Karen Lacey, a senior lecturer and director of the Dietetic Program in Human Biology at UW-Green Bay, knows how to cap a career and make an exit. Just days ahead of her retirement in May, Lacey received word that she will be recognized as an American Dietetic Association (ADA) 2011 national Medallion Award winner. The presentation of awards will be in September 2011 in San Diego.
The Medallion Awards, given each year since 1976, honor ADA members who have shown dedication to the high standards of the dietetics profession through active participation, leadership, and devotion to serving others in dietetics and allied health fields. The ADA is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.
Lacey was hired by UW-Green Bay in 1992 as a consultant to develop the University’s first post-baccalaureate dietetic internship. Prior to that she worked as a clinical dietitian at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay and taught nutrition courses at Bellin College of Nursing. Lacey became the internship director in 1994 and then added the directorship of the undergraduate dietetic program in 1997. She directed both programs until 2009 when a new internship director was hired; however she has continued to assist in the expansion and revision of the dietetic internship to meet new competencies while revising nutrition courses to reflect new educational standards.
Both programs underwent a successful reaccreditation process and site visit from the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetic Education in April. Students who complete the undergraduate program in dietetics are eligible to apply to a dietetic internship before passing a national registration examination to become a registered dietitian. Over Lacey’s career, at least six students from both programs received recognition as the state’s top dietetic intern or undergraduate student. Interns from the program have a first-time pass rate of nearly 95 percent on the Registered Dietitian Exam.
“To help shape the future of the profession, but also to be a role model to the many students I have had, has been wonderful,” said Lacey. “I can only hope that by my example, some of my former interns and students will be willing to become leaders in the future. This award truly represents acknowledgement by one’s peers of those contributions.”
Lacey will continue in the field in the year ahead. She assumed the presidency of the Wisconsin Dietetic Association as of June 1 and will serve next year as past-president. In addition she is a member of the organization’s Association Position Committee — overseeing all official position papers of the American Dietetic Association . She is also a program reviewer for the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetic Education. In her “free time” she and her husband will be spending more time with their grandchildren and their families in Montana, California and Brazil.