Debbie Klein is an RD who has worked at Renown Hospital in Reno for the last 22 years. Debbie has been a member of NvAND for 24 years. Debbie has served multiple positions on the NvAND board which she reflects was a most valuable experience. Debbie served as Public Policy Chair for 6 years, then served as President-Elect/President/Past-President for NvAND. Debbie was nominated for her nurturing nature to new RDs and assisting interns with entry into the field, her obvious love for her complex career in the ICU, and for being a great example of daily passion for her job. She is described as energetic, inspiring, and dedicated.
Working in the Trauma Unit at Renown as a critical care RD inspired Debbie to become specialized in her field and she became certified as a Clinical Nutrition Support RD and has also been a member of ASPEN. Debbie states that she is passionate about what she does and the way in which she does it.
Integrating into a team and bringing new ideas for the good of the team as well as the patients is one way Debbie makes a difference as an RD. Debbie explained that she is very forward thinking and serves as an agent for change and progress. Debbie reflects that she has had the opportunity to gather ideas through attending conferences and leadership conferences while serving the Academy that she was able to bring back and introduce at her hospital to bring forth new ideas and policy change.
The most important skill Debbie feels she has developed as a clinical RD and serving a role in public policy is the confidence that she is a nutrition expert. As a young RD Debbie felt she lacked the confidence to speak up. She explains that when she became Public Policy Chair of NvAND she knew nothing about public policy. This did not stop her from taking the position and going to Washington DC every year. This experience allowed her to build her confidence as a nutrition expert because she was promoting nutrition knowledge to people who did not know about nutrition. This served as a confidence booster for her. She says this also translates to her job in the hospital as she continues to be the nutrition expert for others who do not know about nutrition.
Reflecting on her career Debbie confesses she has had many memorable and rewarding experiences and could not narrow it down to just one. Debbie listed the following: gaining self confidence as a young RD, initiating policy change in the hospital she works, having a conversation with a MD that lead to a hospital policy change, introducing the concept of RD involvement in bedside feeding tube placement and resulting policy change, her experience serving on the NvAND board was a time of growth both personally and professionally as it allowed her to make many life-long friendships that continue today while being active in NvAND, learning during her time as Public Policy Chair, attending leadership classes which produced changes in both her personal and professional life, she is proud to have been involved introducing the idea for dietitian licensure in the state of Nevada while she was serving as President-Elect and working as part of a great team where she learned on mean different levels, and she is glad she came up with the idea to hire NvAND’s first professional website designer and first administrative aid.
Debbie loves to spend time with her family and friends which she has missed over the last year and also likes hike, bike, and travel.
Question of the Month: Sweet, Salty, or Sour?
I love the sweet and salty combination, it makes my taste buds go wild!
Allison Schnitzer has been a member since 2010. She served on the board from 2017-2019 as the State Policy Representative as part of the Public Policy Team. During that time, she worked on SB95 which successfully allowed for order writing privileges for RDs in hospitals. Alison was nominated for her work as a driving force to get SB95 to pass, is a person who puts herself out there to make a difference, works diligently to produce healthy options in the community, and always provides assistance to any challenge to collaborate on a solution. Allison is described as compassionate, sarcastic, and supportive.
Allison is excited to see the Nevada RD community growing and thinks it is great for the community and state. She completed her undergraduate and dietetic internship at UNLV. Dietetics is a second career path for Allison. Before becoming an RD she obtained her English degree and worked in book publishing for 8 years in New York City.
Allison has worked at the Southern department Health District in the Chronic Disease and Health Promotion Office for the past 5 years as a public health dietitian. Her office receives grants that strive to promote a food environment in which it is easy to make healthy food choices and make access to food more equitable. Allison reports that depending on where a person lives, their income, and ethnic profile, and access to healthy foods can vary widely. Her work aims to increase access to healthy food for all.
Allison makes a difference as an RD because she works closely with the community and tackles big issues happening in the community. Right now, she is working with food pantries which allows her to see what is going on in the community, what they need, and what they struggle with. Allison finds it rewarding to react to whatever is going on in the world at any given moment as a community RD. Allison has her own equivalent of a clinical IDT team, she explains she works with a city planner, RTC, business owners, school administrators, food pantries, etc. She loves going into these spaces to aid in making positive changes.
Due to the pandemic Allison has worked from home most of the past year. Allison explains the pandemic has impacted her job greatly because she works closely with community partners and grants and the priority and focus of many business and community partners has understandable shifted over the past year. Trying to be flexible and refocusing her work as much as possible while still accomplishing the objectives and meeting the partners changing needs has been a challenge since the pandemic started requiring constant shifting and adjusting. She also explains that some grants are planned a year in advance and not knowing what next year is going to look like makes it difficult to estimate the needs.
Allison finds it rewarding to work with children and children’s health. She has gone to elementary schools and worked closely with schools to make positive changes to promote healthier nutrition and physical activity which will impact a large number of students. She enjoys working on various work groups and task forces as a team to set and accomplish goals.
Allison likes being a community dietitian because it allows you to do a variety of things and makes a large impact, not to mention you can really go in any direction with community nutrition. It allows you to work in almost any realm, in any environment, with almost any partner. Allison actively promotes community nutrition as a career path.
In her free time, Allison loves to cook and talk to others about cooking and food. She reports especially during COVID she has spent even more time cooking, looking at recipes, and meal planning. She also enjoys Pilates/yoga, spending time with her family, and watching movies.
Question of the Month: What is your signature dish?
Cashew Cheese. She puts it on everything from quesadillas to homemade potato chips. “Don’t start because you won’t stop!”
Mickey Mazurowski, RDN, LD, LPTA, CLT
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.
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
Samantha Farr, RD, CSO, LD works at Optum Care Cancer Center as an Outpatient Oncology Dietitian. Samantha currently serves as the Incoming Nominating Chair. This is a one year position that transitions to a year position as Nominating Committee Chair.
Samantha joined the Nevada Academy Board to give back to the organization that has helped her so much throughout her career. The Academy has been a stable base for Samantha throughout living in 4 different states in the past 7 years.
When asked what she has gained while serving on the board, Samantha replied “Being new to the Las Vegas area, the NVAND has helped me make more connections with fellow RDs and has helped me feel more involved in the community.”
This year has been very challenging for Samantha. She was working as an inpatient RD during the peak of COVID. Sierra, the current Nominating Committee Chair, was the driving force for completing tasks for our department within the board, and Samantha is grateful to have Sierra as a partner. Samantha has enjoyed the Zoom calls that she has been a part of and it has helped to get some socializing outside of her family and coworkers during these crazy times.
Samantha thinks anyone questioning being a board member should definitely give it a try. If it doesn't work out, you don't have to run for anything after, but she believes it is a good way to network as well as build on leadership skills. Also doesn't look bad on the resume.
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.
Supporting Nevada Nutrition Professionals