Monthly Public Health Consultant Spotlight: Stephanie S. Hodges, MS, MPH, RDN

Stephanie Hodges_Headshot.JPG

Each month, I will introduce you to a public health consultant or entrepreneur and they will share their path to self-employment and outline key pieces of advice for aspiring business owners.

Today we welcome Stephanie S. Hodges from Charleston, South Carolina!

1. Please share your educational background and business title/name.

Master of Science: Food Policy & Applied Nutrition (MS), Master of Public Health (MPH), Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

I am the Owner & Founder of The Nourished Principles, LLC.

2. Tell us how you entered the field of public health and what your education and work experience was prior to consulting.

After college, I completed an AmeriCorps VISTA year of service with a non-profit in Richmond, Virginia focused on improving children’s health and wellness through school based physical activity and nutrition programs. I loved seeing the impact of this work on not only the students but their families, the school staff, and the entire community. Because of this experience, I decided to pursue graduate degrees in public health and food policy/nutrition. I have held various positions in the child and school nutrition and wellness field and have loved every single one of them!

3. When did you start consulting and what were your motivations for pursuing self-employment?

I launched my consulting business in May 2018 and began working full-time with it in August 2018. Although I enjoyed working specifically in school nutrition, I wanted to utilize all of my education and experience which meant working across sectors. My consulting business has allowed me to do this and has allowed me to work with a diverse range of clients which is exactly what I was hoping I would do with my business.

4. Who is your ideal client? What services do you offer?

I have three ideal clients:

1) School divisions that are looking for assistance in their child nutrition programs or wellness programs. I offer menu and recipe development/assistance as well as menu certifications. If a school or school district is looking to implement or update wellness policies, I can also assist with that by providing best practices and programming assistance.

2) Non-profit organizations or government agencies that wish to implement public health or nutrition programs. For these clients, I offer a variety of grant services including writing, implementation, and evaluation. I also have written and implemented programs and policies to improve nutrition and public health for organizations.

3) Food businesses that need assistance with understanding regulations or communicating the nutritional benefits of their products to consumers. I assist with understanding nutrition claims, labeling and regulations. I can help them navigate what they can and cannot say about their products.

I also provide services to corporations, like Lunch ‘n Learns, aimed at improving the health and nutrition of their employees.

5. What is your favorite type of project to work on and why?

My favorite type of project to work on is any kind of public health and nutrition program creation. I love working with clients to develop a program, implement it and then evaluate it. I encourage clients to use these types of projects as pilots and to learn as much as possible from them before implementing them on a larger scale.  

6. Many of our readers are considering a career as a self-employed public health consultant. What is your best piece of advice for those considering or just starting out in consulting?

My best piece of advice is be patient! Building a business is hard work. There will be ups and downs and things don’t fall into place overnight. Take one day at a time and don’t get discouraged. Develop a good support system whether that is fellow business owners or family members. The exciting thing about owning your own consulting business is you can make it what YOU want!  

7. How can readers connect with you? Please share links to relevant websites and social media accounts.

Readers can connect with me on my website, blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

How Technology is Supporting the Growth of the Public Health Consulting Workforce

Public Health Consulting: How Much Should I Charge?