Get to Know Us – Georgeann Mallory, RD
10 Questions with Georgeann Mallory, RD, OAC Board Member
1. How did you become involved with the OAC?
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and Ethicon were working together on a project to start a patient advocacy organization. A professor from the Kellogg School of Management came to Sanibel Island, Fla. where Dr. Sugerman, ASMBS president at the time, was living and gave a presentation on a business plan for this project. After the presentation, questions, and discussion, everyone agreed the plan had great potential and value. After final approvals, a headhunting firm was hired to find the right person to run the organization. I was one of the people chosen to serve on the selection committee and participate in the interview and selection process. The selection committee met in Chicago and conducted four face-to-face interviews with the final candidates. I clearly remember Joe’s interview. What made him stand out was the way he balanced the importance of good business sense and a strong work ethic, with the heartfelt priority of making a difference for individuals with obesity. No doubt we made the best choice! I was then invited, along with Dr. Robin Blackstone and Dr. Christopher Still, to become one of the three charter members of the OAC board.
2. Have you personally dealt with obesity, and if so, how has it impacted your life?
In the third grade, as in previous years, we all were weighed. What made this year different is that my teacher decided to announce everyone’s weights to the class starting with the announcement that my girlfriend and I were the two heaviest students in the class and then told everyone how much we weighed. I think she listed everyone’s weight, but I didn’t hear anything after that. I just sat there, didn’t move, didn’t look up. I was so shy anyway, and being pointed out in the manner was awful. I don’t remember much about the rest of the day. I was just glad I had my really close friend to walk home with. It must have been tougher for her because she was the heaviest of all. We didn’t talk about it.
I used to cry at night about my weight and my mom would always say, “Just wait until you get older, it’s just baby fat, I was the same way.” I wasn’t sure I believed her, but I hoped she was right. As it turned out, she was right, with age and effort I did lose weight – actually, I just got taller and my weight didn’t change that much. It takes much, much longer for the mind to be in sync with the body changes. On the positive side, these experiences gave me a great empathy for the stigma and struggle of obesity and brought me to my career as a dietitian and now as Executive Director of the ASMBS.
3. What is your favorite part about being a board member of the OAC?
Working with the amazing people who are on the board and on staff at the OAC. We are all from different backgrounds and have different strengths. Our common ground is that each person on the board cares very deeply about making a difference for people with obesity. That makes for incredible energy and synergy to move things in a positive direction!
4. Why is the OAC valuable in advocating for obesity awareness?
The OAC represents people with obesity, and theirs is the strongest most meaningful voice in this advocacy effort. An organization of the people and for the people is key to making important changes. Even though the bariatric surgeons I have worked with most certainly care greatly about their patients and work tirelessly to help initiate changes for better access and the best possible care, when it comes to advocating for treatment, no matter the depth of their sincerity, their words are can be wrongly and cynically misconstrued into an effort to just “line their pockets.”
Additionally, the OAC is dedicated to staying on top of what is happening on the political front, within our communities and in the workplace. They work diligently to push for action and changes that are meaningful for people with obesity.
5. What is one goal that you want to accomplish as a board member?
It is so hard to break through the deep-seated weight biases of the world. I would love to see these biases eliminated, but would be happy to see a big dent for a beginning.
6. What is your favorite film?
7. What is your fondest memory from this past year?
Good times with friends and family in my new home.
8. If you could’ve had any career other than your current one, what would it have been?
I would like to have been a singer – ha, pretty funny considering my generally quiet nature and the fact that I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Would have loved it though!
9. What is your favorite place to vacation?
So far, Cinque Terra, Italy.
10. What is your most prized possession?
My 1996 red convertible Mustang. My mom and stepdad gave it to me because they never drove it. It is low on mileage, high on fun and makes me think of them when I cruise around in it.
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Join us next time as we feature OAC staff member, Kim Zahradnik!