Nancy Chapman has seen it all. A long-time advocate and volunteer for the American Heart Association, Nancy has been a true champion for nutrition and heart health both nationally and locally.
Toward the beginning of her career, Nancy was teaching nutrition classes as part of a heart disease risk reduction study at Harvard School of Public Health. At that time, there were no nutritional facts on any food product lables. She saw a problem, and worked hard to find a solution. She got involved with the League of Women's Voters that was advocating for women’s issues and worked with them to bring attention to the lack of nutrition labeling in the food industry. Through that process, Chapman became an AHA volunteer, and has been involved with the organization ever since.
While working for the House Agriculture Committee staff and as a lobbyist for the Society for Nutrition Education, Chapman worked tirelessly for over ten years to make nutrition labeling possible. She worked closely with a lobbyist from AHA to craft the language that ultimately was used in the National Labeling and Education Act. This legislation was fundamental in nutrition policy, a true public health milestone. Chapman worked to ensure that the labeling act include a provision for education. However, adoption of the nutrition labeling will was no easy task. “Having thousands of AHA volunteers from clinical, research, and nursing backgrounds along with all those folks who had heart disease advocate for the bill really helped push it through,” she said.
Chapman continues to work tirelessly to improve health policy on a local and national level. She has volunteered at countless AHA events, has testified on important issues like restaurant labeling, smoking bans in public places, shared use agreements, worksite wellness programs, and healthy schools legislation. “At the end of the day you have a sense that public health has been improved,” she says. “I am pleased that the Heart Association is focused on the broader community. Not only are they focused on getting the research right and the clinical care right, but that they want to make the community environment supportive of individuals who desire healthier lives.”
Nancy urges everyone to get involved in their community. “Tell your story to the people that govern,” she implores. “The single story of the individual who struggles to consume a better diet, become more physically active, and gain access to better clinical care — it’s that story about good people’s struggles that motivates policy makers to act.”
Nancy (second from right) with other You're the Cure volunteers and staff at AHA Ambassador Reception