In search of a new vice president, the Office of Extension and Outreach held its second forum Monday evening featuring Suzanne Stluka, the second finalist being considered for the position.
Stluka is a deputy director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Stluka also served in a healthcare system position at South Dakota State University and Montana State University. In 2020, she started as vision director of Family and Consumer Sciences and acting director of Youth and Porridge for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
For the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Stluka oversees their many partnerships in nutrition. She is responsible for 220 million competitive and capacity grants offered to nonprofits, non-government agencies, universities and other federal agencies. Stluka also worked as one of the institute’s diversity, equity, inclusion directors.
At South Dakota State, she earned the April Brooks Women of Distinction award. She is also a registered dietician, has a bachelor’s in family and consumer sciences and holds a doctorate degree in human sciences.
Stluka said as a leader, it is important to plan for the future.
“Walk softly because you never know who is walking behind you; leave a good path,” Stluka said.
Stluka said her philosophy includes community, establishing trust, being passionate, loving new challenges, giving joy and having an ownership mentality.
“I find the number one thing is that I would have to establish trust,” Stluka said “We don’t feel safe. We can’t make bold decisions if we don’t trust each other and have that safe space.”
Stluka’s first topic of interest is tackling nutrition and making it possible for all communities.
“It’s also about health equity,” Stluka said. “So does everybody have that fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible? How do we remove those barriers?”
Stluka said her goal is to create backpack programs, food councils and to strengthen families.
Stluka said she has done work in regard to the climate, saying that at the direction of Congress, she and her team have looked into the nutritional impact climate change has had on food.
Stluka’s said she and her team also focus on the Food and Drug Administration and how exposure to harmful substances can affect pregnant women, infants and young children. They have been looking at exposure to substances such as arsenic in rice and baby foods.
Stluka said there needs to be discussions on more ways to provide food safety, healthcare and technology to rural communities, adding that more food hubs and incubators for these rural communities could remedy the issue.
The next forum will be held 2 p.m. Thursday in 202 Carver Hall.