The Laurel E. Zaks Global Public Health Nutrition MPH Scholarship

Laurel Zaks, MPH

Laurel Zaks, MPH

The Laurel E. Zaks Global Public Health Nutrition MPH Scholarship is established in memory of her dedication to improving the health of the impoverished community around the world. Laurel had an extraordinary career as a registered dietician spanning 14 years of domestic and international experience in public health, nutrition consulting, maternal and child health, and program management in over 30 countries. A graduate of Severna Park High School in Severna Park, Maryland, she then received her BS in Science in Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh, her Masters degree in Public Health in Nutrition from UNC at Chapel Hill, and was a post-graduate Nutrition Fellow at the Center for Development and Learning, Chapel Hill, NC.

Laurel started her career as a nutritionist, training staff in Romanian orphanages. In 1995, Laurel began working as a Community Developer in Guatemala teaching primary health prevention strategies. Laurel returned to the United States in 1996 and developed and communicated policy and legislative strategy on domestic hunger for Congress in Washington D.C. and lobbied Congress on nutrition programs involving welfare reform. While in Washington, she was also a Pediatric Dietitian with the Children’s National Medical Center working on initial and follow-up nutritional assessments of HIV/AIDS and gastrointestinal disease patients.

In 1997, Laurel joined the Peace Corps as a Public Health Educator and Nutritionist in Ecuador. She was instrumental in establishing the Children’s Center for Nutrition. Laurel then joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2001 as a public health advisor and helped build management training programs in a number of countries and coordinated HIV/AIDs, malaria and other disease related programs overseas. She received many awards including the 1994 North Carolina Governor’s Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. In addition, an interview with her during her time in the Peace Corps is kept at the Kennedy Presidential Library. After her passing, remarks of her work and contributions to the field of public health were entered into the 2008 Congressional Record.

Laurel expressed her love through food, whether it was writing recipe books, cooking people meals, volunteering at food related organizations (including the Manna Food Bank in Asheville, NC), and/or providing suggestions/advice on complete nourishment to her friends and family. She believed in what she did and put her heart in all that she sought out to accomplish. Laurel loved to hear the music of the world. This scholarship is a true representation of the essence of Laurel and her commitment to the health and well-being to all that crossed her path.
Celebrate Laurel’s memory by donating funds to the Laurel E. Zaks Global Public Health Nutrition MPH Scholarship, established to recognize extraordinary nutrition students at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Checks should be written to “Public Health Foundation, Inc.” and specify the “Laurel Zaks Scholarship in Global Public Health” in the subject line and mail to:

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
Campus Box 7400
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

The Zaks Family Thanks You.