Lester and Venesa Strong, RDN, were married for more than 40 years. When Vanessa passed away in 2016 after a long struggle with dementia, Lester knew the best way to honor her memory and love of nutrition and dietetics was to establish a scholarship in her name through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation.

Venesa was a 50-year member of the Academy and is remembered for her love of people, her profession, her education and her family. After earning her RD credentials in June of 1965, Venesa’s first job as a nutrition professional was at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, running the food service department. She was encouraged to advance her knowledge and went on to earn her Master’s in Nutritional Science from Cornell University in Ithaca.

Lester and Venesa Strong
Watch Lester and Venesa's Story

Following her advanced training, Venesa went on to share her gifts in a variety of settings, spending time working for the Rochester New York Visiting Nurse Service, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif. and consulting with various institutions. She was further inspired to earn her Executive Masters in Business Administration from UCLA in 1996. In her personal life, Venesa was an accomplished tennis player, devoted coach to her two sons, an adventurous traveler (visiting third world countries and beyond) and a great lover of books.

Venesa W. Strong Memorial Scholarship Recipients

Lisa Keovongsa, RD

Lisa Keovongsa, RD, completed her dietetic internship in August of 2018 and is currently building her private practice, working with adults and adolescents dealing with mental health issues and disordered eating. She looks forward to pursuing a graduate degree in clinical psychology.

“I am humbled to receive this scholarship in honor of Venesa W. Strong. She has left behind a legacy of leadership, compassion, and improving people’s lives through nutrition. I hope to carry on this legacy by dedicating myself to lifelong service as an RDN in the behavioral health and nutrition fields. By gaining higher education in either clinical psychology or psychiatry, I hope to become a leader in bridging the gap between the two disciplines.”

2017 – Lisa Keovongsa

Kristina-Marie Gard, MS

Kristina-Marie Gard, MS, is currently working her dietetic internship at the Department of State Hospital in Napa, Calif.

“I am beyond grateful to the family and supporters of the Venesa W. Strong Memorial scholarship for this award. As a first generation student financing my education hasn’t always been the easiest, but with this scholarship the financial burden of an internship has been lightened. In the future I hope to continue working in the behavioral health field as an RD and eventually pursue my PhD to give back to the nutrition community as a professor and researcher.”

2018 – Kristina-Marie Gard

Kristina-Marie Gard

Read for complete information on all scholarships offered by the Foundation.

Lester Strong

Academy Foundation Chair, Martin M. Yadrick, MS, MBI, RDN, FAND, and Dr. Lester Strong stop by a memorial tree planted in honor of Lester’s wife Venesa, a much-loved nutrition faculty member at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.