During the course of the next few weeks, members of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) will elect new leadership. Last year we celebrated the 75th anniversary of our organization, and this year we are holding our 75th annual meeting. The future of IFT is dependent upon leaders with diverse experiences and viewpoints to ensure that our organization meets the needs of its members as well as a changing global food system. The IFT election is not a popularity contest; it is an opportunity to select individuals with a strong commitment to IFT and the profession of food science and technology to lead IFT into its centennial.
During the voting period, IFT members will be able to cast their ballots electronically from any Internet-accessible computer. IFT will send out an "Election Open” message via e-mail on February 17 to all IFT voting members with details on how to cast your vote. It is simple, convenient, and so important to the future of IFT.
Voting is open February 17–March 18, 2015, but you have the opportunity to get to know the candidates in advance at ift.org/elections. We have posted video interviews of the candidates, and you can read details about their backgrounds and careers. Because there are over 17,000 members in IFT, you may find some or all of the names unfamiliar. Please do not let the lack of acquaintance keep you from voting. Take a look at their contributions to IFT and the food science profession and decide whether you think that they will bring valuable experience and viewpoints to the elected positions.
For president-elect, the candidates are John Coupland and Luis Fernandez. I have been fortunate to serve with both gentlemen on the IFT Board of Directors for the past year and a half. Each brings a unique perspective to the board, and they are both passionate in their support of IFT. Board member candidates are Mohamed Badaoui Najjar, Pam Coleman, Carolyn Fisher, Jonathan Gray, Larry Keener, Robert McGorrin, Anthony Pavel, and Gunnar Sigge. Candidates for the Nominations & Elections Committee are Bill Barrier, Nicolas Bordenave, Faith Critzer, and Jennifer McEntire. IFT’s voting membership (members, emeritus members, and professional members) elects one member for president-elect, four members for the Board of Directors, and three members for the Nominations & Elections Committee.
Please take the time to read each candidate’s biography and consider whether he or she is best suited to lead IFT into the future. Which of the candidates will motivate other members to be more active and support the roles and goals of IFT? Who will build consensus and think strategically? Who will embrace a leadership position and give it the attention it deserves?
About 15% of IFT members reside outside the United States. We expect that percentage to grow in the near future. Our 2013 membership survey revealed that 54% of members work in the food industry, 16% work in universities, 15% are students, 4% are consultants, and 2% work for government agencies. The remaining 9% are retired, work in other industries, or pursue other types of careers. The Nominations & Elections Committee carefully reviews the demographics of current board members to identify individuals who bring diverse experience to the elected offices.
As you may be aware, the IFT board has been conducting an environmental scan through a number of means, including member research and our anticipatory foresight project. Our goal is to ensure that IFT can continue to thrive and serve as a leader in the application of food science. This spring we will be updating our strategic plan to ensure that we can properly align all of our resources to fulfill our mission and vision. In order for IFT to continue to thrive now and into the future, it is important that we have a diverse, committed board that brings a full range of knowledge, perspective, and skill sets to our decision-making.
I am also asking you to volunteer within IFT this year. Members consistently tell us that the more they volunteer, the more they get out of their membership. I started volunteering as the 1988–1989 student representative to the Nutrition Division. The University of Maine has always had a small food science program, but my location and my employer were never a barrier to my inclusion in IFT volunteer activities. I am grateful for the support of the IFT membership and staff during my presidency, and I hope that I get the opportunity to meet more members in 2015. See you in Chicago July 11–14!
Mary Ellen Camire, Ph.D., CFS,
IFT President, 2014–2015
Professor, Univ. of Maine,