Our latest Distinguished Dietitian honoree is Ashley Colpaart, MS, RD.
Learn more about Ashley and her work below.
RD Since: 2006
Area(s) of Practice: Hunger and Environmental Nutrition; Agriculture and Food Systems
Website/social media links:
Brief professional bio:
Ashley M. Colpaart is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and doctoral candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies in Food Science and Food Safety at Colorado State University. Her research focuses on the integration of sustainable, resilient and healthy food and water systems principles into the dietetics profession She earned a Masters of Science in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, and currently serves as the Northern Colorado Local Food Cluster coordinator in her home of Fort Collins, Colorado. She has a unique systems understanding of food and human health in social, economic, and environmental spheres.
Ashley is currently a Research Assistant for the Colorado State University Extension Local Food System team and the Colorado Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence. Her research teams are recently published works on “Understanding and Managing Risk and Return for Small-Scale Value-Added Food Businesses”, conducted a Food Systems Assessment for the Pueblo City and County Department of Public Health, developed a Food Production Data Base to bridge knowledge gaps on agricultural production practices and food distribution systems and a conducted a Food Access Scan for the Child & Adult Care Food Program’s Healthier Meals Initiative. Before beginning her Doctoral work, Ashley taught undergraduate nutrition students at Texas State University. Her courses included Food Systems, Food & Nutrition Science, and Nutrition & Health.
Ashley’s writing has been published on the US Food Policy blog, Environmental Nutrition, the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, Today’s Dietitian and Tufts Nutrition Magazines. Her work has also been recognized by awards, including The Western Extension Young Professional Award, The Tufts Presidential Award for Active Citizenship and Public Service, the Excellence in Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Award and most recently the 2014 E. Neige Todhunter Memorial Doctoral Fellowship from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
What does ‘professional integrity’ mean to you?
For me, personal integrity means choosing thoughts and actions based on values, not personal gain.
For the dietetics profession, our professional integrity is a shared moral contract with the public that we act in a manner consistent with our profession’s stated competency assessments plus codes of conduct and ethics.
When our profession’s integrity is being called into question both internally and externally, it is also our professional duty to courageously and strategically challenge the system and advocate for reform. It is our professional duty to internally monitor conflict of interest and provide whistle blower policies and procedures.
Lastly, professional integrity is dynamic and therefore always changing. Because of this, we have to remain steadfast and change before we have to.
What words of encouragement do you have for RDs-to-be looking to make a significant contribution to our profession?
I said this on social media the other day, but it begs repeating: “Voicing concern and demanding sponsorship reform of the Academy doesn’t make you anti-RD or anti-Academy. On the contrary.”
There are very strong opinions regarding corporate sponsorship and the food industry’s role in our profession. Don’t be afraid to follow your gut and question authority, but also be ready to provide solutions and collaborate. Let’s focus on the issues, and not on the people. I have yet to meet a registered dietitian who did not care deeply about their profession.
Again, we extend our congratulations to Ashley and thank her for her important work and for representing the RD credential in such a positive light.