Welcome to the Board: Nikki Massie, MA
In our latest blog post, we briefly introduced our new members to the OAC National Board of Directors as we begin 2017 off with amazing new leadership. Now, we’d like to take the time to help you learn more about these individuals in-depth because each one of them brings a host of experiences, passions and visions to their roles as Board Members!
To start, we introduce to you Nikki Massie, MA from Baltimore who was also awarded as our 2016 OAC Member of the Year. Nikki works as a professional writer, marketer and communications strategist for an international non-profit organization, and she also owns and operates a web site/community for bariatric post-ops called Bariatric Foodie. Through that work, she develops weight-loss surgery friendly recipes and writes articles about what it’s like to live the “bariatric lifestyle.”
When talking about her hobbies and passions, Nikki writes:
“I know it sounds geeky, but one of my biggest hobbies is my work! Even in my off hours, I am always helping friends with their marketing and strategizing. It’s fun and it keeps my brain sharp. I also love to cook (obviously) and I am a novice photographer.”
Please join us in giving Nikki a huge WELCOME to the OAC National Board of Directors!
An Interview with Nikki Massie
Q: How and when did you initially hear about the OAC? What was your impression, and did you immediately get involved with the organization?
A: I heard about the OAC for the first time through social media, but I didn’t really know what it was until I attended the 2013 Your Weight Matters National Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. I thought that the organization seemed very passionate about providing good, relatable information to folks about obesity. I was also impressed with the care taken to make sure the National Convention promoted good health. I didn’t get involved much past the Convention during my first year after hearing about the OAC, but then I began to write articles for the OAC blog and began mentioning it more in my community.
In 2016, I hosted my first “Bariatric Foodie OAC Membership Drive” and “Bariatric Foodie Convention Sweepstakes,” where I joined 236 new members to the OAC and was able to give one of my followers an expenses-paid trip to the 2016 National Convention!
Q: What is your connection to the cause of obesity, and why do you choose to dedicate yourself to that cause?
A: I have obesity myself and it runs in my family. My mother died from complications of Type 2 Diabetes and nearly everyone in my family weighs more than they should. This is an issue my children will have to face, and that in particular motivates me.
I want to make sure that for my daughters, and everyone’s children, obesity is viewed as a health problem and NOT a character defect. I want doctors to feel comfortable starting the conversation about obesity. I want them to be aware of a host of evidence-based interventions so that my daughters can have a choice of how they take on this health problem. And most of all, I don’t want their weight to prevent them from any opportunities in life, both in terms of physical capability but also in other people exhibiting bias toward them. Especially as a woman of color, I am passionate about eliminating layers of bias!
Q: Why do you believe an organization like the OAC is essential to individuals who are affected by obesity, and what do you think others can gain from it?
A: I think the OAC has the potential to change the conversation around obesity. Far too often, we treat obesity like a character defect and the people who suffer from it as deviants. This is not only unfair, but unhelpful in combatting the obesity epidemic – and it IS an epidemic. Obesity is a disease that has an economic and quality-of-life impact on us as a country and as a global society.
In order to truly affect change, we need to speak from a place of evidence. To do that, we need people at all levels – practitioners, patients, media and pop culture icons – to stop communicating about obesity in inaccurate or biased ways. Only when we embrace the complexity of obesity can we ever hope to overcome it. And I think we owe it to future generations to do our very best to overcome it.
Q: What motivated you to join the OAC National Board of Directors?
A: To tell you the truth, I was a bit intimidated at the thought of joining the OAC Board. There are some pretty impressive people on the board already, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to provide additional value. The deciding factor ended up being the fact that I determined I do have skills that I could contribute (in the way of community-building, communications, etc.). Since having attended my first board retreat at the start of January 2017, I’ve changed my opinion. I have talents and skills and a voice that I can use to create the climate I want to see for people living with obesity.
Q: What do you hope to see in the future of the OAC? In what ways do you think the organization can work to achieve those goals?
A: Honestly, my ultimate dream for the OAC is that maybe someday it won’t have to exist. That society will embrace obesity as a health condition and provide access to treatment. That media and other key players don’t exhibit bias, and that they treat people affected by obesity with dignity and respect. That’s my ultimate dream, and I think that should be the dream of nearly any cause (to totally solve the problem it exists to solve).
Speaking in more realistic terms, I would love the OAC to be the place that invites people from all walks of life to learn more about the realities of obesity and treatment, provides awesome resources to learn how to access treatment, and brings people together to raise our voices and say that people with obesity have dignity and deserve respect. I think we can do that by continuing the good work we’ve been doing – advocating in Washington, DC, talking to the medical community, and engaging members. I’m very excited to jump in and use my experience to SHOW people what the OAC does and how each person who follows me has something to contribute to this cause.