I am thrilled, proud and honored to present the very first Health Leadership Award to an outstanding graduate who has been a leader in the school food movement, a health educator, and role model for her children and her community: Allison Carmen.
When I first met Allison, she was a young woman in her twenties, highly educated and a successful lawyer for a large New York City firm. As one of the thirty students in Integrative Nutrition’s very first class, she demonstrated an exceptional desire to understand the transformational effects that nutrition can have on our lives.
With curiosity and intelligence, Allison has continued to analyze and put into practice the ideas and energy she gained from that program. Her most recent project, The Book of Maybe is inspired by her time at IIN, as well as her experience as a business consultant and coach.
Overworked, stressed and exhausted from her successful career in corporate America, Allison was seeking a way to heal herself and others. She recognized the possibility of holistic principles long before they had entered the mainstream.
A Working Friendship
Over the past twenty years, Allison has not only become a close friend, but also has served as an important advisor. Her support and expertise as a business consultant has given me great strength, confidence and guidance. Without Allison, there is a good chance there would be no IIN.
Role Model for Healthy School Food
Allison’s first big accomplishment was to transform the food at her daughter Morgan’s school. The program was filled with food that had high fructose corn syrup, hormones, antibiotics, preservatives and additives. There was hardly any fresh food. Together, she and Morgan worked with other parents to create a “truly amazing food program”, which now serves organic, local meat, vegetables and fruit.
Today, Allison and Morgan tell their story to IIN students and graduates at live events, and always – without fail – receive a standing ovation. Their impassioned work and dedication serves a living example of Integrative Nutrition’s mission to create a happier healthier world.
Morgan has also become an active nutrition advocate. She started at age five, with her efforts to change her school’s food program, and at eight-years-old was already speaking at the NYC Board of Health’s hearing to ban trans-fats. Morgan continues to educate children about GMOs by blogging and even focused on this issue for her school science project. She believes that all GMO products should be labeled.
Matching Schools with CSAs
One of Allison’s current projects is to match schools and CSA’s. Sixty families from her daughter’s school have already signed up to buy shares in a local CSA program from September to December. Using the school as a drop-off point, the program creates the perfect model for parents to teach children about healthy eating and to bring fresh foods into their everyday lives. Allison explains, “We must be diligent in continuing to monitor school food, but there is still a need as parents to lead the effort in teaching our children about food, cooking and healthy eating.” The current goal is to provide a similar service to 10-15 other NYC schools in the next few years.
Advice for Future Health Leaders
Allison’s philosophy of Maybe is an inspiration for the entire Integrative Nutrition community:
“When we are trying to make real changes in the world it can feel like no one is listening or that it is impossible. We can get stuck on the idea that 'if today doesn’t work out, it will never change in the future.' As graduates at IIN, we are creating a new paradigm in the world, which sometimes takes time. But just because we don’t see the results immediately, don't lose the hope, because the winds of change will come offering us new possibilities to achieve our goals. Just be patient and remind yourself to say Maybe!”
And just Maybe she'll IINspire you to be a Health Leader too.
Health Leadership Awards are given to honor and motivate our graduates!