Community Food Co-Op

Board Candidate: Randy Rydel

randy rydel 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?

As a returned resident of Bellingham, I highly value the contribution the Co-op is making to the area through its stores and community involvement. As a longtime member-owner who is thrilled by the strategic plan, I want to help make it happen. My most notable skill as a CPA is reading financial statements and business analysis.

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 am interested in the Economic Resiliency of the Co-op and feel that my financial background will contribute to this area. I am also very excited about the Healthy Food Access goal. Research has come out indicating that health is more closely linked to our environment than our genetics. Through "overcoming the barriers that limit people’s access to healthy food” we are taking positive steps to change the environment and therefore the health of the community. Implementation of this goal presents a real opportunity to address some of the health inequities that exist across our economically and ethnically diverse communities.

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

The Co-op’s greatest strength comes from the desire of member-owners, employees, and directors to make it a leader in the community. The member base understands that they are investing in an organization that listens. Membership reaches far beyond the typical "rewards/shopper card/data collection” involvement of other stores by listening to member-owner needs and responding through active involvement in wider community issues. I believe that the strategic plan is a great example of member-owner voices distilled into goals that show leadership in the community.
Additionally, the hot bar! There seems to be something for nearly everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions or choices, you have not been left out or forgotten.

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

I am a licensed Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant. Additionally, I worked as the financial controller (and still sit on the finance committee) for a Seattle nonprofit and currently work as the Financial Services Manager for Whatcom County Public Works. Needless to say, I have seen and interpreted my fair share of financial statements.

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.

I worked for a nonprofit in Seattle for eight years. My position required direct and regular interaction with the Board and especially the Finance Committee. After leaving that organization I became a member of their Finance Committee. Having sat on both sides, I understand the importance of the Board staying out of the details of operations (which should be handled by the very capable and knowledgeable folks working within the organization) and instead focusing on where we are currently, what the long-term vision looks like, and how we get there.

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

My wife and I have held a membership with the Co-op for almost 20 years, even through moving away to Seattle for a stretch (we always hoped we would come back to Bellingham). I find that my work with the County keeps me connected and informed regarding many of the local political issues. I am a long time CSA subscriber and local food supporter.

Describe any business experience you have.

I worked as the Financial Controller for a fairly complex nonprofit in Seattle. SCIDpda employs approximately 75 employees, owns and/or manages seven buildings of affordable housing and commercial spaces, runs a culturally appropriate assisted living center, rehabilitates historic buildings, and works to strengthen the economic resiliency of the International District.

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

I have a long history and strong commitment to organic and natural foods. As a freshman at WWU, I became aware of the hormones, antibiotics, and other junk that was making its way into our food supply. At that time organic options were not widely available or within budget, so I made the choice to limit my exposure by giving up farm-raised meat. During my final year of college, my future wife worked at the Co-op. We never ate better than when we had regular, easy access to the natural foods stocked there. Through the years, we have tried to keep our own gardens, but in Seattle we quickly learned that we did not have space for it. So, we sought out our first CSA, farmed on a community Pea Patch six blocks from our house. It was local, fresh, organic, and a place that we would eventually take our kids to teach them about where food comes from. We are still a pescatarian household, participate in a local CSA, and try to keep our kids and ourselves connected to where our food comes from. I believe that local, organic food should be an economically viable choice for all people.

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

I believe that given my CPA and business background I would be most beneficial to the Finance Committee.


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