As a co-op, we embrace Cooperative Principle #2, Democratic Member Control:

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Representatives (directors/trustees) are elected among the membership and are accountable to them. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote).

We begin that process anew by introducing you to the five applicants for our three open Board seats. On Friday, September 3, all primary co-op members will receive a ballot via email, and our new Board members will be announced at our Annual Meeting on Monday, October 4.

NOTE: If you are not yet a member, you still have time to join before our Annual Meeting – make your voice heard as we make plans to move our co-op forward! All the details are at bethlehemfood.coop/join.

And if you expected to get a ballot and did not receive one by Saturday morning, September 4, please contact us at treasurer@bethlehemfood.coop.

Let’s meet our candidates:

DONALD C. FLAD, JR.

Donald and his husband Earl Bethel – household member #230 – reside in the Historic District of Bethlehem. They have co-hosted information membership events, and they attend and support as many co-op activities as possible.

Q: Please share any relevant education, employment and/or non-BFC volunteer experiences you have.

A: I have a BS degree in Public Policy, and I’m employed by Edge Restaurant. I’m the immediate past chair of LGBTQ Business Council of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and previously served as vice chair of the Nazareth-Bath Chamber of Commerce. I have been a political campaign volunteer and I’m a founding member of the “Martin on Main Festival”.

Q: Focusing on anti-racist issues is a very important part of BFC’s work. Please share your definition of diversity, and your thoughts on how the co-op can work towards it. 

A: Gathering together people from a wide variety of backgrounds and working together to move the community forward.

Q: Please share a statement of why you’d like to serve on the board. 

A: I believe in its mission – I have been given a great deal and it’s important to give back to my community.

 

DEBRA (DEB) FRITZ

Deb is a Bethlehem resident, and member #222. She previously served on the Board, from 2015-2017, and is currently a Board member, filling a vacancy that opened in 2020. Deb shares her life with her significant other, Bob Thomas, who is a great supporter of the co-op – he offered a presentation on Native Americans at the recent Block Party, sharing information about the original residents of our area. She has five grandchildren.

Q: Please share any relevant education, employment and/or non-BFC volunteer experiences you have.

A: I hold a Masters degree in Social Work, and was a psychotherapist for seven years in a nursing facility. I was also a mental health treatment specialist, working with youth.

For 13 years prior to my retirement in 2018, I worked for National PTA and traveled the country training volunteers in leadership and non-profit management as well as key communication skills, which allowed them to effectively develop meaningful relationships with partners and stake holders.

I am currently a choir member at Advent Moravian Church and previously served as a trustee.  I am also a consultant for Pennsylvania PTA.

Q: Focusing on anti-racist issues is a very important part of BFC’s work. Please share your definition of diversity, and your thoughts on how the co-op can work towards it.

A: I trained volunteers in my work to not only understand diversity and inclusion but to go a step farther and develop meaningful, equitable practices for all cultures and communities.  I believe that ensuring the co-op meets the needs of all cultures, and assures that this a cornerstone of our mission, is my responsibility as a board member

Q: Please share a statement of why you’d like to serve on the board.

A: I have served and would like to continue in order to assure that as a dedicated member, I will add to the permanent, positive impact the co-op will have on the community going forward.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

A: I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of utilizing local products and services, educating the community in healthy lifestyles and conserving natural resources.  I foresee this co-op as a landmark in Bethlehem where members will proudly invest in making it a key component of economic and cultural development.

 

TODD MERTZ

Todd moved to Bethlehem in June, and joined the co-op in July. He has two adult children; his daughter and her husband live in Bethlehem, and his son lives in Helena, MT.

Q: Please share any relevant education, employment and/or non-BFC volunteer experiences you have.

A: I have a BS Degree from Bloomsburg University, and am employed at Dun & Bradstreet in Center Valley. I am the Senior Director of Client Learning which is part of Human Resources.  Learning is a passion and I believe this will benefit me, especially in helping to support the BFC community education programs.  In addition to leading our customer education program via a team of 10, I’m a leadership coach and consultant for our new managers within the first year of their assignments.

I served on the parent board of the Kutztown Dolphin swim team, which included the Treasurer and President roles. During my tenure there I generated the idea, built the strategy and plan, and executed a swimming invitational for over 300 swimmers in the Berks County region that was hosted at the borough pool in Kutztown.

I was an active committee head at the Kutztown Area Historical Society, leading a project to build a brick paver pathway around the KAHS building which included engraving bricks with the names of individuals and organizations that supported the society.

I’ve also served on St. John’s UCC Consistory in Kutztown for over five years and was the lead for the property committee, and served as an elder for two years.

Through my employment at Dun & Bradstreet, I have volunteered in the Bethlehem community throughout the years. I have been a tutor through the Bethlehem YMCA and also prepared and served meals at the Victory House.

Q: Focusing on anti-racist issues is a very important part of BFC’s work. Please share your definition of diversity, and your thoughts on how the co-op can work towards it.

