Spreading the Word on Diet, Nutrition and Health

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Zelman

Kathleen Zelman '75

If variety is the spice of life, then Kathleen Zelman ’75, the director of nutrition for WebMD Health, has the perfect job. She not only oversees all the diet, nutrition and food content for the popular Web site, but writes and edits weekly features, columns and newsletters as well. As a registered and licensed dietician with a master’s in public health, she also provides expert editorial review of diet books and articles, covers national meetings and is frequently asked to speak both here in the U.S. and internationally. Her work in the media was recently recognized when she received the American Dietetic Association 2007 Media Excellence award for educating consumers on health and nutrition.

Although her schedule is always full, she loves the change and variety in her work. It has given her the chance to travel and speak around the world and spread the message of the importance of good nutrition and health. Her work is demanding and constantly changing but that is exactly the way she likes it. “I absolutely love my career,” she says.

Now a Georgia resident, Zelman grew up in New Jersey and after graduating from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, enrolled at Montclair State. “In those days, Montclair was a small school,” she recalls. “But you still got a great education.” She loved dance and wanted to become a dancer but heeding her father’s advice to choose a career that wouldn’t depend so much on physical health and fitness, she decided to rethink her plans. Studying health and nutrition was a logical choice for her since dancers—and everyone else for that matter—need to stay healthy.

“My years at Montclair were the best times in my life,” she says simply. “There were great professors, great role models, and I made wonderful friends.” She credits Montclair State with helping her to get where she is today saying, “Montclair was responsible for sowing the seeds of my intellectual curiosity.”

After graduation, she worked as a pediatric dietician before moving with her husband, a physician, to New Orleans. She attended graduate school there and upon graduation, settled in the area and continued working in her chosen field. She has worked as an assistant professor at St. Mary’s Dominican College, was the dietetic internship director at Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation, and served as the media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Although she is now at WebMD, she continues her involvement with organizations such as the American Dietetic Association, to which she is a Georgia Dietetic Association Delegate. She also continues to teach and consult on diet and nutrition, has co-authored several books, appeared on television news programs, and contributes regularly to journals, magazines and newspapers.

Zelman is in demand as a media coach and trainer and often runs workshops to teach the ins and outs of working with the media.

While such a range of duties may not be everyone’s idea of a great job, it’s a major reason that Zelman loves what she does. “It’s fun to have things change,” she says. She is appreciative of all the opportunities she has had and is happy to be positively contributing to peoples’ lives. Of all she has accomplished, however, she doesn’t hesitate to say that her proudest achievements are her two children, Dana, 21, and Andrew, 23. “They are my real accomplishments,” she says. “I am prouder of them than anything else I have done in my career.”