“Recognize that various paths are available to gain experience and employment with FDA such as student internships; student, post-doctoral, and professional fellowship opportunities”
- Glenda R. Lewis, M.S.P.H., Supervisory Consumer Safety Officer, Director, Retail Food Protection Staff
How did your career begin at FDA?
I started Christmas week in December 1996 with many of my new co-workers on use or lose leave. Those in the office were very welcoming and my new Team members left me welcome notes and tips for settling in that first week. Prior, I was a local health inspector in Florida and applied after seeing a job announcement in the Journal of Environmental Health. The Agency was interested in someone with experience in state and local food regulatory programs and inspections, especially in the inspection of institutional food service operations. A fit for my experience! I received a call for an interview and followed up. The rest is history and I have been at FDA for 24 years as of last December, working in the Retail Food Program focused on national retail food policy, its interpretation, science-basis, and implementation.
What do you value most about working at FDA?
I work with staff in both CFSAN and in ORA. The passion, commitment, and professionalism of my co-workers; moving with them towards a common goal for reducing foodborne illness at the retail level even when there is a diversity of thought on paths forward, we come together to achieve the goal.
What are you most proud of in terms of your work at FDA?
I am proud to be a part of the Agency’s role in protecting consumers from foodborne illness at the retail level. In my work I have been involved in development and maintenance of the Retail program’s foundational documents such as the FDA Food Code and its accompanying online database of Food Code interpretations, the Food Code Reference System, the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards, the Employee Health and Personal Hygiene Handbook, the Retail HACCP Manuals – one for Regulators and the other, for Operators, and most recently, setting a vision and guiding the CFSAN Retail Food Policy Team in creating a framework for national retail food policy development that includes risk-focused tools for ensuring the Code remains risk- and science-based. I think this work with my FDA Retail colleagues has helped position the model FDA Food Code, now in its current format for 28 years, as a strong science-based, authoritative source of model food safety regulation available for adoption by State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial governmental bodies.
What advice would you give to an FDA job seeker?
Never give up. Recognize that various paths are available to gain experience and employment with FDA such as student internships; student, post-doctoral, and professional fellowship opportunities; Keep routinely/actively applying for open vacancies if the first time does not end up in a job. Seek out and learn about FDA and the many opportunities it offers in a variety of subject areas; explore how your experience and degree can be applied to the many opportunities provided. Be willing to come into the Agency in a role that fits your experience and be willing to work your way up. Once in FDA, work hard, do your best, learn, grow and excel. The opportunities will come for progression as you grow. The main thing is to remember to be kind to others and do what is right. Respect others and embrace what can be learned from others.
When you're not at work, what is your favorite way to unwind?
I am a movie buff and also like watching HGTV for shows on interior design and home renovation and house hunters. I love mysteries, Superman, and working with my 1st – 2nd grade students teaching in Sunday School at my church. Reading a favorite book, getting in a long walk, and time at the pool or on the beach are other favorites. The beach is my happy place?!