Current Board Members
Board Chair, Finance Committee
My favorite thing about the Co-op? The bulk section! I am a waste-conscious shopper so buying in bulk and using my own containers means our household creates less trash!
I am recently retired but spent most of my career working on environmental policy and advocacy in the non-profit and government sectors. Before retiring, I started and ran a mission-driven business in Portland to reduce waste from single-use take-out containers.
I have served on the Finance Committee for the last 3 years, which has given me an appreciation for what it takes for a grocery store like the Co-op to successfully manage its financial health.
I believe the Co-op plays an increasingly important role in providing local, healthy food while supporting a sustainable environment and economy. I am looking forward to working with the Board on a new Strategic Plan that will guide us into the next 5-10 years. I hope we can continue to play a leadership role in promoting the growth of sustainable agriculture, energy efficiency, waste reduction and resource conservation.
In my free time, I enjoy hiking, biking, taking yoga and ballet classes, and spending time in my garden.
Board Vice Chair, Member Affairs Committee Chair
I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, but I knew from the moment I took Exit 252 to tour Western Washington University that I wanted to make Bellingham my home. I graduated with a B.S. in Kinesiology in 2017 and spent time after graduating traveling to Southeast Asia, the UK, and Ireland before eventually returning to Bellingham in 2020.
My friendly disposition, as well as my experience connecting folks from all walks of life is an asset to the Member Affairs Committee, where I support ongoing efforts to engage with the Co-op membership and the community. As a professional dumpling slinger at Pel’meni, I get to interact with a wide variety of downtown shoppers, and since I’m usually eating lunch from the Co-Op Deli, I often find myself preaching the benefits of a great local grocery store. I love starting my day with a Yam & Roasted Red Pepper Burrito, and organic Yerba Mate and coffee have fueled many double shifts and outdoor adventures. Whether on a SUP or snowboard, I love getting out and about in Whatcom County and utilizing our trails and waterways to their fullest!
Being the youngest member of the Board, I feel I have a duty to represent WWU students and recent alumni, especially those who live within walking distance of the Co-op. I firmly believe in the Co-op’s strategic goal of “Access to Healthy Food” and feel that everyone has the right to nutritious, affordable sustenance; regardless of age, mobility, housing status, or income level. As a wise man once said, everybody eats!
Board Development Committee, Strategic Plan Committee
I come to the Co-op board with experience as a member of several boards and advisory committees around the country and having worked with international organizations on community development in several countries. I earned a PhD from the University of Washington and have several other advanced degrees in disciplines related to business and organizational development. As a retired professor, I continue to actively serve my community, contributing what I have learned from many years of teaching courses in business management, strategic management, diversity management, board development, and organizational development.
I recognize that a member-owned organization has to balance fiduciary responsibilities, membership preferences, customer need for healthy affordable products, survival in a competitive grocery market, just and fair dealings with suppliers, and a supportive relationship with the community, and I will strive to ensure the Co-op maintains this balance.
Tony Vernon (Staff Director)
Member Affairs Committee
I first moved to Bellingham in 1999 and joined the Coop shortly after arriving in town. Though I’ve moved about a bit, I’ve had fixed Bellingham roots the past 15 years. I began working at the Cordata Co-op in 2021 (after four applications and four interviews). Becoming a Co-op member was motivated by a desire to access quality, sustainable products and to support the community-based, ethical business model. Becoming an employee was a way to make my livelihood an action in support of those same things. As a Board Member, I hope to learn more about Co-op operations and to help it continue to be strong financially, remain competitive in the industry, and to be a destination business that improves the lives of employees, customers, providers, and the community at large.
Member Affairs Committee
As one of the longest-standing Board directors, I am committed to contributing to a thriving local food system. What we eat has a huge impact on all life. I strive to facilitate eating that has a positive impact on the consumer, the grower, and the earth. I have worked toward this goal by being an organic farmer for 13 years, a member of the Whatcom County Food System Committee, and a farmers market board member. As a Board director, I work to preserve and strengthen the Co-op’s focus on food and farming issues.
The local food system development goal interests me most. As a health promoter of people and the planet, I see that the two are inextricably connected. Food grown in a manner that feeds the soil, and that is grown close to home, is what makes our bodies and our environment thrive. A vibrant local food system is a necessary component of that picture. I enjoy applying my knowledge of the local food system to contribute to the Co‐op’s goal of strengthening this system.
Finance Committee Chair
As a longtime Community Food Co-op member, I am thrilled by the current strategic plan and excited to serve on the Board of Directors working to implement the organization’s long term goals. I am a Certified Public Accountant and thrive on numbers, so I enjoy the challenge of balancing the Co-op’s goals of providing healthy food access to all while still maintaining its economic resiliency.
On a workday, you will find me sitting in front of a computer, managing the finances of the Whatcom County Public Works department. When I am not computer-bound, I may be found with my family riding the trails up at Galbraith, enjoying the cool waters of Lake Whatcom, or exploring our National Parks, most likely with an organic apple in hand.
Board Development Committee, Strategic Plan Committee Chair
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 visitor use management on federally-managed land. Currently, I’m advancing efforts to improve women’s understanding of and fluency with financial matters.
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. I participate in invasive removal work and helped establish the Land Trust’s Stewardship Reserve Fund. A writer and artist, I’m excited that my debut book, Heidi Across America – One Woman’s Journey on a Bicycle through the Heartland, will be out in 2024. I am curious, creative, collaborative, empathetic, unafraid of thorny problems, and eager to contribute my time and energy to support people living as their whole selves in mindful relationship with the planet.
I am passionate about health and wellness. I worked in the natural and organics industry for over thirty-eight years in the roles of Nutritionist, Home Economist, Category Manager, and Director of Sales, Marketing, and Procurement before retiring five years ago. My career in the food industry has helped me develop strategic thinking, organizational, and communication skills and given me experience working with nonprofit, privately and publicly held companies. Now, I would like to increase my involvement in the community that is my home.
I have done volunteer work with the Seattle Public Schools PIPE program, including individual tutoring. I have also volunteered with the American Heart Association, the Bellingham Public Schools Junior Achievement program, and the Sudden Valley Barn Theatre. I am currently in my fifth year as both a volunteer and Board Secretary for Animals as Natural Therapy.