Christina Kepa

Norfolk Publich Schools' Christina Kepa brings unmatched creativity and enthusiasm to her job.

Why Selected?

Helen Phillips, senior director of school nutrition, says: Christina brings unmatched creativity and enthusiasm to the job. She enjoys a challenge and always wants to be the best. She has shown great leadership skills and has developed several new initiatives, including updating the department’s Web site and adding an option for people to subscribe to receive e-mails about program updates and information; creating a marketing video that promotes schools meals; conducting taste tests with students; launching a social media campaign; and designing promotions throughout the school year to encourage students to try new items like edamame and spaghetti squash.

Details

Nutrition Education and Training Coordinator, Norfolk Public Schools, Norfolk, VA
Age: 26
Education: B.S. in dietetics from Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; master’s in dietetics from James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.
Years at organization: 2

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

I graduated in 2007, which was the semester of April 16th (when 32 people were killed by a gunman on Virginia Tech’s campus). My menu planning class was cut short, and we had a menu-planning project that we never got to do. My greatest accomplishment was planning my first menu and seeing the changes that I’ve made.

Q. What would you say you excel at over more seasoned colleagues?

Understanding and staying abreast of the latest trends in everything. I can relate to the kids sometimes easier. I’m definitely someone who pushes the envelope; that’s something I think you lose a little bit of as you get older.

Q. What's the best career advice you've been given?

My band director in college told me never to underestimate the power of networking. In college I think you don’t really understand what networking is, but as I’ve progressed in my career I’ve learned that building bridges is important.

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

Making sure people understand you, relating to people and learning how to work with people. I’m a pretty independent person and a free thinker, but I can’t just hit the road running and not look around and see the people around me.

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

My most rewarding moment has come from the USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grant. I love watching students who don’t know what certain fruits and vegetables are embrace it and love it.

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next two years?

To have all menus be 100% student approved through taste testing.

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