Feeding Armenia – Kim Hekimian’s Prescription for a Thriving Population: Nutrition Comes First

Published by Laura L. Constantine, AGBU Insider

Dr. Hekimian speaks at an AUA conference titled Nutrition Today Matters Tomorrow.

The long list of professional credits and affiliations attached to the name Kim Hekimian, PhD, only skims the surface of the remarkable career of this Armenian-American nutrition and public health expert. Juggling a demanding career in America, she has managed to transfer her wealth of knowledge, academic discipline, and lived experiences to what has evolved into a life mission: to save lives and improve health outcomes in the Republic of Armenia.

Over the past 30 years, Hekimian has built an impressive reputation in the field of Public Health, as an Associate Professor of Nutrition (in Pediatrics) and the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University in New York. There she serves in many capacities—educator, researcher, mentor, and advisor. She is also an active member of professional health organizations and boards, among them the Armenian-American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO). However, this is only one side of the multi-dimensional story of her inspired life.

On the flip side, the ardent advocate for maternal and child nutrition has gone to Armenia almost every year since it gained independence in 1991. In those early days, she was one of around 20 diasporan Armenians in the country, working on her PhD and soon joining the faculty of the American University of Armenia (AUA). Recently, she added the title of Advisor to the Armenian Ministry of Health to her resume, along with her appointment as Senior Policy Fellow of the Applied Policy Research Institute of Armenia, better known as APRI.

Her data-driven presentations and analysis-rich lectures to health care peers in and out of Armenia are balanced with a very humanistic approach to patient populations. This stems from spending many successive summers living among Armenian families in the Lake Sevan region of Armenia and observing firsthand how poverty, scarcity, misinformation, and traumatic events can compromise health potentials. While she did not grow up in an Armenian speaking home, she eventually became fluent in Eastern Armenian through her interactions with peers and locals over the decades.


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