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FSIS

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Faces of Food Safety: Sue Nelsen – Supporting Field Employees

Sue Nelsen seated at her desk.Human resources and managing a budget can be an overlooked piece of the food safety puzzle. While less visible to the public than other things that the Agency does, it is no less valuable. For more than 26 years, Suzanne Nelsen has been supporting FSIS employees in this function. Sue, as many call her, is a resource manager in the District Office in Springdale, Ark.

Her task list is a varied one. “I am responsible for all aspects of personnel matters, to include daily staffing needs in plants, recruiting potential employees, budget planning, procurement, the workers compensation program, merit promotions, reassignments, Web T&A issues, and work measurements for assignments,” Nelsen said. “I feel that I am a jack of all trades.” She acknowledged that by taking care of these tasks, she allows inspectors to focus on their duties. “The inspectors are the ones on the front line doing the important work, and they depend on me, which is why I don’t leave projects that I’m working on for them unfinished,” she said.

Knowing Her People

In Nelsen’s District, there are 987 field inspectors including food inspectors, consumer safety inspectors, and veterinary medical officers. She takes the time to get to know the large staff she serves. “One of the most important things I do on a daily basis is to make sure staffing levels in the plants are at the required levels,” Nelsen said. “This requires being an effective communicator, knowing each employee’s skill level, and also knowing the required expertise needed to properly inspect a particular plant. So when an inspector is needed to cover for another inspector, I have to know that the relief inspector has the abilities needed to perform the duties that the plant requires.”

"I’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission and provide support for inspectors. We’re here for them!"

Sue Nelsen

Securing the Agency’s Future Workforce

To meet future personnel demands, Nelsen was part of a team that made sure that announcements of job openings in the District received the widest dissemination possible. The team placed advertisements for food inspector positions in local newspapers, sent out flyers, and attended job fairs. “We knew we had to do something to get qualified applicants into the system. We held a weeklong event in three cities in Kansas—two days in Dodge City, two in Garden City, and one in Liberal. The turnout at each location was absolutely amazing. We wanted to make these events all-encompassing. We brought computers for applicants to use, we helped them with their resumes, and [we] even helped applicants set up accounts in USAJobs.”

The team’s efforts directly resulted in the Agency hiring for hard-to-fill positions in Western Kansas, a region that has been especially short-staffed as a result of its remote geography. “Western Kansas has been a hard-to-fill area for years, and now we have been able to fill all the open positions and still have plenty of applicants waiting to come on board as vacancies occur. I love this part of my job—I’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission and provide support for inspectors. We’re here for them!”

The Groton, Massachusetts native now calls Lowell, Arkansas home. Nelsen has been married to her husband, Henry, for 29 years. They have two adult sons, James and Jason. Nelsen’s 8-year-old cocker spaniel, Molly, is also part of the family. For fun, Nelsen loves to hunt and camp and would love to one day travel to Alaska and live off the land for 3 months.

Sue Nelsen

Last Modified Oct 18, 2016