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.
Please take some time to get to know some of your NvAND board members as well as the position they serve. It is never too early to start considering which board position you want to apply for. We welcome all members to apply for board positions. If you are interested in serving on the NvAND board or have questions please contact the Nominating Committee at NomCom@EatRightNevada.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Content: The Academy is currently promoting three active action alerts! Take Action by submitting an automatically generated letter to your congressional representatives.
HEROES Act (H.R. 6800) – The HEROES Act adjusts federal food assistance programs to provide food insecure Americans with help during this uncertain time. Key provisions in the HEROES Act include a 15% increase in the max benefit for SNAP through September 30, 2021 as well as an increase in the minimum benefit from $15 to $30 per month. The Act has passed the House of Representatives, was considered in the Senate by the Housing, Community Development, and Insurance Committee on June 10. It is currently awaiting further action by the Senate.
MNT Act (H.R. 6971) – The Medical Nutrition Therapy Act expands access to MNT for several diet-related diseases covered under Medicare Part B. Such added coverage includes prediabetes, obesity, HTN, eating disorders, cancer, Celiac disease, and more. Expanded access to MNT is especially important for minority populations that have long faced chronic disease health disparities due to socioeconomic inequalities and reduced access to health care, healthful foods, and safe places to be active. This Act was introduced in the House on May 22, and is awaiting further action.
Support Diversity in Allied Health Professions – The Academy has partnered with the National Association for Equal Opportunities in Higher Education to encourage Congress to provide $300 million in funding for minority serving institutions that would support allied health professions programs, including nutrition and dietetics. In addition, we are requesting $10 million for nutrition and dietetics career outreach. This initiative would allow for increased numbers of minority health professionals to provide culturally competent nutrition counselling in communities of color. Additionally, the initiative seeks to increase the numbers of young people of color choosing allied health careers.
Dawn Matusz, BS, NDTR
Public Policy Coordinator
With the primaries now over, the race to the general election will get hot and heavy. The primary is the first step for candidates from both parties to determine who will be on the ballot in November. Each candidate runs against individuals from their own party in an effort to see who can garner the most votes to make them eligible for the general election. Just because a candidate is an incumbent, does not guarantee them a spot for the general. In fact, in this primary, two incumbents were defeated by challengers. In the federal elections, the top vote getter in each party will move on to the general election.
For example, in the 1st Congressional District, Assemblywoman Dina Titus, the incumbent, Democrat, will face off against Joyce Bently, Republican.
Assembly and Senate races follow the same pattern. In some primary races, there was only one party represented. That is because there was just one candidate who filed in the other party. Those two will then be on the general ballot in November. In some cases, there was no challenger from the other party. That happened in Assembly District 1, so Assemblywoman Danielle Monroe-Moreno will automatically be re-elected to her position.
Judicial races are different. If a judicial candidate received more than 50% of the vote, they are automatically elected to that seat. For example, Judge Ron Israel was re-elected to District 8, Department 28 with 50.93% of the vote. In most of the other races, no candidate received more than 50% of the votes so the top two vote getters will be in a run-off in general. An example is District 8, Department 24 where Dan Gillam received 32.16% of the votes and Erika D. Ballow received 23.36 %. Judicial races, by the way, are non-partisan.
Will November be mail-in again? We don't know yet. But I would encourage each of you to find the candidates in your area, read up on them and on the judicial candidates and be sure to vote.
Kara Freeman, DrPH RD, FAND
State Policy Representative
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.