FM Profile: Mark LoParco

FM Profile: Mark LoParco

President, 2013-14 National Association of College and University Food Services

When I complete my term in office, I’ll feel successful if we have provided our Executive Director, Gretchen Couraud, with all the tools, support and resources she needs to be successfully lead NACUFS boldly into our future. Our success will be measured by presenting the membership with a new strategic plan in July and when our Board has successfully positioned President-Elect Zia Ahmed to implement that Plan.

When I ran for president, I promised I would keep our educational programs vibrant and on track, work with Association staff to find ways to grow the membership, and deliver our next Strategic Plan in July, 2014.

My most unexpected reward for assuming this role has been the opportunity to work much more closely than in the past with Nona Gollege and Tim Dietzler, who provided me with coaching, mentorship and friendship.

My strongest professional role model has been Merrill Baker (deceased) who was the FSD at SUNY Cortland, where I started my collegiate foodservice career. He had very high expectations but made sure we had the highest quality and freshest food product to work with and state-of-the-art equipment with which to do our work. He’s the one who gave me “the  curse.” (’If it’s gonna go wrong, it goes wrong when the director goes through the service line.”)

My first job in foodservice was in 1969, at a classic, small-town diner in Dryden, NY, working for a fiery short order cook who could crack six raw eggs on a flat-top grill and not break a yolk.

The professional accomplishment I am proudest of is the conception and implementation of the UM Farm to College initiative, our sustainable, local food purchasing program. It led to my presenting a TEDx talk with Professor Neva Hassanein on “Cultivating Food Democracy.”

The most challenging aspect of my job is that there is NO END IN SIGHT...

If I had a year’s sabbatical I’d spend it in Italy, becoming totally immersed in the slow food movement and perfecting my knowledge of regional Italian cuisines.

The best professional advice anyone ever gave me was to manage leadership upwardly as passionately as you manage your direct reports. Of course, there’s the old school advice: “Keep a low profile and be a moving target.”

The most interesting technology application I’ve seen recently is my new Droid phone, which is far “smarter” than me.

If I could give advice to my earlier self during freshman year in college, I’d say, “Don’t wait until the absolute last minute to do your work, just to see if you can still get an A!“  While it worked, that was SICK.

My most prized possession? Three little sterling silver hearts I keep with me all the time in a small cloth pouch made by my youngest daughter when she was in 6th grade. The hearts represent my wife and two daughters.

Away from my job, I most like to harvest the bounty of the earth with my bow, gun, knife, spear, teeth or whatever else is available.

If I could write my own epitaph, it would be: “Here lies Mark S. LoParco; killed by an angry herd of wild animals that included deer, elk, bears, antelope and various other bounties of the earth.”

At a Glance

ASSOCIATION:
National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS)

No. of Members: 1116
HQ Address:
NACUFS
2525 Jolly Rd., Suite 280 Okemos, MI  48864
Executive Director:
Gretchen Couraud, CAE, CFRE

Phone/Website:
(517) 332-2494
www.nacufs.org

MISSION/VISION:
To promote the highest quality of foodservice on school, college, and university campuses by providing members with educational and training opportunities, technical assistance, scholarships, industry information
and research.

PROFESSIONAL:
Job:  Director, University of Montana Dining

Career Highlights:
• NACUFS President’s Outstanding Service Award for Region 1 (1990); for
Continental Region (2007)
• Outstanding Workplace Philanthropy Award, Montana Shares
• Associated Students of UM, Barbara Hollman Administrator of the
Year Award
• Becoming the World-Famous Omelet Guy (WFOG)

Education:
Syracuse University

Personal:
Born:  Cortland, NY
Family:  Married to
Christine Fiore; two lovely daughters: Lindsey and Hunter Rose