 

A: To me diversity brings strength and an inclusive spirit to a community. We are stronger and more successful when everyone can participate and benefit from programs that leverage the passion, skills and traits of all of us. Everyone needs to have a seat at the BFC table and also enjoy the fruits of the time, energy and effort put into it. The co-op must maintain a vision, mission and approach that leaves the door open for everyone and invites diversity through support and the advocacy of education and awareness.

Q: Please share a statement of why you’d like to serve on the board.

 

A: I’m a very new community member and feel it’s the perfect time in my life to give back.  I’ve worked in the area in the past, when my company, Dun & Bradstreet was located at the former Martin Tower. I bring with me a fresh perspective but also strong energy and drive to jump in and get involved with things very important to me – healthy living, supporting my neighbors/being a neighborhood and helping and advocating for others.

My professional background in a corporate setting has given me strong project and people management skills that may be of value, especially with the development of the food co-op staff and programs that will be part of it.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

 

A: I’m an avid indoor and outdoor gardener and I can attribute my green thumb to two women in my life – my mother and great-grandmother. My neighbor and I are already planning a shared garden next summer – can’t wait! I’m very active and can be seen most days running or riding my bike around Bethlehem. Staying fit and taking care of my body (not only through diet) are extremely important to me.

My son has a degree from Montana State in Environmental Sciences.  Watching him through the years work on trail crews and organic farms, I learn from him.  He currently has a job with the Lewis & Clark Land Trust in Helena.  His work intrigues me.

My daughter is an Occupational Therapist with Good Shepherd here in Bethlehem.  She cares for people every day and works to help them improve their lives.  I’m very proud of her.  I like to think, along with their mother, we instilled a sense of responsibility in them to support community, environment and the well-being of everything on this planet.

On a very personal note, I’m gay. The reason I share that is more in reference to my journey, as I came out very late in my life (age 50). This application asks about diversity, and what my experience has instilled in me is how important it is to eliminate all discrimination so people don’t feel the need or pressure to be someone they aren’t for even a second of their life.

Finally, I love food and I love even more when I know where my food was born and raised. I can’t think of a better cause to spend time and energy on than a food co-op.

 

CAROL RITTER

Carol is a native of Bethlehem, and has been associated with the co-op for many years. She started as a consultant, working on membership initiatives, then joined as a member before getting elected to the Board in October of 2018. She and her husband Rick have two adult children and six grandchildren.

Q: Please share any relevant education, employment and/or non-BFC volunteer experiences you have.

A: I am a co-founder of Caroltalks.com; our organization helps grow small businesses. I currently serve on the Lehigh Valley Reads Steering Committee. Previously, I was the Board Chair of St. Luke’s Hospital Hospice and VNA, and former President of the Pennsylvania Parent Teacher Association, overseeing 522 schools and 25 board members. I’m also a former Board Member and Membership Chair for the National PTA.

Q: Focusing on anti-racist issues is a very important part of BFC’s work. Please share your definition of diversity, and your thoughts on how the co-op can work towards it.

A: I believe that diversity is reflected in different skin color, culture, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, and diverse abilities.  Everyone needs to be a part of the Bethlehem Food Co-Op.  We need to be accessible with radical hospitality.

Q: Please share a statement of why you’d like to serve on the board.

A: I would like to continue serving on the Board of Directors.  Being a part of the co-op team for the past two plus years has been not only a rewarding experience but an opportunity to give back to our community.  I would like to continue my work raising funds, assisting with membership, and speaking on behalf of the co-op to community organizations. I also value the opportunity to leverage my relationships in the greater community to benefit the co-op.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

A: This is the most exciting time for Bethlehem and the co-op, and I’m honored to be a part of the incredible team that brought us to this moment.


JON SODEN

Jon and his wife, Tresa, live in Bethlehem Township, and have been involved with the co-op since its beginning: they attended the first meeting in October, 2011, and joined on the first day of the membership drive. Their household is member #4.

Q: Please share any relevant education, employment and/or non-BFC volunteer experiences you have.

A: I am an original BFC Board member and served as the original Treasurer. I am currently a partner of Magellan Financial in Allentown, having been a small business owner most of my adult life.

Q: Focusing on anti-racist issues is a very important part of BFC’s work. Please share your definition of diversity, and your thoughts on how the co-op can work towards it. 

A: Diversity is about inclusion, creating an environment for fairness, and a willingness to have the hard conversations about the ways in which people differ, as well as embracing those differences in practice. Beyond the basics of fair hiring practices and a non-discrimination policy, the BFC can work to promote these ideas through our practices as a group. Educational workshops could be a part of this as well.

Q: Please share a statement of why you’d like to serve on the board. 

A: As an original member of BFC who was very involved in the first few years, it has been incredible to watch new people come in and continue the push forward with what started as just a simple idea.

As an original member and board member I believe I bring a different perspective. As an entrepreneur who has built two businesses from the ground up, I bring experience in the beginning phases of a business. With almost 20 years working in the finance industry, I bring knowledge that can be helpful.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

A: It has been an absolute pleasure to be involved with such a great project for the people of Bethlehem. It is exciting to see an idea starting to become reality with the embrace of the community and its leaders.

 

 

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