Diversity and Inclusion: Update from the Academy President and Chief Executive Officer

12/16/2020 - We are pleased to provide another update on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' progress in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. Please take a moment to read about our ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts and share this information with colleagues.

The Academy's Board of Directors and its organizational units — the Foundation, Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, Commission on Dietetic Registration, House of Delegates, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Lifelong Learning Committee, Nominating Committee, Nutrition and Dietetics Educators and Preceptors, Research Council, Dietetic Practice Groups and Member Interest Groups — are working to strengthen and address Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA), creating real, sustained change.

The Foundation
Since 1979, specific Foundation awards and scholarships have been made available for diverse individuals within the field of nutrition and dietetics. The portfolio of funds has continued to grow since that time. From 2017 to 2019, the Foundation awarded more than $535,000 to 211 diverse recipients. In 2020, the Foundation awarded $620,300 in scholarships for the 2020-2021 school year. Approximately 43% — or $266,300 — was awarded to ethnically diverse applicants.

We are happy to report that the Foundation continues to receive contributions to fund additional scholarships and grants for students and members in the 2021-2022 school year, much of which will be awarded to ethnically diverse students and members. A special thank you to Academy members and organizational units for their generous support.

  • NDEP has donated $200,000 to support the development of a Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship. The Fellow will:
    • Lead a two-year project to help identify and alleviate barriers ethnically diverse students face when accessing education and leadership opportunities within the profession
    • Identify barriers that diverse students face in becoming RDNs
    • Identify obstacles for diverse RDNs in advancing in the profession
    • Create a framework with potential solutions to support diverse students and RDNs
    • Enhance pre-professional and continuing education for RDNs and students in cultural competency to support a diverse population.
  • The Fellow will be selected based on the Foundation's Fellowship Program procedures and will start in mid-March 2021.
    • A detailed application through the Foundation's application portal will open soon and will be promoted through a variety of communications channels, including an all-member email, social media and to targeted groups.
  • Past Foundation Chair, Past Speaker and current Academy Board Member Diane Heller, MMSC, RDN, LD, FAND, has contributed $50,000 toward the Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship
  • The Pediatric Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group has committed $100,000 to establish a fund to support diversity and inclusion scholarships. Full criteria are under development and will be included in the Foundations 2021 scholarship opportunities
  • Suzanne Domel Baxter, PhD, RD, LD, FADA, FAND, a Foundation major donor, who has served on the Foundation Philanthropy Council and Scholarship Review Committee, is establishing a scholarship fund. While the scholarship criteria are currently being developed, it will give preference to dietetic students with a physical or sensory impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, whether it be ambulatory, independent living, hearing, vision, or self-care. If no applicants meet these criteria, the scholarship will be awarded to a Black student from South Carolina, Texas or Georgia
  • Lenora Moragne Memorial Award was established with an estate gift. The fund will provide financial support to a master's degree preferred dietetics educator or preceptor enrolled in a doctoral study program with an interest in public policy and nutrition. Preference will be given to Black applicants
  • The National Organization of Blacks in Dietetics and Nutrition MIG has raised more than $10,000 in 2020 for the NOBIDAN scholarship fund housed within the Foundation. In addition, NOBIDAN continues to raise funds to support the Dr. Evelyn Crayton Scholarship which is available directly through NOBIDAN.

These generous gifts signify the tremendous trust and confidence Academy members have in our ability to deliver impactful programs that will benefit the profession and the clients we serve.

Diversity and Inclusion Committee
The D&I Committee is using valuable data collected from members and external stakeholders to draft broad and encompassing action steps to galvanize diversity and inclusion initiatives. Once action steps have been approved by the committee, they will be sent to the newly formed D&I Advisory Group: 25 individuals encompassing broad representation of Academy groups and organizational units.

The D&I Advisory Group has been appointed to review and provide input into the draft action plan. To keep the process free from bias, the selection of the D&I Advisory Group was delegated to the external consultant The Exeter Group that facilitated the listening sessions and conducted an in-depth analysis of all the communications received by the Academy since May (including letters, emails, notes, social media postings, etc.). Exeter selected individuals to serve on the D&I Advisory Group using the criteria obtained by Academy organizational units in nomination surveys. View the Academy's Diversity and Inclusion page for resources and status updates.

Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics
ACEND's Accreditation Standards set the expectations for performance of nutrition and dietetics education programs. Adding requirements that address diversity, equity and inclusion in the ACEND Standards is one of the strongest messages that ACEND can send to its stakeholders.

The Draft Proposed 2022 Accreditation Standards include several additional core Knowledge and Competency statements, requirements for training of faculty/preceptors and students/interns, fair recruitment and admission practices and a statement to ensure program policies protect students and interns against inequity, racism, microaggressions and discrimination. The 2022 Standards will be released for voluntary adoption in the summer of 2021 and for mandatory adoption in the summer of 2022.

