Community Food Co-Op

Board Candidate: Ryan Peters

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?

It would be my privilege to serve and help navigate the Co-op toward a positive future. My professional experience in the natural foods industry includes starting a value-added fermented foods business, product distribution, and now as a manager for an organic food import company. I've also lived and worked on a diversified organic farm and have traveled extensively. In college, I studied Communications and Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Hawaii Hilo. My current research interests are in economics, food history, cooperatives, and (of course) fermented foods. I am interested in serving on the Board to make a creative, smart, and positive contribution to the Co-op and greater community.

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: I am most interested in helping to improve our Co-op’s Economic Resilience. I believe that the more we thrive, the more impact we will make. I’d approach the future with an emphasis on innovation true to the Co-op’s values, in step with our own data, and with attention to industry trends. And, of course, with prudent financial management in mind. We owe it to future generations to guide the Co-op through the challenges and opportunities of the future, continually proving its success in the midst of a changing marketplace and transformative times.

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

I believe the Co-op’s greatest strengths are its loyal member-owners, a long history in the Bellingham community, local supplier relationships, and a strong commitment to serving good food.

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

I have experience creating and analyzing financial statements for running my own business. I’ve taken accounting, economics, and business planning classes in college. In addition, I am familiar with retail food business metrics and stay up to date on industry trends.

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.

I’ve participated in active group decision making through my involvement in Kaiao Garden, a community garden project focused on at-risk youth in Hilo, Hawaii. I’ve also been a member for over 7 years with International Capoeira Angola Foundation (an Afro-Brazilian martial arts community) in Hawaii and now Bellingham. I’ve been an active member of a local Toastmasters group as well. I am also a proud member of WECU and REI. I posses the soft skills and emotional intelligence to work effectively with a Board of Directors in consensus decision making.

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

I’m an active supporter of the Bellingham Farmers Market, the Co-op, and other local food-related businesses. I am an active member of International Capoeira Angola Foundation in Bellingham and the Whatcom Family YMCA. I also attend the events of Sustainable Connections, Cloud Mountain Farm Center, and the Northwest Agriculture Business Center. Finally, I am involved with the Bellingham business and tech community through my office space at Invent, a co-working space in Downtown Bellingham.

Describe any business experience you have.

I come from a small-business family, so I am familiar with the challenges and opportunities of running a small business. I majored in Communications and minored in Sustainable Agriculture. I also took classes in economics, accounting, and business planning. My first food-related job was at a farm supply store. From there, I lived and worked on an organic vegetable and raw-milk farm. I started a business producing kimchi and sauerkraut, responsible for everything from production to sales. This evolved into a farmers market food booth offering all-natural, grass-fed beef sausages, topped with our sauerkrauts. I later worked for a small sustainable products distributor as the warehouse manager. I now work for an organic food import business supplying retail juice bars with exotic frozen fruit. As the right-hand man, I am involved in most aspects of the business which often include business development, distributor management, online marketing, e-commerce, inventory management, and sales forecasting. I’ve traveled to meet with distributors, attend trade shows, and visit our harvesting partners in the Amazon. All of this requires capable interpersonal communication skills and enjoyment from working with others. I enjoy studying food history, food trends, and business. My favorite food writer is Michael Pollan. My favorite business writer is Seth Godin.

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

I am all in. I work in the industry, vote with my dollars, and eat natural and organic foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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

I am most interested in serving on the Member Affairs Committee (MAC). I will bring my strategic, out-of-the box thinking, interpersonal communication skills, and practical style to the MAC committee meetings.  


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