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    FMI Announces SQFI Leadership Transitions

    Leslie Sarasin
    President and CEO

    When I assumed the leadership of FMI more than a decade ago, there were several key positions and staff vacancies I needed to fill. One particular opening, the leadership of the Safe Quality Food Institute, was especially challenging as it called for someone with a diverse and rather unique combination of skills. To be done successfully, it required a leader with business acumen because the program needed to grow;  the very nature of SQFI’s work necessitated someone steeped in the science of food safety; the job required a visionary with customer service  sensitivities and trusted connections throughout the food industry; and to cap it all, the position called for someone who cared deeply about both people and detailed protocols. When I put all those features on a single piece of paper, I had two immediate reactions. My first thought was no one on earth has this special blend of skills, qualities and characteristics and I sighed. Then, another thought tumbled into my head and I smiled. I looked again at the list of what I needed in this position and I realized I had just described my friend Bob Garfield.  Bob and I had worked together for years in varying capacities and I knew him to be a man of great integrity, possessing a solid work ethic with a thorough understanding of the regulatory system and food safety science. I was thrilled when Bob accepted my offer to join the FMI staff and help build SQFI into a reputable, reliable and thriving program, recognized across the globe.

    Now, after almost a decade of shoring up SQFI’s foundations by updating standards, overseeing a technology overhaul of SQFI’s systems and vastly expanding its reach, Bob has announced his plans to retire. My sadness at this news is only softened by the knowledge that Bob’s thorough attention to detail means a comprehensive succession model is in place. I am pleased to announce that Gigi Vita of the SQFI staff has accepted my invitation to continue SQFI’s trajectory of success and growth. Gigi has the extensive connections throughout the food industry, great leadership sensitivities and operational savvy that are needed to take SQFI to the next level of greatness.

    We welcome Gigi as SQFI’s new Chief Food Safety Assessment Officer & SVP and we wish Bob and Diane every happiness as they turn the page, beginning a new chapter in their life together.






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