Member Spotlights & Awards

Recognizing the achievements of VAND members

Annual Award Recipients

Congratulations To The Following 2022 VAND Annual Award Recipients!



Each year the Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics presents the highest honor that is bestowed upon a well-deserving Registered Dietitian Nutritionist VAND member: the Outstanding Dietitian of the Year Award.

This award recognizes hard work, loyalty, integrity, and leadership within our organization on a district and state level. He or she exemplifies the Vision of AND to optimize health through food and nutrition; she promotes the Mission of AND which is to empower members to be the food and nutrition leaders.

The Outstanding Dietitian of the Year Award for Virginia goes to Nancy Farrell, RDN, from the Northern District of VAND.



The Emerging Dietetics Leader Award for Virginia goes to Brittany Wheatley, RD, LDN, from the Northern District of VAND.



The Recognized Young Dietitian Of the Year Award for Virginia goes to Rachael Trotman, RD, CNSC from the Blue Ridge District of VAND.



The Outstanding Dietetic Student Award for Virginia goes to Emily Jenkins from the Southwest District of VAND.

Member Spotlight

Highlighting Our Incredible VAND Members!

Interviewer: What is your current position of employment and what are the responsibilities you have in that role? 

I currently have a private practice and my responsibilities are everything from beginning to end. I do marketing and promotion, billing, and insurance verification, in addition to the actual consultations with clients. I am also a consultant with a program called Fruit Street which provides an online diabetes prevention program. I facilitate a year-long group lifestyle change program focusing on healthy eating, exercise, and behavior change.

Interviewer: That’s incredible, and I love that the program offers extended support. What was your original career plan and how did that change over time? 

I took a non-traditional path. I did my undergrad at the Air Force Academy and served 9 years as a Personnel Officer. After separating from the Air Force, I chose to stay home to raise our 3 children. Once my youngest was about school age, I decided to go back to school to finish up my requirements to become a dietitian. My first job as a dietitian was for the VA medical system doing outpatient nutrition where I gained experience working with weight management counseling as well as their bariatric program. Then I worked for an insurance company for about four years as a diabetes educator. While I was there, I decided that I really wanted to pursue my own practice, and I did!

Interviewer: I love hearing how people get into dietetics and that sounds like such an interesting journey to where you are now. What is one piece of career advice you wish you would have received from someone when you were earlier on in your career?

The advice I give to people that maybe I didn’t necessarily get is that if there is a position that you are interested in, but you don’t think you are qualified for it, don’t talk yourself out of it. Tell yourself that the worst that can happen is, you don’t get selected, but you never know if you don’t apply. I think that’s so important, especially early on, when you feel like maybe you aren’t qualified for something. You never know what you’re capable of. When you’re applying, a lot of places will say that they want a certain amount of experience, and you don’t have that when you’re just starting out. It’s easy to just discount yourself, but a lot of times people will be willing to work with you even if you don’t have that experience.


Interviewer: Yes, let them tell you no, don’t say no to yourself. I think so many people need to hear that, thank you for sharing. Is there a professional skill that you’re still developing or would like to develop or work on in the future?

I’m trying to develop my marketing expertise, especially in terms of social media like trying to develop blog posts, or just different types of social media posts that would help with marketing. That’s an area that I definitely don’t have a lot of experience with that I’m trying to develop more.

Interviewer: Yes, social media is such a huge part of everything right now! What inspires you to continue your work in the field of dietetics?

I get a lot of inspiration from clients that I work with who have changes, especially with their health. I’m a certified diabetes care and education specialist so a lot of the clients I work with have diabetes. When I have someone come back to me six months later who say “wow, my A1C improved to normal levels and thank you, it was because of working with you,” that really inspires me and motivates me to keep working with more people. 



Highlighted Member

Jenn Lyons, RDN, CDCES

This month we are excited to welcome Jenn Lyons, RDN, CDCES as our member spotlight. Jenn is from the Northern Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (NVAND). Jenn’s career did not start with dietetics, but she found her way to the field and now has her own private practice. Click here to learn more about her career path, what advice she has for other dietitians, and how much she loves cookbooks!  

Interviewer: That’s amazing to see and hear about the impact of your work. How do you see the field of dietetics evolving over the next 10 years in your specific area of practice with diabetes education?

I see dietitians playing a more centralized role when it comes to diabetes care. I’m fairly new, I’ve been a dietitian for just over 10 years, and early on it seemed like a lot of providers didn’t necessarily think first to refer to a dietitian when it came to managing diabetes. They saw dietitians more as someone working in a hospital, managing diet orders, and dealing with food in a hospital. But we play such a more well-rounded role when it comes to managing diabetes that I’m starting to see physicians respect that more. They’re referring to dietitians to help manage diabetes. I see that starting to grow, hopefully, with the expansion of coverage for medical nutrition therapy. I’m really hoping within the next 10 years that coverage is going to expand. Right now, Medicare only covers medical nutrition therapy if you have a diagnosis of diabetes or chronic kidney disease. The Academy is really trying to get that to expand to other conditions because we know nutrition plays a key role in managing and especially in preventing those conditions. 


Interviewer: Absolutely, dietitians play such an important role, and it is wonderful that more physicians are looking to us to be more involved in supporting patients. What advice can you give to others about how to maximize their experience with either the state or district affiliate membership?

Volunteer! I have learned so much in volunteering. Within NVAND, I started off helping to manage the website and now I am one of the co-chairs with the private practice group. Just by volunteering you get a behind the scenes look at different things that are going on with the board and then you get to meet people who’ve been associated with VAND and NVAND and learn from them. I’ve had some unofficial mentorship from some of the other people who’ve been volunteering to learn more about expanding my practice and about the field in general. There are so many different ways you can volunteer, and even if you don’t think you have the experience, you’ll be supported along the way. The help you get from everyone else makes it really easy to volunteer your services. The annual meeting has also been really great to be able to participate in, especially now that it’s back in person again. That’s been a great way to meet other people, network, and learn a lot as well.


Interviewer: I couldn’t agree more! Now for a fun question, what are your favorite things to do when you’re not working? 

I really enjoy reading cookbooks. Kind of weird, but I read them like a novel. I probably have at least 100 cookbooks and I think I’ve read every one cover to cover. I enjoy imagining the recipe and the ingredients and how it tastes and smells. I also like to be outside every day, walking my dog and just being in nature. 


Interviewer: Do you like to cook? I’m sure reading cookbooks cover to cover must inspire you!

I do, I love to cook. I like trying new really involved recipes and I like trying new recipes from different cultures from all over the world.


Interviewer: Jenn, thank you so much for being involved in our VAND Member Spotlight and for sharing your story with us. It has been a pleasure getting to talk with you and hear about some of your many adventures in the field so far!




Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
PO BOX  220291 , Chantilly, VA 20153