Opening Session Remarks

Presented by Academy President Dr. Glenna McCollum, MPH, RDN

2013 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo
Houston, TX
October 19, 2013

My friends and colleagues, it is such an honor for me to work together with you, as we fully embrace the mission of our Academy to empower members to become the food and nutrition leaders.

And I believe strongly that we can best move our profession forward if we "CLIMB."

Now I want to tell you, in my home state of Arizona we have some of the most gorgeous scenery in the entire world. Thousands of people come to Arizona every year to explore our Grand Canyon, to experience our peaks and valleys, our paths and trails and our rock formations in Sedona.

But, as you may have already guessed, today I am talking about a different kind of "climbing." By "CLIMB" I mean…

  • Enhance Collaboration with strategic partners…
  • Develop our Leaders at every level
  • Embrace Innovation and change
  • Strengthen our core through Mentorship … and …
  • Demonstrate our ability to lead and maintain a Balanced life.

Let me briefly talk about what I mean by each of these elements of the "CLIMB" template for our shared success.

Collaboration, in its simplest terms, means to work together. Research indicates collaboration can be more beneficial to each organization, than the organizations could achieve on their own. We can solve problems more creatively and in a shorter period of time.

For the Academy, collaboration joins us with those who also want to address tough health-related challenges and manage complex issues. Collaboration is key to helping us work and think in new ways.

In Washington, D.C., the Academy is involved in many and varied collaborations with organizations that, like us, are committed to the nation’s health. One significant example is the Partnership for a Healthier America. And our partners in addressing food security, to name just one crucial food and nutrition priority area, include Feeding America, Food and Research Action, Bread for the World, Share Our Strength, the Public Health Institute and the Alliance to End Hunger.

With these groups we have worked closely on advancing the Farm Bill and Older Americans Act that help ensure healthy food access for all Americans.

And as part of the Coalition for Health Care Funding, we have joined forces with other leading groups to save non-defense discretionary programs – or NDDs – from devastating cuts during the federal budgeting process. NDD programs are core functions that government provides for the benefit of all, including medical research, public health and education.

In the area of Leadership, we can claim many successes and opportunities. The Academy has made great changes to ensure our strategic positioning as the food and nutrition leaders is real.

We changed the name of our organization; and enhanced the description of our credential to optionally include the term "nutrition." We approved an Associate member category. And we participate in health reform through strong public policy initiatives.

Most importantly, the Academy is at the table and in fact, leading the way with the nation's top government agencies, major healthcare associations, corporations and international groups.

No one has the luxury of developing leadership competencies in a vacuum or a stagnant environment – and we are no different.

That is why I so strongly support the Visioning Report crafted by the Council on Future Practice, “Moving Forward: A Vision for Education, Credentialing and Practice.” The Visioning Report is one of the most important initiatives that the Academy is involved in. It is a crucial and long-range examination of our future. Thank you to the House of Delegates for conducting a dialogue last October on the Visioning Report.

The purpose of the dialogue session was for delegates and members to provide reactions to the report and to create suggestions for implementation of the Visioning Report's recommendations. The report's conclusion is a clear call to action for each of us, I am sure you agree.

And as organizational units throughout the Academy work to implement the tenets of the Visioning Report, let's also stay mindful of the words of the Council on Future Practice:

"Change has to start somewhere and there is no time to waste. If the dietetics profession is not moving forward, it is being left behind."

Here is just one example of how we are providing leadership opportunities in the education and practice realm. Three years ago at FNCE® in Boston, President Judy Rodriguez noted that a lack of internship opportunities and preceptors were threatening the future of our profession. The Board recognized that it is our ethical responsibility to provide recognition to and marketplace value students who complete an ACEND accredited didactic program in dietetics.

Today, I'm proud to announce that the Academy will be providing a professional designation Nutrition and Dietetics Associate or NDA to our graduates. This new professional designation signals a step in the right direction in cultivating multiple levels of practice to meet marketplace demands and build capacity for delivery of food nutrition services. This is exciting and more information will be available in the coming months.

After a thorough review and benchmarking, the Academy's Board of Directors has created a new Fellow recognition program titled the "Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics" or FAND.

Unlike FADA, our previous fellow program, which was credentialed through CDR, FAND is a recognition program administered through the Academy. It’s similar to Fellow programs offered by other organizations, recognizing exceptional professional characteristics. Designation as a "Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics" recognizes outstanding professional accomplishments, valuable service to the profession and the public and a quest for lifelong learning.

