purple carrots

I’ve had some successes, some failures and a lot of fun in my 37 years of public health work. As I step down as the Director of the Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition to teach in the UK College of Public Health and start Purple Carrots (public health nutrition consultation business), I have been reflecting on what I’ve learned. Here it is in a nutshell.

  1. Persevere. Many endeavors don’t work the first, second or even third time. The problem-solving process often leads to the best ideas.
  2. Listen. To the people you hope to serve, to your partners, to your co-workers.
  3. Partner. “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller
  4. Give credit where credit is due. Anytime you can give a shout out to someone for their contribution, do it!
  5. Incorporate equity. Something as fundamental as health and food should not be available to some and not to others.
  6. Think like a marketer. Identify and address the perceived benefits and barriers to your “product”.
  7. Follow through. Public health advocate Carolyn Dennis says the reason she has been successful is that she simply does what she says she is going to do.
  8. Bring your best work to whatever you do. It gives you more credibility and is much more satisfying than slacking.
  9. Ask for what you want. The worst that can happen is someone will say ‘no’.
  10. Be concise in written and spoken communication. Highly recommended: On Writing Well by William Zinsser.
  11. Never tell a story without a statistic. Never tell a statistic without a story.
  12. Use good graphics.
  13. Walk the talk.

Anita Courtney, MS, RD / Purple Carrots / Public Health Nutrition Consultation /

Anita is a public health nutritionist who received her bachelors and masters degrees in nutrition from the University of Kentucky. She served as the Director of Health Promotion for the Lexington Fayette County Health Department for 25 years where she started the agency’s employee wellness program. She most recently served as the Director of the Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition non-profit. Anita is a long time advocate for healthy eating and has been a pioneer for community-based wellness programming in Lexington, Kentucky.

13 Lessons for Making a Difference