by Robin Plotkin, RD, LD

Using sheer determination and good old customer service skills, El Paso Dietetic Association’s (EPDA) 2004-2005 President Kelley Trahan, MS, RD, LD and her board created a successful 60 member association virtually from scratch.

As a dietitian with nine years of clinical experience, Kelley was ready to resurrect the fractured EPDA and rebuild it into a strong, supported and goal oriented association for its members. “My general goal was to establish contact with people, rebuild the board with job descriptions and tasks to be completed, and establish consistent monthly meetings in order for people to network and connect,” says Kelley, a dietitian at Davita Dialysis. After personal phone calls to former members and consistent monthly meetings with topics of interest, people started to take notice of her leadership skills and the EPDA Board involvement. She says that “People appreciated being called, addressed by their name, welcomed at the door and being informed of what was going on and where we were headed”.

Membership grew over the course of the year and the district gained momentum each month. By the end of the year, the district had published a membership directory, created a newsletter and celebrated National Nutrition Month by holding nutrition fairs at the local libraries throughout the month of March. In addition, a fundraising committee is being formed for the 2005-2006 year.

Kelley’s vision of creating an association that served people and fostered an accepting environment came to life by leading her Board and setting the example. “I found that I had to be at the forefront and lead the way,” she says. Board and member support then came naturally. The payback has been sweet. In addition to rebuilding an active association, Kelley benefited from the art of self discovery and conquering her fear of failure. “I learned a lot along the way. I felt I didn’t have everything I needed to succeed. I proceeded, worked my plan, then I realized I had what it takes to do what needed to be done. I shouldn’t have been so afraid,” she says.

Kelley’s advice to those who are hesitant to assume leadership roles in their associations? Step up to the plate. “I had bypassed the opportunity to be President of SDA in college. I saw the opportunity again and decided I shouldn’t let it pass by.”

Jennifer Neily , MS, RD, LD, District President’s Council Director at Large couldn’t be more pleased with the direction the EPDA is headed. “It was a pleasure to work with Kelley this year and see the district flourish under her direction. I look forward to seeing the EPDA continue to grow and expand,” Jennifer commented.

Congratulations on your hard work this past year, Kelley!

For more information on the El Paso Dietetic Association, contact EPDA President Demetrius Willis at 915-541-7720 or