Mandisha Waiters RD, LDN was nominated due to her efforts in getting SB95 passed which allowed order writing privileges for RDs in the state of Nevada along with her big heart for the Las Vegas community. She is described as open, outgoing, and driven. Mandi joined NvAND as an undergrad student about 10 years ago. She has served as the Public Policy Coordinator from 2017-2019.
Mandisha currently works at Aid for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN) as a community dietitian providing medical nutrition therapy to patients living with HIV and AIDS. Mandi also works part time as a clinical dietitian at Spring Valley Hospital. She reports she likes having multiple things on her plate to find new things she enjoys. She confesses she feels antsy only having one job or project.
Mandi makes a difference by making healthy eating and wellness accessible to everybody. A common concern she gets is how to afford eating and living healthy. Mandi loves teaching people how to eat within this budget and emphasizes that they do not have to overhaul their life or buy anything special. She looks at the items they are already buying and finds a healthier version that does not have a big price difference.
Mandi works with a diverse population and says that if you have never been exposed to a setting with low income, poverty-stricken people, you would not necessarily see that in your day-to-day and understand how to address that aspect of food insecurity with people. A lack of diversity in dietetics and the state leads to a lack of opportunity to receive training, especially as a student, to understand how to interact with a person different from yourself. If you are working at a hospital, you typically do not ask about food security or housing stability or anything that happens outside the hospital so you never learn how to address what happens outside the hospital setting. She goes on to say that this a big aspect that is missing during internships and it does not come with any age, race, ethnicity, or creed it is just understanding a different walk of life to be able to better help a person in a different socioeconomic bubble.
Mandisha was very modest and humble of her efforts and her role as Public Policy coordinator when asked to expand on her efforts getting SB95 passed. Mandi reports Allison Schnitzer was the hero of getting SB95 passed and that the stars aligned after being in the right place at the right time. This is despite Mandi explaining that testimony was required and well as consulting with the Academy multiple times. While Mandisha is proud of her role in getting SB95 passed and obtaining order writing privileges for RDs, she feels it is not her greatest accomplishment since it left some NV RDs out in the cold, like community and private practice RDs. Mandi realizes it was a great thing and that not everyone can always benefit but knows it is still a struggle for other RDs in the state.
Mandisha loves to cook and would like to attend Culinary School with a focus on baking. She loves to share her food with others. She also enjoys playing Call of Duty on the PlayStation with her partner which is a nightly routine.
Mandi shared that she has been a person who has been impacted by breast cancer and implores members to check themselves monthly for breast cancer, as early detection is the key to survival.
Question of the Month:What did you eat routinely as a family growing up?
BBQ, in particular, brisket. My family is from Mesquite, Texas so all family events had brisket and I have come to always look forward to it at family functions.
Kate Gardner Burt, PhD, RD is an assistant professor and Undergraduate Program Director of the Dietetics, Foods, and Nutrition Program at Lehman College, City University of New York. Dr. Burt is a registered dietitian and culinary nutritionist who teaches courses in cultural humility and foodways and professional practice. Her research broadly aims to reduce racial and ethnic inequities in dietetics and food systems. Within this scope, Dr. Burt’s recent work focuses on unveiling systemic racial bias in the profession and in our dietary recommendations. She received her BS in film and television from Boston University and her MS in exercise physiology and nutrition, RD and PhD in food and nutrition policy from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Register for our annual conference to hear an amazing presentation given by Dr. Burt!
Wade Warren is a senior at UNLV and is the current president of the Student Nutrition and Dietetics Association (SNDA). Wade was nominated because of his commitment and the effort he has invested into SNDA over the past year. He is described as devoted, dependable, and encouraging.
Wade plans to graduate in May 2021 then head straight into the internship to become an RD. Wade focused his interview on SNDA which he reports has really helped guide him through his time at UNLV from being a member of the Garden Committee to Garden Committee Chair to now President, Wade said he has been able to develop connections, have invaluable experience, and grow as a dietetic student.
Wade has made a difference this year by taking on a leadership role through SNDA. He was able to step up to the role even through the daunting pandemic to keep the organization running. Wade said that COVID-19 has made many additional challenges this year for SNDA. The organization had to evolve and change to a virtual platform which Wade has been the leader of. SNDA has put member safety first while still promoting a sense of community for the members despite almost all in person activities being restricted. Wade added that this has stimulated growth and creativity and the organization has continued to thrive with virtual meetings and community service opportunities that allow social distancing.
