Monday, June 2, 2014
CHICAGO – Registered dietitian nutritionist Sonja L. Connor, research associate professor in the department of medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University, began her one-year term June 1 as the president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.
Connor, of Portland, Ore., is the 89th president of the Academy, which was founded in 1917. She has been the Academy's president-elect since June 2013, and will serve as president until May 31, 2015.
At OHSU, Connor is the director of the nutrition elective for medical students, as well as the developer of the nutrition course for physician assistant students. She joined OHSU in 1975. Previously, she was a research dietitian at the University of Iowa Clinical Research Center.
"I am passionate about Academy members being viewed for what we are –the nation's food and nutrition leaders," Connor said. "I support elevating the level of dietetics practice across the board. Where practice is occurring at a very high level, we will showcase and support these programs and foster new ones."
Connor said she will draw on her background as a scientist to promote an increasing emphasis on research in providing nutrition care, particularly as the health system evolves under the Affordable Care Act. "I have had the great fortune to work in a research group in which each of us was encouraged to do more than we thought we could ever do – so we did," Connor said.
"Now is the time for the Academy and our members to move our profession forward, increase the recognition of registered dietitian nutritionists and dietetic technicians, registered as the food and nutrition experts – in our workplaces, in our communities, nationally and internationally." Connor said.
Connor has published dozens of scientific research papers and books based on pioneering research she and her colleagues conducted on healthful eating to prevent coronary disease and other chronic diseases. Connor's innovative research on omega-3 fatty acids and the developing brain and retina helped lead to the addition of DHA to infant formula.
Connor previously was chair-elect of the Academy Foundation's Board of Directors; chaired the Foundation's Scholarship Committee; and is a former member of the Academy's Nominating Committee. In 2005-2006, she was the Speaker of the Academy's House of Delegates. She served on the Academy's Strategic Planning Initiative Task Force and was a research delegate to the Academy's Council on Professional Issues.
Connor is a past president of the Oregon Dietetic Association and past chair of the Licensure Committee, whose efforts achieved licensure for Oregon's registered dietitians in 1989. Connor received the Oregon Academy's Award of Merit in 1989, the national Academy's 1996 Excellence in Research Award and the Academy's 2010 Medallion Award.
Connor is a graduate of Kansas State University and earned a master's degree from the University of Iowa.
Editor's note: Photos of Sonja Connor are available and media interviews may be arranged by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
All registered dietitians are nutritionists – but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. The Academy's Board of Directors and Commission on Dietetic Registration have determined that those who hold the credential registered dietitian (RD) may optionally use "registered dietitian nutritionist" (RDN) instead. The two credentials have identical meanings.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatrightpro.org.