Mary K. Schmidl

In my President’s Page in the November issue, in which I reported on my Tactical Plan for 2000–01, I promised to tell you this time all about the innovative part of the September 2000 Executive Committee meeting. No, it is not “old news,” because it represented a new measure that I hope will be repeated with other topics at future Executive Committee meetings—and to choose those topics, we need your input.

One of the biggest problems of any large organization is internal communication, and this is an even bigger problem in a large membership-driven organization of volunteers. Yes, we are prolific in sending each other paper (or electronic) documents, and our staff do the best they can to coordinate things. Yet we are mostly very busy people with little time to read everything that comes our way, and if we are not careful we may find ourselves dealing with issues on an “off-the-cuff” or firefighting way. 

I figured that there must be some merit in forcing ourselves to take time to stand back and look in depth at some areas of IFT interest. So for the September Executive Committee meeting, the Committee not only conducted a business session—in which (among other things) it considered and approved my Tactical Plan for 2000–01—but also carried out, at my suggestion in advance, a small but effective innovation. This was that the Executive Committee would take time to review in depth two major IFT activities, “Global Relations” and “Our Escalating Washington, D.C., Efforts.” In this “24/7/365” world, the Executive Committee rarely has time to stand back and look in depth at specific aspects of the Institute’s work. Yet it is essential that it should be able to do just that, and these sessions provided the means. 

The sessions were part of a process of creating an opportunity and of improving our internal communications and networking among our key volunteers. They provided the IFT leadership with a means to hear, question, and interact firsthand with outside voices and with each other. My account of these sessions here is part of that important process and the next step of bringing the whole membership into the picture. It is impossible in a page to do more than list the subjects and speakers, but I hope that their valuable presentations can be made more widely available. 

The first of these two sessions was on Global Professional Food Science and Technology, moderated by President-Elect Philip E. Nelson.

Judith Meech, Secretary General of the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) presented an extremely valuable first-hand account of what IUFoST is and does, supplementing Ralph Blanchfield’s article about IUFoST on pp. 48–52 of the September issue of Food Technology.

Bill Davidson, IFT’s representative to the International Food Information Service (IFIS), explained IFT’s relationship with IFIS as part-owner and the benefits that IFIS offers to IFT members.

Gloria Brooks-Ray, IFT’s Codex Alimentarius Committee Member, described the global importance of Codex Alimentarius and its process for establishing standards.

Brian Hendley, International Liaison volunteer officer of our United Kingdom-based Cooperating Society, the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST), reminded us of the close similarities between our two Institutes and of the substance of the Cooperating Societies Agreement and outlined the mutual benefits that have resulted.

Michele Buchanan, Chair of IFT’s Committee for Global Interests (COGI), presented an account of IFT’s global role and activities, and some suggestions for a more active future.

The second session was on Washington: Mixing Politics and Science, moderated by Fred Shank, IFT’s Vice President of Science, Communications, and Government Relations.

Marty Apple, President and CEO of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, discussed “Federal Support of Science—Slicing the Pie.”

John Bode, attorney-at-law and IFT consultant, of Olsen, Frank & Weeda, spoke on “Influencing Policy from the Inside Out.”

Jack Cooper, IFT’s representative to the Coalition on Funding Agricultural Research Missions (CoFarm), presented an overview of the coalition.

Joan Rothenberg, IFT’s 1999–2000 Congressional Science Fellow, described “Life as a Congressional Science Fellow.”

These sessions successfully fulfilled the purposes envisaged. The presentations and discussions will serve the new and not-so-new members of the Executive Committee well in the future. I think both sessions provided the new members with an excellent background, and it also filled in informational gaps for us more veteran members who think we know a lot about these topics until we hear the real story. When possible and as time permits, I hope this effort can continue at future Executive Committee meetings. I am sure that we shall take further in-depth looks at the two topics we have already covered; but for the immediate future, I need your suggestions for areas of IFT interest to receive a similar in-depth scrutiny by the Executive Committee.

IFT President, 2000–01