View ACEND's new webpage for resources (webinars, recorded lectures, workshops, data and trends) for students, faculty and preceptor programs. Information on the site also will include noteworthy practices to recognize programs who have successful diversity-related recruitment initiatives and quality educational activities and share these practices with the ACEND community. Two webinars have been completed and several additional webinars and educational materials are in development.

Commission on Dietetic Registration
CDR is committed to investing in building a growing and diverse profession. Since 2010, CDR has supported the Doctoral and Diversity Scholarship Funds at the Academy Foundation. As a result, 128 scholarships have been awarded to diverse individuals totaling $1.28 million. Additionally, $60,000 was awarded in 2020 in scholarships, provided through the Foundation's Second Century Member Campaign, to 12 diverse dietetic interns. Find more information about CDR scholarships.

House of Delegates
The HOD is devoting the 2020-2021 program year to dialogue and action addressing various aspects of diversity and inclusion. At its fall 2020 virtual meeting, the HOD addressed the critical issue question: How can the Academy and its members accelerate nutrition and health equity? Using a systems approach, the dialogue explored three key impact areas: Communications/Advocacy, Grassroots Efforts/Community and Research. HOD task forces are being formed to create tools for members to support development of grassroots/community programs and research endeavors.

Concepts of a proposed Academy Cultural Humility tool were generated and shared with the Board of Directors and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for action plan consideration. The HOD will address other aspects of diversity and inclusion at its February and May 2021 virtual meetings. The HOD also has a task force looking at how to incorporate more diversity into the HOD via Member Interest Groups.

Diversity and Health Equity Advocacy: The Academy's Policy Initiatives and Advocacy
Senate and House lobbying visits have stressed the Academy's concern for how COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color and exacerbated health disparities and the relationship between access to food and medical nutrition therapy. The Academy's COVID-19 efforts advocate for increased access to Medicare nutrition services through the MNT Act of 2020. The Academy's ongoing advocacy for SNAP and feeding assistance program language and regulations support food security.

Advocacy for fiscal year 2022 includes funding for minority-serving institutions to expand access to allied health professional programs in higher education and funding for outreach to encourage nutrition and dietetics as a career. The Academy and the National Organization for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education have joined forces to ask Congress to appropriate $310 million for the U.S. Department of Education. Grants would be set aside for Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Tribal Colleges and Universities; Minority Serving Institutions, such as Primarily Black Institutions, Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander Institutions to strengthen and grow their allied health education programs, including nutrition and dietetics.

The Academy presented at a December program titled Improving Community Health and Understanding the Importance of Nutrition, hosted by the Consulate General of Israel. The focus of the presentation is improving African Americans health through nutrition.

Two health and equity briefs have been developed, addressing health disparities and COVID-19 and a general outline of health disparities, with consultation and input from member interest groups and diversity leaders. In collaboration with the Congressional Black Caucus Heath Braintrust, the Academy convened the second annual Nutrition and Health Equity Summit in August. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has been invited to host a similar event focused on Latino nutrition and health.

Lifelong Learning and Professional Engagement
The Academy Center for Lifelong Learning continues to leverage the expertise of both member and external experts to infuse organizational education initiatives with the knowledge, skills and application opportunities to build greater equity, diversity and inclusion. The Academy Leadership Institute adjusted the advanced training opportunities to include keynote and interactive workshops on the topics of Get Rid of the BS (Bias Synapse) and Permission: Granted to Build an Inclusive Culture led by internationally renowned keynote and author Risha Grant. Additional Leadership Institute efforts include dedicated cohort projects on diversity, equity and inclusion with a focus on what the Academy and its members can do to ensure diverse backgrounds, viewpoints and approaches are leveraged as well as how this depth and breadth of diversity can be effectively amplified.

The Committee for Lifelong Learning (CLL) is working in collaboration with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to examine FNCE® programming through the lens of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA). This includes planning two educational tracks at FNCE® 2021 specific to these important issues facing the profession. The first track is focused on Health Equity, Access and Opportunity and will feature sessions that broaden the understanding of underprivileged and underserved communities, the disparities they experience, and ways to make positive change. The second track, Professional Standards and Advocacy, will focus on how leaders of today shape the future of dietetics specific to the state of the profession, education of incoming practitioners and ethical standards. The CLL is excited to report that a record number of proposals were submitted for these two tracks in the open call for sessions for the FNCE® 2021 meeting.

Dietetic Practice Groups, Member Interest Groups and Affiliate Dietetic Associations
Further educational initiatives are being provided across dietetic practice groups, member interest groups and affiliates which are available for member and non-members as approved through each group.

