Board Nominee Q&A

We asked the 10 board nominees a few questions so that our member-owners can get to know them a bit better!

To read the board nominee bios, click here.

Board elections will occur at the October 6 membership meeting. To learn more about the meeting, click here.

Kelly Allen
Kelly Allen1. How do you think the Bethlehem Food Co-Op will benefit the community?

The Co-op will benefit the community by providing people with access to healthy, sustainable, and cost-conscious food. In addition to the Co-op's presence as a business by the community for the community, it will also serve as a place for locals to become engaged and empowered citizens for themselves and for their neighbors. 

2.  What strengths and skills will you bring to the board of directors for the Bethlehem Food Co-Op?
The strength and skills I will bring to the Co-op are my experience working with diverse populations, motivating people to work towards a common goal, and networking with community partners. I take great pride in my ability to help a group of people achieve their goals as individuals while maintaining a clear focus on the larger mission.  

3. What aspect of serving in this position do you most look forward to? What aspect do you think you will find most challenging?

As a member of the Co-op Board of Directors I would most look forward to working with people in the community on their terms. As an academic, the relationship I have with people tends to focus on a form of upward mobility quite different that what the Co-op will offer. For myself there will certainly be a period of transition, but I look forward to the challenge of translating what I do as a faculty member and community garden coordinator to a leadership role in a community organization.

 



 

Matt Hengeveld
Matt Hengeveld1. How do you think the Bethlehem Food Co-Op will benefit the community?

The Bethlehem Food Co-Op is a creation of our city's collected ambitions and talents. When we say "I Own It" we're also saying "We Made It." The benefits of a cooperatively owned grocery store are innumerable, but the greatest benefit of all is the community pride that it fosters. And you can begin taking pride right now, look how far we have already come!

2.  What strengths and skills will you bring to the board of directors for the Bethlehem Food Co-Op?
We all have something special about ourselves that we can bring to the Co-Op to foster growth. I am proud of my achievements as managing editor of Sing Out! folk music magazine. I've gained a mastery in aspects of social media, marketing, networking and community building. Working with writers and musicians across the globe for a unified purpose is a skill that will translate well when it's time to focus producers and farmers across our region on our one unified goal of creating a cooperatively owned grocery store.
3. What aspect of serving in this position do you most look forward to? What aspect do you think you will find most challenging?
Look, whenever there is a democratically-run organization, there will be some folk that feel their ideas aren't being heard. And nobody enjoys that sensation, we've all felt that way at some point or another. I look forward to hearing all of our member-owners' ideas and examining where they can take the cooperative. We own this, and we all have a voice and a vote. One of the largest challenges is ensuring that each these voices have a fair shot at being heard.

 Heather Manning
Heather Manning1. How do you think the Bethlehem Food Co-Op will benefit the community?

The Bethlehem Food Co-Op will be a location where people can come to buy fresh, local, and lower cost foods and know that they are contributing to their local economy.  The Bethlehem Food Co-Op will give people a sense of community, a feeling of accomplishment and pride, and also bring people together.   

2. What strengths and skills will you bring to the board of directors for the Bethlehem Food Co-Op? 

I bring a passion for making the Bethlehem Food Co-Op a reality.  I love the feeling that I get when I've been in other Food Co-Ops and I can't wait to make that happen for our own community.  Being someone who has been part of this movement since almost the very beginning, I have a solid understanding of what we have done so far and what we need to do in order to get the doors to our Co-Op open.  

3. What aspect of serving in this position do you most look forward to? What aspect do you think you will find most challenging? 

I look forward to working with the other dedicated Board Members and getting to know member owners better as well as recruiting additional families / members.  The most challenging aspect has been trying to figure out how to move beyond our member plateau and keeping people from feeling the burn out that sometimes occurs.

 

 


Santiago Rivera
Santiago Rivera

1.   How do you think the Bethlehem Food Co-Op will benefit the community?

I believe that the Bethlehem Food Co-op will benefit the community by providing a one stop shopping experience for shoppers that are concerned with sustainable business practices. Supporting the local family farm, supporting organic food production methods, helping spread the word thru education and training about healthier food options and creating a community space to share these ideas are all ways that the Bethlehem Food Co-op can benefit our community. In addition the food cooperative movement encourages responsible work rules & processes and one of the most important benefits to employees the true living wage.

