Ms. Carol Blake
Carol Blake was appointed as the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education (OPACE) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) in November 2011. In this role, Blake leads efforts to ensure that all customers receive valuable and consistent food safety information. Her extensive communications experience with FSIS and USDA provides a solid foundation to lead OPACE initiatives.
As Assistant Administrator of OPACE, Blake oversees the strategic communication programs that inform and educate a variety of audiences, including Congress, media, and consumer and industry stakeholder organizations, on FSIS policy and public health activities, foodborne illness prevention efforts, and safe food handling. She also oversees the communication strategies to the Agency’s nearly 9,500 employees nationwide. During her time with USDA, she has seen a wide range of technology advancements that have helped raise the profile of FSIS in the ever-evolving world of 21st century communications. Under her leadership, FSIS has led innovative outreach using traditional and social media, including a multi-million-dollar Ad Council campaign, as well as modernized its website into a mobile-friendly public health tool.
In her current role, she leads efforts that directly link to FSIS’ three strategic goals – Goal 1: Prevent Foodborne Illness and Protect Public Health; Goal 2: Modernize Inspection Systems, Policies, and the Use of Scientific Approaches; and Goal 3: Achieve Operational Excellence. One of Blake’s missions is to increase the number of consumers who follow safe food handling practices through education and awareness campaigns. She has been instrumental in securing behavior research studies that are used to influence consumer messaging and ensures that the public can receive critical food safety information through a variety of social media. She leads the Agency in its development of mobile apps and consumer tools and pursues partnerships with government and non-government organizations to strengthen awareness of FSIS priorities and food safety issues.
In August 2008, Blake was named the Director of FSIS’ Congressional and Public Affairs Office. Since joining FSIS in 1999, she held positions that include press officer and deputy director over the correspondence and Freedom of Information Act functions. Before joining FSIS, Blake handled media and communication initiatives for USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and the Office of Communications.
Though Blake didn’t set out determined for a career at USDA, she feels a strong connection with the Department, as her grandfather was the head of what is now USDA’s Office of Budget and Program Analysis. Blake’s earliest formal experience at USDA entailed working as a clerk with the Forest Service during college breaks. She graduated from Randolph-Macon College with a degree in English.