Community Leader: Jessica Cody

York County, SC (Oct. 2019) For the past three years, Eat Smart Move More South Carolina has honored individuals with the Community Leader Award to showcase those who go above and beyond to make their communities healthier places to live, learn, work, play, and pray. Being a community leader doesn’t require a master’s degree, an executive-level title, or a position of high visibility and public service. A true community leader can be found in the field getting their hands dirty and ensuring positive changes happen within the scope of work. This year, six individuals, who were nominated by their peers, have been chosen to receive the Community Leader Award. Each person has characteristics deserving of the award, including vision, confidence, integrity, adaptability, and courage. ESMMSC was proud to honor Jessica Cody, of the Eat Smart Move More York County leadership team, at the Leadership Summit for Healthy Communities on October 29th.

What is the nominee’s role in the community?

Jessica Cody is the quintessential community leader for healthy eating and active living. She got involved with Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC) in 2015 as coalition coach; her tireless efforts continue to significantly impact York County and beyond. As coalition coach, Jessica developed action plans and initiatives based on evidence-based strategies related to obesity prevention in York County. She effectively developed relationships and coordinated with multiple partners to ensure project success. Jessica steps up to support critical ESMMYC efforts, including taking the active community environments chair position when it unexpectedly opened and volunteering on the leadership team’s strategy subcommittee.

Jessica became Healthy Together 5-2-1-0 York County Setting Lead in 2017, through ESMMYC’s partnership with Atrium Health. As primary contact for York County elementary schools, Jessica connects the schools to healthy eating and active living resources in the community; works with the schools to go through the “Healthy Together 5-Step Path to Success,” helping to change a site’s environment and policies to support healthy behaviors; and communicates, trains and supports school evaluation activities.

In 2018 Jessica also joined ESMMYC partner, the Catawba Farm and Food Coalition, a nonprofit working to create a lasting, sustainable food system in Chester, Fairfield, Lancaster, Union, and York Counties, and the Catawba Indian Nation. She supports their agribusiness development, producer and consumer education (including leading a “social media bootcamp workshop” for farmers seeking to promote their farm business).

Jessica also is active in many civic and community groups, where she shares healthy messaging. She joined Moped to Memphis in 2008, a fundraiser benefiting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. She is a director and club membership chair of the Clover Rotary Club. She is the VP for fundraising of the Clover LEAF Foundation. She is a member of Live Well Clover, which puts together wellness activities for Town of Clover residents.

In your opinion, why is the nominee a leader?

Jessica leads in practice and by example, via her personal, professional and civic engagement efforts. She identifies a need, and addresses it. Jessica’s strong interpersonal skills have enabled her to develop and foster relationships with diverse parties across the community. Through her active civic engagement efforts which often revolve around influencing community members toward a healthier living, she has an extensive personal and professional network throughout York County. Jessica works tirelessly with multiple community partners to manage relationships and efforts.  She shares her expertise and experiences publicly by making insightful presentations to stakeholders, at conferences, and in the community. For example, in the past year, she has presented on healthy eating and active living topics at ESMMSC conferences, ESMMYC general membership meetings, multiple elementary and middle schools and the Clover Rotary Club.

The Community Leader Awards are presented by HopeHealth, a patient-centered medical home with a focus on preventing and detecting illness and the early onset of disease, providing routine physical examinations, and promoting overall healthy lifestyles. The Community Leader Awards Luncheon is sponsored by the City of Florence.