Community Food Co-Op

Board Candidate: Caroline Kinsman

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’ve served as a director on the Board since 2012, and my most valuable asset as a member-owner and director of this community-based business is my drive to help it succeed. As with all my professional work in marketing and operations, I seek creative ideas for win-win solutions. The work of the Board shines even brighter for me, because the Co-op’s strategic plan so closely aligns with my personal ambitions for the future of our food.
It’s an exciting time for co-ops across the country, but especially for Bellingham’s. We are well positioned with sound financials and strong administrative support, fresh upgrades to our stores, and support for cooperative practices throughout our community. I’m eager to continue my work with the Board, and I look forward to contributing my professional skills to help the Co-op optimize all these opportunities.

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.

I’m most interested in the Co-op’s economic resiliency, and I’ve sat on the Co-op’s Finance Committee for as long as I’ve been a director. I look forward to contributing to the Co-op’s overall financial wellbeing on behalf of the member-owners.

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

The Co-op’s greatest strengths are its Strategic Plan and its commitment to deliver on it. I’m honored to have spent the past years working toward the success of the Co-op’s larger goals, but I’m even more impressed by the cohesive approach toward accomplishing it from the Board, the staff, and the leadership teams. This energy is carried onto the store floors and into our community, where most of the Strategic Plan is focused.

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

Sitting on the Co-op’s Finance Committee has been incredibly helpful to my overall financial literacy. In previous jobs, I’ve held business and operational positions that garnered me valuable insight about forecasting and balancing budgets. I’m a small business owner alongside my husband, and I sit on the leadership team of Scratch and Peck Feeds. All this experience lends me the appropriate knowledge to help procure sound financial practices.

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

My work on local committees and governing groups includes:

  • Currently finishing another three-year term with the Co-op’s Board of Directors
  • More than four years as the Director of Marketing & Public Relations for Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
  • Two years with the Washington State Dairy Commission
  • Volunteer and committee work with Sustainable Connections
  • 2006 Arts Roundtable and La Bella Strada Art Festival
  • Previous board member of Whatcom Council of Nonprofits
  • A member of a local group to elect more women into office, Represent! Whatcom: When Women Win, Everyone Wins

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

Most of my community connections have come from my employment and volunteerism—the Non-GMO Project, Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, Sustainable Connections, Whatcom Council of Nonprofits, the Arts Commission and other groups. Kids connect you to a whole different segment of your community and help reinforce what matters most, and nowadays, my two young children have introduced me to new community outreach efforts.

Describe any business experience you have.

I come to the board with more than 20 years of professional experience, ranging from marketing and communications to nonprofit funding and administration.

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

My work on the Co-op Board has been very rewarding, allowing me valuable insight and knowledge about the Co-op as a business, as well as its role as a community leader. At the same time, my full-time work with Scratch and Peck Feeds puts organic products and the entire food chain front and center for me, so I can stay relevant on topics most valuable to the Co-op’s member-owners. Combined with my upbringing on a small, family-owned dairy farm, I have first-hand knowledge of the hard work needed throughout the supply chain and current market information to place the supply chain in a realistic perspective.
I look forward to deepening my understanding of the Co-op’s business, bringing attention to its exemplary work in the community above other grocery retailers, and ensuring the economic vitality of this valuable local business.

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

I’m most interested in continued service on the Finance Committee and learning more about the Farm Fund.


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