MS-AND Year in Review

Happy Holidays MS-AND members,

Wow, what a great year we’ve had. As we get ready for 2023, we wanted to reflect on all the MS-AND Board of Directors and members achieved in 2022.

In January we really got moving with the Regional Coordinators. The Regional Coordinators are: 

  • Northeast Region of MS-AND: Valerie Weivoda, Ellen Ossorio (who is now our president-elect), and Whitney Sheffield
  • Northwest Region of MS-AND: Linda Pennington
  • Central Region of MS-AND: Elena Dent and Kathryn Johnson 
  • Gulf Coast Region of MS-AND: Brittany Simmons and Madison Davis

Kyskie Bolton, our Public Policy coordinator lead a group of Mississippians in the virtual 2022 Nutrition and Dietetics Advocacy Summit January 25-27, 2022. The group included Kyskie, Lydia West, Jessica Gamble, Ayanna Lynn, and Lauren Sanders. This year’s summit focused on two of the Academy’s top policy and advocacy efforts: medical nutrition therapy expansion and child nutrition. Attendees received training on these issues during the event and met with staff from Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s office and staff from Senator Rodger Wicker’s office.

February brought Heart Month, Black History Month and Lunar New Year celebrations. The Jackson State University College of Health Sciences, hosted the first Breastfeeding EXCELLENCE Conference on Thursday, February 17, 2022 and Thursday, March 24, 2022. MS-AND member Kyskie Bolton was one of the presenters at this conference. The national Academy elections also happened, MS-AND member Turner Sanderson was elected Director of Nominations-Elect of the Dietitians in Nutrition Support Dietetics Practice Group.

March is always the time we celebrate National Nutrition Month. This year the theme was “Celebrate a World of Flavors”. Dietitians, dietetic interns, and students celebrated this theme in a variety of ways. On March 17th, 2022 the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary delivered an address on USDA Actions on Nutrition Security. MS-AND members joined together at the Mississippi Capitol to meet with Governor Tate Reeves. He signed a proclamation declaring March 2022 as Nutrition Month in Mississippi. March was also the month MS-AND kicked off our 75th Anniversary Celebration and had our annual conference in Bay St. Louis. 

Our 2021-2022 Awards winners were:

  • Outstanding Dietitian of the Year – Heather White, MS, RD, LD
  • Emerging Dietetic Leader – Ellen Ossorio, MS, RD, LD
  • Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year – Valerie Weivoda, MS, RD, LD, SNS
  • Outstanding Dietetics Student in a Dietetic Internship – Sarah Van Schaik
  • Outstanding Dietetics Student in a Didactic Program in Dietetics – Mercedes Babin
  • Magnolia Award – Rob Stinson

In April we kicked off our regional meetings with a statewide presentation “Hydrate Like You Mean It – Hydration Research Within Collegiate Athletic Populations” presented by Samantha B. Kostelnik, PhD, RDN, LD. 

The Mississippi Coalition of Eating Disorder Professionals held their first official presentation Eating Disorders 101: Medical, Nutrition, and psychological considerations at every stage of treatment.

The MS-AND elections also took place in April and we elected Ellen Ossorio as President-elect and Rebecca Butz as Professional Development Chair-elect.

May brought the end of our 2021-2022 fiscal year. We said a big thank you to many who served this organization in a variety of capacities and congratulations to all of the 2022 graduates! May was also the month that the Mississippi State Department of Health revised the dietetics practice regulations. The Academy’s House of Delegates (HOD) Transformation Taskforce continued to work hard, and MS-AND Delegate, Teresa Carithers, worked on the HOD/Board of Directors (BOD) Communication Taskforce to transform the way that the HOD communicated with the membership and BOD. The work that USM dietetic intern Melanie Land did for the Medical Nutrition Therapy Act during the MS-AND annual conference was recognized by the Academy’s national publication The Public Policy Weekly News.

On June 24th, the U.S. Congress passed the Keep Kids Fed Act. Many MS-AND members contacted our national senators and representatives to express the importance of this bill and how it would help the USDA summer feeding programs. We also helped to provide information and resources about infant formula safety. Ellen Ossorio and Lydia West met in July to make a plan for the year and get the 2023 conference organizing started. Our Delegate, Teresa Carithers, also reminded members about the great Academy Affinity Groups: MNT Expansion, Nutrition Security, Maternal and Child Health, Dietary Guidelines, Licensure Initiatives, and Health Equity and Diversity (the Reimbursement and Payment Affinity Group will start on January 24, 2023).

The MS-AND Social Media Committee also hit the ground running and published several “Meet the Team” posts over the summer, as well as worked to keep us informed with nutrition related observances and tips. August is Kids Eat Right Month, and we know many of you did events to promote this observance.

September 7-13 was National Farmers Market Week. Several MS-AND Social Media committee members visited their local markets and posted pictures – check out our social media accounts (@eatrightMS on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) to see the posts.

On September 16th, MS-AND and the Louisiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (LAND) held our inaugural joint virtual symposium. This year’s topic was weight management. It was quite a success with 100 participants. Plans have already started for a 2023 virtual symposium, and this time Alabama Dietetic Association (ALDA) will also be involved.

MS-AND member Kathy Warwick presented “Diabetes Medication Update: Injectable Medications” through The Academy on September 22. The recording is still available through The Academy store.

The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health was held on September 28, 2022. This was the first White House Conference since 1969. Part of the impetus for the 1969 conference was due to Senators Robert Kennedy and Joseph D Clark visit to Cleveland, Mississippi, a small town in the Delta, where they saw unexpected levels of poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. Many MS-AND members tuned in for the 2022 conference and have already started work from the priority recommendations

October was full of education and networking. This year’s FNCE was in Orlando. There were many education and poster presenters who are MS-AND members. MS-AND also held a FNCE Reception for members (and previous members) to get together and network. 

The Gulf Coast Region held their inaugural meetups on October 13 in Gulfport and October 20 in Hattiesburg. 

The Central Region of MS-AND held their inaugural meet up on November 10th

Students from USM, MSU, Delta State, and UM all held their last meetings of 2022. MSU also took a tour of a dairy farm visit.

Members of MS-AND attended the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Virtual State Advocacy Summit on November 9th and 10th. We got several great ideas and will start to implement those over the coming months.

Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker is the highest-ranking Republican on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Senate Committee which has some jurisdiction over the PUMP Act. MS-AND joined other organizations to encourage Mississippians to contact Senator Wicker and ask that he support the PUMP Act. 

We also opened our call for nominations to the 2023-2024 MS-AND Board of Directors in November. If you or someone you know is interested in running for MS-AND President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer-Elect, Nominating Committee Member, Professional Development Chair-elect, or Delegate, please contact [email protected].

The MS-AND Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Committee held our first committee meeting in November. We developed some great plans and be on the lookout for some social media campaigns in the new year, including “Why Dietetics”.

As we close out this year, the Gulf Coast region held meet ups on December 12th (at Harbor Lights in Gulfport) and December 17th (at Lights of the Wild at the Hattiesburg Zoom) and the Northeast region held meetups in Tupelo on December 15th and December 16th in Starkville.

The MS-AND 2023 Conference Committee is hard at work, planning a great conference at The Inn at Ole Miss on the campus of the University of Mississippi on March 27th and 28th (click here to learn more: You are not going to want to miss this!

We wish you all a very merry holiday season and may 2023 bring you many great memories.


Ellen Ossorio
MS-AND President-elect

Lydia West
MS-AND President

Lindsay Mixon
MS-AND Past President