Community Food Co-Op

Board Candidate: Randy Rydel

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 certified public accountant, I possess unique skills and qualities that make me uniquely suited to be on the Board of Directors.

Firstly, my financial expertise allows me to thoroughly analyze and understand complex financial statements, budgets, and forecasts. This skill is essential in making informed decisions regarding the Co-op’s budget allocations, investment strategies, and financial planning.

Additionally, my experience on the board for the past six years has provided me with valuable insights into Co-op operations. I have gained a deep understanding of our Co-op’s goals, challenges, and opportunities. This knowledge enables me to contribute effectively to strategic planning discussions and make well-informed decisions that benefit the Co-op and its community.

Furthermore, my commitment to the Co-op model and belief in its success in our community drives my desire to run for the board. I am passionate about promoting cooperative principles and values, such as democratic decision-making, member engagement, and a concern for our community. Serving on the board allows me to actively contribute to fostering economic growth, sustainability, and community well-being through the Co-op.

In conclusion, my skills as a CPA, my experience on the board, and my passion for the co-op model uniquely qualify me to serve on the Board of Directors. I am dedicated to ensuring the success of the Co-op and its positive impact on our community, and I am eager to continue contributing to its growth and development.

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.

I find myself drawn to the goal of 'Ensuring the Economic Resiliency of the Co-op' from the Co-op's strategic plan. This goal is the most important to me as economic success is necessary to make progress on our other goals. I have been serving as the chair of the Co-op's Finance Committee for the past 5 years, and my financial background allows me to contribute significantly to this committee. With over 20 years of experience in reading financials, understanding business pressures, and analyzing reports, I can ask probing questions to help our team understand the issues before making decisions and determine when we need more information.

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

In my previous role as Controller at the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, I found myself leading a diverse team with varying levels of experience and cultural backgrounds. One instance that stands out in showcasing my ability to create a climate that values cultural diversity was when tackling a challenging report out to the building owners. I knew that each member of my team brought different perspectives and ideas based on their cultural upbringing and where they learned their accounting. I began with individual discussions where we could help grow ideas and then held team meetings that shared these ideas so that we could all workshop the ideas and decide together what would work for our next report out. We compiled a different way of looking at the financial data that fit a more diverse range of end user. This new dashboard incorporated ideas from all and helped explain issues in a way that was more universally understood.

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

The Co-op is unique in its approach to serving the community. Its strength comes from the shared desire of members, employees, and directors to make it a leader in the community. The members invest in the Co-op because they understand that it is an organization that listens to their needs and builds community rather than just focusing on profits. Unlike other stores, the Co-op gets involved with its members in wider community issues and responds actively to their needs. The strategic plan is a great example of this, where member voices are distilled into goals that demonstrate leadership in the community.

Furthermore, the Co-op is known for its high-quality produce sourced from local, organic farms. Not only does it offer unbeatable quality, but it also minimizes its environmental impact. Anyone in town can attest to the superior quality of the Co-op's produce.

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

 I am a licensed Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant with extensive experience in analyzing and interpreting financial statements. Previously, I served as the financial controller for a non-profit organization in Seattle and still sit on the finance committee. Presently, I am the Financial Services Manager for Whatcom County Public Works where among other things, I prepare financial statements that are undergo annual audits by the State Auditor's Office.

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

I worked for a non-profit in Seattle for eight years up until 2015. My position required direct and regular interaction with the Board, 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.

Since 2018, I have been trained on and directly practiced policy governance and the consensus process as director on the Community Food Co-op's board. I have learned a lot through this experience.

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

During my 9-year tenure in Seattle, I worked with a not-for-profit organization that aimed to preserve and promote the rich culture and history of Seattle's International District. This work instilled in me a strong sense of belonging to the International District community. My connection with the community went beyond mere buildings and people. I invested time in nurturing and celebrating the diverse cultural heritage and experiences that each individual brought to our interactions. As an outsider, I approached the community with care and curiosity, and through that, earned life-long connections.

For the last 9 years, I have worked for Whatcom County government to build a better community for all through improved infrastructure and process improvements.

Describe any business or entrepreneurial experience you have.

I worked as the Financial Controller for a fairly complex non-profit in Seattle. SCIDpda employs ~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.

For the past 9 years I have worked for Whatcom County Public Works as the Financial Services Manager. This involves significant financial review, active budgeting, safeguarding of public funds, and transparency.


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