Community Food Co-Op
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Board Candidate: Ryan PetersRyan Peters Board Candidate Photo

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

I am running for the Board to help the Co-op continue to evolve during the coming decade through solid governance and board-level strategic planning.
My professional experience in the natural foods industry includes starting a value-added fermented foods business, products distribution, and now as a sales manager for an organic food import company.
I am in my 3rd year serving on the Board. I have a BA in Communications and Minor in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of Hawaii Hilo. My current research interests are around innovation, technology, diets, and intercultural communication.
I’m currently in my second year as the Committee Chair for the Member Affairs Committee and I am an active member of the Board’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Ad Hoc Committee.  

Choose one of the seven Co-op strategic plan goals and briefly explain why it interests you and what you could contribute to its development.   

I am most interested in helping to improve our co-op’s Economic Resilience. I approach the future with an emphasis on innovation that reconciles the Co-op’s values with industry and shopper trends. 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. I ask that you shop at the Co-op as much as you can to support this important community institution.  

Think about a situation that demonstrates your ability to create a climate that values cultural diversity. How would you encourage sharing different perspectives?   

If someone has a perspective that I disagree with, especially in the context of our Board work, I listen and consider their position, and rarely verbally contradict or disagree—unless it's necessary to do so, like when an important decision is being made. If I disagree, then I'll attempt to repeat back the person's position, validate it, but offer my different angle or perspective.
We need to be considerate and respectful to each other's realities while being confident in believing that our individual or cultural perspectives add value to a discussion or debate. We also need to be humble to recognize that the goal is not to be right but to make the best decisions leading to the best outcome for the Co-op.  

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

I believe the Co-op’s greatest strengths are its loyal member-owners, store locations, and its 50-year history in the community.  

Describe your experience reading and understanding financial statements. I have experience creating and analyzing financial statements from 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 your experience, skills, or knowledge working with any or all of the following: cooperatives, policy governance, nonprofit or for-profit boards, or groups that use active member participation to achieve their goals.  

I’ve participated in active group decision-making through my involvement in Kaiao Garden in Hilo, Hawaii, a community garden project focused on at-risk youth. I’ve also been a member for over seven years with FICA Bellingham and FICA Hawaii, a Capoeira Angola (Afro-Brazilian martial arts) community. I’ve been an active member of a local Toastmaster’s group as well. I am also a proud member of WECU and REI. I possess 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, Co-op, and other local food-related businesses. 

I am an active member of FICA 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 downtown Bellingham office space at Invent Co-Working.  

Describe your business experience. 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 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 a business that imports and sells frozen acai pulp to juice bars and online. 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.  

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. I will bring my strategic out-of-the box thinking, interpersonal communication skills, and practical style to MAC meetings.

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