Sheri Schellhaass

The true benefit of leadership is that it opens up a fascinating dialogue that sets off a chain reaction of learning opportunities. As your president, I can say with confidence that I gained valuable insight from my IFT colleagues from around the globe, each and every day over the past year. This collective insight has provided important education and clarity within my daily life—my profession, my IFT community, and beyond.

Child activist Marian Wright Edelman has said, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.” As we look back on the past year, I really believe that we will see that this was a turning point for all of us in improving our world and the lives of others. As IFT members, we’ve made an invaluable choice in continuing to belong to this community, give to this community, and grow with this community. Never before have we had such an important opportunity to impact the policy and science around global food safety and emerging technologies or to improve the healthfulness, affordability, and sustainability of our food supply.

Rather than stand on the sidelines, now is the time for us to educate each other and create a chain reaction of ideas based on our collective insights. More than 500 volunteer members are serving on advisory panels, task forces, and other volunteer groups. With this framework in place, IFT has the capacity to recruit and educate the next generation of food scientists and technologists and to continue to prosper and grow.

The IFT Foundation has fostered this growth by providing 112 scholarships during the 2008–2009 academic year. And, with 50 chapters and five popular competitions, we’ve further challenged IFT’s 2,500 student members with two new product development contests. IFT’s New Professionals Community now has 600 members, an electronic newsletter, and an IFT Facebook group page.

IFT’s Current and Emerging Science Issues Advisory Panel completed its work to identify and prioritize issues that require science-based solutions. IFT unveiled an Expert Report on “Making Decisions about the Risk of Chemicals in Foods with Limited Scientific Information.” IFT redefined its commitment to shaping public affairs and federal outreach through the work of the Public Policy and Regulatory Outreach Advisory Panel.

To expand educational offerings in the area of food safety, we have partnered with the Food Processing Suppliers Association to co-locate the IFT Food Expo and Process Expo during future IFT Annual Meetings. We’ve added programs to our scientific program on how to transfer technology. Our IPEX session brought together innovators holding food science and technology IP, and our new Annual Meeting Trend Tours made it easier to find new information on key topics on the Expo floor.

We even formed a Global Strategy Advisory Panel to identify IFT’s strategy for operating in a global environment. IFT continues to collaborate with our allied organizations including the Latin American and Caribbean Association of Food Science and the Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology. Also, IFT values being a member of the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IU FoST ). IFT and IU FoST partner to produce an electronic publication, The World of Food Science ( We also look forward to participating in the 15th World Congress of Food Science and Technology Aug. 22–26, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.

To further engage our entire IFT member community in valuable programs and activities, IFT is establishing a Member Value Proposition Advisory Panel co-chaired by Mark McLellan and Conrad Rebello. In essence, the panel is charged with identifying how IFT can continue to provide unique and compelling value to our current and future members and continue to support the profession.

What we have learned is that now is the time to make the connection to our global community and harness the talents of our professional membership. Let’s make a difference in the lives of the nine million starving people in the world.

Our future is promising. IFT will continue to be guided by a dedicated team including Incoming President Marianne Gillette, President-Elect Bob Gravani, our Executive Vice President Barbara Byrd Keenan, IFT’s Board of Directors, and a talented staff. I am confident that we will continue to make a lasting impact on the food science and technology profession, and the world. The memories I have shared and knowledge that I have gained throughout my presidential journey this year will last a lifetime. Thank you all!

Sheri Schellhaass,
IFT President, 2008–09
Vice President of Research and Development, General Mills, Minneapolis, Minn.
[email protected]