Member Spotlight: Mary O’Brien Rodowicz, MEd, MS, RD, LDN

1. What is your educational background?

I have an Associate’s Degree from North Shore Community College, a Bachelor’s Degree from Simmons College (Nutrition and Psychology), and Master’s Degrees from the University of Massachusetts (MS in Nutrition) and Cambridge College (MEd – Integrated Studies). Am also a certified Coach Mentor (Fellow Level), Motivational Interviewing Trainer and Clinician Coach, and recently received my Green Belt in Lean Systems Management.

2. How did you get involved in the nutrition field?

I was actually in college at NSCC and still hadn’t decided on a major. I became interested in nutrition and health, particularly in the area of obesity and weight management, and so began looking at colleges that offered nutrition as a major. I transferred to Simmons for my junior year, and the following year did a clinical rotation at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Boston, which I loved. The rest, as they say, is history….

3. What are you presently doing in the nutrition field?

I worked for many years as a Clinical and then Administrative Dietitian here at VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System (formerly Northampton VA Medical Center). After having the corporate mid-life crisis in the late 90’s, I sidestepped into hospital education, and then into public relations, butI eventually wanted to get back into the nutrition field. In 2010, I became the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program Manager. This was a new position that was created at every VA throughout the country to focus on chronic conditions that are based on poor health behaviors and inadequate preventive care. I am proud of the team I work with and the impact we have made on the health of the Veterans we serve. As a Dietitian, I work with our MOVE! Weight Management Program and our Diabetes Management Team. But I am also actively involved in promoting tobacco cessation, regular screenings and immunizations, and effective partnerships between Veterans and their healthcare team.

4. What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?

I am a member of the Holyoke YMCA and I exercise there regularly. I like to cook and listen to music. I am studying Irish at Elms College, something that I was inspired to do after my third trip to Ireland last year. I like to travel. I am also a member of the Chicopee St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, which takes up most of my free time from January to March.

5. Do you do any volunteer work in the nutrition field or in your community? If so, please describe.

I am a member of St. Anne’s Parish in Chicopee, where I serve as a lector. I recently joined a team from the parish to do the Greater Springfield CROP Walk, where we raised over $2500 for national and local hunger programs.

6. If you would like to include info on your family, please add some details including if you have any pets!

My husband Joel and I have been married for 31 years, and we have two adult children, Brian and Kate. My only pet, Eddie the Box Turtle, moved out with my daughter, is now living the good life not too far away, and will probably outlive us all!

7. Is there anything else you would like to do in your career?

My present position is still fun and provides new challenges every day, so I will probably stay for a few more years. But I anticipate that my next step will be into retirement. And there, the possibilities are endless!