Interview with a Diabetes Leader-Joyce Green Pastors
Fresh News: How did you first become interested in diabetes education?
JGP: My grandmother had diabetes and, I would have to say that in the late 1960’s, she truly suffered. That led to my interest to learn more and become more involved, resulting in a degree in nutrition and an internship in dietetics in the mid-1970’s.
After my internship and graduate school, I worked at the Mayo Clinic for a few years, where I observed the primary treatment of type 2 diabetes to be a very prescriptive approach with limited medications and a calorie-controlled, food exchange list type of approach which was very unsatisfactory and unsuccessful for many patients.
This led to a move to the University of Virginia (UVA) in 1982 to work with an NIH-funded center, the UVA Diabetes Research and Training Center. My initial work there involved collaboration with the Diabetes Care and Education Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association (now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) to develop and publish a manual on ‘Meal Planning Approaches’ (1987) and a series of statewide and national workshops on the same topic (1992-1994).
FN: When you first became involved with the VDC, what was the organization’s mission and purpose?
JGP: I became involved with the VDC in 1994, when funding was provided to the state of Virginia by the CDC to implement a diabetes control program – a requirement of this funding was to initiate a statewide diabetes advisory board.
This board evolved to become an independent, nonprofit organization, now known as the Virginia Diabetes Council, in ~ 1999. The initial mission of the VDC was ‘To bring partners together to identify and promote best practice for diabetes prevention, control, and treatment in Virginia’.
FN: How do you see that mission evolving today?
JGP: The good news is that we have evolved and moved forward with the mission of the VDC. At a VDC Executive Board Retreat in 2018, we re-examined the mission of the VDC and revised it to better reflect how to bring partners together in the state of Virginia to “Raise Awareness, Build Collaboration, and Promote Excellence in Education and Treatment”.
FN: You have served on the board of the VDC for a number of years and were set to retire this year. What made you reconsider your decision?
JGP: I have been involved with the VDC since it was a Virginia Diabetes Advisory Board in 1994 and was instrumental in it becoming an independent, 501c3 organization which we renamed the Virginia Diabetes Council in 1999. I was the second chair of the VDC in 2000 and remained on the board of the VDC for several years.
In 2016, the University of Virginia Center of Diabetes Prevention and Education, where I served as the Director, agreed to be a subcontractor to develop a statewide strategic plan for diabetes prevention. That work led to a contract in 2017 to the Virginia Diabetes Council to promote development and sustainability of diabetes prevention programs in Virginia; this contract has led to continued funding for the VDC to carry out its current mission. This has led to my renewed interest and commitment to the VDC. In the past couple of years, we have hired an Executive Director and have involved many new partners in the workgroups of the VDC and new leadership to the board of the VDC.
It’s an exciting time and I would like to be part of this, even though I have retired from my position at UVA. Diabetes is my passion and I’m not yet finished with the work that needs to be done. both statewide and nationally!
FN: What do you feel most excited about when you think about the new vision of the VDC?
JGP: I’m excited about several things that I see happening with the VDC – the new leadership and involvement of new partners in the VDC as we move forward with both improving the landscape in diabetes prevention and diabetes education.
There is momentum to improve communication and coordination with diabetes partners in the community and within health systems and I would like to be part of the solution to make this happen!