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McCormack defines leadership in nutrition at Dannon workshop

FIRO-B, a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and a Skillscope 360 were just a few assessments Lacey McCormack completed when attending the Dannon Institute Nutrition Leadership Institute June 3-8. 

McCormack, an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Nutritional Sciences, was one of 20 people selected to attend the Institute in Warrenton, Virginia. She was the first from South Dakota State University to attend. 

“This is not something I just elected to go to. It was competitive. They do try to choose individuals who they think will be leaders in the field,” she said. 

She along with other future leaders in nutrition had a pretty packed itinerary, but she learned a lot while she was there. 

The institute was held at Airlie, a secluded conference center a short drive from Washington, D.C. Attendees stayed in small cottages near trees and water, creating a serene atmosphere, especially considering they had to disconnect from technology. Not only did McCormack learn about herself as a leader, but she also learned more on how leadership can and should work. 

“Aside from the things I learned about myself, the piece that really stuck out to me was the science behind leadership,” she said. “Leadership requires direction, alignment and commitment—I learned what that means and how to facilitate those processes.” 

As part of the institute’s focus on professional networking, McCormack met with several key individuals in nutrition and even got a picture with Margo Wootan, the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Wootan has worked on different nutrition-labeling efforts, reducing junk food marketing at children and requiring nutrition facts in fast food restaurants. 

While attendees typically have aspirations for future administrative roles, McCormack feels the knowledge she gained can put to use in the classroom immediately. 

“It gave me constructive things to work on now and in the future,” she said. “Leadership applies not to just being a boss or supervisor, but to mentoring students and I am a leader in that way.”