Dames Dietitians Take the Lead
CONNIE DIEKMAN, M.ED., RD, CSSD, LD, FADA (St. Louis Chapter)
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics
Connie Diekman’s career has been diverse, starting as a registered dietitian in a research study, then providing nutrition consults to businesses, government agencies, fitness facilities, and ultimately, to the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. While at the university, she worked with the dining team to provide a menu that offered enjoyable, better-for-you options, and she provided consults to the athletes and to students through student health in her capacity as a specialist in sports dietetics.
She notes that until she moved through her career, she never realized how well the broad curriculum in dietetics prepared her for various positions. Obviously, it included the pure sciences of biology, physiology, organic and inorganic chemistry, biochemistry and applied sciences, but also management of teams and classes in behavior change and psychology. The later, she believes gave her the skills needed to provide leadership, to change concepts, and offer support to organizations. Connie asserts that the skills learned may have been food and nutrition focused but the skills easily translate to business, industry, and even community organizations. These acquired skills enhanced what she was able to contribute to the St. Louis and Missouri Heart Associations, her children’s high schools, her high school and college alum associations, and the St. Louis LDEI Chapter. She identifies that registered dietitians have a strong grounding in behavior change, people skills, and management—skills that enhance all those with whom they interact.
One of Connie’s greatest rewards was her election to the presidency of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly known as the American Dietetic Association. In that position, she had the opportunity and joy of representing her colleagues in dealing with external organizations, government agencies, all of the 50 state Academies and their members, specialized affiliates and sub-groups within the national organization. Connie explains, “My presidency further enhanced my skills to hear and process member concerns, to lead, motivate, and engage with the board to ensure that the strategic plan reflected the direction the organization needed to go and how the organization needed to position for success. I also learned patience.” Connie wisely says that we all know that the world changes slowly, and so do organizations.
However, she characterizes such periods as an opportunity to develop tolerance—for good change requires planning, perseverance, and support.