I began my career as an exercise physiologist, first working in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, and then developing individual and group programming for clients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, HIV, and multiple sclerosis. I later completed my M.S. in Nutrition Communications and Ph.D. in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition.
Over the past decade, my work has focused on chronic disease prevention and public health. I am interested in behavioral theory, health communications, and the context in which people develop, change, and maintain health behaviors. In 2003, I co-developed a comprehensive curriculum and training program for implementing research-based programming for midlife and older women. To date, 3,000 health educators in 48 states have been trained to implement these community-based physical activity and nutrition programs in predominantly non-urban areas.
My current research focuses on understanding how people’s social, food, and physical activity environments influence behavior over time—particularly in rural communities. I am also working on community mobilization and capacity building initiatives with health educators who serve rural areas. The goal is to provide training and evaluation tools to help them engage residents to become involved in programs and policies to improve their food and physical activity environments through collective action.