Donna Oberg, MPH, RD, Nutrition Consultant, Project Manager III retired in mid-October after 30 years of dedicated public service with Public Health – Seattle & King County. Her eyes and personality sparkle as she reflects upon her career and her passion and dedication to improving the public’s health.
Throughout her career, Donna strongly held a vision of achieving optimal health through nutrition and physical activity, especially for babies, young children and youth. As she explains: “it’s so much easier to learn healthy habits when young than to try and change poor ones as an adult.”
A true role model
Donna thrives because she shares great insight about strategies for success, nurtures relationships with colleagues and partners and is a tireless, diligent, and accountable employee. She is a true role model, always ready to mentor both staff and students, and share her valuable insights, locally and nationally.
At Public Health, Donna has had varied hats: she worked as a Nutritionist in Maternal and Child Health and Oral Health programs, on menu-labeling and trans-fat regulations and implementation, on a project about Hypertension and with school districts working for Healthy Eating and Active Living Unit in Prevention. She excelled in her many special duty assignments.
Among her most proud achievements is the implementation of the highly controversial local nutrition labeling and trans fat regulations to improve the nutrition environments in food service establishments. In 2007, Donna forged ahead into uncharted territory, overcoming challenges ranging from giving tailored assistance to restaurants on how they could comply with the regulation to working with the evaluation team.
Over the past four years, Donna has successfully engaged school districts in innovative ways to create healthier environments for students. Starting in 2010, Donna worked with seven school districts on projects to improve school environments through grant funding from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Projects included: providing safe walking routes to school, having recess before lunch, bringing local farm produce to school cafeterias, establishing high quality PE programs, overseeing culinary training for school cafeteria staff and updating District Nutrition and Physical Activity Wellness Policies.
Paying attention to the needs of the districts, Donna also helped develop a School District Health Profile from the Healthy Youth Survey 2012. She worked closely with APDE staff, an Epi Scholar from University of Washington and seven school districts. These new documents are available on Public Health’s website: www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/data/SchoolProfiles.aspx
Donna was awarded the Public Health Excellence Award by the Washington State Public Health Association in October 2013. In retirement, Donna plans to spend more time at her vacation property in Seaside, Oregon and taking care of her three year old grandson and new grandchild (due in November). She is also very excited to have more time for being physically activity (not sitting at a desk) and reading novels.
Donna’s career touched many lives–colleagues, partners and many King County residents who benefited from her diligent work. Her only regret is that we still need stable funding for the essential services we do in public health.
We’re honored to have worked with you and we miss you, Donna!