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K-State Today

March 30, 2011

Dietitian, entrepreneur to discuss her trip down a road less traveled

By Julie Fosberg

Ellyn Elson has been called a hospitality industry dynamo. Add monikers such as creator of a multimillion-dollar food and nutrition software systems company, registered dietitian, passionate promoter of sustainability and author.

Elson will be at Kansas State University Wednesday, April 6, to present the 37th Grace M. Shugart Lecture, "A Road Less Traveled," at 1:30 p.m. in Forum Hall in the K-State Student Union. It's sponsored by the department of hospitality management and dietetics in the College of Human Ecology and is open to the public.

"I'll speak to the opportunities that were available to me as a registered dietitian," she said. "I always took a different path but in the end discovered many ways in which my profession helped me to become very successful. I will also discuss the power of networking with professional colleagues and involvement in professional associations."

Elson lives in California and is founder and former owner of Computrition, named one of the nation's top 500 woman-owned businesses by DiversityBusiness.com. The business specializes in food service and nutrition management software for the hospitality and health care industries worldwide.

One of her current endeavors is FocusGreen LLC, a business "committed to assisting others so that they may live and work in sustainable environments that provide the highest degree of efficiency and personal satisfaction," she said. She also has Destination for Life LLC and Simply Chic Productions LLC.

An expert in the area of innovative systems and creative management approaches to the dietetics profession, Elson speaks widely on the use of marketing and motivating teams to ensure maximum efficiency while having fun in the workplace.

Elson was the first woman to be honored with the International Food Service Executives Association's Industry Award of Excellence for significant contributions as an industry leader.

She served as the president of the American Dietetic Association Foundation and on the foundation's board of directors from 1992 to 1993.

In 2006 she, along with her co-author Ken Wasco, published "Live Like You Mean It, " a best-selling motivational road map to a happier life.

"The fact that we have hosted this lecture series for 37 years is a tribute to the lasting legacy of Grace Shugart. As our department head for more than 20 years, she set the tone for excellence and professionalism that we strive to maintain to this day, " said Deborah D. Canter, professor of dietetics.

"Ellyn Elson joins a long line of distinguished industry leaders as she comes to speak to our students, faculty and friends," Canter said. "Ellyn is the classic 'mover and shaker' and an entrepreneur of the first order. We're delighted to have her on campus to inspire all of us to new heights."

The Grace M. Shugart Lecture Series brings dietitians and food service and hospitality experts to K-State for the enrichment of student curricula and to provide continuing education for practitioners in the field. Established in 1975, the lecture series honors the late Shugart, former department head and co-author of "Food for Fifty" and "Food Service in Institutions." Shugart helped build the profession of dietetics and institutional management throughout the United States, serving as president of the American Dietetic Association. She also was a Medallion Award winner and received the Marjorie Hulsizer Copher Award, the American Dietetic Association's highest honor.