Go NAPSACC Mourns the Loss of Founder, Dr. Dianne S. Ward


It is with profound grief that we share the untimely death of Go NAPSACC’s founder, Dr. Dianne S. Ward. 

Like a pebble cast into a pool, the concentric ripples of Dianne Ward’s career have influenced the lives of many people across the state of North Carolina, our nation, and the world.  Her life’s work earned her a reputation that is both national and international in scope.  Professionals in the field of public health knew and respected her for her pioneering research in childhood nutrition and physical activity.  Colleagues who worked with her knew her to be a synergistic leader and a collaborator who was dependable, forward-thinking, and innovative.  Students fortunate to have studied under her owe her a debt of gratitude for inspirational teaching and mentorship that was instrumental in launching their careers.  But the people most impacted by Dianne’s visionary work are our nation’s most precious resource—our children. They would not recognize her name or understand the contribution she made to their well-being. Yet because of her, their healthier diets and increased physical activity will shape their lives in positive ways for years to come.  

Dianne served as Director of Go NAPSACC and the Children’s Healthy Weight Research Group, Professor of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Research Fellow at the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP).   

Dianne’s research portfolio illustrates her passion for promoting the health and welfare of young children.  NAPSACC, Dianne’s signature program has far exceeded its North Carolina roots--aspects of the program were even included in Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Child Care Initiative.  Over time, the program evolved into Go NAPSACC and as of today, it is implemented in twenty-three states across the nation.  Go NAPSACC’s reach extends to over 8,000 ECE programs and has positively impacted over 398,000 children.  

For more information about Dianne’s career click here.  

Dianne’s kindness and generosity touched the lives of countless students, colleagues, and friends. Dianne might have been a researcher with an international reputation, but she was a member of our Go NAPSACC family, and her unanticipated death deeply impacts all of us.  Though we are united in our grief, let us celebrate Dianne’s remarkable life and give thanks that we were blessed to share in it. 

The Go NAPSACC team is inspired to honor Dianne’s memory by moving forward with her vision and continuing her work to improve the health of children and families through evidence-based support in ECE programs.

Please reach out to gonapsacc@unc.edu with any questions.  

This message has been adapted from a message by Dr. Alice Ammerman, Director of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and Mildred Kaufman Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.  

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