Kathy Kuzava

This entry is part 35 of 54 in the series

Kuzava_KathyKathy Kuzava

Georgia Food Industry Association

Years with company: 24 years

Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations:
BS in Marketing, Georgia State University

Volunteer organizations:
Active in the Food Industry Executives and St. Thomas the Apostle LifeTeen Program (youth ministry)

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career:
I started this position when there were very few females running state associations. Barbara McConnell, a former legislator and president of the New Jersey Food Council, played a huge role in my career. Barbara, originally from Tennessee, was extremely effective, and could lobby with charm, while being tough as nails.  She graciously shared her years of politics and experience running state associations and I would soak up the information like a sponge. She would cheer for every legislative victory I had and I always knew I could go to her for advice. She was the perfect mentor!

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have a defining moment of your career to date?
I am proudest of passing Georgia’s Sunday sales bill last session after a bitter five-year battle. We were told by so many people that our bill would never pass, so it is rewarding that our retailers can take care of their customers seven days a week.

Most challenging part of your job:
Reforming Georgia’s WIC program has been an ongoing issue for me, and is without question, the most challenging and frustrating part of my job. My other major challenge is finding enough time in the day.

Advice for upcoming younger executives: Find a mentor.  Stay current and work to improve every day. Be open to change. Read a variety of leadership books. Aim for a good work-life balance. (I need lots of work in this area!)

I love to read all kinds of books. I am re-reading Patrick Lencioni’s Five Disfunctions of a Team and have just started Hidden Sins, a novel written by Georgia’s House Minority Leader, Stacie Abrams. (Her pen name is Selena Montgomery.)  In the last few years, my husband and I have started traveling. We went to Italy three years ago and Paris and Normandy this year. Our next trip planned is an Alaska cruise in May.