FNCE 2019 Opening Session Remarks

10/28/2019 - Below are the prepared remarks by Academy President Terri J. Raymond, MA, RDN, LD, FAND, October 26 at the Opening Session of the 2019 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Philadelphia, Pa.

The following videos also were featured at the FNCE® 2019 Opening Session:

  • RDNs: The Passion to Create Positive Change: The Academy’s members are accomplished professionals in a wide variety of practice settings throughout the country.
  • The Malnutrition Quality Improvement Initiative is a collaboration of the Academy with Avalere Health and with the support of Abbott Nutrition. This video updates members on the work of the Academy to advance patient-centered malnutrition care and develop real-world solutions.
  • "Spirit, Dedication and Drive": Introduction of Sella H. Cash, MS, MEd, FAND, recipient of the 2019 Marjorie Hulsizer Copher Award, the Academy's highest honor. The award was presented by a representative of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, in St. Louis, Mo.

President Terri J. Raymond, MA, RDN, LD, FAND Opening Session Remarks

FNCE 2019 Opening Session

Thank you so much and welcome to FNCE! Let’s hear it for our host city ... Philadelphia! We are the Academy! This is us!

Our members are simply amazing. Thank you to the members on stage for helping me welcome everyone to FNCE:

  • Susan Adams, assistant professor at La Salle University
  • Army Captain Carl Barnes
  • Ashley Carter, co-founder of EatWell Exchange
  • Jose Madrid, dietetic intern at Horizon Specialty Hospital
  • Kathleen Pellechia, communications manager at FHI 360
  • Charlene Russell-Tucker, chief operating officer at the Connecticut Department of Education
  • Jasmine Westbrooks, executive director and co-founder of EatWell Exchange

Your individuality creates the unbelievable landscape of our Academy.

As you can see, they serve as inspiration for all. Let’s give them a round of applause for their support today.

Speaking of inspirations, I love the outdoors. Nature is my passion. And each one of us here today, has our own unique passions and pursuits. Just as nature brings together a vast mosaic of beauty, Academy members create a distinct, diverse, and remarkable mosaic – a pattern of improbable beauty and unique qualities.

You may have noticed a stuffed Elmo in one or more of the slides. I found him while riding my bike on a quiet, country road in the San Juan Islands. And since then, he’s with me on all my outdoor adventures. And just as unexpectedly as finding my little traveling companion, I found my passion in nutrition and dietetics in contract foodservice many years ago.

Like many, following my internship, I wanted a clinical job in hospital dietetics. The economy was very poor at that time, and finally, after six months of flooding the market with resumes, driving to every hospital in an 80-mile radius and working four part-time jobs, I took a risk joining a small contract foodservice company, a path far less travelled by RDNs back then.

I could never have envisioned my career path or standing before you, here today, as President of such a longstanding and far-reaching organization — our Academy. However, one thing that I have always known is: When we come together in our professional organization, we are bound by our universal love of good food and good health for everyone and together create the remarkable mosaic that makes us the Academy!

Let’s meet a few of the Academy members who are contributing to our mosaic every day.


I am so proud of the work everyone is doing – give each other a hand for who you are and all that you do. I love your energy. I love your passion. Our clients and patients feel it, too.

They know they are in good hands with an RDN or NDTR who is an Academy member. All the hard work that Academy members have done for more than a century is generating a need for your professional expertise. That need grows by the day as we meet the public's nutrition and health needs.

Thank you so much for the wonderful opportunity you have given me to serve as the Academy’s 2019-2020 President. And thank you to my friends and colleagues Ethan Bergman, Hope Hale, Debby Latham-Skagen and Barbara Pyper who wrote their kind introduction of me in the July Journal.

They wrote that my style is one of "boots on the ground" — hiking boots, that is. And I do believe in doing what is needed to get the job done. All my life, I have wanted to maximize my opportunities, and this was particularly challenging following the path less travelled in contract foodservice.

The Academy was there for me, providing education, networking and leadership training. And I want all that and more for you today and into the future. Right now, science and nutrition information travels at light speed. We must always pursue the latest and best resources to meet the demands of today’s world.

It is my goal to help each of us maximize the endless opportunities that come with living and practicing in an era of nonstop – and ever-accelerating – change.

And with change we have a responsibility to receive the great gifts of diverse ideas, thoughts and experiences that our world offers. And because of these gifts the beautiful mosaic that we make together, requires more than just working side by side.

We need to create greater understanding of ourselves and others. Then we can come together and incorporate our understanding into words and actions that lead to increased mutual respect, inclusion and opportunities for all.

One of the best things a person – or an organization – can do, to create understanding, is to listen. And that is my promise to you. I want to listen to you at meetings, in individual conversations, by email.

There is much to be learned about each other and ourselves, and to make connections that lead to understanding by listening. If we are too busy talking, we are not listening. I encourage you here at FNCE to be part of two-way dialogue: listen and be heard.

Here’s a great example of how you are being heard.

