Meet Our Model – Spring 2021
You could say that the past few years have thrown Emily Niespodziany some curveballs. But if you ask her, she would tell you that she wouldn’t trade all of the adversity she’s encountered for the world. Newly married with two beautiful children (and two adorable pups), Niespodziany is currently taking her 30s in stride. As executive director of the greater Chattanooga area’s American Heart Association, she helps save lives by raising awareness about heart disease and heart-healthy habits. It’s a mission she believes in wholeheartedly.
Here, Niespodziany shares what she’s learned about life and health in the sometimes challenging, always rewarding decade known as your 30s.
Photography by Lanewood Studio
HS What do health and wellness mean to you in this decade?
EN I would say my health has quickly shifted to being my top priority. With two young children, I just feel this overwhelming sense of urgency to be as healthy as I can for them. While juggling a career, family, and other responsibilities, I’ve learned pretty quickly how important it is to invest in yourself. I try to do this by engaging in physical activity every day, using food as fuel, and leaning into my faith – looking forward to quiet moments spent in prayer and mindfulness has been a game-changer.
HS How has your profession affected your outlook on health?
EN Our mission at the AHA has afforded me a better understanding of the health disparities that exist, even in our own backyard. We’ve been partnering with a number of organizations to move that needle, but there’s still so much left to do. It really makes me appreciate my own health, and it puts a fire in me to do my part in making health equitable for everyone.
HS If you could give advice to someone about to enter their 30s, what would it be?
EN First, never stop learning. Being a lifelong student is invaluable. Second, embrace adversity and any challenges that come your way; they have a way of preparing you for who you are meant to be. And third, it’s okay to put yourself first. A mentor of mine once told me that no matter what season of life you’re in, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
HS What are your goals for your next decade?
EN My career has been such a gift to me, and I still have several career goals in mind, especially as we continue to build on the foundation we have laid at the AHA. Personally, I want to create as many experiences as possible with my new family unit. My children are getting older, and we have so much to look forward to. My goal is to be present through it all. HS