Community Food Co-Op

Board Candidate: Ceci Lopez

What skills and qualities do you have that uniquely qualify you for the Board of Directors, and why do you want to run for the Board?

I am a social entrepreneur at heart and in practice. I believe that social change is the responsibility of the community as a whole. My particular skills are in business law, tax law, and a multi-cultural understanding of businesses as community vehicles for supporting change. I have been a member of the Co-op for close to a decade and shop here exclusively for my nutritional and health care needs. I am a current Board director, serving on the Board Development Committee. As a member-owner of the Co-op, I value its standing in the community and I want to volunteer my time to support the Co-op’s growth and evolution in a changing society. Our basic freedoms and understanding of society are being challenged and I want to support this institution’s values of respect and equality.

Choose one of the six areas of the Co-op strategic plan and briefly talk about what interests you and what you could contribute to its development.

Economic Resilience: As a cooperative entity, the Co-op provides a working example of the benefits of collaboration and distribution of shared resources according to the interests identified by the member-owners. I will bring my legal and social knowledge to work. The cooperative business model is one worth replicating and making sure it continues to spread as an alternative that supports community building, collaboration, and the equal right to participation.

What do you believe are the Co-op’s greatest strengths?

The people who make it a reality: staff, volunteers, member-owners, local farmers, and the community at large. The Co-op is a vehicle for the community to learn about healthy foods, access, and justice around food production issues.

Describe any experience you have in reading and understanding financial statements.

I create, interpret, and analyze financial statements for my small business. In addition, while serving as a Board director for the past nine months, I have attended a Board orientation, trainings, and Board meetings where the governance process continues to be explained and taught. Specifically, I attended a Board financial training during the January meeting, and "Economic Resilience,” a presentation by Karen Zimbelman from National Cooperative Grocers.

Describe the experience, skills or knowledge you have working with any or all of the following:cooperatives, policy governance, nonprofit or for-profit boards, a group that used active member participation to achieve its goals.

As a business attorney, I counsel and support individuals and groups seeking to form business and different entities. I assist clients in creating governance documents, have provided training for nonprofit board members, and continue to learn about the law of cooperatives.

Describe your connections with the community, including volunteer work, if applicable.

I have been a member-owner of the Bellingham Community Food Co-op for close to a decade and have lived in Bellingham for most of that time. I am currently a professor at Fairhaven College, but before that I was a student there. I have been an active civic participant in Bellingham for many years. My involvement in the community includes volunteer work at the Co-op as a reader for children, and volunteering at the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center and for various local events. Most recently, I presented at the Co-op Board’s event—"Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ): An Evening of Thanks, Honor, and Action”—during this presentation we highlighted the social relevance of our strategic plan goal to support local food system development. I also had the honor to be a speaker during the Women’s March on Bellingham, on January 21, when we gathered as a community to support each other.

Describe any business experience you have.

I worked for nonprofit organizations, multinational corporations, and helped co-found a social purpose corporation. Currently, I own and run a tax preparation business and a very part-time law firm, and work full-time as an assistant professor.

Describe your background with and commitment to organic and natural foods.

Organic and natural foods are very important to me. In fact, I do not eat foods that are not organic, grass fed, or at the very least free of hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides. Awareness and defense of our rights to safe and clean food products is a personal goal.

What committee/s are you most interested in serving on and what skills and experience would you bring?

I currently serve on the Board Development Committee, which I very much enjoy, and I look forward to continue serving as an active member using the skills and experience described above. 


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