Advancing health through science, education and medicine

President-elect Candidate

Stella Volpe, Ph.D., R.D., FACSM
Professor and Chair
Drexel University
Department of Nutrition Sciences
Philadelphia, PA

1.  Please list your previous service to ACSM.

I have been a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) since 1985, when I was a senior undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh. I still remember receiving my first issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®!

As a graduate student at Virginia Tech, our professors instilled in us the importance of being involved in ACSM. Many of us volunteered at the Southeast Chapter of ACSM. It was at my first regional chapter where I saw some of the prominent names in exercise science present. My first ACSM national presentation was in Dallas, 1988.

I became a Fellow of the ACSM in 1996. Following that, my first official service to ACSM began as a Member-at-Large for the New England Chapter of ACSM (NEACSM). I was then elected president of that chapter. During that time, I learned a lot about how to run a conference, as well as even more about ACSM, because I had greater contact with the National Office. I am still involved with NEACSM, as a member of the Donna Murphy Service Scholarship Selection Committee, and periodically I am invited to present at their annual conference. I was also presented the Honor Award from NEACSM in November, 2013.

In 2008, I was elected to the Board of Trustees (Trustee for Basic and Applied Science) for ACSM on a national level, which is a three-year term. During that time, I was elected by my fellow Board of Trustee members to be a member of the Administrative Council, which allowed me to learn even more about ACSM, and to also learn of new initiatives that would be brought to the Board of Trustees for comments, discussion and votes. I have also been asked to serve on a number of committees, which include: Exercise is Medicine® Pediatrics Committee, American Fitness Index™ and the Social Program Task Force. I have been a member of the American Fitness Index™ since its inception in 2007. Since 2010, I have been a mentor in ACSM’s Leadership and Diversity Training Program.    

I was elected as Vice President of ACSM in 2012 (a two-year term), and in this capacity, I am a member of the Administrative Council, the Program Committee for the National Meeting, the Awards & Tributes Committee, the Budget and Finance Committee, the Membership Committee, and  the Basic and Applied Science Board, among others. In being a part of these committees, I have been enlightened at all that we do at ACSM, which is all driven by dedicated, hard-working members, as well as the dedicated and hard-working ACSM staff.

I have been an Associate Editor for ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal® since 2006 (I write the Nutritionist's View column). This requires that I write three columns a year, and it has been such a pleasure to be able to be in this role for seven years.

My current and previous roles with ACSM has allowed me to interact with many different people, learn more about each of the committees and how they affect one another. These many experiences within ACSM, as well as my role as Department Chair at Drexel University, have helped to prepare me for the role of President of ACSM.

2.   What is ACSM’s greatest strength and how would you make that aspect of the organization even stronger?

Although I realize that we all say this, but, ACSM’s greatest strength is its membership and its diversity. I can attest to this, even for myself, since my PhD is in nutrition, and my BS and MS are in exercise science and exercise physiology, respectively.

Because we have people from different backgrounds, practices and research, it makes ACSM stronger. This can sometimes be difficult when planning the National Program; however, I believe that, in the general sense, the diversity is what separates us from other scientific organizations. It allows us to collaborate with individuals from different fields, and learn from those not in our specialties.

I would make this stronger by ensuring that our members are involved in different committees and that they work together to guarantee that our scientific programming will represent all of the College.

Some of the ways that past and current presidents have worked to make our diversity our strength is to incorporate more of, for example, basic science, into the National Meeting. I would not reinvent the wheel; I would work with the different constituencies within ACSM to help each area to be well-represented, by using some of the same methods that have been successful in the past.

3. What is a second area of ACSM that you would like for the College to make additional progress, and how could that best be done?

I want to work on greater student involvement. They are the future of ACSM, and the sooner we can get students, of all levels involved, the better that will be for ACSM present and future.

I have been involved as a judge and/or scorekeeper for ACSM’s College Bowl each year. This is an excellent event that draws so many people together in one room to highlight undergraduate students. I have also been invited for “Meet the Expert” and “Leader in the Lounge” sessions at the ACSM National Meeting.

First, I know that the Membership Committee lowered student membership rates, which resulted in a significant increase in student membership. That was a great first step. I would like students to be co-chairs (with a faculty member) of free communications at the National Meeting. I also think that it would be great to have one free communications that is dedicated to undergraduate student research. This not only gets more students involved, but may likely get smaller universities involved.

4.  What would be your first strategic priority as President of ACSM?

My vision for a strategic priority is to increase the health and physical activity of Americans through a person-pet exercise movement. Nearly 50% of households have a dog. It has been well-established that Americans are not increasing their physical activity, and that educational efforts do not result in sustained changed behavior. It has also been reported that people who have dogs tend to walk more than those who do not have dogs.

My plan would be to work directly with animal shelters to have more volunteers of all ages walk with the dogs, which will lead to increased physical activity for the humans, and also help the dogs. In addition, this can lead to greater social interaction for the humans and the dogs. This Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) has been well-established in the literature, and has been shown to improve health in individuals. Furthermore, I would want to work with people of all ages and socioeconomic status (SES), especially individuals of lower SES, because they may not always be able to afford having a dog, but having a program like this in place will allow them to be with dogs, and also get more physical activity.

5.  ACSM works closely with many other organizations, including associations, companies, philanthropies, and governmental agencies. Indicate those organizations/companies/agencies for which you play an advisory, consulting, or leadership role.

Below is a list of organizations of which I am involved or have been involved, other than the ACSM.

2013~present   Member, Board of Trustees, International Life Sciences Institute
2013~present   Member, Editorial Board, Nutrition Today
2012~2013      Chair (selected), President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and
                       Nutrition Science Board
2011~2012      Chair-elect (selected), President’s Council on Fitness, Sports
                      and Nutrition Science Board
2011~2014      Member (selected), President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and
                     Nutrition Science Board
2011~present  Member, Editorial Board, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports
                      and Nutrition Research Digest
2011~present Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Nutrition: The International
                     Journal of Applied and Basic Nutritional Sciences

2011~2012     Member, Nominating Committee, Sports, Cardiovascular, and
                     Wellness Nutritionists
2004~2006     Chair of Nominating Committee, Sports, Cardiovascular, and
                     Wellness Nutritionists
1997~2002     Chair, SCAN Alliance Chair for the National Athletic Trainers
1997~1999     Chair, Subcommittee on Outcome-Based Research in
                     Cardiovascular Nutrition
1996~1999     Member, SCAN Technical Resource Advisory Committee

1996~1997     Member Promotions Coordinator, Sports, Cardiovascular, and
                     Wellness Nutritionists (SCAN)

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