I'm an average girl, from an average family, with an average education. But from homeschooling in grade school to starting a catering business in high school, I learned early on that hard work and creativity were the starting place of success.
My education was average, yet unconventional. In the early eighties, homeschooling was still illegal in some states. Fortunately, this experiment worked for education, because I was accepted Ivy League schools for my bachelor's programs. Only problem was that I no longer wanted a nurse. Instead, I chose another unconventional path for college: I chose the upstart, inaugural class of Montgomery Scholars for the first two years.
First lesson about a recipe: don't always follow it.
Instead of Hopkins and UPenn, I went to finish my Bachelor of Science at University of Maryland, College Park in 2003.
I ended up local during those years because I couldn't get away from what loved. I kept running my private catering and floral design business in the Washington, D.C area. This love for food and people eventually took me closer to an even better career path: Clinical Dietetics. The science plus foodlove were a perfect blend for me. This degree took me further than my childhood fascination with Martha Stewart: I was learning more about what I loved to do.
Another turn in the path took me to Arizona for six years, where I brought the catering back inside my home, and took a job with a clinical direction. My jobs at Mercy Gilbert Medical Center and Chandler Regional Medical Center led me to more than sharp clinical skills in ICU wards. I couldn't stop talking about food, so they put me to work in the community. It worked because I partnered with schools and organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, ICAN, and HeadStart to speak to thousands of school aged children and teachers about nutrition and obesity prevention. I would introduce myself as a registered dietitian (RD), but also as someone who knew how good an In-and-Out burger tasted. I wanted people to understand that dietitians eat more than celery stalks for lunch, so I would get my patients and friends to taste new, healthier foods.
Second lesson: you have to taste it to believe it.
I put this principle to test everywhere I went-- on radio talks, local newspaper articles, kids in summer camps, and my cardiac rehab patients. I wanted everyone on a path of loving the food they ate not just because it tasted good, but because the choices they made were worth it for their body. My love for asking people to embrace healthier diets led to local leadership positions and partnerships in the community, as well as an award within my organization.
I continued to work in the hospital setting after I had two children, but also partnered with a friend and her business to expand my private practice. In 2012, I moved back to Northern Virginia, where I continue to meet with clients to optimize their health, and am passionate about continuing nutrition education in this community through local schools and organizations.
My big mouth got me into another venture-- instead of feeding mouths, I am a published author, co-writing a book on the topic of women and work with my friend, Carolyn McCulley. This book helps women (and men) understand why we work by exploring the history, the nature and the life-cycle of work from a Christian perspective. I am so excited to see it published February 1, 2014.
I currently reside in Northern Virginia with my husband, Travis, and my (soon-to-be three) kids.