Margaret A. Lawson

More than a year ago, three new IFT task forces of volunteer members were formed to meet the ever-changing needs of our members, our organization, and our profession. Two additional volunteer member groups have joined the task forces in making significant progress toward advancing our organization’s work. The results of all this volunteer work will be highlighted during the Council meeting later this month in Orlando.

While I cannot predict today whether IFT will embrace every recommendation from these volunteer groups, I can tell you about their collective insights and connection to IFT’s mission, vision, and organizational plan.

• Task Force on Governance. Governance is the link between the organization’s resources, decision-making processes, and work. Chaired by Sheri Schellhaass, this task force has focused on recommendations to IFT’s governance structure that provides for flexible, nimble decision making and allows for accountability of results. The strategic multi-year process of this task force encompasses research, identification, and investigation of business practices, stakeholder outreach efforts, and development of a system that meets widely accepted governance standards throughout the nonprofit association community. The task force’s recommendations aim to present the best future for IFT and for every volunteer member, while offering opportunities for ongoing member contribution to the meaningful work of IFT.

• Task Force on Strategic Development. Identification of the organization’s work is the crux of strategic development. Chaired by Wayne Bidlack, this task force has focused on the process of creating a strategic plan that promotes the development of valuable products and services for our members. It supports us in facilitating the exchange of scientific knowledge, recruiting the next generation of food scientists, and positioning IFT as the global leader in the creation and distribution of a safe food supply. For IFT to be truly successful and thrive in the future, a more focused strategic plan that is tied to the annual operational goals and budget is necessary. The task force members are in the process of gathering member insights and perspectives on the future of the profession and the effects on IFT.

• Annual Meeting Scientific Program Task Force. At the 2006 Annual Meeting + Food Expo® in Orlando this month, each of us will reap the benefits of the work of the talented and dedicated volunteers who make up this task force. Chaired by Mark McLellan and IFT Executive Vice President Barbara Byrd Keenan, this group of member volunteers has fully embraced its charges and with the assistance of the Technical Program Committee transformed the scientific program. For the first time, themed sessions—on Food Allergens, Bioterrorism, Globalization, and Functional Foods— are included within our dynamic programming. This task force will soon present final recommendations for next steps on the future direction of the scientific program to ensure its continued success and commitment to continued quality improvement.

• Committee on Divisions Workgroup. IFT Divisions exist to provide our members with communities in which to network and learn. The Committee on Divisions Workgroup has spent two years developing recommendations to enhance membership experiences in IFT Divisions. Chaired by Catherine Side, this workgroup has, at the request of the Committee on Divisions, developed initial recommendations that revitalize and reposition IFT Divisions. A name change is not suggested, but designing Divisions as true communities of contribution and collaboration is. This workgroup continues to solicit member feedback regarding its recommendations to revitalize our Divisions.

• Constitution and Bylaws Committee. Constitutions usually define the basic governing principles and structures of an organization. They are only amended on rare occasions. Bylaws represent the dynamics of how an organization operates and should be relatively easy to amend. The Constitution and Bylaws Committee has worked in conjunction with the Task Force on Governance to enhance the governance of IFT. Chaired by Lam Hood, this committee has the dubious task of streamlining the current IFT governance documents. In their efforts to streamline documents, the volunteer members have condensed the current Constitution and recommended one set of Bylaws to replace the current Policy and Procedures manual. Since the Constitution and Bylaws tie directly into the governance and strategic development activities of IFT, our streamlined documents will help guide us through the continuing transformation of IFT into a more flexible, nimble organization.

I am very enthusiastic about IFT’s direction and am grateful to each of the IFT volunteer leaders who have spent countless hours and invested a tremendous amount of personal passion into all of their work for IFT.

by Margaret A. Lawson,
IFT President, 2005–06
Technical Services Manager, T. Hasegawa USA, Cerritos, Calif.
[email protected]