Heather Clarke Thomas

Heather Clarke Thomas

Work History

Work History
Jul 1995 - Present

Public Health Dietitian

Middlesex-London Health Unit

Responsible for nutrition program planning, implementation, and evaluation for services idedntified by community need and as regulated by the Ontario Public Health Standards. Works collaboratively with community partners, professionals, and organizations to promote, implement, research, and evaluate healthy eating, pre- and post-natal nutrition, healthy weights, food literacy and skills, and food security initatives. Mentors dietetic interns and nutrition/health promotion students.

Sep 2004 - Present

Adjunct Professor

Brescia University College

Researches, plans, prepares, and delivers nutrition lectures based on text books, curriculum expectations, assignments, and examination materials. Develpes course syllabi. Provides guidance and feedanc to students regarding their progress in their courses and career path selections. Mentors dietetic interns. Provides community service learning opportunities for nutrition students.

Jan 2012 - May 2012

Instructor

Fanshawe College

Planned, delivered, and evaluated introductory nutrition lectures to Dental Assistant Program students. Used academic journals, text books, curriculum expectations, and interactive student assignments to engage students to think critically about nutrition and its impact on dental health and overal health.

Sep 1999 - Jan 2000

Acting Manager - Nutrition Division

Middlesex-London Health Unit

Managed Nutrition Division during a transitional period priot to agency restructuring. Responsible for the supervision of nutrition staff and the annual budget of $150,000.00. Directed the implementation and evaluation of nutrition programs and services targeting diverse populations throughout the city of London and Middlesex County.

Mar 1995 - Jul 1995

Promotions Assistant

Canadian Produce Marketing Association

Assistant to the National Director of Promotions. Responsible for the seamless implementation and coordination of a national children's club promoting fruit and vegetable consumption. Team member participating in the development of original website design for CPMA. (recruited to fill a maternity leave of absence)

Oct 1994 - Mar 1995

Public Health Dietitian

Leeds, Grenville, Lanark and District Health Unit

Responsible for the provision of nutrition services including nutrition counselling, education, consultation, and resource development. (recruited to fill a maternity leave of absence)

Education

Education
Sep 2008 - Jun 2012

PhD

University of Western Ontario

On December 12, 2011, I defended my dissertation, titled The planning, implementation, and formative evaluation of a community-based food literacy program for youth. In this dissertation, I explored the provision of food literacy and cooking skills education among an at-risk youth population (aged 13-18) augmented with fieldtrips to local farms. Grounded in the Generalized Model for Program Planning and informed by the principles of Participatory Action Research and Self-Efficacy, this intervention was a success in achieving the intervention goals and objectives. The formative evaluation of the cooking program focused on gaining an understanding of at-risk youths’, community partners’, and parents’/guardians’ experiences with their involvement in various aspects of the intervention. Additionally, it was important to understand the program’s impact on youth participants’ food literacy and self-efficacy. As such, a pre/post self-reported tool was implemented to assess food literacy and self-efficacy among at-risk youth participants involved in the pilot project. Findings indentified that the intervention provided a unique, hands-on learning opportunity for participants to gain essential food literacy and cooking skills which enhance their self-reported confidence and self-efficacy. The final study in the dissertation utilized the Photovoice method with the purpose of qualitatively assessing the barriers and facilitators at-risk youth participants experienced to the application of their cooking skills in environments external to the intervention. Overall findings from this study indicated that community-based a cooking program for at-risk youth provided an opportunity to apply basic cooking techniques to ensure healthy, economical, homemade meals for youth while building confidence and self-efficacy.

Sep 2006 - Jun 2008

MSc

University of Western Ontario

The purpose of this study was to qualitatively assess overweight and obese adolescents’ perceptions of: the meaning of “healthy bodyweight”; barriers and facilitators to healthy bodyweight attainment; and what they believe would help to effectively enhance and support their healthy bodyweight behaviours. This information, including factors that promote obesity and those that set up barriers for achieving healthy weight, will inform the development of an efficacious health promotion program targeting healthy bodyweight for adolescents.

This qualitative study targeted a sample of overweight and obese youth (defined as equal to or above the 85th percentile for age and sex) between the ages of 14-17 years. An experienced interviewer, using a semi-structured interview guide, conducted 11 in-depth interviews. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Inductive content analysis was conducted independently and simultaneously by three qualitative researchers. Additional measures were incorporated throughout the study to ensure data trustworthiness.

The majority of participants characterized healthy bodyweight as a combination of consuming nutritious foods and engaging in regular physical activity. Some included a psychological dimension to the definition, expanding it to embrace positive self-esteem and body image. Four central themes reflected participants’ perceptions of the facilitators to achieving a healthy bodyweight: family support; access to nutritious food at home; physical activity encouragement; and school physical activity environment. Six key themes identify what participants perceived as barriers to achieving a healthy bodyweight: lack of family support; poor nutrition environment; unsupportive school environment; lack of time; low self-esteem; and bullying. Three dominant themes exemplified participants’ preferences for a healthy bodyweight intervention: opportunities for unstructured co-ed recreational activities; co-ed nutrition education sessions; and a gender-specific discussion forum to explore the experience of being overweight/obese and ways to address challenges. Finally, four themes, pertaining to location, hours of operation, advertising, and healthy bodyweight program facilitators, reflected youths’ perceptions of effective marketing for a healthy bodyweight program.

The participants provided a wealth of information to form the foundation of future obesity-related interventions tailored specifically to this target population. The current study creates the foundation for the next phase of this research, a pilot program of the proposed healthy bodyweight intervention. A youth-focused program informed by the insights and preferences of its target population is essential for the implementation of an efficacious healthy bodyweight intervention.

Sep 1984 - Jun 1993

BSc

Brescia University College

Bachelor of Science in Honours Home Economics with a major in Community Nutrition.

Publications

Skills

Skills

mentoring

mentoring

nutrition education

university teaching

qualitative research

team leadership

nutrition consulting

health promotion

Summary

An energetic, hard working, and performance driven collaborator with significant achievements in public health, research, and academic environments. Applies a research approach to strategic planning and program management. Integrates applied research into public health programming. Acomplished in adult education principles with excellent facilitation, coaching, and mentoring skills. Encourages team synergy to foster excellence in implementation and coordination of innovative program management, knowledge exchange, and knowledge translation.

Objective

Accomplished health promoter seeking a leadership position to leverage extensive background in the area of supervision, collaboration, and coordination. Extremely motivated for a career change and eager to contribute my strong interpersonal skills and goal-oriented personality to contribute to and add value to a company's growth and success.

Interest

Personal interests include:  reading, yoga, hockey, art

Certifications

Certifications

Member

Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health

Member

Dietitians of Canada

Registered Dietitian

College of Dietitians of Ontario