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Dear Members of California Academy,

As my term as President of CA Academy comes to an end, I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude and pride. It has been an honor to serve such a passionate and dedicated community. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all our volunteer leaders from the executive board, committees, councils, foundation board, delegates, district and region leaders, and, above all, to each and every member who has supported me from day one.

Reflecting on the past year, we began by acknowledging the tough challenges we faced as an organization. As I look back now, the most fitting title for this period would be “A Year of Transparency and Growth.” This year has showcased our resilience, commitment, and dedication to the mission and vision of the CA Academy. For every roadblock we encountered, this fierce team found innovative ways to bounce back.

We focused on building robust systems and revamping our policies to ensure they reflect the ongoing growth and diversity within our organization. Despite the absence of staff, our volunteers stepped up, taking on additional responsibilities to keep things moving forward. Your unwavering dedication has been nothing short of inspiring.

I could not be more proud of everything we have achieved together as a team. We worked hard during this milestone year to deliver our best for our members and the CA Academy. Additionally, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics staff for their invaluable guidance and support throughout my term.

As my tenure as President nears its conclusion, I am filled with confidence that the CA Academy will continue to thrive and reach new heights. In the upcoming term, I am honored to transition into the role of Immediate Past President on the board, where I will continue to provide guidance and support to our organization. I extend my best wishes to the new board, trusting in their ability to lead with excellence.

Together, we have laid a solid foundation for future boards to build upon, and I am eager to witness the fruitful results of the hard work we have dedicated this year.

To all CA Academy members, it has been a privilege to serve and represent you. Thank you for your unwavering support and the incredible journey we have shared. Let us harness this momentum and continue working towards an even brighter future for our organization.

 

With heartfelt gratitude and best wishes,

 

Silva Boumjahed, MS, RDN

President, CA Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2023-2024

 

End-of-Year Report

Our CA Academy Executive Board 2023-2024:

  • Silva Boumjahed, MS, RDN, President of CA Academy
  • Sangeeta Shrivastava, PhD, RDN, FAND, President-Elect
  • Fatinah Darwish-Elsherbiny, MPH, RDN, Immediate Past President
  • Vicky Flaig, MEd, RDN, Treasurer/ Sponsorship Committee Chair
  • Emily Kiresich, PhD, RDN, FAND, Vice President Education
  • Nadine Braunstein, PhD, RD, FAND, VP of Public Policy
  • Heather Garcia, MS, RD, Co-Chair Membership and I.D.E.A.
  • Karen Simmons-Gillian, MPA, RDN, Co-Chair Membership and I.D.E.A.
  • Kristal Mylander, MPH, RDN, Vice President Communications
  • Wanda Siu-Chan, MS, RD, Chair Delegates
  • Lisa Herzig, PhD, RDN, CDCES, Chairperson, CA Academy Foundation
  • Fatheema Begun Subhan, MPhil, PhD, RDN, Los Angeles Region Representative

 

Presenting the accomplishments achieved by our board, we stand proud of the progress made in advancing the CA Academy’s mission and serving our members effectively. Below is a comprehensive overview of our achievements across various councils and committees.

 

Communications Council:

We have achieved remarkable success this year, significantly enhancing our social media presence and improving newsletter engagement. We implemented a streamlined process for timely, relevant, and brand-consistent postings, updated templates, and branding materials, and saw a 458% increase in engagement with 12,500 interactions. Our follower count grew to 8,938 on Facebook and Instagram, and our newsletter open rate increased by 5% to 55%. Our efforts have fostered strong collaboration within and across councils, showcasing our commitment to effective communication and member engagement.

 

CANDAC24 Committee:

One of the highlights of this year was celebrating our 100th anniversary with our members in San Francisco. It was a momentous occasion attended by over 500 dietetic professionals. We had the privilege of hosting distinguished speakers and partners who helped make our centennial conference a reality. CANDA24 offered 35 CEU sessions (20 live CPEUs), featuring keynote speakers Bryan Parsley, Dr. Lauri Wright, Assemblymember Mia Bonta, and Michelle Kuppich. Meticulous planning by a dedicated Annual Conference Committee ensured high-quality presentations and smooth execution. Attendees benefited from diverse networking opportunities, including a poster session, an expo with 38 vendors, and various receptions. The streamlined coordination and effective communication led to a highly engaging and impactful conference.

