Award Winners

Our organization’s awards recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements and contributions by our members. Awards are presented annually at the May member meeting.

FCS Professional of the Year 

This award honors a member for leadership in their profession and outstanding service to this organization. This is the highest organizational award a member can receive.


The 2021-2021 FCS Professional of the Year is Victoria Cherne!

It is our honor to announce Victoria Cherne, a highly respected FCS professional who has accomplished much in the business world, as our 2021 Professional of the Year! Vicky has been an FCSP member for more than 30 years. During that time she has served on multiple committees and has held several elected offices, including the position of President during 1998-99 and 2019-20. She was recognized as the FCSP 2019 Volunteer of the Year award for her work within a variety of organizations. Vicky has also been an active member of MAFCS for many years serving in a variety of roles, including District K chair.


As impressive as her formal roles in our organization have been, her behind-the-scenes championing actions have contributed even greater success for FCS Professionals. As the manager of a multi-channel consumer engagement center at Land O’ Lakes, Vicky has the ability to influence positive change through the use of data and analytics. The center includes calls, emails, social media, product and recipe ratings and reviews to ensure positive brand interactions with consumers. She is an experienced people leader – coaching 11 full and part-time direct reports plus 6 additional on-call staff. Vicky has encouraged her co-workers to come to FCSP programs as her guest and from these invitations many from Land O’ Lakes have subsequently joined FCSP over the years.


During her lengthy membership of SOCAP International (Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business), Vicky has taken on leadership roles including the 2018 Chair for the National Consumer Packaged Goods community, 2019 National Nominations committee, Minnesota Chapter president in 1991, 1992, 2018 and 2019, as well as being a Central Region board member in 2021. Vicky has served on numerous chapter committees of this international professional organization which is focused on the customer experience.

Emerging Leader Award

This award recognizes professionals who are new to their industry, have been members of FCS Professionals for 5 years or less, and have made a notable contribution to the organization.


The 2020-21 recipient of the Emerging Leader Award is Sierra Kaptain!

Photo of Sierra Kaptain on a mountain plateau

We are pleased to announce that our Emerging Leader Award for 2021 is presented to Sierra Kaptain. Sierra has been a member of Food and Consumer Science Professionals since 2019. Not long after becoming a member, Sierra immediately stepped into the role of FCSP newsletter editor and is still the co-editor today. In this monthly communication for our organization Sierra adds and edits content, including seeking out new members to highlight. One of the comments from a current board member highlighted Sierra’s professional, poised and caring personality. Her attention to detail, level of commitment to her volunteer post, communication and writing skills, and passion for the food industry are a unique skill set that has become a wonderful asset to our organization.


Sierra’s kind and confident nature has come across in both board meetings and monthly professional meetings. We have
appreciated the anecdotes she has shared, especially the story of her family’s fruitcake! Sierra is also an Associate Board member of NPH USA Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH is Spanish for “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”). The Associate Board connects young people, who care about combating global poverty and helping children in need, together in a vibrant and fun community of peers.


In a note from NPH’s Upper Midwest Regional Development Manager, India Zietsman, said, “She (Sierra) has been such a gift to our Associate Board and as a volunteer for our nonprofit. Whenever we ask for volunteers or help, she is the first to raise her hand and participate.” Sierra will be receiving NPH’s Above and Beyond volunteer award because of her dedication to support their mission and work. “Sierra is incredibly trustworthy and truly kind. We are grateful she is a leader in our NPH USA community.”

Behind the Scenes Star Award

This award recognizes a member who works diligently to execute programming, results, and/or innovation within the organization but aren’t in any formal position on the board.


The 2020-21 recipient of the Behind the Scenes award is Maree Smith!

Portrait photo of Maree Smith

On behalf of the Food and Consumer Science Professionals organization, we would like to congratulate Maree Smith for being recognized as our 2021 Behind the Scenes Star. Maree joined the ranks of FCS Professionals last fall and participated as she could while living in Spain! Before returning to Minnesota she expanded the FCS Action Minnesota project by donating food and clothing items to those experiencing need from the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain.


When Maree returned in December she accepted the invitation to be a co-editor of the FCSP monthly newsletter. She has assisted in the publication by adding both content and graphics and enhancing the overall appearance. Each month she thoughtfully considers topics that can be shared via the newsletter to provide informative, interesting and engaging material for our wide range of members.


