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I’m new to the Upper Valley as of last fall and would love to get involved with the community through the Co-op Board. My passion for the natural food industry was ignited several years ago when I was the communications director at Stonyfield Farm in Londonderry, NH. I worked with everyone from our founder to our farmers to share stories about how a mission-based food company can have an impact.
In 2013, I relocated to Boulder, CO, and founded a small public relations firm focused on natural and organic food brands so that I could spread news about companies that are bringing more health to more people. I’ve been lucky to work with some of my favorite brands, including many that are sold in the Co-op and even some that are themselves cooperatives.
I’ve also had the pleasure of overseeing public relations for the industry’s largest trade show where food companies introduce their newest products. In this role, I get an opportunity to see and sample hundreds of new foods before they are available to the public. I’m also privileged to meet and learn from leaders about topics such as how the food industry can address issues like climate change, waste reduction and food insecurity. It’s also fun to hear the latest about trends such as sustainable seafood, plant-based diets, regenerative agriculture, reducing plastic packaging and more.
One of the things I find particularly motivating about joining the Co-op Board is making healthy food affordable and accessible to more people. When I was a child, my family had a period where we relied on government assistance for food. I would love to see everyone in our community be able to put healthy food on their plates since it’s something we all deserve.
On a personal note, we’re big fans of the Co-op in my house. You’ll often find us picking up a loaf of bread and a bunch of veggies to make a meal for neighbors and friends. If given the opportunity to serve I hope to meet you soon!
Q & A with Carrie
What interests you about serving on the Co-op’s Board of Directors?
I was excited to see that Board applications are being accepted. I recently relocated to the Upper Valley and getting involved with the Coop was one of the things that I was most excited about when we arrived. I have a few reasons for running. First, I’ve worked in the food industry for more than 15 years at PR agencies as well as serving as the communications director at Stonyfield Farm. For the past five years, I’ve run my own PR consultancy, managing programs for many brands that are sold at the Coop including Organic Valley, Lotus Foods, Hope Hummus, REBBL, Siete Foods, Barlean’s and more.
I also oversee PR for the industry’s largest trade show, Natural Products Expo. Through this role, I am able to see the newest trends in natural products coming to store shelves, as well learn from leaders in the industry about their important mission-based work and how consumer choices can make an impact. I’ve been so impressed with the Coop since moving here. The responsiveness to shopper questions and requests is excellent and the selection is top notch, from the inner aisles to the farm fresh produce and high quality meat on the perimeter. I recognize I am still relatively new to town since we moved here in October 2018, and that I have much to learn about the Coop and the community but hope that my deep industry experience might be useful while I learn more.
Please describe any experience you may have serving on a board, committee or community group.
This would be my first Board position! I’ve joined volunteer committees at past jobs and enjoy taking initiative on things that matter to me and can improve the community. I’ve volunteered at various food and farming organizations, including The Food Project in Boston, while I worked at Stonyfield. I also organized a group of colleagues for a volunteer day at one of TFP’s farm in Massachusetts.
Please describe any experience or skills that will help you be an effective board member.
Having worked in PR for nearly 20 years, I’ve had a lot of experience with everything from drafting press releases, to media relations, events and influencer programs. I have also managed crisis PR for clients and generally can be very useful as a sounding board on messaging around sensitive topics. For the Board’s specific needs, I enjoy engaging with the community and making connections. I like helping people learn about how food choices impact their health and their community, including supporting local farms and global missions. As a child my family relied on WIC so I know what food insecurity feels like and recognize that stores like the Coop can be a valuable resource for people who seek to feed their family healthy food they can feel good about. Inclusivity in natural and organic foods is very important to me, I think all people in our community should have access to nourishing food.
What opportunities and challenges do you see for the Co-op?
As a newcomer, I don’t want to speculate about the Coop but I have been involved in discussions within the industry about how retail is evolving. Personally, I do the bulk of my shopping at the Coop but still find myself purchasing certain supplements and other items online. Online shopping and services like order pick-up are helping people avoid shopping in stores for all of their needs. More specifically, in my first few months in the area, I’ve had neighbors and friends recommend other stores closer to my home. One of the things I hear often is that other stores offer organic produce at a lower price. Now that conventional supermarkets have done a lot to increase their natural and organic offerings they have increased competition.
All of this said, I think the Coop is perfectly positioned to help people find healthy products, offer wide variety of bulk items and allow for discovery of exciting new foods to incorporate into their diets. The produce section is unrivaled and I love how many local farms are suppliers. I also think the Coop staff is always friendly and helpful and that personal touch sets the store apart. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to try any classes but I like the idea of the Coop as a community hub for people who love good food. I noticed that the Coop has mentioned diversity is important and I would love to hear more about those initiatives. There might be ways to address diversity through community PR events and targeted social media campaigns that expand your reach and invite new shoppers into your doors.
Nourish. Cultivate. Cooperate.