Community Food Co-Op
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Board Candidate: Heidi Beierle

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?

Long-range and strategic planning are part of my toolbox as a community planner. I gravitate to projects, programs, and initiatives that focus on equity and support holistic community health. In the recent past, my efforts were trained on people who do not or cannot drive, and currently I’m advancing efforts to improve women’s understanding of and fluency with financial matters. I am curious, creative, collaborative, empathetic, unafraid of thorny problems, and eager to contribute my time and energy to support people’s and the earth’s well-being.

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

My experience in planning, communications, and financial matters makes each of the Co-op’s goals appealing. Healthy Food Access speaks strongest to me for the opportunity to address obstacles people experience to accessing healthy food—whether that is directly through Co-op outreach and education programs or supportively through establishing partnerships with organizations that address geographic, economic, and cultural barriers to health.

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

As a planner, I have eleven plus years of experience engaging diverse and historically underrepresented groups. I demonstrate that I value cultural diversity by meeting people where they gather rather than asking them to come to me. And while I may have questions I would like answered, I am open to what people share and often let them lead. If there is a language barrier, I "act” or draw to communicate and reflect my understanding. I ask questions to clarify that I understand. Additionally, I work with people who already have trusted community connections to liaise, introduce, or facilitate conversations.

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

I appreciate the Co-op’s excellent product selection with featured locally grown, caught, or made goods; the knowledgeable and friendly staff; and opportunities Co-op members have to spend less through Co-op Deals and coupons.

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

When I applied to certify my consulting business as woman owned, I created a balance sheet and profit and loss statement. I have considerable experience working with budgets and managing multiple funding streams, including tracking dollars restricted to specific activities.

Describe the experience, skills, or knowledge you have working with any or all of the following:

Cooperatives; policy governance; consensus process, non-profit or for-profit boards; a group that used active member participation to achieve its goals.

I gained most of my work and volunteer experience in the public and nonprofit sectors. I served as an officer on neighborhood association boards, co-chaired a neighborhood leader’s council, chaired a local planning commission, and served as a board member on a regional transit "friends” organization. I participate in a variety of nonprofit committees. As project staff, I provided information and documentation to steering committees and boards to support decision making. Additionally, as a member of a fledgling sustainable tourism collaborative in the Columbia River Gorge, I led an action team to advance car-free access to recreation. Years ago, I worked as a sales associate at REI, so I have co-op employment experience and understand the co-op business model.

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

I moved to Bellingham full time four months before the pandemic began, but I began volunteering with the Whatcom Land Trust when I was still a part-time resident. In addition to volunteering during invasive removal work parties, I was part of the team that helped establish the Land Trust’s Stewardship Reserve Fund. I am a current member of the Philanthropy Committee and a Volunteer Land Steward.

The Whatcom Creek Trail is an important part of my life, and last winter I cared for it by removing a patch of ivy. I am continuing the activity this winter.

I participate in Red Wheelbarrow Writers, a Bellingham-based writers’ group that convenes monthly. Each year during November’s National Novel Writing Month, I contribute a chapter to the group’s collaboratively written novel. I first participated in 2019, and we read snippets of the novel at Village Books.

I am also involved in organizing and presenting events aimed at supporting women’s financial literacy and showcasing local businesses owned or operated by women.

Describe any business or entrepreneurial experience you have.

I serve as Operations Manager for a local financial advisory practice and maintain my own small business as a creative (I am an artist and writer) and as a planning and communications consultant.

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

I would happily serve on any of the Co-op’s four committees. To the Executive Committee, I bring big- picture thinking, deep listening, attention to detail, collaboration, courage, consideration, action, decisiveness, flexibility, and recognition that I need others to help me do this job. To an appointment on the Finance Committee, I bring interest, curiosity, quick learning, and resourcefulness along with my experience as a small business owner and operations manager. My experience with communications, collaboration, and community engagement are an excellent match with the Members Affairs Committee. The planner, educator, and community researcher in me welcomes a role on the Board Development Committee to cultivate directors and enhance the Board’s capacity.

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