Getting to Know Jennifer Fideler April 2017


In her roles serving the Oregon Section as co-chair for its Membership Committee and New Professionals group, Jennifer Fideler introduced section event attendees to each other, playing “industry matchmaker” to help connect like-minded individuals and further their professional goals. In this work, she was happy to discover a passion and strength for connecting people and creating community. “Helping others find what—and who—they needed was a fulfilling component of my time as a volunteer in the Oregon Section,” Fideler reflects. “The most valuable aspect of my volunteer roles within IFT has been giving value to the lives and careers of others.”

In her later work with the New Professionals community, Fideler continued to create these connections, helping fellow new professionals find common interests and grow their networks. She also learned how to lead. “During my three years with the [New Professionals Work Group], I grew as a leader tremendously. I did not believe I was equipped to lead a group of my peers, especially those with multiple years of experience and graduate degrees beyond mine, nor those who worked for companies 10 times the size of mine,” she says. “I soon found that by putting myself in an uncomfortable leadership role, I quickly learned how to fulfill it and gained skills in organization, delegation, and communication that I would not have learned in my day-to-day job.”

Now a student volunteer as she pursues her PhD at North Carolina State University studying properties of fermented cucumbers, the self-proclaimed “pickle scientist” is also working to build community in her school by serving as vice-president of the university’s food science club. While this means Fideler often has a lot on her plate, she balances her commitments by using calendars, prioritizing, and turning to others for help. “Perspective from other leaders is invaluable; therefore whenever I’ve met a road block or felt overwhelmed I’ve sought the counsel of other leaders, experienced industry members, and IFT staff to help guide my next steps and facilitate reflection upon my current situation,” she says.

Because of that support, Fideler encourages potential volunteers to take risks and try roles they feel they may not be qualified for, especially recent graduates and students. “You are more capable than you think,” she says. “You need not work for five years before considering volunteering or serving on your local section’s executive board. Your drive and willingness to learn will carry you further than you can imagine.”

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Vice President, Volunteer Leadership Development
Executive Director, Feeding Tomorrow

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Manager, Volunteer Leadership Development and Recognition