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Alum Profile: Marissa


Marissa Duswalt Epstein
Plan II Honors & Nutrition
Class of 2010
Director of The University of Texas Nutrition Institute

Marissa Duswalt Epstein is the Director of The University of Texas Nutrition Institute, a partnership between the Department of Nutrition, McCombs School of Business, and College of Natural Sciences focused nutrition education, innovation and entrepreneurship. Marissa served at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and on The White House staff of First Lady Michelle Obama as Associate Director of the Let’s Move! initiative. She is a Truman Scholar, recognized nationally for her policy writing, public service commitment and leadership in health education and childhood obesity.

Marissa received her BS in Nutritional Science with Special Honors and a BA in Plan II Honors, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and as a Dean's Honors Graduate. She earned her Masters of Business Administration and Certificate in Public Management from Stanford's Graduate School of Business.  

Marissa began her career as a registered dietitian practicing clinical nutrition in Texas. Marissa joined the US Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. and promoted healthy lifestyle education nationwide through initiatives including MyPlate and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which enacted the first evidence-based, scientific update to nutrition regulation in 30 years. She joined The White House as Associate Director of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to inspire a healthier generation of American families to make healthy choices. Under Marissa’s leadership, Let’s Move! grew to regularly engage millions of Americans in adopting healthier behaviors.

In 2015, Marissa joined Stanford Health Care as the Administrative Director of Health Education, Engagement and Promotion. Stanford’s Health Education program is committed to providing meaningful and timely information to people to help them live healthier lives. In addition to her role at Stanford Health Care, Marissa taught a course on health entrepreneurship at Stanford’s business school.

Marissa attributes her experience in Plan II as one of the most formative in her career, and acceptance to the program determined her decision to go to UT Austin. Not only did the education prepare her for real world political and civic engagement work but also the relationships she developed with her classmates turned into lifelong friendships. In Plan II, the elite teaching faculty, scholarly community, small classroom environment, and academic rigor gave her skills to succeed in demanding intellectual and strategic environment. The Plan II community cultivated the curiosity it takes to be a lifelong learner, contributing to her professional and personal successes to graduation. She will always be grateful for the leadership, mentorship, and opportunity Plan II provided her.

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