He reports he is very lucky to have such a good group of officers to work with because they bring a lot to the table. He has learned how to collaborate and make decisions as the leader on what is best for the organization moving forward. He has found that many people want to get involved but sometimes just need a little support to commit.
Besides being president of SNDA, Wade is also very involved volunteering in Nicole Kiley’s sports nutrition internship. He is currently one of a few students who are able to stay involved in this program through COVID. He has been able to observe what a sport’s dietitian does day to day, the role they fill, and how to thrive in a sports dietitian position while being supported by Nicole and gaining confidence.
Wade would like to strengthen the relationship between NvAND and SNDA. He said it would be great to be able to show members the diverse interest and career options that dietetics can offer as the possibilities are endless. He invites anyone who is interesting in speaking to members of SNDA or collaborating with the group to reach out to him at email@example.com.
Question of the Month: What is your favorite food quote?
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”-- J.R.R Tolkien
Aurora Buffington PhD, RDN, LD, FAND is a NvAND member and dietitian who was recently recognized as a fellow by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (FAND) is a recognition certificate that identifies Academy members who have made significant and sustained contributions to the field of nutrition and dietetics, establishing them as role models. Aurora was nominated for this month’s spotlight because she is willing to take on leadership roles, is passionate about sharing information regarding community programs and because she is a role model, not only to interns she precepts for but for fellow dietitians as well. Aurora is described as being an initiator, educator, and mentor.
Dietetics is a second career for Aurora. Her first was serving for 10 years in the US Air Force. She states this was one of the most rewarding experiences of her life because she made many lifelong friendships, met her husband, and developed a love for pasta and wine.
Aurora Buffington is now a RD, public health professional, physical activity practitioner, mother, wife, auntie, and brand-new grandmother. Aurora was the very first UNLV dietetic intern and now he works at the University of Nevada Reno Extension in Clark County as an assistant professor specializing in public health nutrition.
Aurora has been a member of NvAND since 2004 and has held a wide variety of many different positions including media representative, public relations chair, president elect, president for 2 consecutive terms, past president, annual meeting chair, nomination committee, and state regulatory specialist.
Aurora loved being president despite it being a touch position that really stretched her. Her favorite position was working as past president and annual meeting chair because she was able to collaborate with Today’s Dietitian and merge their national meeting and Nevada’s state meeting to benefit both groups.
Aurora makes a difference by demonstrating that dietitians can work anywhere and everywhere. She tries to be inclusive to anyone showing an interest in healthier environments, especially in healthier food environments, in helping to develop healthier food goals. The difference she makes is mentoring people to aid them in reaching their personal goals and make connections.
Aurora feels she does not have a single greatest career accomplishment d/t her diverse background. Besides being a dietitian, she teaches fitness classes at a local rec center, active in church, loves cooking for her family, and participating in Member Interest Groups through the Academy. Aurora feels her biggest personal accomplishment is the connection and relationship she has with her family.
The ability to connect with other people is the most important skill Aura has developed over the years.
Aurora loves informal entertaining, cooking and hanging out with friends and family, and listening to music. Aurora loves to help people shine and move ahead, starting new projects, and being a pioneer by pushing the envelope trying new things even if she has to learn tough lessons because it broadens her horizon.
Question of the Month: What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?
Peanut Butter sandwich with American cheese, jelly optional
Lauri Egan, RDN, CPT, is a key player in our state affiliate's organizational setup, structure and maintenance. She wears multiple hats and knows the inner workings of this organization, the Academy and how to run a successful board. She is an invaluable resource to incoming Presidents and any new board members, especially those who've never held a leadership position before. Lauri Egan is NvAND's rockstar, and we are so lucky to have her! Three words to describe Lauri are genuine, supportive, and reliable on top of being just a fun person.
Lauri joined NvAND while she was still an intern. She quickly became the Website Coordinator and is now the Administrator for the Nevada Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Lauri has a lot of fun meeting new board members each year and seeing the back end of how the organization functions. Lauri helps with the fluency of the transition from board members serving one year to new board members volunteering the next. She assists in tracking documents, orienting new board members, and making sure that the by-laws of NvAND and the Academy are being followed.
One reason Lauri likes being a dietitian is to bring new and changing education and information to NvAND members and the public. Lauri’s favorite part of dietetics is that dietitians are able to communicate with the public better based on improved science over the years.
Technology is the most important skill Lauri has developed in her role. Lauri stated that if we can make tasks quick, efficient, to the point, and less time consuming; getting information across will be easier and less frustrating. Technology also plays a big role in training new board members.
