Community Food Co-Op
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Board Candidate: Jill Clark

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?

For the past 30 years I have served the Whatcom nonprofit (NP) community in leadership roles encompassing policy, strategic planning, fundraising, finance, communications and outreach. I have also honed these skills serving as a volunteer on several NP boards of directors. Recently retired, I have more time and am eager to apply my expertise and enthusiasm to the Co-op. I enjoy learning from others, problem solving, and working in consensus to create a shared future to benefit all of Whacom County. I am a mentor and will look for opportunities within the Co-op to inspire the next generation of community leaders.

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.

Stewardship and advocacy speak to my twin interests in the big picture – policy – and implementing policy over time in grass-roots action. Experience has taught me that people in Whatcom County show up when an opportunity arises that reflects their values, is supported by evidence, and offers a vision and action for the future they’d like to see. I have worked on land and water conservation issues that affect our mountains and shorelines - and almost everything in between. What happens in the upper South Nooksack River watershed effects the farmers in Blaine and shellfish in Drayton Harbor. I have had the honor of successfully rallying community support/money for a dozen or more nonprofit organizations in Whatcom County and look forward to translating that expertise and connections for the Co-op.
Community Co-op members have an opportunity to be effective stewards through advocacy of polices that address long-standing intertwined topics. What regional and statewide issues are Co-op members keen to address? Land and water use? Renewable energy? Climate change? What opportunities in the upcoming state legislative session, for example, could we take a stand on that would benefit the future of sustainable agriculture in Whatcom County?

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

In 2021 I joined the campaign of a community member of color running for public office. I had worked together with this friend on nonprofit boards and volunteer projects in the community on and off for 20 years. Working together with a diverse campaign crew, I helped create campaign materials and messages, arranged for interviews and fundraisers, and knocked on more than 1,000 doors to listen to voters and talk with them about community issues and why this candidate was the best choice to address these issues and represent them in office. I was encouraged by the positive reception to my friend as a candidate and community member. I learned through these conversations that people want to be heard, and that there’s more that unites than divides us.

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

Three greatest strengths:
1. Its mission as a member-owned market serving the community with integrity and great products.
2. Its example of the efficacy of the Co-op model, demonstrating that a sustainable business model that puts staff and member needs/values first is compatible with profitability.
3. Its palpable reminder that our connection with food – like people - is relational, and not just a transaction.

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

I have read and examined nonprofit financial statements and IRS Form 990s in my role as a board member. I helped prepare monthly financial statements in various nonprofit staff positions as well as finance manager of a commercial construction company and staff accountant of two different accounting firms.

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.

For eight years while serving as development director of Kulshan Community Land Trust (CLT), I learned about the benefits of a community development membership-modeled nonprofit organization. By charter, the leadership/board was required to be equally comprised of KulshanCLT homeowners, dues-paying members, and community members, as well as majority low income. Stronger organizations emerge - and KulshanCLT is a good example - when decision making is shared and consensus is built from leaders that bring a range of life experiences, diverse backgrounds and expertise, and a commitment to serve.
I have led dozens of successful fundraising campaigns, ranging from educational scholarships to multi-million dollar capital campaigns for land and buildings. I have led and participated in several NP strategic planning processes as staff, board and consultant. Same goes for policy development including one that was pivotal in establishing a stewardship endowment, funded with several million dollars of future gifts, to ensure that Whatcom Land Trust’s thousands of acres of property are cared for in perpetuity.

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

I have served on the Ragfinery board since 2020. I served on the RE Sources board for six years (2010-2016, board development and fundraising committees), Bellingham Chamber Chorale board for six years (2008-2014, President), CASCADIA Women’s Film Festival for two years (2016-2018) and now serve as a volunteer on the development committee. I was a member of the volunteer campaign committee that purchased the Pickford’s current facility. From 2010-2020 I was a member of Advancement NW, a chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and was part of a team of local development professionals who organized and brought low-cost trainings to the Whatcom nonprofit community. Now that I’m retired, I play in the dirt too: in 2022 I worked 250 hours as part of a team tending to 700 newly planted conifers and removing invasive blackberry and holly from one of Whatcom Land Trust’s properties in Ferndale

Describe any business or entrepreneurial experience you have.

I ran my own consulting business for two years, helping clients with strategic planning, fundraising, planned giving, grantwriting, and events. I loved that work but got lonely working by myself and yearned for co-workers and camaraderie. So went back to work.

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