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Staff Spotlight: Amy Chestnutt

UVA alumna Amy Chestnutt coordinates the Body Positive program at the Women's Center and co-teaches Gender, Body Image & Activism

1) Tell us about your path to UVA, to where you are now and the work you're currently doing for the Women's Center.
I grew up in Richmond and attended UVA for college, graduating in 1997 with a psych major and anthropology concentration. In the last two years of my undergrad experience, I became very interested in health promotion, wellness, and nutrition, so I decided to find a position at the UVA hospital to learn more about different health care professions. I stayed in Cville and became the UVA hospital's nutrition services patient advocate and Kluge Children's Rehab Center's nutrition services manager. It was a really challenging role, and I learned so much about hospitals, patient care, hierarchy, and teamwork. With that experience I decided to return to school and completed 33 hours of pre-nutrition/pre-med courses at VCU. I loved it but was still unsure what I wanted to do.

I moved to Atlanta, and became a cancer information specialist at the American Cancer Society. I loved educating others about health-related topics and wanted to gain more experience in the field. When the information center moved to Texas, I got a job at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. It was a phenomenal opportunity and experience. I was able to assist in several public health initiatives and work with amazing partners. As a part of my work, CDC paid for my Masters of Public Health from Emory University. I really enjoyed the work but after almost six years, my husband and I decided to move back to Virginia. I wanted to find a health/wellness position at UVA working with students and, luckily, I found it at the Women's Center! I am so grateful to be able to have lots of different work experiences, at all different levels of public health and health education, that influence how I provide outreach and resources to/for students. My current position mixes many of my interests: ­student health and support, general wellness, mentoring, behavior change, team building, and evidence-based practice.

2) Whose work (musical, artistic, professional, personal) inspires you to work harder or think differently?
So many!! Health At Every Size advocates, my children's Montessori teacher (and postpartum doula), Women's Center colleagues, amazing modern artists (like Kandinsky and Richmond artist Laura Loe).

3) Who would you most like to meet (living or dead) for coffee?
Both of my grandmothers.

4) Who would you most like to meet (living or dead) for an after-work drink? 
Julia Child, Amy Poehler, Gwen Ifill 

5) Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Meryl Streep or Cate Blanchett -- we look nothing alike, but they are the best!!

6) What¹s your most unpopular opinion?
Ketchup is gross!

7) Tell us about a time when a risky move paid off.
Moving to Atlanta without a job or car!

Learn more about the work that Amy and our Body Positive interns do on their program's page in the internship area of our site. To get involved in promoting body positivity at UVA, register for a two-part session of The Body Project with the team this semester, or apply to intern with this team next year!


Submitted by Melanie Brede (not verified) on

I have had the pleasure of working with Amy, her colleagues at the Women's Center, and the amazing student interns in the Body Positive program for a number of years. The measurable results from their work are impressive, but the immeasurable impact on students lives is the most meaningful. Please continue to support this program and make a positive impact on the culture for UVA and beyond!

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