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‘The Ellen We Know’

      No one can deny that times are turbulent: COVID-19 pandemic, partisan divides, racial inequalities, climate change and global unrest. With so many challenges, members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics are fortunate to have the continued strong leadership of Ellen Shanley as 2022-2023 President.
      Ellen is the director of the dietetics program in the Department of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Connecticut. “The Ellen I Know” has deftly navigated our UConn program through COVID-19, with the highest level of virtual education and supervised practice experiences. Ellen’s can-do approach served as the model for students to deliver dietetics practice in new ways and show their resilience as problem solvers.
      Always the innovator, Ellen was first to master all the virtual platforms, both real-time and asynchronous. Ellen has facilitated “working across the aisle” in the implementation of a novel, master’s entry-level dietetics program; brokering approval of this entrepreneurial program with administrators at all levels; securing interdisciplinary researchers to mentor students; and challenging students in novel areas of practice, including health tailored programs, social media interventions, mindfulness in eating, health promotion and health equity.
      Ellen is recognized for advancing the causes of diversity and inclusion in education; and mentoring faculty, colleagues, and students. With expertise in foodservice systems and culinary arts, Ellen has worked with school foodservice directors to share best practices in addressing: food insecurity, supply chain issues, changing nutrition standards, challenges of food waste, and opportunities to celebrate healthy eating through myriad of cultural foodways. Balancing intrinsic optimism with pragmatism, Ellen always safeguards her plan A with plans B and C.
      I feel so very lucky to have Ellen Shanley as a colleague and friend; and am honored to introduce Ellen as the next Academy President!
      Valerie B. Duffy
      All great leaders realize that relationships are how you get things done. For an Academy President, relationships are especially critical to success in moving the profession forward to achieve our Strategic Plan. Ellen Shanley is an inspirational and thoughtful leader, and I am proud to be her friend and colleague.
      Ellen has all of the personal and professional qualities that are required to excel in this role. Her extensive career – starting as an intern at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston followed by working as an educator at the University of Connecticut for 37 years – has provided her the opportunity for professional growth while building the necessary and important relationships that are critical to serving as our President.
      Ellen’s work at the interface between students and their chosen career programs and as a program director exemplifies what every student strives to become. She was an early supporter of the master’s requirement for dietitians through her work in an interdisciplinary environment at UConn, demonstrating to her the importance of teamwork among highly educated and credential professionals – in educational settings and in life. Working with people from different disciplines allowed Ellen to develop a significantly greater perspective of leadership styles and how leadership skills and traits are exhibited across education, health care and other fields.
      Her service in multiple Academy roles, including on the Board of Directors, exemplifies her dedication to the profession. Ellen’s inclusive style is evident in the way she respects the opinions of others, can disagree without being disagreeable, tackles issues and problems without hesitation, and work to achieve consensus.
      Ellen is passionate about food, cooking and travel. We have enjoyed many conversations about her recipes, especially for Italian cuisine and her travels to experience the food and culture first-hand. She shares her love of food and cooking with her daughter, son and daughter-in-law. A dedicated and motivational leader who exemplifies the highest standards of performance in all areas of practice, Ellen provides an example of how to accomplish important goals with a high level of engagement and problem-solving skills.
      Catherine W. Christie
      Anyone who knows Ellen Shanley would describe her as a leader, an educator, a mentor and an innovator. She has devoted a large part of her career to higher education at the University of Connecticut – and this is where my story with “The Ellen I Know” begins.
      As one of her former students, I can say from personal experience that Ellen’s passion and commitment to the profession is not only admirable but infectious. She demands excellence in the classroom yet also shows compassion and flexibility to inspire success. Above all else, she is caring in a way that makes her students and colleagues feel like family. In pre-COVID times, Ellen would invite the dietetics program students during the holiday season for a wonderful home-cooked meal. There is always a seat at Ellen’s table, and I believe this welcoming inclusivity embodies the qualities of a successful Academy President.
      Following my college graduation and the conclusion of my chapter as a student, the story of “The Ellen I Know” continues from feeling like family to becoming family. As fate would have it, at one of Ellen’s aforementioned holiday meals I was introduced to her son. Fast-forward 10 years and Ellen is now my mother-in-law and grandmother to my beautiful daughter.
      I can say from personal experience that Ellen’s unwavering dedication to her career stems from her unconditional love and support of family and friends. Ellen enjoys nothing more than spending time and travelling with her family – and friends who have become family. All these close relationships are a testament to her true character.
      Ellen’s passion for dietetics runs in her blood: Her mother was a dietitian and now I am. Three generations of dietitians strong, and Ellen is bound to inspire many more. This is “The Ellen I Know” and I could not be more excited for her to become “The Ellen You Know”, the Academy’s 2022-2023 President.
      Belinda M. Shanley