Ten Academy members are among the 20 nationally recognized nutrition and health science authorities who were named last February by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to the government’s new 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Never before have so many Academy members served on this committee.

Our distinguished colleagues were selected for their expertise in public health and their commitment to review the current state of food and nutrition science. We will, as always, be an important part of creating and implementing the best food guidance for everyone.

America's athletes – at every level of ability and performance – listen to Academy members, especially those who are sports dietitians and members of our SCAN DPG. Are you out there, SCAN? Let me hear you!

With the 2019 World Series underway, the world’s best baseball players are learning from and listening to Academy members. Our own Roberta Anding is the team dietitian for the American League champion Houston Astros … and her friend and colleague Sue Saunders Bouvier fills the same role for the National League champs Washington Nationals.

Whoever wins the World Series, I am so proud that our members are "fueling greatness," providing their teams with the competitive edge that begins with healthful eating. Congratulations to Roberta and Sue and a shout-out to all of our SCAN members. You are superstars on Team Academy!

We may be a nonprofit organization, but your voice is heard loud and clear on Wall Street. It was a wonderful morning on August 28 when Academy members rang the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Thank you to the New York State Academy, and especially to the affiliate’s President Reyna Franco, for doing a great job representing all of us. What a fantastic way to bring Kids Eat Right Month 2019 to a close.

And speaking of kids: Parents of young children everywhere have a better plan for the drinks their kids should consume, thanks to a recent, unprecedented collaboration of our Academy, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association. Together we developed a new set of healthy beverage consensus recommendations for children from birth through age 5.

They offer examples of healthy dietary patterns that support optimal physical and cognitive growth and development. And your Academy played a significant role in creating these recommendations.

Let me ask you a quick question: "Did You Know?" I have a reason for asking.

I speak with many Academy groups and individuals. And I find that too often members and non-members alike are simply unaware of the many Academy programs, products and services that are available.

To close this awareness gap, the Academy offers a series of messages to members called "Did You Know?"

"Did You Know?" appears on the Academy’s website, on social media channels, on Listservs and in our valuable member newsletter Eat Right Weekly. Each "Did You Know?" highlights a fact about the Academy.

For example:

  • "Did you know the Academy is committed to telling your story to all possible audiences, promoting and branding members as the food and nutrition experts?"


  • "Did you know a major underpinning of the Academy’s Strategic Plan is eliminating all forms of malnutrition?"

Malnutrition is such an important issue, for us, for our patients, for the entire population. The September Journal Supplement was entirely focused on the Malnutrition Quality Improvement Initiative featuring eight articles and 24 abstracts with 88 authors, demonstrating the expertise of our colleagues. Thank you to all who work on MQii. It is such a remarkable initiative.

I mentioned "the Academy mosaic" a few minutes ago. A vital aspect of our collective mosaic is how we arrive at the same "place" – serving clients, patients and communities in so many different practice settings and geographical areas.

The Academy’s Compensation & Benefits Survey of the Dietetics Profession details 20 different primary work settings for registered dietitian nutritionists and nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered. And along with our diverse experiences, the countless locations where we accomplish our crucial work will always be one of the very best things about our chosen profession.

We work in every state and dozens of countries. From Seattle to Philadelphia, from Guatemala to Antarctica … I love the fact that we are anywhere and everywhere.

Now, a time to say thank you to so many for so much. Some of you have been with me every step of the way, on my journey since my internship: Nancy Buergal, Colleen Matthys. Others early on and throughout my career: Cam Lanier, Marilyn Wolf, Cristi Young. Some through the many volunteer opportunities I’ve enjoyed throughout the years: Candace Johnson, Sonja Stetzler, Kathy McCluskey, Sonja Connor, Jessie Pavlinac. Some through business connections: Mary Abshire, Pam Brummit, Chery Carson, Becky Dorner, Lynn Moore, Linda Roberts, Brenda Richardson, Mary Vester-Toews. And the list could go on forever.

Each of you inspire, support and champion our profession, our Academy and create that beautiful mosaic that I mentioned earlier; and have and continue to impact my life, creating a greater understanding of myself, others and the world we share. Thank you!

And thank you to the Academy's headquarters team, working tirelessly behind the scenes under the direction of Pat Babjak to support our work, our message and our impact. Thank you for the honor of serving on CDR with Chris Reidy, and to the Foundation team. Each of you individually and collectively makes a difference.

And last, those of you who know me well, know that my family tree is shared with only three cousins. But for more than 25 years that void has been filled with my best friend and soul mate Roger Merritt. He has shared his family, his love and companionship. He is kind, supportive and probably the most positive person I know. His family’s support and love is a beacon whose light never wavers, just burns brighter over time.

In closing, our mosaic makes a real difference in people’s lives. Together, through communication and collaboration, let’s increase the respect and value you deserve. Our dreams can be our destiny.

Your talents contribute to the diverse mosaic that has sustained and enriched our organization for over a century. Our Academy will always be whatever you make it.

Remember to listen, learn and share, because you never know where it may lead.

You can do anything and together we can do everything.

WE are the Academy!