Lori Shofroth Cords SNA Member Since 2008 » Lafayette, Indiana A big fan of networking and pursuing professional growth, Lori Shofroth Cords has been to SNA’s Legislative Action Conference (LAC), National Leadership Conference (NLC) and Annual National Conference (ANC) five times each—and that’s not counting many Indiana School Nutrition Association (ISNA) meetings, as well. Shofroth Cords, director of nutrition services, Tippecanoe (Ind.) School Corporation, believes that “any conference—any networking—is amazing.” In fact, that passion led to her participation in SNA’s Future Leaders Program in 2013, which, in turn, led to her recent tenure as ISNA president, earning her recognition as one of three 2017 President’s Award of Excellence winners. Here, Shofroth Cords shares some thoughts leadership. On Leadership In general, professional and personal leadership are one and the same. I’ve always said that the person in charge, the leader, sets the tone for the whole program. It has to start at the top; you can’t forget who you’re working with, whether that’s other association volunteers or your employees. Remember, they make you look good as a leader. In my previous state, I was not allowed to participate in the state affiliate. But in Indiana, within two years on the job, I was invited to ISNA meetings and they lassoed me into being a regional representative, then chair and co-chair of professional development. Then I started the track to president. I became immediate past president in November. It’s been an experience that has exceeded my expectations. If it was up to me, I’d stay on as state president. You’re just getting the hang of what you need to know and the right processes. Creating a variation on SNA’s Future Leaders Program in our state was my brain child. It was an ISNA goal to recruit fresh leaders; we have to keep “growing” our people or face the problems of so many other associations. Many volunteers worry that they don’t have the time for this responsibility, but the secret is to get them excited. We wound up with 17 new leaders, including three ready to start the vice president fast track. We continued this leadership recruitment at our state conference. Each board member was required to identify individuals who could be a future leader. One incentive we offered was receiving a scholarship to attend a conference. When they realize that leadership isn’t just sitting idle and being a “representative,” that often gets people excited. They just have to be asked. On Goals I have already been approached by SNA for a leadership role, so, after I finish my term as past president, I would like to do that. Everyone who knows me knows I love change. I thrive on it. I love trying new things—but I have to learn to slow down, because I can get ahead of myself sometimes. Earlier in my career, I would just “do” it—I wouldn’t really map out a plan. As I’ve grown, though, I actually sit down and map out what I think would work best, even in my personal life. But sometimes life gets in the way and the best-laid goals can’t always be achieved. Many of us are struggling with hiring and retaining good employees—I would love if my goals in this area came to fruition. I want to build a deep bench, training someone to take over my job someday. Not everyone is cut out to be a director. My team and I have worked together to get the program where it’s at, and we want to continue excelling, but it’s not always easy to get the right person on the right bus and in the right seat. I like to talk and preach about what we do. It’s hard to reach high schoolers and college kids to let them know what a great profession this is, but I’m trying! I’ve spoken at a university and we hire interns; in fact, I just hired my first registered dietitian intern. I’ve also worked to improve consistency for our students, whether they are at the beginning or the end of the line. That’s led to developing tools for both managers and employees. I also want to ensure consistency for the team, and that includes policies for absenteeism and tardiness. Previously, someone could miss multiple days without any repercussion, which was tough on morale. I had to build that back up—and build trust, too. On Inspiration Within ISNA, a fellow director, Diane Steining, is the person who got me going, but when I was a young director, working for a contract management company, it was my first high school manager who inspired me. She was blunt and resistant to changing anything I wanted to change. That’s when I learned that, as a leader, you need to find your toughest nut to crack. Once you do that, everything after that is so much simpler. In trying to manage all the regulatory changes of the last five years, I’ve been telling my team that getting through these changes is not about me and it’s not about them, either. It’s about what we do for our kids every day. One piece of positive feedback can make their whole day—and that’s true of our colleagues, too. I try to make one sincere positive comment per day, even if it’s been a really bad day. I also try to lead by setting a positive, enthusiastic example. My supervisor says, “I can’t believe you get excited about a piece of equipment.” But I can’t help it, because that equipment makes it better for everyone! As told to Rachel O’Connell, SNA’s communications & marketing coordinator. 30-SECOND BIO CHILDHOOD HOMETOWN Hillsboro, Illinois CURRENT HOMETOWN Rensselaer, Indiana YEARS IN SCHOOL NUTRITION 23 CURRENT TITLE Director of Nutrition Services, Tippecanoe School Corporation, Lafayette, Indiana PROGRAM AT A GLANCE Overseeing 100 employees serving lunch and breakfast to 13,000 students at 20 schools in 430-sq. mile district. SNA LEADERSHIP Indiana SNA President (2016-17) FAMILY New husband Roger (married September 2017), daughter Ashton (28) and son-in-law Erik, grandson Kiernan (2)
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