RD Close-Up: Lisa Coleman, MS, RD, LDN, Director of Healthy Living at Giant
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Please describe your role with Giant Food.
In my current role as Director of Healthy Living, I’m responsible for Giant’s overall strategy related to nutrition, health and wellness. I work with cross-functional teams in Merchandising, Pharmacy, Sustainable Retailing, and Store Operations to embed Healthy Living into Giant’s strategic initiatives. I also oversee the 10 member Giant Nutrition Team, which provides all our customer facing services. I’m very proud to say that Giant Nutrition services, which includes personalized consultations, classes, store tours, and workplace wellness, are complimentary. This means we can connect with everyone without limitations! Over the last few months, we’ve also moved all our services online which has been such a great success. It’s an exciting time to be leading the retail dietitian program at Giant Food!
You recently were named a Top Women in Grocery: Rising Star. Tell us about the award.
Each year, Progressive Grocer recognizes the Top Women in Grocery. Honorees are identified in three categories – Executive-level, Rising Stars, and Store Managers. If you scan the awardees' list, you'll see female leaders across every function of the business– HR, store operations, project management, and strategy. I’m happy to see retail dietetics included in the mix.
Why do you believe it’s important for retail RDs to apply for awards? Admittedly, I didn’t apply for this one. I was nominated by my phenomenal boss and mentor, Dyani Hanrahan, VP of Marketing, who genuinely believes in the innovative work my team is doing. Retail dietitians are uniquely positioned to bring transparency, personalization, and evidence-based guidance to the grocery industry. We know that retail dietitians have always provided award-winning contributions but, receiving awards and recognitions can help showcase that work and show the value this type of expertise can provide in every level of retail – from the home office to the aisles.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry? Organizational savvy – knowing how to navigate the business and the people. This isn’t a skill you learn with a dietetics degree. I think we can all agree that grocery is a little more complicated than selling beans and greens. After 15 years in the business, I’m still learning every single day which is important since the business is always changing, too. You’ve struck gold if you can figure out how to navigate the organizational maze. My advice – build relationships, identify the movers and shakers, reflect on your interpersonal style, and take the time to figure out how things work in your organization.
What is one thing you wish you had known before starting in retail? For all the retail dietitians out there, own your strategy! This may sound obvious to you, but it wasn’t to me! In the first half of my career, I looked to executive leaders to tell me what I could bring to the business. Don’t get me wrong, during those years we made amazing connections with customers and community partners. However, we were working in silos and our work was not directly tied to the larger business goals. Strategically, this also means your goals and success is tied to their strategy which may not be the best use of your expertise. Learn the business and the people, and then build your case for writing your own strategy. More than anyone, you know what you can bring to the table.
Is there a program or initiative of which you are most proud? My team! I work with good-to-the-core people who show up every day with their own passions, talents, interests, perspectives, styles, and thoughts. We all see things differently, and I know that makes us better. I want to create an environment where people can and want to do their best. And when that happens, we can achieve almost anything. We’ve got each other’s backs, and that makes everything easier, especially in these unprecedented times!
Bio: Lisa Coleman, MS, RD, LDN, is Director of Healthy Living for Giant Food. Lisa leads a passionate and energetic team of retail dietitians who offer personalized consultations, classes, store tours, and workplace wellness programs. Lisa earned a Master of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences - Nutrition from Illinois State University and a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from the Pennsylvania State University. Lisa and her husband Jim, live in southern Pennsylvania with their four children – Connor (20), Mia (17), Zach (16), and Lucas (12). Learn more about her team and their services at giantfood.com/nutrition.