The people-interactions are always the most rewarding experience Lauri has each year. Lauri loves discovering what motivates people, whether that be clients or members of NvAND. She said it is fascinating to see different people, in the exact same atmosphere, create something completely different. She said it is refreshing to have people rearrange ideas and promote change.
Lauri would like members to know that she is always a resource and can help members locate or find information they are looking for.
In Lauri’s spare time she loves to explore with her family and find new adventures around her town.
What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
Lauri cooked a turkey one time and since has opted not to do a traditional Thanksgiving meal but instead creates a cultural immersion experience each Thanksgiving with different cuisines.
Roxana Ehsani MS, RD, CSSD, LDN
As a new Academy Spokesperson, Roxana Ehsani demonstrates she is not afraid to take risks. Having recently moved to Las Vegas she began reaching out to local media organizations in a new city. Additionally, she has started accepting patients in her own private nutrition practice. She continues to accept these challenges so that she can grow professionally and also to help promote dietitians in our community. Three worlds used to describe Roxana are entrepreneurial, professional, and dedicated.
Roxana serves as an Academy Spokesperson which was a major professional goal for herself and applied as soon as her conflict of interest serving as a supermarket spokesperson ended. She is the first spokesperson to represent Las Vegas. There are about 30 volunteer Academy Spokespersons that represent dietitians, academy members, and nutrition professionals in various forms of media such as print, radio, podcast, and TV. Their goal is to represent the Academy and dietitians as the expert nutrition professionals’ consumers should turn to, especially in a world full of misinformation from non-professionals. Roxana has experience in TV media and tends to gravitate towards those roles. Media experience is one of Roxana’s greatest skills she has developed.
Roxana would love for fellow members to reach out for a virtual meet-up, especially any members that have media connections to local print, news, or radio outlets so she can effectively serve her role as Academy Spokesperson. To reach Roxana, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roxana comes from a culturally diverse background and spoke many different languages as she grew up, including German and Spanish. Her mother is from Austria and her father is from Iran. She feels she makes a difference as a dietitian as she can relate and connect with her patients with diverse backgrounds because of her own experience with various cultures and cuisines.
Roxana is new to Nevada who works full time in an outpatient setting and is also focused on building her own private practice. Roxana’s goal for early 2021 is to start working for herself full time. Roxana feels her greatest accomplishment is establishing her own business despite various challenges. Roxana had to learn many new skills from accepting and billing private insurance to building a professional website. Roxana states that “establishing my own business is the hardest thing that I have ever had to do, but I feel really happy I pushed myself through and now I am a business owner.”
Roxana’s advice to fellow RDs passionate about starting their own business is to “push through” because there will be many obstacles in the path. She has faced many challenges in starting her own business but never gave up. She reports she had to learn many things that were never taught in school or the internship when establishing her private practice. Despite these challenges she is glad she pushed forward and is now a business owner.
Roxana loves to cook and bake for hours at a time, run, and travel (though not this year, unfortunately).
Question of the month:
What is one food you cannot live without? Dark Chocolate
Nicole Bustamante, RDN, LD works as the Manager of Clinical Nutrition at Renown Health in Reno, Nevada. Nicole was nominated for this month’s member spotlight because she is the clinical nutrition manager of a large hospital and has been very focused on understanding and working to implement order writing privileges at her facility in addition to being active in attending NvAND events. She is described as proactive, detailed, and responsible.
Nicole has been an RD since 2008 after graduating from University of Nevada-Reno. Nicole has been a member of NvAND since 2008. She was the Northern NvAND president from 2009-2011. She reports being a board member was a great experience and her favorite part was participating in networking events.
Nicole began her management role at Renown in 2015 when she became a supervisor and then a manager. She currently manages 42 employees.
She feels she makes a difference as a dietitian because nutrition is one of the few things in the hospital setting that can provide patients with comfort. “Through a warm meal or a friendly education, we can hopefully make a difference during their stay.”
Adaptability is one of the most important skills Nicole has developed and continues to work on. She may think her day is going to go one way but many times has to be flexible as the day unfolds in a different direction.
Renown Health is currently going through the process of allowing dietitians order writing privileges. Nicole says this has been the most rewarding experience she has had because it shows how important dietitians are to the medical team and providing care to the patient. Nicole is working with a host of other disciplines to push this initiative forward, not only for dietitian privileges but for other discipline writing privileges in the hospital as well.
In her spare time, Nicole likes to work on various craft projects, be outdoors, and spend time with her husband and dog at a lake or hiking.
Question of the month: What is one food you keep typing to like but just can’t?
Salmon. Nicole tries to eat it but it is never something she looks forward to.
