By: Cynthia Taft Bayerl, MS RD LDN FAND
We are thrilled to highlight Cynthia, one of our 50+ year members, this month as she shares with us lessons learned over the years, advice, memories and more!
Best piece of advice: Get involved in community, state, and national nutrition, wellness and public policy initiatives not only with RDNs, but also with new partners as appropriate.
Favorite Memories: When I was asked by the MDPH Commissioner to co chair a state task force including MDs and parents whose collaborative efforts led to MA becoming the FIRST state to pass regulations to pay for metabolic formulas and foods; Second was when MA became the first state to develop and adopt statewide healthy food guidelines which are still in place (Exec.Order 509), for clients under state care.
Lastly, when licensure for RDNs passed in MA (while I served as MAND President) thanks to 11 yrs. of hard team work from many MAND members, past MAND presidents and our MAND lobbyist.
Lessons learned: Most effective and rewarding outcomes were achieved through interagency team efforts and communities.
What you love about what you do: When I am involved in activities which showcase the vital role of RDNs in established and emerging roles on the state and national levels. Also, throughout my career when I utilized both my clinical and public skills in a variety of settings, including in volunteer work that I continue to do in my “ retirement.”
What volunteer work have you been involved in?
I was elected Town of Harwich Democratic Committee ( 6 yrs). This included monthly discussions of national, state and local issues including access to food. I am also a regular supporter of the Family Food Pantry of Cape Cod. I am a member and Past Chair (3 yrs) of the Chatham Harwich Newcomers Current Events/Policy Discussion Group. I helped organize meetings and topics including: clean water, closing of Pilgrim Nuclear plant and the potential impact of waste on water, impact of global warming on fish population on the Cape.
-Immediate past member of the Town of Harwich Board of Health. Focus on food safety during public activities, proposal to include health promotion for all citizens, safe water, accessible housing.
-Adult Mentor in the REAP program for elementary school children. (Retired and Eager to Assist Pupils).
Pivotal moments in my career: Due to organizational and budget changes, which occur frequently in all state agencies, my positions and focus changed three times during the last 25 yrs. I worked in public health. This turned into a plus, as in each position I expanded my skills and network of colleagues. In my first position I served as the DPH’s first special needs RDN, in the second position as the DPH RDN liaison to primary care RDN’s in communities including health centers; and finally, to nutrition in wellness and prevention.
My memories: My favorite memories and what I miss the most in retirement is in person mentoring of students. I estimate I mentored 100+ students including interns, long distance and grad students during my job at DPH; and additionally in my initial clinical and community jobs. I owe my love of mentoring to two dedicated RDNs who mentored me: first the late Mary Rigney Andrews RD, Metabolic RDN, who mentored me into the field of dietetics; and post college by the phenomenal Harriet Cloud RDN FAND. Both who became wonderful friends.
My second favorite memory is all of the public policy activities I have participated in on the national, state and continue currently in the community. Since my retirement 5 years ago, I have used my RDN skills in several capacities which have showcased broad leadership skills and impact. The first was 3 years on the Town of Harwich BOH; elected to two, three-year terms on the Town of Harwich Democratic Committee; and served 3 years as the Chair of the Newcomers Current Events/ Public Policy Group. I continue to serve ( approx.40 years) on my all time favorite, the MAND Public Policy Panel.
I have found that working in the field of nutrition on the state, regional and national is exciting, challenging and rewarding on both a professional and personal level, and is a great resume builder. I am thrilled to have been recently selected to receive The Academy’s 2022 Excellence in Public Health Award. Who knew what you enjoy doing can also lead to national recognition?
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