What was your introduction to SNA?

I started in 1982 as a manufacturing sales rep working for an equipment broker. At that time, I was not aware of the K-12 segment had a professional association until I met future Association President [2012-13] Sandy Ford, SNS. I attended my first SNA Annual National Conference (ANC) in 1996 in Houston and every ANC after that. Around 2002 or so, I attended my first Legislative Action Conference and have been hooked ever since. It made me realize just what this organization means to school nutrition professionals and their industry partners.

Who is or was your biggest influence?

I must say my parents, especially my dad. He has been the caregiver for my mother, and the sacrifice he has made is incredible. I also look back on my youth, and the nuns and other teachers from grade school to high school set a moral compass in my life.

Where is your happy place?

We have a cabin at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, and I love being down there.

What career highlights give you the most pride?

All sales reps have a “Wall of Fame” full of plaques for sales achievements and training milestones. The one that means the most to me is the one for 2016-17 SNA Industry Member of the Year. This was an important recognition, especially being on the “equipment” side of the business, which does not allow as much customer interaction as for those on the food side. I also must put achieving the School Nutrition Specialist (SNS) credential up at the top, too.

What three people–alive or dead–would you invite to a dinner party?

Given the highly partisan politics we have today, I think a conversation with Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay would be very interesting. I would like to hear where and what events brought them together to join forces and ratify the Constitution and then what caused the acrimonious rift between Hamilton and Madison that divided them for the rest of their lives.

What historic event stands out most in your memory?

That November day in 1963. I was in third grade, and it was a week before Thanksgiving. Sister Mary Edwina made an announcement in class that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. We said a prayer and later learned that the president had died. School was dismissed, but I think we went to church before we walked home. He was a Catholic, too, which gave us a special connection to him.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Well, how about “Knock it off!”? Like any teenager who was a product of the ’70s, I was a little out there. Side note: I worry about today’s younger generations who post their indiscretions on social media. How long will these activities follow them as they mature into young adults?

What’s your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving! I remember growing up and going to visit my grandparents, who had a small house with a sleeping porch on a large lot that had flower and vegetable gardens, plus grape arbors. It was a formal meal with the family, and we always had a large turkey. My childhood memories of some of those dinners are like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. I try to replicate that meal for my own family today.

Mike Burke

Mike Burke, SNS

K-12 Ambassador

Baltimore, Md.

Vulcan, a Division of ITW Food Equipment Group