 

Education Council:

We have made significant strides in enhancing student engagement and diversity within the CA Academy. The Council organized a student webinar featuring Dr. Lacie Peterson, offering valuable insights into RD/DTR education pathways. Under the guidance of Joan Frank and Wanda Siu-Chan, the Education Council facilitated a networking opportunity for educators at the June 2023 California Educators meeting, promoting the exchange of student survey results and best practices. We also implemented strategies to encourage students from diverse backgrounds to join the CA Academy, including sponsoring student council leadership and expanding contacts with dietetic educators, resulting in increased participation from feeder programs at community colleges. Additionally, Dr. Emily Kiresich and Rachel Flores from the Education Council collaborated with Karen Simmons Gillian, the Co-chair of Membership and I.D.E.A., to present to students and dietetic interns, fostering greater awareness and involvement in advocacy efforts.

 

Awards Committee:

We reviewed applications and honored fourteen CA Academy members at the annual conference in April 2024. Notable awards included the Friends of the CA Academy Awards to California Food is Medicine (CalFIMC) and the University of the Pacific, and the Meritorious Award to Assemblymember Mia Bonta for her work on AB 1975.

 

Nominating Committee:

The Nominating Committee successfully reviewed and filled the 2024 elected officer positions, with the new term starting June 1, 2024.

 

Bylaws Amendment:

Our Executive Board proposed and approved bylaws amendments to better align with the organization’s mission and strategic goals, including creating a District Liaison board position and streamlining two other positions. The changes were finalized in May 2024 after member feedback and the Executive Board updated the Policy and Procedures accordingly.

 

Public Policy Council:

We held a Public Policy Town Hall in January 2024 where we addressed member concerns on policy issues, fostering engagement and discussion.

Our Advocacy Summit, held as a hybrid event with both in-person and virtual options, attracted over 100 participants. We showcased insightful presentations by notable speakers such as Jim Kjol, a staffer for the Senate Republican Caucus, and Monica Sepulveda, a legislative aide for Assemblymember Mia Bonta, who championed AB1975 to establish “Food as Medicine” interventions as a permanent Medi-Cal benefit, a cause endorsed by the CA Academy. Assemblymember Mia Bonta’s keynote address at CANDAC24 in April significantly bolstered our public policy endeavors, propelling discussions and advancing our advocacy objectives.

Our Committee engagement remained robust, with 28 members actively contributing in meetings from October 2023 to May 2024. Noteworthy were the contributions of Michelle Kuppich and Crystal Ayoob, who uncovered critical issues regarding payment structures for Registered Dietitians Nutritionists, including outdated payment rates since the 1990s and misleading language suggesting only an Associate’s degree is required. These discoveries led to substantial discussions during the Public Policy Town Hall, highlighting the importance of ongoing advocacy efforts.

We held the second Town Hall meeting on May 29, featured Kim Iles, Senior Manager of Nutrition Services coverage at the Academy, who spoke on Maximizing Impact and policy priorities, as well as member resources. Dr. Mandy Nezami, CA Academy Nutrition Services Payment Specialist, covered California business and professions code and the Nutrition Service Payment Specialist role. We recorded this Town Hall meeting and it will be posted on our website for all our members to review.

Given that the CA Academy is undergoing a transitional period and restructuring of internal governance systems and daily operations, we identified a need to reassess our advocacy and policy goals to better align with the future of our profession. Therefore, our Executive Board has decided to end our contract with Nielsen Merksamer. Once our policy goals are solidified, we will release a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a lobbying firm.

 

Membership and I.D.E.A Council:

We conducted a survey to gather feedback from California dietetic professionals, both members and non-members, to better understand their needs and preferences. We are committed to using these insights to tailor our services effectively. We encourage every dietetic professional to share their thoughts and feedback to ensure that we continue to serve you better as an organization. Remember, you are the CA Academy!

