Getting to Know Brenda Knapp-Polzin September 2016

Brenda Knapp Polzin

Developing relationships is one of the joys in my life,” says Brenda Knapp-Polzin, director and go-to-market technical manager at Cargill, who credits the relationships she has formed while volunteering with IFT with providing her “friendships, collaboration, problem solving, and advice that have been key to my personal and professional successes.”

Knapp-Polzin first became involved with IFT while working toward her MS at the University of Nebraska, and when a new job brought her to a small regional office in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, her membership and participation in the Minnesota Section enabled her to connect with other food science professionals in the area, something her workplace couldn’t provide. “This has led to many friends, colleagues, professional development, and fun, not just in Minnesota but globally as I continue to volunteer,” she reflects.

Over the years, Knapp-Polzin has been involved in a variety of ways, and she cites her time on the Board of Directors as one of the highlights of her professional career.
In addition to her national IFT activities, Knapp-Polzin also volunteers on a local level, hosting a gourmet dinner and wine pairing event with her husband as part of the section’s silent auction benefitting scholarships.

She also recently became chair of the International Food Science Certification Commission (IFSCC), which oversees the governance of the Certified Food Scientist program. “The CFS program was launched while I served on the Board, and I volunteered to be part of the group that wrote the first collection of test items,” she explains. “As IFSCC chair, it’s an absolute joy and privilege to see how the program is growing and the importance a CFS certification brings to a professional’s career.”

Knapp-Polzin says she has received support for her volunteering efforts from her family and employers, and she suggests that members be sure their supervisors and companies know about the work they are doing, which can bring recognition and respect to the organization. “You are a reflection of your company,” she observes.

She also encourages potential volunteers to find work that they are drawn to and “right size” the time commitment they are making, something that may be easier in the current era, since so many volunteer opportunities do not require in-person meetings. “Service could be as simple as an administrative role for a committee or activity. The important thing is to volunteer for something that is personally engaging and brings value to the profession,” she says.

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Executive Director, Feeding Tomorrow

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Manager, Volunteer Leadership Development and Recognition