Alumni Profile: Dennis Treacy
May 15, 2013
Dennis Treacy (’78 B.S. in forestry and wildlife with a concentration in fisheries) knows the value of hard work and dedication. He is the executive vice president and chief sustainability officer at Smithfield Foods Inc., a global food company that is the world’s largest pork producer and processor. Treacy paid his way through college working as a co-op student for what is now the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and worked for the agency as a professional biologist for two years following graduation.
“I loved working there, but realized I really wanted to be a decision maker in natural resource policy,” Treacy said, so he went on to earn an environmental law degree from the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., in 1983.
Before joining Smithfield in 2002, Treacy held various positions in both the private and public sectors. He was an environmental attorney for the West Virginia attorney general’s office and a policy advisor for the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. He later worked for the Virginia attorney general’s office and served as director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality from 1998 to 2002. “To come full circle and become the head of the agency where I did my co-op was a wonderful expe- rience,” Treacy said.
In his current position at Smithfield, Treacy oversees many facets of the company. “I’ve been part of Smithfield for 11 years now. I focus on sustainability, which includes environmental management, how we treat the animals, and how the workforce is cared for,” he explained. “I also dabble in government affairs and the legal department.” In addition, Treacy serves as the executive director of the Smithfield-Luter Foundation, the philanthropic wing of Smithfield Foods that funds education and growth opportunities in communities across the country.
“One of my favorite parts of my position is the excitement that has been generated by the concept of sustainability within our company and other companies,” Treacy continued. “I happen to be here at a time when the private sector is leading the charge, and Smithfield is being widely recognized as a leader in sustainability. It’s exciting, and there seems to be no limit to what can be done, which makes it very interesting to come to work every day.”
Treacy’s time at Virginia Tech provided him with a strong foundation of knowledge and prepared him for real-world challenges. “My major was well suited for the workforce. We were taught biology with management superimposed on top of that, which was extremely useful because I was exposed to the concepts of managing natural resources.”
Last summer, Gov. Bob McDonnell appointed Treacy to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, the university’s governing authority. “It’s an honor to go back to the school I love so much,” Treacy said. “I’m very impressed with President Steger, the board members, administrators, students, and faculty. It’s interesting to see how a large university works. Watching everyone rally around the university is great, because you really sense and feel the Hokie spirit. It’s been a real eye-opener.”