 

Delegate Council:

Our Delegates Council achieved several milestones through collaborative efforts and effective communication strategies. Monthly Real-time Dialogue meetings with other Affiliate Delegates facilitated valuable exchanges and discussions. Concurrently, our Delegates ensured transparency and engagement by disseminating critical information to members through the Delegates’ Desk Newsletter. Active involvement in CA Districts and Regions via Executive Board and Member Outreach meetings strengthened connections and support networks. Moreover, their engagement in various CA Academy Councils demonstrated a commitment to cross-functional collaboration and synergy. These efforts collectively enhanced the organization’s impact and effectiveness, fostering a cohesive and responsive community.

 

Finance Committee:

Despite facing challenges such as decreasing membership and high conference expenses, the CA Academy has remained resilient in navigating financial constraints. The contract for our centennial conference, signed in April 2022, set ambitious goals of attracting 100 exhibitors and 500 attendees, along with hosting various receptions. While these aspirations have always been central to our vision, we’ve encountered unexpected hurdles along the way.

Challenges stemming from contractual agreements with the union hotel venue have added complexity to our situation. These agreements imposed strict requirements on exhibitors’ food options, leading many food companies to decline participation. Additionally, changes in CDR guidelines and member feedback on sponsor selection have further shaped our efforts to secure sponsors and exhibitors.

Despite these obstacles, we made the decision early on to proceed with the conference, recognizing that cancelling would incur the same financial loss as holding it. Our dedicated finance committee, led by our Treasurer Vicky Flaig and supported by Rory Pace, worked tirelessly to mitigate losses.

 

Sponsorship Committee:

We reviewed and revised the CANDAC Partnership Prospectus to adapt to union labor constraints and new CDR guidelines. The committee secured $50,000 in sponsorship and exhibit booths. Additionally, we successfully reduced conference expenses by $155,000, ultimately leading to a financially successful event.

This demonstrates our commitment to adaptability and resourcefulness in navigating through changes. Moving forward, we remain steadfast in our dedication to the success and sustainability of the CA Academy.

 

CANDAC25 Task Force:

We are excited to announce the establishment of a task force dedicated to reshaping our annual conference to better cater to the needs of our members while ensuring it becomes a profitable event for the organization. These steps, among numerous others taken this year, are the seeds we have planted, and we eagerly anticipate the harvest in the coming terms.

 

District Liaison:

Another important seed we planted to help us with membership outreach and engagement by strengthening district and region leadership, is creating the district liaison position. We proudly announce that Rory Pace is appointed as CA Academy District Liaison. We will start the new term with two District/Region Leadership Training sessions, that will prepare our district and region leaders for a successful and impactful term. These leadership training sessions are just the start, and we will continue to support and guide our districts and regions.

 

CA Academy Foundation:

Our CA Academy Foundation team has made significant strides in scholarship management and dissemination by developing new informational materials to enhance accessibility to scholarship opportunities for students. They effectively educated students about available scholarships and collaborated with the Education Council to streamline the scholarship process. Through thorough evaluation and commitment, they reviewed 45 applications for CA Academy Foundation Scholarships, ultimately awarding a total of $19,000 to 13 deserving students through 11 different scholarships, providing vital financial assistance. Additionally, the Foundation introduced new scholarships, including the Carrie Der Garabedian, Virginia McMasters, and Elizabeth Chu Scholarships, showcasing their dedication to providing financial support and expanding opportunities for student recipients.

 

HR Committee:

Our HR Committee, alongside Rory Pace, undertook the significant responsibility of securing an association management company to provide support to CA Academy for the next two years. We received several excellent proposals from Association Management Companies, and after an extensive review and interview process, the HR Committee selected a company that aligns with the needs of our organization. Our Executive Board has voted in approval of this selection.

I am proud to announce that we have signed an agreement with Group Concepts to be the Association Management Company for the CA Academy for the next two years. Group Concepts is a full-service association management company established in 1976. They are a third-generation family business that prides itself on transparency and ethical business practices. Group Concepts has extensive experience in highly regulated industries, including healthcare, and has planned and supported continuing education for registered dietitians through one of their clients.

 

After recounting these achievements, we are energized and inspired to continue our efforts in driving progress and excellence within the CA Academy. With unwavering dedication, we look forward to building upon these successes and fostering a stronger, more vibrant community for all our members.