Dietetic Career Spotlight on Lisa Wright Eaton, Wellness Coordinator/Speaker, Community College
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on FEBRUARY 26, 2015
Interested in onsite wellness clinics? Lisa Eaton Wright, MS RDN LDN, knows how to motivate employees at her local community college. Read on to learn more about consulting, wellness, public speaking and innovative ideas to help her client. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
Well, first of all it’s very different than my first career – court reporting, which I still practice a few times a month. But very simply: I’ve always had an interest in food and nutrition. I had been building my professional library before I entered the profession. I read books, articles, newspapers – anything having to do with food and nutrition. Then I picked up the Chicago Tribune one day and saw an ad from Benedictine University – they were offering a brand new master’s degree in nutrition and wellness and I thought, “I’m doing that!”
Your Job Title?
Company you are with now?
I work for Moraine Valley Community College, the second largest community college in Illinois. I also do consulting for a local physician and speak at events throughout the year – something I love to do!
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
I could be gathering/organizing wellness information to distribute to employees: nutrition information, financial info, coping with stress, getting enough sleep, smoking cessation – you name it. I do lots of wellness program development for our employees and then communicate that through various marketing channels. Our campus is going tobacco-free in July 2015, so that’s a major programming focus right now. I’ve been interviewing and screening companies who specialize in onsite employee wellness clinics as we are looking to offer that as a benefit to our employees. I regularly meet with our Health Fitness and Recreation Center director to coordinate FitRec programming for employees. I also meet with our Employee Assistance Provider to promote and maximize access to their wellness services. We have a culinary program on campus, so I work with the chefs to deliver healthy cooking demos and lunch. I might be planning our annual Benefits & Wellness Fair or onsite blood screening. Perhaps I’m working with Sodexo and their produce provider to bring a Farmer’s Market to campus. I organize various challenges: Walk This Weigh, Summer Slim Down, Bike to Work.
One of my newest and favorite programs is “Take It Home Thursdays”. As dietitians, we know that meal preparation is often a barrier to eating healthy, balanced meals when you work all day. So I partnered with our foodservice provider on campus, Sodexo, to develop Take It Home Thursdays (TIHT). Our chef develops menus for Thursday evening meals that are balanced and delicious; employees place an order on Tuesday and pick up a fully-prepared, made-from-scratch dinner for four for $23.96 on Thursday – all they have to do is reheat and serve. How easy is that?!
I am always working to raise health and wellness awareness so that employees can make informed and healthier choices, feel well, and be actively engaged while at work.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I received emails from two friends suggesting I apply for this position. I didn’t apply at first and some time passed when once again I heard from my friend reminding me to apply. While I have the RDN credential, I also have a master’s in nutrition and wellness. My previous position was acute care and I really wanted to practice in the area of prevention and wellness – so wellness coordinator, employee wellness seemed an ideal fit.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I don’t know if being an “extrovert” would be considered a skill, but it is certainly a character trait that I’ve had since birth. Days after starting this job, I introduced myself to an employee at an event, letting him know I was the new wellness coordinator. He responded, “Of course you are. You have to have a personality like that to do that job.”
What I am is highly motivated and that motivation has helped to hone what I think is my best skill: being resourceful. Whatever it is, I’ll figure it out.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
A key piece of advice: Ask. Ask for everything. Ask everyone. Ask all the time. Just ask! So many opportunities and moments can pass you by simply because you didn’t ask. I’ve found the more I ask for the things I want, the more I get what I’m after. It’s often harder for someone to say no than for you to ask – so ask. And then just go do it!
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
Time, and more time – it’s something we never have enough of.