dark overlay
nav button USDA Logo

FSIS

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Faces of Food Safety: Kelli Willis, Protecting our Food from Intentional Contamination

Kelli WillisKelli Willis is a Food Defense Analyst in the Food Defense Assessment Staff (FDAS), which is part of the Office of Data Integration and Food Protection (ODIFP). Willis joined ODIFP in January 2014 through the Pathways Program. Prior to joining FSIS, Willis worked as a consultant for an environmental firm and was a volunteer for the American Red Cross. “I enjoy helping people whether it is through volunteering or my service in the federal government helping to protect consumers from emergencies,” Willis said. The office that Willis works in provides the scientific and technical basis to support preparedness, response, and recovery initiatives. It also provides advice to other government agencies and the industry on all types of threats to the food supply.

Willis works in Washington, D.C. with FSIS personnel, industry and other stakeholders to push for the adoption of food defense practices that will prevent intentional contamination of the food supply. She coordinates across the Agency on the annual food defense plan survey; the development of a food defense multi-year training and exercise plan; and development of an integration and analysis strategy to improve integration of food defense into the Agency’s day-to-day mission.

"It truly takes a whole community to prepare for, protect against, mitigate, respond to and recover from threats and hazards. And so I always tell people don’t be afraid to say something if you see something suspicious."

Kelli Willis

Willis is very passionate about her work. This passion comes from knowing that she impacts food safety and public health, since an intentional adulteration incident could potentially have a devastating impact on public health. Intentional attacks on the food supply could have adverse psychological and economic impacts, cause a loss of confidence in the safety of food or cause widespread public fear.

Willis has been involved in the agricultural field for many years. She started her career as a soil scientist and then slowly became involved in the field of emergency management. “When I became a food defense analyst with FSIS it was a great opportunity to combine my training, skills and experience from the agriculture and emergency management fields,” she said.

While Willis does enjoy the actual work, she is quick to admit that the best part of her job is the people she works with. “Even though our staff is small, we work hard to successfully promote food defense, to essentially provide a great and necessary service to American consumers through protection,” she said. What makes it all so rewarding to her is that FDAS has to “get it right” every time, while those who want to do harm to the food supply only have to “get it right once.” This does provide quite the challenge for FDAS, but Willis and her colleagues are up to the task. And as the threat landscape within the U.S. and around the world is constantly changing, Willis reminds people to always be alert and prepared—whether we’re talking about the food we eat or some other aspect of our life. “It truly takes a whole community to prepare for, protect against, mitigate, respond to and recover from threats and hazards. And so I always tell people don’t be afraid to say something if you see something suspicious,” she said.

In her free time Willis enjoys spending time with her family (husband and two daughters), in addition to watching and playing sports, participating in outdoor activities and travelling.

 

Last Modified Jun 05, 2017