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Global Obesity Prevention Center

The End of an Era for Cara

“From Data Collector to Senior Research Program Coordinator, Cara Shipley has really been the heart and soul of the B’more Healthy Communities for Kids (BHCK) project”- Sheryl Siegmund, MS, Director of Operations, GOPC


youth leadersCara Shipley, RD, LDN started working with the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) as a Community-based Data Collector with the B’more Healthy Communities for Kids (BHCK) project in 2013. BHCK, a multilevel multicomponent intervention trial that aims to improve the food environment in Baltimore City, was in need of someone to be out in the field recruiting research participants and conducting interviews with community members, and Cara fit the bill.

cara and teresaAs a Data Collector, Cara, also known as the “crazy cart lady” to her colleagues, was always on the run. Whether it was dashing out the door to conduct a survey on food purchasing patterns or stocking up her cart filled with giveaways for participants, Cara was on the move. Her dedication was fueled by her passion to fight against the food deserts in Baltimore City. “I had been reading about the food access work happening in Baltimore while I was away at school in Delaware,” says Cara. “After hearing about BHCK and how it incorporated so many intervention levels and many of my interests working in childhood obesity prevention and fighting food deserts, I realized it was my dream job!”

cara and joelAfter six months of intense data collection (and much more), Cara transitioned into a new role with the BHCK. As a Research Program Coordinator, Cara oversaw implementation of intervention activities and trainings with the project’s Youth Leader Program, maintained relationships with local policymakers and managed student work. After continued passion and dedication to this role, Cara was promoted to the project’s Senior Research Program Coordinator in the spring of 2016.

In her new role, Cara manages several projects including Engaging Tribal Policy Makers to Improve the Food and Physical Activity Environments in American Indian CommunitiesBaltimarket and Northeast regional Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Centers of Excellence. As a Senior Research Program Coordinator, Cara also supervises and supports visits to six American Indian communities in Wisconsin and New Mexico. BHCK’s project lead, Joel Gittelsohn, PhD, MSc, says this promotion was a no-brainer. “Cara is the most proactive Senior Project Coordinator I have ever had the pleasure of working with, addressing problems and issues effectively before I even knew they existed,” says Dr. Gittelsohn. With much of Dr. Gittelsohn’s time divided up between other projects, he says “I always felt absolute confidence that I could go off somewhere, Spain, Denmark, the Bahamas and things would be well taken care of."

“It has been a rewarding experience to watch Cara grow,” says Sheryl Siegmund, Director of Operations at the GOPC. “She has been a strong advocate for the GOPC and has shown so much dedication over the years.”

With mixed emotions, Cara announced her resignation with BHCK as she is pursuing the path of higher education in nutrition. Cara will be completing her PhD in Nutritional Sciences at The Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Penn State University. The GOPC and BHCK members are looking forward to seeing her continued success.