Community Food Co-Op

Board Candidate: Melissa Morinmelissa morin board candidate

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’m a collaborator by nature, and my work experience includes mobilizing diverse groups of organizations toward common goals. The leadership, communication, and strategic thinking skills I’ve developed have served me well during my five years on the Board of Directors. I’m excited to contribute my skills to advancing the Co-op’s long-term health, so we continue to be the great organization we are.

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.

The opportunities we have around Community Engagement excite me. I take to heart the idea that our Co-op is a vehicle for change that actually puts our values into practice. As a Board director, I relish the conversations we have about how the Co-op can support and invest in what’s going on locally, whether that’s our local food system, supporting other cooperatives, or pushing the conversation forward on social justice and equity. I bring my experience and knowledge of community mobilization to those conversations, offering skills in policy and systems change and partnership building to see an idea through to execution.

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

Hands down, our greatest strength is the people that make up the Co-op: our staff and our member-owners. I have respect for the Co-op’s management team who show great skill and foresight in leading each department and the organization as a whole, and for all the front-line staff who make the shopping experience friendly and enjoyable through their service and product knowledge. I’m also consistently appreciative of our active and passionate member-owners who weigh in to shape where the Co-op is heading next. I’ve seen many exciting new ideas crop up at member events or on Co-op committees like the Member Affairs and the Farm Fund committees, and Co-op member-owners are the type to stick around to put those ideas into action. As a result, we give back to our community in numerous ways. Even as we face increasing competition, our position as a valued community asset and a staff team that stays ahead of the game will keep us strong.

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

I’ve learned a great deal about business and finance as a result of being on the Board and poring over monthly financial reports. This was a steep learning curve for me when I first joined the Board, so I’m grateful for the trainings I’ve taken advantage of through the Co-op’s national connections and for the opportunity to learn from fellow Board directors and Co-op staff.

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.

In addition to my Board tenure, I have over eight years of work experience leading and facilitating many coalitions and community-based groups. I’m very familiar with creating and putting group decision-making processes into practice. My personal passion is to ensure that everyone has a chance to make their voice heard in that process and, in the end, to arrive at a balanced, fact-based, thoughtful decision. As Board Chair for the past two years and as a director on the Board committee responsible for policy development, I’ve taken a lead role in assessing how the Board uses policy to set direction and to oversee the Co-op.

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

I’ve been a Whatcom County resident since 2002, minus a couple of years in other parts of Washington. I moved back to Bellingham in 2012 for a job at the Whatcom County Health Department with a focus on building connections around health—with individual community members, schools, nonprofits, farmers, libraries, neighborhood associations, and various government agencies. I have worked on a variety of projects from Blaine to Maple Falls to Bellingham.

Describe any business experience you have.

I’ve learned a great deal about overseeing and operating a business while serving on the Board, and just like the financial training made available to Board directors, I’ve taken advantage of all the learning opportunities I’ve found, especially the tools on cooperatives from National Cooperative Grocers.

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

Healthy, whole food choices were something instilled in me from childhood, when I spent a lot of time running around my family’s garden stealing raspberries from the vine and washing carrots off with a garden hose for an afternoon snack. We didn’t have a garden because it was hip; we had a garden because we needed to feed a large family on a tight budget. As an adult, I now have choices to make with my own food budget. Those choices are about more than opting for healthy vegetables over ice cream (which I sometimes don’t do); those choices are about investing in a food system that respects people and our planet. I consciously choose to purchase natural and organic foods not only because I want better food, but because I want to invest in a better food system. And I’m proud to be a part of a co-op that invests in it as well.

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

During my Board service, I’ve served on both the Member Affairs Committee and the Board Development Committee, and both have been rewarding. As a strategic thinker and the kind of person who likes to turn messy, dreamy, exciting ideas into clear and tangible action steps, I think my skills lend value to both those committees.  

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