Was it just a year ago that the country was buzzing about the upcoming presidential elections; who would emerge as the Democratic Party candidate from a crowded and diverse field of contenders? Most of us were trying to navigate our way through planning for the holidays, wrapping up our year-end work responsibilities, looking forward to some downtime that didn’t require us to be in the office, maybe a few days of solitude and reflection, and, of course, the inevitable New Year’s resolutions. What is it they say about ‘perspective?’

At the same time, everybody at IDFA was fine tuning the program for the Dairy Forum that was only a little over a month away. Working together with the Advisory Council members, we were putting the finishing touches on the launch of Women in Dairy at the Forum. The choice of the venue was perfect; the dairy community’s reception was overwhelming and the past eleven months have provided validation for the creation of the Network. The Women in Dairy Community has grown to over 500 members.

Despite the turmoil and disruption that occurred throughout the country since last March, we have worked together to provide a platform for communication among members and to provide timely and relevant information about what the dairy industry and our member companies are doing to support each other and the distribution of members’ dairy food products. To encourage the discussion of solutions to the types of problems that many member companies had never confronted in the past, we introduced webinars, virtual gatherings and our quarterly WID Newsletter. We also created a Mentoring Circles program to facilitate partnering between experienced members of the community with those developing the skills and expertise to assist them as they advance their careers. Finally, we began a series of Fireside Chats, intended to create informal discussions with women leaders about their individual leadership experiences. The first session with Isabelle Marcoux, Chair of the Board of TC Transcontinental was presented last month to a very appreciative audience from the community.

In its first year, Women in Dairy has provided exactly the types of support, communication and leadership that it was intended to do; but, like most things in the past year, not exactly as planned. Since last March, we have seen changes in every aspect of our lives; working, socializing, educating, communicating and even navigating the grocery store safely. But, in creating solutions to these changes and in identifying opportunities presented by this everchanging landscape, many of us have learned more about ourselves than in any other time in our lives: how resilient we are, how capable and competent we are, how leaders step up during difficult times and the types of roles that may await us in the future.

For me, I have learned so many things from the Women in Dairy community.  I have had the pleasure of getting to know many of you and am struck at how willing you are to give of your time and experience for the benefit of others in the WID community. We can’t thank you enough for helping us establish and grow this network. It has been a tough year and I believe each of us has come to the end of the year with pride in everything we did. As Anne Rice, Pandora said “One moment the world is as it is. The next, it is something entirely different. Something it has never been before.” We can never expect the world to go back to whatever it was before, but the future will present opportunities for each of us in the coming years.

Although we will begin 2021 in a virtual setting, Women in Dairy is looking forward to a new year filled with opportunities to work together to make our lives and the lives of our families and organizations even more productive and fulfilling than they are today.

“To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.”

Stephen Covey

We wish you and your families joy, peace and good health this Holiday Season!

IDFA's Women in Dairy brings established leaders together with young professionals to create a forum that fosters mentoring, supports development, builds networking opportunities, and encourages leadership. Learn more about the program here, and join today.