Spotlight on Lori Maggioni
When Major Lori Walker-Maggioni began her Army Internship and Dietetic Master’s program at Baylor University, she was one of the first University of Georgia graduates to go through the program.
Since completing her program, Maggioni has become a successful Registered Dietitian for the United States Army. She currently serves as the Deputy Chief in the Nutrition Care Division at Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Fort Gordon, GA.
“One of the things that I love most about being an Army dietitian is that I get to utilize all areas of nutrition in my job” says Maggioni. “I’m constantly challenged every day.”
Maggioni oversees 53 employees in her department at Fort Gordon. Most are in the food service area for the medical clinic, four serve as diet technicians and four dieticians serve alongside Maggioni. “As a leader, a lot of it is keeping your staff informed so that they feel safe and confident when they come to work,” she says.
Although the overall mission of her work hasn’t changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the way support and care is provided has changed. Meals are no longer self-service but are being prepackaged by the staff. Many dieticians are still seeing patients virtually. “Dieticians are an integral part of the patient care team, even for COVID patients, because a lot of [them] are ventilated and are on nutrition support, meaning they have to be fed through a feeding tube” she says.
Although the past few months have been stressful at times, Maggioni says seeing her team come together during a pandemic to achieve their mission and provide excellent healthcare for their patients and families has been exciting.
One of the things that I love most about being an Army dietitian is that I get to utilize all areas of nutrition in my job.
“I think the military is really leading the way in this and how we’re fighting with COVID. Whether it’s on our respective military installations or abroad or throughout the whole country and what we’re doing to help our community,” she says.
Maggioni originally began at The University of Georgia in 2005 as a pre-pharmacy major. It wasn’t until she took a Nutrition class through the College of Family and Consumer Sciences that she realized the degree even existed and that she could become a dietitian.
“It really combined the science part of the profession with the actual helping people part of the profession,” says Maggioni.
She was drawn to FACS because it felt like a small, tight-knit community. “You don’t feel like you’re just one in a huge crowd, so that’s really what drew me to change my major so I could be in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences,” says Maggioni. She found the same sense of family in the military, as well. “You’re part of a family and a team wherever you go,” she says.
During her Junior year, she came across the Army Dietetic Internship and Master’s Degree program at Baylor University. The program combined her two passions, love of nutrition and serving in the military.
Maggioni was one of the first University of Georgia graduates to attend Baylor’s program. “Since I’ve come in, almost every year or every other year there’s been a UGA grad coming in as an Army dietitian,” she says. “When you want to learn about a career field, I think it’s really important to reach out and find a mentor, ask questions and shadow them. I’ve let a lot of people from UGA that are interested in being a dietitian come shadow me here or talk to people.”
“Lori is incredibly passionate about helping grow the next generation of Army health care leaders,” says Elizabeth Elmore, friend and former FACS graduate.
Maggioni believes she wouldn’t be where she is today, if it wasn’t for having different mentors in her life and really fostering those relationships.
Dr. Joan Fisher, who served as the Director of the Dietetic Program at UGA, had a huge impact on Maggioni. “She is just an outstanding researcher, instructor, and mentor,” she says.
Maggioni returns to Athens frequently to speak to FACS students about her experiences as an Army dietitian.
“It was so awesome to see alumni coming back and talking about how much the college has helped them and set them up for success,” she says. “That’s what I’ve tried to embody – just giving back to the university that gave me so much.”
This article was written by Kenzie Poston, who served as an intern for the FACS External Relations team this summer.