate in media interviews when needed, help the President-Elect with the monthly newsletter and coordinate our PAND media team volunteers. It’s certainly challenging to stay up on what PAND members are doing across the state and share that across our accounts. I love it when dietitians make an effort to tag our @EatrightPA accounts or let me know about their achievements!
This year I was instrumental in starting the #EatrightPA Blogging program. I wanted to create a place to house some good quality posts from RDNs across PA that could be shared as evidence of our expertise in nutrition. As a blogging coordinator I work with my fabulous co-chairs Clancy Harrison and Deanna Segrave-Daly to assign writers and review blogs submitted by media savvy RDNs across the state and post them each week to the PAND website. We then share these posts across our accounts. I’d love to see more dietitians making an effort to share these excellent weekly blogs with their friends and clients.

Can you describe any community service you participate in?
I serve on the board of directors for the York Suburban Communities that Care (CTC) and of course I’m on the communications committee and take care of the facebook account!

How do you like to spend your free time?
I can’t say that I have a lot of free time, but I love yoga and try to fit it in several times a week along with other classes at the gym. I like to walk and hike with my dog Bagel, my son and husband. I always have a garden, but I can’t say I’m too good about pulling every weed that decides to make an appearance.

What is your favorite food? Is there anything people would be shocked you like or hate? Coffee is an essential nutrient for my body. I’m also a big fan of Thai food, but I don’t get to have it too often. I really do love vegetables, especially brussels sprouts. I’m not a fan of beets at all, but I absolutely love the tops!

What do you feel are benefits of being a member of AND or PAND?
I have come to know so many fantastic dietitians of all ages through volunteering on the CPAND and PAND boards and built great friendships that started with simply volunteering. Some of the greatest opportunities present themselves through connecting with others on a face to face, personal level. In this day and age when nutrition “experts” are everywhere, it’s more important than ever to invest in our organization and work together as a team to promote registered dietitians.

If you could change anything about our profession what would it be?
There’s a growing disconnect between what dietitians themselves eat and how we feed our residents and patients. Products over the years have changed and something that was perfectly decent in the 1990s now may have a laundry list of ingredients a mile long. Personally I wish all dietitians would take a second look at the ingredient list of some of their go-to products they may be recommending to patients along with standing up for quality food to be provided to the sickest of our patients.