For more information, on the prestigious new FAND recognition, visit www.eatright.org/fellow.

The Academy is our organization. Nutrition and dietetics is our profession. But we didn't get here alone. We stand on the shoulders of giants – of women and men who had a vision for a healthy nation, who were willing to work hard and fight for policy changes and who created our legacy 100 years ago. They made an investment in us by creating a profession to be proud of. And now, it is our turn to be leaders: so the next generation will stand on our shoulders.

What we do together now makes a difference and creates our legacy. When you take an active leadership role in the Academy, you can do much toward realizing your dreams and passions. In the words of Warren Bennis, a pioneer in the field of leadership studies:

"The process of becoming a leader is much the same as the process of becoming an integrated human being. For the leader, as for the integrated person, life itself is the career."

Lead by example and I challenge you to be a catalyst for others. Encourage your colleagues. Inspire our young professionals. Include our diverse members. For we know a mere encounter with catalytic leadership can provide an "ah-ha" moment, unveiling a part of ourselves perhaps hidden from us before.

These moments change us. So be the one to bring forth the best and greatest potential in those around you as you lead. Be a catalytic leader.

The Board of Directors is adding a global goal to our strategic plan and we have a new mission and vision that recognizes our worldwide leadership. We are expanding beyond our borders. We are working with the National Institutes of Health to better understand the nutrition resources needed on a global level. Included in this endeavor are countries at various levels of economic and social development.

For example, Academy representatives recently traveled to Ethiopia and Uganda, meeting with key nutrition thought-leaders in both countries on ways the Academy can work with the existing health care system and to enhance the work force for nutrition professionals with the ultimate goal of improving nutrition care.

Through ACEND, we are developing sets of standards for non-U.S.-based educational programs in nutrition and dietetics. Foreign Dietitian Education Standards are for programs that are substantially equivalent to a U.S. program. Right now, we have two accredited International Coordinated Programs, at universities in Mexico and in South Korea. And programs in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon are in the process of seeking ACEND accreditation.

Our nutrition care process and standardized nutrition terminology is being used throughout the world – by 20 countries – and it has been translated into nine languages including French, Swedish, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Taiwanese and Korean.

The fifth version of the terminology will be completely electronic and interactive. And in addition to our current resources, to further assist dietitians in other countries with the adoption and implementation of the terminology, a new international website has been developed.

So let's keep climbing and now I - we’re on to Innovation.

I am so excited to announce our brand new website "EatRightPro," an innovation especially for you, our members that will be debuting in March 2014. A member site filled with meaningful professional content. This means new types of tools, continuing education, self-marketing and access to a host of articles addressing issues that apply to you.

www.EatRightPro.org will focus on the Academy's mission: empowering members to be the food and nutrition leaders. We will keep EatRight.org. It will be a consumer-oriented site, with robust and flexible content that will brand the RDN as the trusted source of food and nutrition information.

The new consumer site will focus on meeting the Academy's vision: optimizing health through food and nutrition. You are the first members to hear about this exciting innovation by the Academy and the first to see what the new sites will look like.

This is what Innovation looks like at the Academy and I hope you are as excited about our new web strategy as I am.

The Academy has creative members, forward-thinking leaders and innovative new tools and resources – all pointing to a bright future. Our roles are being changed daily by new technologies, applications and instant information…and the Academy is innovating at a rapid pace.

I know that many of you are tweeting and posting your impressions and photos of FNCE® during this Opening Session. And here is an exciting new way we can all be leaders in the profession and share with our friends on social media. The Foundation has made it even easier for you to support our students, our future leaders. It’s as easy as texting on your phone.

I ask everyone here tonight to pull out your smartphone and text E-A-T-R-I-G-H-T to 91011 and make a $10 contribution to the Foundation. Let’s make an investment in our future together.

Next "M": "Mentorship" And mentors have played a significant role in my life. Their influence is still evident in my life and I am forever grateful. I’m thinking in particular of Dr. Howard Hamlin, Dr. Sara Parks, Barb Landau, Barbara Piper, Elain Kvitka, Dr. Lucile Rock and Marillyn Wiehe. They gave me their time, wise counsel and direction when I most needed it.

