In Liz Horton’s 40-year career history, she has worked as a registered dietitian, managed and consulted in the nutrition and healthcare industries, and worked in hiring, training, auditing, and supervising dietitians.
It was a move to Texas that ultimately led Liz to HHS. In 2017, she was hired to be HHS’ first Corporate Dietitian. Liz explained, “I wasn’t really sure what [a corporate dietitian] was and they weren’t sure what it was. The minute they [described] it, I said ‘I know exactly what we need and I know exactly what I need to do.’ We started [building on] what clinical programs had already been developed. I want to highlight [the work of] Dawn Jeffers and Emily Howell—they were the first dietitians that worked on a corporate level with HHS. It’s been really exciting to be part of such a big journey,” Liz shared about her time in that corporate dietitian role.
Liz, now vice president of clinical services, has been a central part of the major growth HHS has seen in nutrition services overall. For National Nutrition Month, HHS wants to recognize the phenomenal contributions made by Liz and her team.
What is your favorite part of your job?
“You know, it was just a small team and now we have a team of several regional dietitians and business excellence dietitians and champions throughout the nation that help support me in this role. [We have] phenomenal RDs who step up and want to do more and learn more and I think that’s probably what I love most about this position. My time with HHS has allowed me the ability to really work with the dietitians and help mentor them to grow in their careers and be able to take the career paths that they want to achieve in their life. It’s given me the ability to not only get to know them personally but to be a part of their career journeys also. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to be part of such a great group of dietitians.”
Who have been some mentors throughout your career?
“Dirk Noteboom [Co-COO of HHS’ healthcare division], who is an RD himself. He has the knowledge and understanding of what an RD role is and the clinical role and importance of it in hospitals. That has been a key factor in allowing this position to grow [to where I am today] because he’s had the trust and confidence in [me]. His support has been phenomenal in allowing us to have, I would almost say, a free lane to go and develop. That’s something you don’t get in most corporations. I give high credit to Emily Howell. From day one, I think Emily really mentored me through the vision of HHS: Where we needed to go and what we needed to do. Dirk and Emily have been the ones who've helped me the most through my career [at HHS]. I definitely have been very inspired by other RDs who I've worked with [in the past]. The owner of the last corporation I worked with; she went to my same college and had come to speak to the students. I followed her through her career and she is just a phenomenal woman. She gave me the inspiration that I could be a mother and be a dietitian.”
What has been the greatest motivation in your career?
“My motivation was always to make a difference in other people’s lives and make their lives better. For the field of dietetics, that leads to [providing] better nutrition and meeting their disease states. Whatever it is that we need to do as dietitians to make a person’s life better, I think that’s a motivation most dietitians have. In this [specific] position, I really think my motivation has been to make the jobs that our dietitians do, ones that they are happy with, where they love their job and going to work, and [also] have that desire to make people’s lives better. I always tell my dietitians, ‘You know, you’re gonna have some hard days and things might not go [as planned], but always look for the good thing that happened that day.’ Because that’s what gets you through your week and back into the door the next week. You’re making a difference in someone’s life and that’s what the reward is. And that’s what motivates me, making a difference in [my dietitians’] lives every day. [I want] to let them know we care about them and want to make their job better.”
What advice would you give to team members who are wanting to grow in their careers in this area?
“I always encourage them to look at what they want: what kind of path they want to take in their career and then look at certifications they can get. I really encourage them in continuing education. You know, if you’re interested in eating disorders, take an eating disorder class. If you are interested in critical care, become a certified nutrition support clinician (CNSC). If you’re interested in diabetes, become a diabetes educator. We’re always encouraging them to look for ways to grow outside of just their job that will help them to feel more fulfilled in their career and open them up to being prepared to take another position and move to the next level.”
What do you think is the best way for women to support each other in their careers, especially in leadership?
“I would hope that anyone on our team would say that we have a friendship and that we're able to have fun, and that we're able to talk and communicate openly with each other and share ideas. I think the biggest thing is really developing a friendship and getting to know who you are working with. When you know them and understand their challenges outside of work, it helps you to have more empathy [and understanding].”
Liz Horton would say her greatest accomplishment is raising her five children. They are all adults now with their own careers and Liz believes she was part of showing them all that they could achieve. Liz shared, “Any one of [my kids] will say, ‘Mom, [you set] an example of being, hard-working and dedicated to what you do and loving what you do.’ What a motivation, it was for them to have a career in their life and to find the thing that they're passionate [about] and love to do. I’ve been very grateful for being able to pass on to the next generation of, not only, dietitians but to my own children, as well.”
Tag(s): Team Member Stories