California Academy’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce Updates

Dorothy Chen-Maynard, PhD, RDN, FAND, President, 2020-21

The California Academy’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Taskforce met several times to identify issues and solutions to increase diversity in the membership.  The Diversity is defined to be inclusive of race, social class, ethnicity, religion, age, gender identify, sexual orientations, physical ability or attributes, political beliefs, national origin, areas of practice, students, dietitians, diet technicians, and the intersectionality.   

When I took on the role of the President for the second time around, I realized the need to increase diversity within our organization.  Therefore, I and the Executive Board members voted to formed a DEI taskforce to identify issues, challenges, and for the task force to provide solutions and recommendations to the Executive Board members to be more inclusive and provide diversity in our organization. 

The taskforce is consisted of 32 members and the Executive Board, who were self-nominated after a call for formation of the taskforce.  I am very pleased to see that we have many members, who are interested in this topic and wanted to see the change in our professional organization.  The group met three times over the past three-months and the following recommendations were submitted by the group to the California Academy’s Executive Board. 

The DEI taskforce expressed and recommended the following:

  • Form a DEI committee and provide a liaison to the executive board.
  • Create a California Academy Consensus Statement on Health, Equity, and Inclusion.
  • Create a “best practice” manual for inclusivity in the California dietetic community.
  • Create a volunteer program that supports dietitians to be engaging with community and youth to share the food, nutrition, and wellness programs as well as resources.
  • Invest in the communities by having dietetic professionals participate in the activities, which will provide exposure of the profession to the community members as a recruitment tool.
  • Advocate for a diversity requirement in Continuing Professional Education on cultural competency or diversity similar to the requirement for Ethics (this requires CDR, may be our representatives to the AND House of Delegates can start a conversation).
  • Provide DEI training for individuals, organizations, and corporations associated with California Academy.
  • Advocate for scholarships and activities to support diversity in all areas of dietetics including ways to support future and present dietitians, who may need resources to be successful (possibly work with California Academy Foundation for establishment of funds to support students and interns). Some examples, but not inclusive list, include provide funding and support for the Academy membership fees, conference fees, scholarship and grants for tuition and fees for supervised-practice experience and graduate programs. 
  • Work with ACEND to accredit additional DPD and supervised-practice programs that do not base admission on GPA and flexible graduate degree requirements to meet the January, 2024, mandate.
  • Work with state MIG members to solicit volunteers, ideas, and resources.
  • Advocate for changes in ACEND and internship to provide employment while completing dietetic supervised-practice program and graduate degree programs.
  • Provide training for identification and methods to interrupt aggressive behaviors, microaggressions, and stereotyping – provide ways to allow people to express their points of view and identify as well as ways to stop racism and social injustices at all levels.   
  • Provide a tool for discussion of perspectives for diversity and inclusion from community organizations, other healthcare, and professional organizations.
  • Increase inclusive messaging to confront stereotyping and conformation to social norms by removing the singular voice and narrow group of voice
    • SOGIE: LGBTQ/self-identification, preferred pronouns, etc.
    • Be like us, do this do that, proper language (good/bad/better, healthy/healthier)
    • Create messages that are inclusive
    • Tailor education and messaging to community, ethnic, and cultural groups
    • Bring all voices to the table and even though all food can fit, but perception is reality
    • Leadership should look more like the population we are serving
    • Health at Every Size: messaging to not use stigmatizing terms like obesity, overweight to describe body shapes and types
  • Empower members to stay involved, engaged, and keep up conversations on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: encourage members to become volunteers, take on leadership roles and positions, nominating committee needs to work with DEI committee to identify and nominate people to diversity the leadership positions. 
  • Make diversity a legislative priority.
  • Recognize the RDNs to be the first responders and essential employees.

The task force recommendations are very extensive and specific.  It will take a collective commitment of the California Academy membership, Executive Board, and Councils to accomplish these tasks.  The organization and members will need to make an ongoing commitment to and conscious effort to be a part of the solution, to not only complete these tasks, but to continuously ensure that our strategic goals, objectives, and actions prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in our activities, projects, and actions.    

As the President of California Academy, I recommend that we elevate the process by adding a Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to the Executive Board.  The council formed will take the recommendations provided and form committees to develop plans, propose activities and projects to implement them. The Executive Board is considering this idea for further discussion in the next board meeting on February 3.  If you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas that you want to share with the board, please do not hesitate to contact me at president@dietitian.org.  I thank you for your support of this very important activity and I look forward to hearing from all of you. 

Dorothy Chen Maynard, President

November 6, 2020

The following resources are provided for information purposes only. 
Land Acknowledgements:                                                                                               
https://www.racialequityla.org/tongva-history-walk-resources                                                    https://nativegov.org/a-guide-to-indigenous-land-acknowledgment/                                                            https://native-land.ca/territory-acknowledgement/
SOGIE: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression

PROUNOUNS AND GLOSSARY                                                                                            https://lgbt.ucsf.edu/signature-samples                                                                                                                       Human Rights Campaign Glossary                                                                    https://uwm.edu/lgbtrc/support/gender-pronouns/

Dear members of the  California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 

Thank you for joining the Town Halls on DEI. The meeting is part of an ongoing effort by the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to support and understand the diverse needs of our community and specifically discussion issues around Diversity and Inclusion that are imperative to the nutrition and dietetics profession.  
The Executive Board has summarized the questions and recommendations in this document. Feel free to email us Ca_Academy@dietitian.org with further questions or recommendations. Please check back for regular updates. 

“Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.” —Ola Joseph


Dorothy Chen-Maynard, President 
Monica McCorkle, President-Elect
Nancy Banda, Immediate Past- President 
Carried Der Garabedian, Secretary Treasurer 
Brenda O'Day, Vice President of Public Policy 
Erin Lehman, Vice President of Communications 
Karmen Ovespyan, Vice President of Education 
Crystal Vasquez, Vice President of Member Benefits 
Cary Kreutzer & Lesli Doshier, Delegate Co-Chairs 
Lisa Herzig, Foundation Chair 
Gigi Tsontos, Executive Director

Information from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Diversity & Inclusion


7/24/2020 Updates from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: 

The Academy continues to advance efforts organization-wide to address diversity, equity and inclusion. The Board of Directors empowered the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to make recommendations to support this important work. The full update of its ongoing efforts is available on eatrightPRO.org — including information on the Board-approved plan to conduct Listening Sessions in August and September with members, non-members, students, Academy organizational units and other stakeholders. These Listening Sessions will inform Academy strategies to increase D&I in the profession and among our leadership ranks.

In addition to the work outlined in the D&I Committee report, we are pleased to share with you the following updates.

Member Resources

To promote easy access to the existing portfolio of Academy diversity and inclusion resources for food and nutrition professionals, and to showcase new offerings and opportunities as they emerge, the Academy has developed a website page dedicated to this topic. In addition, 2018-2019 FNCE® session recordings on the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion are available at eatrightSTORE.org. Additional content is planned for release at FNCE® 2020, to be developed by the Committee for Lifelong Learning with input from the D&I Committee.


Nutrition and Health Equity Summit

On August 25, the Academy will host the Second Annual Nutrition and Health Equity Summit. The online conversation will focus on advancing the Academy’s advocacy efforts related to health equity, diversity and inclusion and reducing health disparities. This year’s event will be held with U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (Ill.) and the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. The Academy’s first Nutrition and Health Equity Summit was held on August 22, 2019, in Chicago, and the proceedings from the summit are available on eatrightPRO.org.

 National Organization for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education

In early spring 2020, the Academy partnered with the National Organization for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education to ask Congress to appropriate $310 million for the U.S. Department of Education, of which $300 million would be set aside for grants 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 remaining $10 million would be set aside for grants for organizations or institutions to conduct national outreach initiatives to encourage people of color from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups to pursue careers in nutrition and dietetics and to provide technical assistance to grantees to recruit and mentor students that enroll in their newly opened nutrition and dietetics programs.


Academy members were encouraged to respond to an Action Alert from the Academy to contact their members of Congress to include this request in the next appropriations bill — highlighting the benefits of supporting diversity in our profession and expanding funding and outreach for nutrition and dietetics programs for people of underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups. We were encouraged by the level of member engagement and want to thank those of you who took the time to respond.


State of Food and Nutrition Series: Impact of RDNs on Non-Communicable Diseases

In collaboration with the Academy, the Foundation began a new project in 2019 titled the State of Food and Nutrition Series: The Impact of RDNs on Non-Communicable Diseases. The series seeks to demonstrate the value of access to nutrition care by RDNs in three high-priority non-communicable diseases that affect many in the U.S. and globally: hypertension, chronic kidney disease and Type 2 diabetes. The project includes a focus on health inequity and improving access to care for marginalized populations. Results from this multi-phase project will be used to advocate for increased access to nutrition care delivered by RDNs. A report of this effort will be posted on the website and shared through Eat Right Weekly.


Foundation Fellowships and Scholarships

The Foundation is pursuing a new fellowship opportunity for a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow. As part of the Foundation’s successful fellowship program, this opportunity will support an RDN member to work with staff, D&I Committee member leaders and external experts to understand barriers and challenges that diverse students face in pursuing nutrition and dietetics education and entering the profession. Understanding those efforts that have been successful and identifying ways to build on those successes will also be a focus. The Fellow will be responsible for recommending a framework for action and strategies for implementation.


The Foundation will provide $500,000 in scholarship support this year. All students were eligible to apply and there are specific funds that were developed to support diverse candidates. The application process for this year is closed but will reopen in February 2021. The Foundation is working with NOBIDAN to help advance their scholarship fundraising efforts. A list of scholarships and awards can be found here.


The Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Academy Board of Directors acknowledge that current events highlight the need for our organization to continue to actively support and pursue change that leads to addressing inequities, fostering a community that honors the profession and welcomes, includes and serves all.


We remain confident that, together, we will move our organization forward, addressing difficult issues facing the Academy and our profession. We look forward to providing updates on the Academy’s progress in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.


Linda T. Farr                          Patricia M. Babjal

RDN, CSOWN, LD, FAND     Chief Executive Officer 

PResident, 2020-2021