This month we would like to highlight the efforts of the two dietitians at Clark County School District (CCSD):
Christina Saheb RDN, LD and Lory Hayon RDN, LD.
You can follow @CCSDfoodservice on social media platforms.
These two dietitians were nominated due to their phenomenal work during the pandemic. CCSD food service uses a central kitchen. When schools closed and COVID guidelines for social distancing were released, the food service team had to come up with multiple plans. Christina and Lory brainstormed with their team on the best ways to follow these new guidelines while still feeding nutrient dense foods to those in need.
Christina oversees the central kitchen and plans all the menus. She is able to make a difference by creating healthy menus for children to eat at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Her healthy menus have a large impact as they were served to over 1.3 million students each week during the last school year.
Lory oversees special diets, including allergens and modified textures. Lory is also in charge of special events, social media and marketing, and the fresh fruit and vegetable program at the elementary level. Lory makes a difference by researching products and providing more fresh fruits and vegetables that some students have never even seen before.
Christina and Lory make a strong team. They work together on developing and researching new items for the menu but also have different roles they complete independently. “Divide and conquer” is their motto. They stressed that they are only two members of a much larger team. The combined efforts of team members at schools, warehouse workers, the procurement department, and student workers are essential. The student workers come up with ideas and test potential items for menus. All departments are essential for a smooth operation.
The COVID-19 outbreak has had a direct impact on these two dietitian’s roles at CCSD. The pandemic has made it difficult to forecast how much food is needed for this coming school year. It is still unknown when school is starting, how many students will be eating meals, or if the supply chain will be impacted.
CCSD is currently operating under the Summer Food Service Program which allows meals to be served to children from 2-18. All children are able to utilize this program, not just CCSD students. This has significantly increased the amount of meals they are able to provide to the community. They have now served over 4 million meals in just a matter of months!
These two dietitians had to quickly adapt and change procedures once the pandemic started. Online platforms are being utilized as much as possible for meetings and training purposes. The pandemic also impacted how meals are served in the schools. All foods must now be packaged, changing the way open food, such as the salad bar, operate.
Lory recommends to pursue the field of dietetics you are most interested in but to also be flexible as new opportunities arise all the time. She reports she would never have thought she would end up in food service. Lory and Christina both love the outdoors and share a strong interest in camping.
Question of the Month: What is your favorite school cafeteria foods?
Do you know a fellow professional who makes a difference? Please email Newsletter@EatRightNevada.org or click here to nominate a member for a future spotlight.
Katie has been a member of NvAND since she became a RD four years ago. Katie is a very busy professional who works full time in a hospital, owns her own business, and is also finishing a Master’s degree. As a dietitian Katie does send time educating clients and patients on the differences between a dietitian and a nutritionist/health coach.
Katie is a pediatric PICU dietitian at University Medical Center where she calculates tube feeds, educates on type I diabetes, and monitors nutritional status of patients with traumatic brain injuries. Katie loves being an indispensable part of an interdisciplinary team where she is able to make an impact on nutritional care daily. Critical thinking is the most important skill Katie feels she has developed over the years. She reports real patients are much more complex than the case studies learned in school and figuring out the key thing to address is essential to problem solving.
Katie was a competitive synchronized swimmer for many years and was even selected for the US national team. Katie reports she loved being a synchronized swimmer but that she did develop poor eating habits and struggled with body image, even after she became a RD. After walking through her own “food freedom journey”, she founded Spada Strong Nutrition LLC to assist athletes with similar struggles. Spada Strong Nutrition LLC is a nutrition coaching company focused on helping athletes overcome eating and body image issues. The focus of Spada Strong Nutrition is overall wellness, not just physical health. Katie helps her clients decide what they can eat for themselves and works best for them. She tells clients she wants them to be “their own dietitian”. Katie makes a difference to her former athletes by breaking down false nutrition beliefs that are ingrained in sports culture so they are able to eat with more freedom and confidence. Katie stated her biggest advice to other members thinking of starting their own business is to “take messy action”. Jumping into a business will be far from perfect, but just do it anyways. Finding a business coach or mentor can also be helpful.
In her spare time Katie likes to go hiking at Redrock, strolling Las Vegas Boulevard in the evening, and laying by the pool.If Katie had to eat one meal every day for the rest of her life, she would choose Taco Salad.
One of Katie’s favorite things about NvAND is being able to connect with other members and she encouraged anyone who wanted to connect with her to reach out. You can reach out and learn more about Katie at spadastrongnutrition.com.
Do you know a member who makes a difference? Please email Newsletter@EatRightNevada.org or click here to nominate a member for a future spotlight.