DPGs, MIGs and affiliates participate in the Academy’s Diversity Liaison program, appointing 65 leaders across all groups for the 2020-2021 membership year. D&I liaisons serve to conduct diversity outreach events to promote the profession to diverse individuals and/or increase cultural competency of current practitioners. D&I liaisons are eligible to apply for mini-grants ranging from $100 to $1,000 which are selected following the application period closing March 1, 2021.

Additionally, DPGs and MIGs are fostering conversations and sharing resources via listening sessions, interactive book clubs, online discussion boards, polling of members, leadership development and publishing resources for members to increase their knowledge and professional development on the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion. A few examples of recent and upcoming programs include:

  • A panel webinar hosted by 5 MIGs — Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), Indians in Nutrition and Dietetics (IND), National Organization of Blacks in Dietetics and Nutrition (NOBIDAN), Latinos and Hispanics in Dietetics and Nutrition (LAHIDAN), Religion MIG (RMIG) — titled More Inclusive Nutrition: Enhancing Your Practice Through Cultural Understanding focused on educating practitioners about cultural nuances, active listening and inclusive recipe adjustments
  • Hunger and Environmental Nutrition (HEN)and NOBIDAN hosted a Virtual Film Feastival, themed Dismantling Racism in the Food System. The Arc of Justice by Helen S. Cohen and Mark Lipman was viewed followed by a panel discussion
  • Diabetes Dietetic Practice Group (DDPG) and NOBIDAN hosted Diabetes throughout the African Diaspora, a webinar aimed to fill the gap of those disproportionately impacted by diabetes
  • Cultures of Gender and Age (COGA) hosted a webinar, An Invitation into the Diversity Tent, Be a Transformative Agent, which discussed the nutrition professional role and benefit of embracing change and diversity and becoming leaders that engage others in creating an inclusive community environment
  • AAPI, LAHIDAN and NOBIDAN hosted a 5-Day Racial Equity Challenge to help people better understand the issues surrounding equity and inclusion.
  • Public Health and Community Nutrition (PHCN) is hosting a webinar Identifying and Addressing Racial Bias in the Provision of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition Services which will address how racial bias leads to public and nutritional health access disparities and consequential health risks across the five levels of the Social-Ecological Model.
  • Weight Management (WM) and AAPI hosted a webinar, Culturally Tailored Nutrition Counseling for Asian Populations, to address the complexity and importance of providing culturally sensitive nutrition counseling and the impact of migration and predisposition to noncommunicable chronic illnesses in Asian origin populations.
  • Women’s Health (WH) will host two webinars in January 2021 on What is Race? presented by Juliette Blount, a NYC nurse practitioner. Participants may begin to understand how race impacts the care that health professionals provide, patients' perceptions, experience and health outcomes.

Council on Research
The Council has published papers highlighting research addressing disparities. For upcoming research projects on adult weight management, malnutrition in older adults and pediatric overweight and obesity, the Evidence Analysis team and work groups are identifying ways to extract and analyze data related to race, social economic status and disability.

During 2020:

  • The Evidence Analysis Center published its first scoping review addressing nutrition care in transgender persons
  • Council on Research published the process it used to develop the Academy's 2020 Research Priorities, which address the need for research in health disparities and with underrepresented populations
  • The Nutrition Research Network in collaboration with the Public Health dietetic practice group published a multi-modal research study on enhancing dietitians in public health. "The Academy's continued support of leadership development opportunities for RDNs in public health and community nutrition is also important, as leaders and agents of change were identified as a key enabler of public health workforce development in a qualitative study conducted across seven European countries."

During 2019:

  • The Nutrition Research Network published a seminal article on the economics of food insecurity and its impact on health disparity and policy.

During 2018:

  • The Nutrition Care Process and Outcomes Committee participated and led the U.S. component of a 10-country consortium study whose work reflects the collaboration of the Academy with multiple languages, cultures and ethnicities around the world.

Nominating Committee
The slate of candidates for the Academy's 2021 national ballot was chosen from many excellent nominees. The process of selecting candidates is detailed and deliberate. At every step, the Nominating Committee emphasizes the critical importance of inclusion, diversity, equity and access in choosing leaders for the Academy. The Nominating Committee recognizes it has moral accountability to ensure access to leadership by identifying equitable new pathways for individuals to serve.

Conclusion

The Academy continues to refine all current resources and create new tools for practitioners to enhance their cultural humility and ability to practice with empathy. We are grateful for work that is being accomplished and look forward to providing updates on the Academy's progress in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Sincerely,

Linda T. Farr, RDN, CSOWM, LD, FAND
President, 2020-2021

Patricia M. Babjak
Chief Executive Officer