Community Food Co-Op
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Board Candidate: Julia Bilderback

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?

I am an enthusiastic learner and strong communicator with a background in hospitality and accounting. I am practiced at identifying opportunities for improvement from several years of experience with various internal audits (quality assurance, financial, and health and safety). I also have a passion for sustainability and learning new skills to strive towards a zero-waste lifestyle. I want to support the continued health and success of the Co-op to continue bringing healthy food and sustainable options to our community.

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.

Healthy food access for all really speaks to me as a valuable goal. I would love to contribute my enthusiasm and analytical skills to help reduce food insecurity and regional food deserts, promote sustainable local food production, and support the economic resiliency of our diverse farming community.

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

Working in the hospitality industry for nearly a decade gave me the privilege to work closely with individuals from diverse backgrounds and a vast array of international origins, both as co-workers and guests. Conducting oneself with respect and compassion for all is essential to creating a comfortable, welcoming environment. Achieving a climate that values cultural diversity requires demonstrating those values and leading by example. I also found that prioritizing communication and providing varying methods for sharing ideas, feedback, and recognition lowered communication barriers and resulted in more diverse opinions being shared in discussions.

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

The Co-op employees are the Co-op’s greatest strength. Compassionate and passionate individuals are the backbone of ingenuity and success and—from my point of view as a member—the Co-op employees embody knowledgeable, compassionate service. Even through these last two years of performing essential work under stressful circumstances and ever-changing guidance, the Co-op team has remained diligent, steadfast, and friendly.

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

I currently work as an accountant for Whatcom County Public Works. During my tenure as a manager in the hospitality industry, I closely monitored my departments’ monthly budgets and expenditures. I have prepared revenue reconciliations, overhead analyses, and assisted with budgetary forecasting. I am prepared and excited to learn more about Co-op’s specific financials.

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.

While serving as the chairperson of a previous workplace’s Green Team, we collaborated and executed our vision as a group to achieve various benchmarks and goals. The outcome earned us the highest level of achievement during internal audit.

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

I have helped plan and participated in many annual volunteer beach cleanups and invasive plant removal work parties. I also volunteer for the Food & Farming program through Sustainable Connections. I am looking forward to committing time to volunteer in a more regular and impactful way.

Describe any business or entrepreneurial experience you have.

Currently, I work as an accountant in local government. Prior to that, I spent many years in the hospitality industry as a Guest Services Manager and then managing the back-of-house. I have a track record of developing processes and procedures to improve efficiencies. I also understand the delicate balance of resources required to keep an operation running smoothly and the soft skills necessary to nurture a healthy work environment.
What committee/s are you most interested in serving on and what skills and experience would you bring?

As an accountant with a hospitality background, I am particularly interested in the Finance and
Member Affairs Committees, but I am happy to serve where the need is greatest.

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