“My name is Amanda Sasse, and I’m a Nelson.” That may sound like the kind of opening one makes when joining a group similar to AA, but it’s actually an introductory phrase that I’ve uttered more than once in the last year and a half since joining Nelson-Jameson as an outside salesperson. I’ve managed to “fly under the radar” with most of my customers, but my genetics have betrayed me in other company-related affairs such as Nelson-Jameson board meetings, trade shows and, as I’ve recently experienced, FISA membership.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the annual FISA (Food Industry Suppliers Association) conference in Charleston, South Carolina. FISA is a trade organization that was founded over 50 years ago, and membership includes both independent distributors and manufacturers that go to market through distributors. Current members operate in many industries in which sanitation and high-purity is stressed, such as the food, beverage, pharmacy, bio-pharm, and personal care industries. Currently, there are more than 110 member companies.

FISA has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. My inaugural FISA conference was in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, in 1977. I was less than a year old. According to local lore (i.e. John Nelson), I was deemed both the “princess” of the conference (questionable) and later graced the subsequent newsletter in the form of a photograph (fact).  After that warm reception, I kept a rather incognito presence at FISA conferences throughout my childhood and teenaged-years. It wasn’t until last year, at a conference in Lake Tahoe, California that I proudly attended as an actual FISA member.  I met good people with shared business interests---people that could serve both as mentors and friends. I quickly realized what Nelson-Jameson and my family had realized decades before; that FISA is an invaluable source of knowledge and support for those involved in the supply chain of the food industry. Its members' collective experience, expertise and common interests foster an atmosphere of cooperative learning and professional and personal relationship-building.

Thus, it is with great pride and humility that I recently accepted a nomination and was elected to serve on FISA’s Board of Directors. I’ve been told that I am the first woman in FISA’s history to be asked to serve on its Board---a statement that I find remarkable, and an honor that I don’t take lightly. I hope to represent Nelson-Jameson with dignity, while advocating causes that help to advance our business, as well as those of FISA’s members. And, more than 30 years later, I hope to make the newsletter for more noteworthy reasons than my 1977 debut.

Image courtesy of FISA, http://www.fisanet.org/fisa-board-of-directors.html