“Time for a change”: IDFA president and CEO Connie Tipton announces she will step down

By Hal Conick

- Last updated on GMT

IDFA president and CEO Connie Tipton will step down at the end of 2016.
IDFA president and CEO Connie Tipton will step down at the end of 2016.
Connie Tipton, the International Dairy Foods Association president and CEO, announced that she will step down at the end of 2016.

Tipton made her announcement at Dairy Forum 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona, during the president’s address in the Monday morning breakfast session.

Tipton has been president and CEO of IDFA, which represents dairy manufacturing and marketing companies, since January 2014. She has been an executive with IDFA for more than three decades.

According to the IDFA website, Tipton has been heavily decorated during her time at the helm of IDFA. In 2009, she was awarded as Association Executive of the Year by Association Trends magazine. In 2011, she was named as Top Association CEO by CEO Update.

Why now?

The US political landscape has seen vast changes and will likely see another big one during the 2016 presidential election. Tipton said this is the “rhythm of Washington,”​ something she sees as a new opportunity for the dairy industry.

Photo care of Tipton's LinkedIn profile. 

“When a presidency changes, you get new people in all of the agencies,”​ she said. “It’s a new day. It’s a new opportunity. It’s new people to get to know.”

With tears in her eyes, Tipton said now was a good time to announce that she will step down and let IDFA change with “the rest of the guys”.

“I still love what I’m doing but I think it’s time for a change,”​ she said.

What’s next?

Tipton said she has not yet decided what’s next for her, she left Dairy Forum attendees with a few things she sees as important for the future. First, she said it will soon be a “new era” ​of food safety with new rules coming soon.

“This is really serious,”​ she said. “Not that it’s ever been fine to not have safe food, but there are a lot more teeth in [the new rules]… The culture has to really change and everyone in this industry has to be on board. We’re only as good as our weakest link on this thing.”

Food safety will be a “fundamental building block”​ moving forward, Tipton said.

Another issue she said the dairy industry must be aware of is accelerated communication, including that of social media. Informational travels faster, but she warned that misinformation also travels much faster. This is something that must be taken seriously by dairy companies before the first crisis hits.

“The power of social media is not to be understated,”​ she said. “Have yourself positioned properly.”

Lastly, she said dairy professionals must be politically engaged. Sitting on the proverbial sidelines cannot happen, she said.

“We have to think about what we want our next president to do​,” Tipton said. “Get engaged in the process however you can.”

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