Becky Domokos-Bays, PhD, RD, SNS 2013-10-02 05:58:42
SNA Annual Election Head to the Polls! It’s time to the rock the vote once more and decide who will represent you and your colleagues as part of SNA’s 2014-16 Board of Directors! This year’s election features 25 candidates whose passion for child nutrition, SNA volunteer experience and leadership talent have earned them a place on the ballot. SNA leaders are your voice, representing your professional interests and concerns. Remember, strong national leadership is essential to the Association’s future success. Each and every SNA member’s vote counts in selecting those who will step up to the task. Voting will be conducted through SNA’s website, from October 15 to November 15, 2013. For details about how to vote, as well as biographies of all the candidates, log on to www.schoolnutrition.org/ snaelection. Meet the Candidates School Nutrition wants to help you learn more about the nominees for vice president. Once elected, this person begins a three-year cycle that includes the positions of president-elect and president; this helps maintain the continuity of SNA leadership. This year’s candidates are Becky Domokos-Bays, PhD, RD, SNS, director of school nutrition programs, Alexandria City (Va.) Public Schools, and Craig Weidel, SNS, area supervisor, Mesa (Ariz.) Public Schools. In addition to the short interviews that follow, be sure to review their goals and leadership statements that can be found online on the SNA Election page. Becky Domokos-Bays, PhD, RD, SNS Becky Domokos-Bays, PhD, RD, SNS, doesn’t wear rose-colored glasses; she knows that school nutrition is experiencing turbulent times. In fact, she cites the Chaos Theory when musing on the state of the profession: “To reach goals or create something new, chaos—in the form of uncertainty, fear and resistance—has to happen,” she says. “School nutrition is certainly in the midst of chaos, with new complex regulations and demands on us all. However, SNA is emerging stronger, changed in some ways for the better.” In other words, Domokos-Bays knows that, despite obstacles, the Association and its membership have risen to recent challenges and will continue to thrive. It’s a confidence she’s gleaned from years in a successful child nutrition career, marked by an impressive educational resume and guidance from some heavy- hitting mentors, including three SNA past presidents. Now, she’s ready to apply that expertise in her bid to serve at the very top of SNA’s leadership. It’s the next step along a path begun years ago, when Domokos-Bays first felt the spark familiar to many Association members. As an elementary-school student in Charleston, W.Va., she felt a sense of pride when selected by the school lunch ladies to distribute milk to her schoolmates. As a reward, she frequently received a coveted orange or tangerine. “This may sound odd today, but fresh fruit and vegetables were not available year-round then,” Domokos-Bays explains. She earned an undergraduate degree in dietetics from Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., and then a master’s degree in human nutrition and foods, with an emphasis in business from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. Upon moving to Atlanta and serving as executive director of the then-Georgia School Food Service Association, Domokos-Bays was confident that she had chosen the right career path. “I grew to realize that school nutrition was a good opportunity to achieve my personal goals: helping children have healthy lives and managing a program,” she says. That path eventually led to her current position, as director of school nutrition programs for Alexandria City (Va.) Public Schools, which she has held since 2003. She takes great pride in leading a team that keeps rising to every new challenge. “They understand our goal of putting children first, and each one of my staff will tell you their role in educating kids is to provide nutritious meals and some extra love every day,” she says. If elected, Domokos-Bays plans to focus on growing and retaining membership, as well as strengthening and marketing training programs. She recognizes that SNA membership ranges from small to large districts, and she hopes to help the Association create programs that are welcoming and meaningful to everyone, no matter what position or size of district. To Domokos-Bays, SNA leadership is both a passion and an obligation. “I have been strongly connected to service for most of my life,” she says. “I believe in paying forward.... I have passion and enthusiasm for our work, and I believe that I have the experience to be an effective voice advocating for our programs with diverse audiences.” SN Craig Weidel, SNS Sometimes, the most fortunate opportunities are born from unlucky circumstances. In 1984, Craig Weidel, SNS—now an area supervisor for Mesa (Ariz.) Public Schools—found himself without a job when his then-employer relocated out of state. With only a six-month severance package in a recession-era employment climate, Weidel faced a most uncertain future. Still, he could count on both his tenacity and his leadership skills to find new footing. A classified ad for a position at Mesa Public Schools held the key to what would become a new vocation. For 11 years, Weidel served as Mesa’s food and nutrition warehouse supervisor. In 1995, he was promoted to area supervisor, the position he holds today, with responsibilities that include helping to oversee operations at Mesa’s 78 sites, which serve 56,000+ meals daily. Weidel found himself hooked after just six months, “when I discovered the passion that our staff had for what they do day in and day out to support the educational process,” he explains. “This was reinforced when a teacher told me that...if a student was hungry, he or she would have a hard time learning.” In some ways, Weidel’s school nutrition career hasn’t strayed too far from his original goal to be a physical education teacher. He’d interrupted his college studies to provide for a new family. Ultimately, it was his SNA involvement—and aspirations for national Association leadership—that led Weidel to return to college 20 years later and earn his degree in physical education from Arizona State University. Since its serendipitous beginnings, Weidel’s career has flourished into a 28-year tenure, rife with many accomplishments. These include a 2012 FAME Silver Spirit Award, as well as his personal initiation, development, launch and expansion of a lauded training program, the Food and Nutrition Leadership Academy. “I’m extremely proud of the positive impact the Academy has had on our managers,” he declares, noting that it boosts leadership skills and self-esteem “to help them to be better equipped to handle on-the- job challenges” and gain confidence to apply for more advanced career opportunities. Weidel tries to exemplify an adage coined by Zig Ziglar, a personal source of inspiration, who said, “You can have anything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want in life.” So, it’s no surprise that, if elected, Weidel plans to focus on expanding and updating training opportunities “through easily accessible cutting-edge technologies that are specifically designed to meet our wide, cross-generational membership,” he says. Other goals include building and retaining a dynamic membership that allows all to feel as if they’re a vital part of the Association. Most of all, though, “my top priorities would be to build upon the legacy of those great leaders that have served before me,” Weidel says. “They worked so hard to blaze the trail that has elevated the profession of child nutrition in the eyes of the world.... I want to be able to give back to an Association that has given so much to me both personally and professionally.”
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