We have received another set of answers from a 2017 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics election candidate.
Milton Stokes, PhD, MPH, RD, CDN, is running for House of Delegates director.
Our questions — and his answers — are below.
Q: What are your thoughts on possible outreach strategies to bring dietitians who are currently not members of the Academy back into the organization?
A: I’ve been a member of the Academy since college, when the organization was called ADA. The only reason I joined was because my advisor and major professor strongly encouraged it. And I’m glad I followed her advice! The benefits I have received far outweigh cost.
From my days as a tenure-track professor and dietetic internship director, a preceptor of students and interns, and in my current agriculture role where I meet dietetics students and interns around the country, I’ve learned some students and interns don’t always receive the encouragement I did. I would like to better understand what we know from the professoriate and their perceptions of the Academy.
Should we work with educators differently? And from that knowledge, map next steps.
For members who may have left the Academy, I would want to understand why as a first step to inform what and how. I think the Academy has quantified some of this information in the past. At some point, it might be helpful to conduct qualitative interviews/focus groups and/or host town halls to better understand needs of former members.
Q: How would you like to see the current conversation on corporate sponsorship continue over the next year?
A: We should talk about issues that are important to Academy members. Corporate sponsorship is one of those issues, and it’s also an issue that plays out in the media and appears partially driven by non-members (e.g., the Time magazine article that criticized the 2016 FNCE expo before the expo opened to members/attendees).
The Academy has newer guidelines examining a potential sponsor’s corporate social responsibility index, among other items. I want to see a range of sponsors and/or exhibitors who appeal to the breadth of our membership. We are a diverse group. Most dietitians are in clinical practice, so it makes sense to have biometric tools on display at FNCE, for example.
All dietitians should get closer to food or figure out how to re-connect with it, and to me, that makes the presence of food and agriculture companies a prudent approach. I don’t know how often an Academy member gets to visit a food company headquarters, but when the food company participates in the expo, that’s one opportunity for dialogue. When my employer exhibits at FNCE, our aim is to give Academy members something to think about—not to tell members how to think. My employer appreciates the opportunity because we can listen to member questions.
Q: What would you like to say to dietitian colleagues who want to see more robust criteria around exhibitor presence and session sponsorship at FNCE?
A: I would ask my colleagues to elaborate because some of the criticism I’ve seen seems to focus more on bigger companies rather than the products and services of small(er) companies. What does robust look like? What makes one company acceptable while another one is not? Perhaps it’s focused on guardrails comprising criteria for what’s in and what’s not, but I want to hear from them.
My favorite and most useful part of FNCE is the expo because I appreciate the opportunity to see what products consumers may be eating or drinking. I also want to be able to ask company representatives questions. To my knowledge, educational sessions during FNCE are not sponsored. An exception is Foundation sessions, where attendees may be required to pay a small (Foundation fundraising) fee. These particular sessions indicate who sponsored.
And regardless of whether it’s a sponsored Foundation event or a non-sponsored educational session during FNCE, all speakers must disclose their conflicts of interest. Having said that, I’m open to other ideas for what FNCE and the guardrails should look like.
We thank Milton for his response.
If and when we receive responses from the other six candidates we emailed, we will share them here.