It is even easier to be a mentor today and the Academy is a great place to start – through a DPG program or through the new Mentorship Program on the Academy's website at eatright.org/members.

Having experienced the benefits of mentoring, I have chosen to be a mentor and have found it to be rewarding as well as inspiring. The young professionals with whom I work – Laura, Kristen, Rachel, Michelle – are our bright future.

I am reminded of the words of Sheryl Sandberg in her book "Lean In":

"The strongest [mentoring] relationships spring out of a real and often earned connection felt by both sides …and are often a more reciprocal relationship than it may appear."

Make an "earned connection" by taking on the role of a mentor.

The Academy's free-for-members eMentoring program is a comprehensive, web-based platform that positively affects retention and success. The program matches mentors and mentees easily and accurately. For much more information, visit www.eatright.org/eMentoring.

And finally, "B": "Balance."

In 1996, I wrote the following to myself, a kind of manifesto:

"My personal mission for my life and every day, is to help each individual I come to know (including myself), to find a greater value in themselves – whether it be through educational endeavor, the encouragement towards spiritual growth or in personal pursuit. In following this mission, I believe every day I live, I will not look back with regret!"

In my life, I am so happy to say there is harmony and balance. I want to thank my family, who are here with me today.

Living a life in balance: My mentor Dr. Howard Hamlin would call it "Symphonium." In a recent talk with the Student Nutrition Council at Arizona State University, I encouraged our up-and-coming leaders to choose a path of balance and added the importance of passion to a balanced life. "The more you listen to your inner you, the better you are going to be at what you do," I said. "Find what is in harmony and matches who you are as a person and do what you are passionate about."

I chose the profession of nutrition and dietetics because our organizational mission (to be the food and nutrition leaders) and vision (to improve the health of our nation) match my personal passion and mission.

While completing my application for the nomination process to become president of the Academy, I was pleased to share the variety of experiences I have had, including of course the big and small bumps one encounters along the way.

  • From helping start an inner city church-based health center to being the director of nutrition at a college;
  • From raising millions of dollars for educational endeavors and scholarships in my community to helping start a community bank in Arizona;
  • From completing my doctoral degree from a nontraditional, distance-education accredited university to being the inaugural president of a new university in my home state;
  • From being district legislative chairperson at the local level to being speaker of the Academy's House of Delegates.

In these ways and more, I have been privileged to enjoy not only balance but "symphonium." As I said earlier, I have been blessed with an amazing family and I am glad every day for the symphonium I enjoy. Living a life in balance – in symphonium, with purpose and a mission – is a win-win in so many ways. A sense of purpose and belonging can be enhanced by getting involved in our profession.

There are so many opportunities to serve and learn about dietetic practice groups; member interest groups; affiliates; committees at the local, state and national levels; boards, task forces and other leadership roles where your time, talents, expertise and interests can contribute to advancing the Academy while increasing your own sense of belonging and purpose.

Call it purposeful living… serving the common good… or striving to attain a personal or professional mission…together and individually we can "CLIMB" to greater heights.

And as we climb into the future, I look forward to creating a lasting legacy with you – for our nation and for our profession.


I said at the beginning of our program that much of the growth in the Academy's record membership has been student members. It is my pleasure to acknowledge the winners of the School Spirit Program. Congratulations to the education programs that brought the highest percentage of students to FNCE®: University of Louisiana at Lafayette! University of Texas at Austin! And, Meredith College!

School Spirit winners and if you are an Academy student member, or if you became an RDN or a DTR in the past year, please quickly join me on stage right now. Come on down!

While students are coming down to join me, I also want to welcome all of the young professionals thirty and under. Please stand let's all cheer them on, too. We veteran members especially need to recognize the students and young members of today, as well as our new RDNs and DTRs. As I said during my campaign for president, we can either be swept away by change or be an agent of change – and I choose the latter.

These members on the stage will be our leaders of change in the coming decade. They will help us CLIMB to the very top and will help us meet our vision: Optimizing health through food and nutrition.

So – members of the Academy, friends and guests: Please say hello to our future. Our bright, hopeful, exciting future. Thank you all for coming to our Opening Session, to kick off what I know will be an unforgettable FNCE® 2013. I wish you a great meeting, a great week and a great year.

Let's prove there "ain't no mountain high enough" that we can't climb together.

#FNCE

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