During February and March Maree assisted with the FCS Action Minnesota project by translating all of the recipes into Spanish. Maree took the lead in registering Spanish-speaking participants over the phone, as well as surveying Spanish speaking participants at both of the food distributions in Monticello. Maree’s unassuming, kind personality created a climate of comfort and inclusiveness for everyone and provided opportunities for Hispanic participants to fully engage in the survey.


In addition, Maree participated in the creation of the joint meeting invitation, added graphics to the FCS Action MN summary, and helped create the FCS Action summary power-point which was shared with members at the joint meeting. This presentation is also being sent to the AAFCS/American Heart Association grant committee.

Spirit Award

This award recognizes a member that has shown championing behavior for our organization.


The 2020-21 recipient of the FCS Professional’s Spirit Award is Susan Vance!

It is with great pleasure that we announce Susan Vance as our FCSP Spirit Award winner for 2021. Susan earned her undergraduate degree from UW-Stout in Dietetics and a Master’s degree in Adult Education and Human Resource Development from the University of Minnesota. During her career she has worked in clinical dietetics, medical nutrition sales, and in employee training and development. Susan continues to exemplify Family and Consumer Science while teaching cooking classes through Community Education and providing leadership as she supports both her children’s activities and her faith community.


Susan has been a member since 2006 and is currently serving as president-elect. During her time in FCSP she has shared her communication and technology talents by serving as newsletter editor for three years and in the social media/blog position for five years. Last year she created a video recognizing our award winners as well as another video entitled “Highlighting FCS Professionals,” which can be viewed on the FCSP website. Recently Susan was commissioned to make a video promoting Minneapolis and the 2021 AAFCS Conference. Quickly and professionally Susan produced a video highlighting the area and opportunities that await visitors to Minneapolis/St. Paul and greater Minnesota. The video highlighted Minnesota’s three FCS (FCSPs, TCHC, MAFCS) organizations. FACS members raved about the production and AAFCS complimented the upbeat and professional nature of the video which was seen coast to coast and border to border. Susan made us all proud as she has shared her communication and technology gifts and talents to a wide audience.


Another area where Susan champions our profession includes valuing those she works with and thus developing a wide network of people. When Susan wrote the nomination for a national award for the late Carolyn Barnhart, her professor at UW Stout, their strong professional relationship and friendship came through clearly. This year she worked alongside the membership team to plan and introduce Huddle Up events for additional networking opportunities during the limitations that surrounded COVID protocols.


Susan is a lifelong learner, whether it’s taking online wine tasting classes during COVID lockdowns or earning an advanced degree and pursuing career changes, Susan is always looking to further her education, a key to success in the ever-changing world of Family and Consumer Science. Susan champions our profession in so many ways and her upbeat, can-do spirit is contagious! We appreciate her dedication to our organization and look forward to her continued leadership as our incoming FCSP president. Thank you Susan for championing not only FCS organizations, but more importantly, the people and opportunities they

Volunteer of the Year Award

This award recognizes a member who represents the community-involvement-spirit of FCS Professionals through community outreach/enrichment they perform.


The 2020-21 recipient of the Volunteer Award is Karen Smith!

The Food and Consumer Science Professionals organization is proud to announce Karen Smith as our 2021 Volunteer of the Year!
This year Karen initiated the idea of “reaching out” to do something positive and purposeful to help address food insecurity in Minnesota. Working cooperatively with TCHC President Kathy Norquist and MAFCS President Lois Lewis, the three leaders identified and developed a joint project that was successfully supported by members from Minnesota’s three FCS organizations. The FCS Action Minnesota project made a tremendous impact on many individuals and families in Monticello, International Falls, and Faribault.


Beginning with the coordination of a task force to plan for action, seeking guidance and actionable ideas from social justice community experts, Karen not only co-wrote the AAFCS/American Heart Association grant, but also served as the main contact with the grant administration. As our president she offered to have FCSP be the lead fiscal contact for the grant and tracked the grant through to the end!


Karen was the ultimate organizer and leader for a multi-faceted volunteer project like this. She graciously enlisted volunteers, delegated creative and linguistic needs of the project, made personal contacts, and cultivated a positive, meaningful environment surrounding the efforts. Working diligently with Lars Carlson, the food center director in Monticello, Karen planned the first two food distributions which provided many basic food and kitchen supplies. She oversaw the organizing and reporting of surveys to recipients, which was a key requirement of the grant. A number of the surveys were conducted in Spanish to meet the needs of the residents in the Monticello community and recipes were provided in Spanish and Somali for several of the communities as well. Karen supported two MN FCS educators as they developed teaching videos of recipes for the food distributions and even traveled to International Falls and Faribault loaded with food for those distributions!