Community Food Co-Op
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Board Candidate: Randy RydelRandy Rydel 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?  

Elected to the Board in 2018, I have experience with policy governance, consensus building, and the complexities of the Co-op. As Finance committee chair, a CPA, and a Chartered Global Management Accountant, I bring strong analytical skills and financial sense to Board conversations and planning. I value the contributions the Co-op is making through partnerships with local farmers, increasing access to healthy food, and community involvement. I believe active participation in the local community should continue to be the legacy of the Co-op. Finally, as a steward of the Co-op and a parent, I want to ensure that the Co-op continues to thrive, building healthy food access for all.

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.   

Sister Irene Kraus of the Daughters of Charity once said regarding their hospitals, "no margin, no mission.” With this in mind, I am most interested in the economic resiliency of the Co-op. As the chair of the Finance committee, I work hard to provide responsible stewardship of this community resource to ensure it thrives well into the future.

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

Eight years working in Seattle’s International District offered me many opportunities to see first-hand the value of culturally diverse experiences. I learned to seek out diverse viewpoints and experiences before making decisions. There is a collective knowledge that should be tapped before making decisions involving or affecting others. Accessing this knowledge is not always easy. It may be as easy as an email or as involved as sharing a meal, but decision made with this input are always stronger for it.

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

The Co-op’s greatest strength comes from the desire of members, employees, and Board directors to make the Co-op a leader in the community. Our member base understands what community means and we are investing in an organization that listens to, and cares about, our community. Membership reaches far beyond the typical "rewards/shopper card/data collection” involvement of other stores by working to understand members’ needs (such as the adoption of curbside pickup in response to the pandemic) and responding through active involvement in wider community issues. The strategic plan is a great example of member voices distilled into goals that show leadership 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 am a licensed Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant. Additionally, I worked as the financial controller (and still sit on the finance committee) for a Seattle non-profit and currently work as the Financial Services Manager for Whatcom County Public Works. Needless to say, I have seen and interpreted my fair share of financial statements.  

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.  

In addition to serving on the Co-op Board of Directors for the last three years, I worked for eight years at a non-profit in Seattle. My position required direct and regular interaction with the board, especially the finance committee. I am still a member of the finance committee that I once reported to. Having sat on both sides, I understand the importance of the Board staying out of operations (which is being handled by the very capable and knowledgeable folks working within the organization) and instead focusing on the questions about where we are currently and what the long-term vision looks like.

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. 

My wife and I have been Co-op members for 22 years even though moving away to Seattle for a stretch. I find that my work as the Financial Services Manager for Whatcom County Public Works keeps me connected and informed regarding many of the local political issues. I am a long time CSA subscriber and local food supporter. 

Describe any business or entrepreneurial experience you have. 

I worked as the financial controller for a fairly complex non-profit in Seattle. At the time, SCIDpda employed over 75 employees, owned and/or managed seven buildings of affordable housing and commercial spaces, ran a culturally appropriate assisted living center, rehabilitated historic buildings, and worked to strengthen the economic resiliency of the International District. 
Currently, I work as the Financial Services Manager for Whatcom County Public Works. The job involves significant work in accounting, budgeting, compliance oversight, and reporting. 

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

Given my experience listed in previous answers, I have enjoyed sitting on the Finance committee for the last three years and anticipate continuing as the chair of that committee.

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