2.   What strengths and skills will you bring to the board of directors for the Bethlehem Food Co-Op?

I am the owner & CoWorking Host of SoBeCoWorks (A Collaborative Work Space) located in South Bethlehem. This venture successful creates opportunity for individuals look to create their own job thru collaborative business development methods, mentoring and free business consultation. In addition I am a partner in two other business ventures and I am a licensed PA Real Estate Agent. The skills it takes to run a business, negotiate rental requirements with landlords and tenants and my experience as a investment property owner and property manager all add to my skill set as an entrepreneur and small business owner. As a community activist I regularly promote all that’s good about Bethlehem and my pass board of directors experience includes board membership with Community Action Development Corp, Alliance for Building Communities, Rising Tide Loan Fund and ITE committee member with the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.

3.   What aspect of serving in this position do you most look forward to? What aspect do you think you will find most challenging?

I like most the idea that the Bethlehem Food Co-op is a startup business venture and because of this its right up my alley for when it comes to thinking outside the box. New business ventures required time, effort and dedication, this is not something that you take on a an observer but instead you have to dig in and get your hands dirty and I am up for that challenge. The most challenging aspect of being a board member is recognizing the dedication required for such an undertaking. We have no staff therefore it takes high effort and lots of team encouragement and motivation to keep us moving forward.  I come to the team understanding that we will have to give up personal time in order to make this happen and my running for a board seat is my public commitment to our community to work with the others to make this new business venture a reality.

That’s my pledge and I’m sticking to it.


Jon Soden
Jon Soden1. How do you think the Bethlehem Food Co-Op will benefit the community?

The Co-op, once opened, will be a center of the community for all things good, with our commitment to selling locally produced products and programming. By supporting local farmers and producers we will be keeping more of our money in the local community.

2. What strengths and skills will you bring to the board of directors for the Bethlehem Food Co-Op?

I have been a small business owner for more than 20 years, first as the owner of Body Dynamics, Inc. in Bethlehem Township and currently as a partner in Magellan Financial, Inc. in Allentown.

3. What aspect of serving in this position do you most look forward to? What aspect do you think you will find most challenging?

The most challenging aspect of serving will be raising the funds necessary to open a fully capitalized grocery store from day one. The best part of serving is the interaction with the member-owners and prospective member-owners.


Varee Var

Varee Var1. How do you think the Bethlehem Food Co-Op will benefit the community?

The Co-op will be a community owned and operated grocery store that support local farmers and natural food systems. In addition to building a sense of community, the Co-op will be taking a proactive approach on improving individual health and community well-being.

2. What strengths and skills will you bring to the board of directors for the Bethlehem Food Co-Op?

I have been actively involved in organizing for community non-profits and have served on the board of these organizations.

3. What aspect of serving in this position do you most look forward to? What aspect do you think you will find most challenging?

I look forward to working with Co-op member-owners in finding ways to help the Co-op be successful, and to make our community grocery store a reality.


Gary Warren

Gary Warren1. How do you think the Bethlehem Food Co-Op will benefit the community?

The Bethlehem Food Co-op benefits our community in a number of ways:
-It gives people a place to learn about and discuss local food and how it is grown and distributed.
-It tightens our community up by bringing us together around our common need for good food.
-It strengthens our local food system by being a central location for local farmers to sell their food.
-It brings us closer to our farmers.
-As owners of the co-op, we are able to keep store profits in our community, and out of distant, anonymous shareholders' bank accounts. 


2. What strengths and skills will you bring to the board of directors for the Bethlehem Food Co-Op?

-Public speaking, strong leadership, and a clear passion for building community, and repairing our damaged food system.
-Personal relationships with many local farmers.
-A willingness to work and be proactive in helping the needs of the co-op and its members get met.
-A deep understanding of what sustainability means, and what is needed to put it into practice.


3. What aspect of serving in this position do you most look forward to? What aspect do you think you will find most challenging?

I look forward to a growing sense of community togetherness, whether through special events like picnics and parties, or the ordinary task of shopping for groceries.  I am challenging by the fact that this is a new task for all of us.  None of us have ever opened a co-op.  At the same time, it is rewarding to work cooperatively with others on such a monumentally important thing. 

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment