Carol Weekly SNA Member Since 2005 » Queen Creek, Arizona TIME HAS FLOWN BY FOR CAROL WEEKLY, RDN, SNS, who is wrapping up both a two-year tenure on the SNA Board of Directors, as chair of the Nutrition Committee, and her 8th year as director of child nutrition in the Queen Creek (Ariz.) Unified School District. Carol views her school nutrition career as a multifaceted mission: to serve kids, her colleagues and the profession. She reflects on becoming a leader, the critical role of professional support and the importance of taking care of yourself to survive the leadership journey. On Leadership This is a journey that started for me in high school. I went to a really small school, and I served on the student council, along with just about every club you could imagine. I was student body president my senior year, and then in college I served as pledge educator and then president of my sorority. I didn’t really have the idea that I was learning to practice leadership, but these experiences stuck with me and became part of who I am. To me, leadership comes naturally out of a commitment to do one’s best and serve others. I always try to lead by example. In my district, I work alongside my school nutrition team and do my best to provide them with what they need to be successful. This creates a completely different kind of relationship with them, one where they feel respected. I’m not telling them to do something without understanding what I’m asking of them. On Role Models I’ve known so many people who are professional inspirations to me. Two that come to mind are SNA President Jean Ronnei and 2014-15 President Julia Bauscher. I remember seeing Jean in action as 2010 Child Nutrition Industry Conference chair, and she just blew me away with her professionalism and knowledge. In my personal life, my father has been a great inspiration. He’s the hardest-working individual I know—and he can fix anything! He made sure that when I left home, I was fully capable of taking care of myself. He taught me how to change a tire, change the oil, check the car battery, do simple plumbing and figure out how to do things on my own. I think it’s important to be a role model and encourage people to reach for the stars. The potential is endless! I hire from within whenever I can, and work to help people grow; in fact, my last four managers all started as cafeteria workers. I’ve also urged others to take leadership positions in their chapter, state or even national association. I say, “Yes! Jump in with both feet! Don’t just put a toe in the water.” One of my cafeteria managers is currently serving on our state’s board as secretary. On Facing Challenges I’ve had some tough times professionally, as we all have in the last couple of years. In addition to balancing work with Association commitments and my family, I’ve had staff cuts and budget challenges that have been very daunting. And of course, it’s hard to deal with a lot of the untruths and misrepresentations out there about school nutrition, as well as people who don’t understand its importance to children. I remember a day when I was asked by a person in administration what the bare minimum was that kids needed to get them through the day, in order to save money. That’s a huge disconnect, and it’s just not who I am. I’m sure that my response—“You’re kidding me, right?”—wasn’t what they expected! But I’ve learned valuable leadership skills when facing some of my biggest career challenges. When I was on the state affiliate board, someone embezzled a significant amount of money. I worked with the other members of the executive committee to get the money returned, calling on the help of people I knew were ready to support me, including my father-in-law (a forensic accountant) and a college friend (an attorney). We recovered all of the funds at no cost to the association, and used the experience to establish proper levels of control, processes and transparency. I’m very proud of this accomplishment. On Self Care With so many challenges, it’s really important to take care of yourself. I’m a very faith-based person, so that’s the first way I try to keep going. And my school nutrition peers are such an important support network. When you work in school foodservice, you are often isolated, because no one else in the district fully understands the challenges of the job. For me, going to an event where I can bounce ideas off my peers and just get some understanding makes a huge difference in difficult times. You can’t do it all, and it’s so important to have a support system to lean on! Crafting and creating are other great stress-relievers for me. When I complete a project, I always have such a sense of accomplishment. The other big stress reliever for me is doing my nails—weird, I know! But I enjoy finding designs and color combinations on Pinterest and then recreating them. I get up really early, when the house is quiet, and hang out with the dog while I do my nails. On the Future I would love to be SNA national president at some point. I feel that you have to say “yes”; you should never turn down opportunities. If I continue to serve the profession, I have hope that this will lead me to that goal. If I had to pick a personal motto, it would be “Just keep swimming!” As told to Susan Davis Gryder, a freelance writer in Silver Spring, Md. 30-SECOND BIO CHILDHOOD HOMETOWN Pecos, New Mexico CURRENT HOMETOWN Queen Creek, Arizona EDUCATION Bachelor of Science in Family & Consumer Science, Human Nutrition and Food Science, New Mexico State University (1999); Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist YEARS IN SCHOOL NUTRITION 14 TITLE Director of Child Nutrition EMPLOYER Queen Creek (Ariz.) Unified School District PROGRAM AT A GLANCE Suburban district with 8 schools, 45 employees and a $2 million budget. We are experiencing significant growth and anticipate adding up to 4 schools within the next 6 years. SNA LEADERSHIP Nutrition Committee Chair; Executive Committee Member FAMILY Husband Chris, children Dylan (10) and Keira (8)
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