Stella Hall Cash: Impacting Lives along an Unconventional Career Path

Stella Hall Cash: Impacting Lives along an Unconventional Career Path


Stella Hall Cash, MEd, MS, FAND, didn’t follow a traditional career path to be where she is today: senior advisor to the President of Michigan State University and provost for international engagement.

Edith Marjorie Hulsizer

Born in Flemington, N.J., Edith Marjorie Hulsizer (later Copher) attended Oberlin College in Ohio and graduated from Simmons College in Boston. She was a student dietitian at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston before taking a position at Winchester (Mass.) Hospital.

Copher was one of the first dietitians to serve overseas when she joined the Harvard U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 5, British Expeditionary Force in May 1917, and later was assigned to Base Hospital No. 57, American Expeditionary Force. Cited for her contributions to the Allied cause, she was decorated by King George V of England and by the French government for improving foodservice delivery systems in field hospitals and for introducing dietetics into the British Army.

Following World War I, Copher went to work at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, where she served as Chief Dietitian. She was an active member of the American Dietetic Association and served as the Journal of the American Dietetic Association’s first book reviewer in 1924. Copher died of a bronchial illness at the age of 44 in 1935. Ten years later, a memorial award was established to recognize her distinguished contributions to the dietetics profession. The award is presented by a registered dietitian nutritionist who is on staff of Barnes Hospital (now Barnes-Jewish Hospital).

Thinking back to 1958, Cash admits she didn’t even know what a dietitian does when her high school home economics teacher suggested she become one. “In that era, the routes to a professional career were somewhat limited for women,” she recalls.

Cash earned an undergraduate degree in dietetics and a master’s degree in education before pausing her dream to raise a family. When her husband was recruited for a food science position at MSU, Cash was hired as “part of the package,” serving as an academic advisor for dietetics students.

“I was a spousal hire, but by the time I found out what that meant, I had completed the experience requirements to become an RD, passed the RD Exam and was director of the didactic program in dietetics at MSU,” she says. “What mattered was what I had done with this opportunity.”

Several other opportunities arose for Cash during her more than 25 years as the director of dietetics at MSU: a TV cooking show with her daughter; working with the food industry, commodity groups and government agencies; and establishing Food Creations Inc. “For years, on behalf of Kellogg, I went to St. Jude’s Hospital to work with some very sick children,” Cash recalls. “I would never have had this opportunity had I not been a dietitian.”

Within months of retiring from MSU, Cash returned to establish a sports nutrition program and later was asked to be the interim vice president and executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. “With MSU having one of the largest dietetics programs in the country, this role allowed me to interact with many of my former students,” Cash notes.

Because of Cash’s prominence in the community, Sparrow Health System recruited her for a new position in strategic community partnerships. As vice president of development and strategic partnerships, Cash recalls, “my second most impactful project was convincing Sparrow leadership that we needed to take health care to the most disadvantaged in our community.”

In recognition of contributions to the profession, Cash received the 2019 Marjorie Hulsizer Copher Award, the Academy’s highest honor. “I have read about Copher’s life and the previous recipients, and I could not be more honored,” she says.

Cash acknowledges those who have been influential during her career. “So many leaders, the President of MSU and CEO of Sparrow, my colleagues and family encouraged and gave me confidence to pursue new challenges,” she says. “With the investment from others comes the responsibility, privilege and honor to support and provide opportunities for new dietitians.”

Lauren Fox
Lauren Fox is the managing editor of Food & Nutrition Magazine and senior manager of creative media at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.