Thank you for exercising your member right to vote in the Olympia Food Co-op 2023 Elections. By casting your vote, you’ll be participating in over 40 years of tradition. By selecting members of our community to serve the Co-op on your behalf, you’ll drive our mission and values.

Ballots accepted from 9 a.m. September 20th- October 20th. Once you submit your ballot, you will not be able to edit your responses. Your name and either address or email are required in order to verify your membership. Your ballot will not be considered valid without this identifying information.

For help contact: memberrelations@olympiafood.coop

Board Candidates

Ruth M Brownstein

  1. Why do you want to join the Co-op Board of Directors?
    I do not see myself (or other folks like me) on the board – and I have long wanted to see that representation. When I complained to friends who are currently staff at the coop I was encouraged to apply, so here I am.

2. What skills and abilities would you bring to the Board?
I am into my 2nd of year of early retirement and feel this would be a good way for me to give back to my community and a good way for me to keep myself engaged as well to be honest. I worked as a volunteer at the coop (early deli days for sure!) and then became a staff member for nearly a decade 1999-2008. I then worked at KAOS radio in several management roles for over 12 years after which my job was eliminated due to ‘covid cutbacks’ at Evergreen. I am hopeful I could bring some thoughtful insights and perhaps a fresh perspective. I worked in radio (KAOS, The Mountain (when it existed), KPLU (when it existed), KNKX)- know a ‘few’ things from all of these experiences over the years

3. What vision do you have for the Co-op?
Visions- Collaboration. Consistency. Cooperation. Growth.

4. What else would you like to share?

I am currently writing (working on) a book, about reconnecting with my birth family after 50+ years of being absent from their lives- hope to have it published sometime next year.

Paul (Tim) Chenette

  1. Why do you want to join the Co-op Board of Directors?
    I recently moved to Washington State in 2021 from the San Francisco Bay Area and we settled in Lacey. I found the Co-Op and was impressed with the variety of items and the fact that it was staffed with volunteers. I visited the other site awhile later and had the same feeling. Having been a Vegan for 40+ years, I’m always looking for the opportunity to find stores like Olympia Food Co-Op and was recently informed by a friend that there would be a potential opening on the Board. I feel my career and life experience would be an asset to the organization to help the  community I now call home

2. What skills and abilities would you bring to the Board? I worked for a City Recreation and Community Services Department for 31 years, 24 as a Supervisor. I worked in several program areas including Day Care, Summer Camps, Community Events and for the last 15 years, Sports and Athletics, overseeing a staff of 80 part-time employees and 2 full-time. I was responsible for recruitment, interviewing, hiring, training and supervising all staff. I oversaw a budget of approximately $600,000 in my program area as well as input to the overall Department budget of several million. I was part of several building projects, including my last one as Department liaison with the builder and architect for a City gymnasium. In addition, I had many opportunities over the years to speak in public doing presentations and leading Community meetings with City Council, Park and Recreation Commission, Community Boards and Friends of Parks and Recreation, a non-profit I started among others.

3. What vision do you have for the Co-op? My vision for the Co-Op would be to help evaluate the current administration of the operations and with my background try to assist with any potential improvements to make it an even greater addition to the Community.

4. What else would you like to share?  After I retired I spent 11 years volunteering with the Peninsula Humane Society as a cat TLC volunteer, eventually training new volunteers as well as incorporating new ideas for animal policy and care. I also managed an apartment building for 8 years for a Property Management Company and also showed outside rental properties and did property inspections. References available. I exercise daily, love to hike and bicycle and am a huge hockey fan.

Jennifer M Falknor

  1. Why do you want to join the Co-op Board of Directors?
    I believe the Board to be a critical part of the Co-op, and it needs fair representation from all facets of the membership. A robust Board is one that can process opinions, knowledge and experience from many avenues, process new ideas as well as keeping in mind the history, guidelines and present state of the Co-op.

