When Assistant Director Lisa Hovey takes over in just 75 days as Executive Director for David Tharp, it will mark the first time in 30 years that the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) will be under new leadership.

IAFP Thursday announced that Tharp will retire on April 26 after 30 years as the Association’s chief executive. His departure comes just before the organization’s two planned international conferences, one in Scotland and the other in Canada.

Tharp joined IAFP in 1993 as Director of Finance and Administration and served as Interim Director in 1995. He was appointed to his current role in 1997 and has since led the Association to a sound financial status. David successfully directed and represented IAFP at dozens of key food safety meetings worldwide, helping grow the group’s international status. His years as Executive Director also saw a significant increase in IAFP Membership, Annual Meeting attendance, exhibitors, and sponsors.

Tharp’s leadership played an important role during the challenging years of the COVID-19 pandemic when the European Symposium was forced to cancel and the IAFP annual conference in 2020 moved to a virtual event for the first time in its history – all without turnover of staff. During this time, he also managed to oversee the relocation of the IAFP office in Des Moines, IA.

“Over his 30-year tenure at IAFP – 26 years as the Executive Director – David has played a transformational role in the association, including a name change, expansion of international meetings and workshops, increased focus on student scholarships, and establishing a robust financial standing,” said Michelle Danyluk, Professor, Food Science & Extension Specialist, University of Florida, and IAFP President. “He leaves the Association in a strong position, including an extremely capable staff, that will serve IAFP well into the future.”

“From the beginning, David understood the potential of IAFP,” said Gary Acuff, President, of Acuff Consulting LLC and former IAFP President. “His leadership grew the organization into a global force for food protection. His role extended beyond planning meetings and orchestrating background logistics; his work facilitated the connections that sparked groundbreaking research, novel ideas, and enhanced visibility crucial to delivering meaningful food protection efforts to consumers. Individuals around the world may never know the full extent of David Tharp’s impact on food safety, but we do. Members of IAFP witnessed his impact firsthand, and his legacy will benefit generations of professionals and consumers alike.”

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