Member Spotlight - Debbi Leachman Slawson


Debbi Leachman Slawson, PhD, RD, LDN



What are your credentials and/or title?

I’ve been an RDN for around 30 years (how time flies!), and I have a PhD in educational research.  I am a professor in the College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee.


Tell us about your job.

As chair of the Department of Community and Behavioral Health, I put a public health spin on nutrition, and I work with people with diverse backgrounds to help make a difference in our community.   


What do you find most interesting about your job?

Meeting people from around the world, and learning about our similarities – and our differences, and helping colleagues and students from disparate backgrounds learn to work together.


How did you get into this field?

I’ve always been intrigued with how our bodies function, and so, biology, anatomy and physiology undergrad classes lead me to nutrition, and I was hooked.


Where were you born and raised?

I am from Memphis, Tennessee, home of heat, humidity, barbeque and the blues.


Where did you go to college and/or complete and internship

I went to Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis), and I completed a Masters in Clinical Nutrition along with a Qualifying Experience with an Advance Degree.  This option was an alternative to an internship at the time, and I used that option to be able to devote time to nutrition research and teaching, and to learning about working in a campus health center.


Besides your profession, what are your hobbies?

Pottery is my favorite way to get my hands dirty, besides gardening.  I enjoy spending time with my teen-age son, chauffeuring him and his buddies around.  When I get time, I like to read, as well.


What are your favorite foods

Being from Memphis, barbeque is one of our main food groups!   I enjoy experimenting with cuisines from different countries, as well.


What is on your bucket list?

I want to travel to far-flung places and meet new people, learn to turn a nice pot, and learn to pick out a tune on the guitar.


How long have you been a member of NEP DPG? And why did you join?

I have been an NEP member for over five years, and I joined because public health nutrition is all about education. NEP is where it’s at!


Any other interesting things you would like to share with NEP members

Just a word of advice: remember to always dream big – and amazing things will happen in your life!