2. What skills and abilities would you bring to the Board? I have served on a number of Boards over the decades, as well as in other “official” capacities – as President, CEO, CFO, Treasurer, Production Manager, Services Manager, Store Manager, and in many other capacities in a variety of businesses; from self-employment to non-profits, business associations and other forms of business. I hope that my broad perspective can help in enhancing the functionality of the Board.

3. What vision do you have for the Co-op?
I would love nothing more than to have every organized business function as a co-op. I see our co-op as one of the most organized and progressive that I have experienced, with a heartwarming dedication to the spirit of community and the the never-ending dedication to “Feed The People”. We’re not perfect – nothing and nobody is – but I love that everyone is always willing to improve. I would love for us to continue to be supportive and interactive with other co-ops, and to continue to expand the ways in which we help people obtain good food.

4. What else would you like to share? I’m also applying because I want more people to run for the Board. More choices are always better. So, I’m running, in part, just to give our members more choices, and show other members that this position is easily accessible to anyone who wants to help make a difference, in yet another way.

Ike C. Nwankwo

  1. Why do you want to join the Co-op Board of Directors? I recently retired from the Washington State Department of Commerce as a Deputy Managing Director and now have time for volunteer work. I would love to give back to the community.

2. What skills and abilities would you bring to the Board?

As a Deputy Managing Director, I was responsible for technical and financial assistance for the development and adoption of the comprehensive plans and development regulations for all cities and counties in Western Washington. This includes public participation, land use/zoning decisions that guide both residential and commercial developments. Comprehensive plans delineate policies and regulations for the development of housing, commercial businesses, transportation, population growth, economic development among others. I managed a group of professionals that worked with city and county staff and elected officials along with citizen involvement to develop plans, policies and regulations that fit their community. I personally worked with city council members, mayors, county executives to address issues facing the community. It helped to also provide them with grants. 

I served on the City of Olympia Planning Commission for two terms.

I currently serve on the Community Youth Services of Olympia Finance Committee.

I am also currently on the University of Washington College of Urban Design and Planning Professionals Council. We mentor graduate students and help the college develop curriculum for architecture and planning students.

3. What vision do you have for the Co-op?
I love Coops and take every opportunity I get to check them out in every city I visit. Based on all I have seen, the Oly Coop needs an upgrade. A bigger building with modern amenities and more parking would attract more membership and make us more profitable. I was impressed by the Mt. Vernon Coop. It has more products in stock, more shelf space, a good sized lunch space with microwaves and other amenities and ample parking. It was the place to have a healthy organic lunch and it was teeming with people of all ages. My vision is for the Oly Co-op to adopt a similar model.

4. What else would you like to share?  I have lived in Olympia for more than 30 years and love this city.  I moved here from Philadelphia where I was working on my Ph.D at the University of Pennsylvania. I have degrees in architecture and urban planning.

Dave Toler

  1. Why do you want to join the Co-op Board of Directors?   When I relocated to Olympia in 2022, one of the great discoveries I made was that we have a real food coop- not just a consumer coop but a worker coop managed and operated by the workers. It is a model I fervently believe in and would like to do my part to ensure its vitality.

2. What skills and abilities would you bring to the Board?

 I have been a member of 12-15 nonprofit and local governmental Boards. I was Chair of a domestic violence organization, a mental health regional organization, a School Board and several other organizations. I have also been an administrator and have grant writing and other resource development experience.

3. What vision do you have for the Co-op?
I would love to see the coop be able to operate in a more environmentally friendly way such as efficient HVAC, lighting, cooler/freezers etc. I think the community would support it and it would certainly help the coop’s bottom line. There are grants out there! I also wonder if there could be more participation from worker members because I think they are your most dedicated supporters of the coop. I believe that by providing worker members more of a voice in the coop, there would be a real benefit to the organization. Finally, improved compensation of the staff would also be a key goal. Through more efficient operations in other ways, we could hopefully better afford to increase the compensation package of the staff.

4. What else would you like to share?  I love the Oly Food Coop!