Board Candidate Statements

September 19th 2019

Provender holds elections for our Board of Directors yearly and it’s that time of year. A designated person from each member organization should have received an electronic ballot last week. The Nominating Committee has diligently and carefully screened these candidates. This is the candidates’ opportunity to speak to you about their interest in serving on the board. These statements will also appear on the ballot.

Jenica Caudill

Jenica Caudill – Fair World Project

Please share a little bit about yourself and why you want to serve on the Provender Board.

I’ve been involved in the movement for sustainable agriculture and small-farmer justice for ten years, as an academic and as an industry professional at Equal Exchange and currently, at Fair World Project. I feel that serving on the Provender Board is an excellent opportunity to help shape the natural foods movement in the Pacific Northwest.

What skills do you bring to the Provender board that will make you an excellent board member?

Having worked at Equal Exchange, I bring with me experience working in a democratically organized environment. This has been extremely helpful in my participation on the board as we utilize Policy Governance for decision making. I have experience in event coordinating and project management which has been incredibly helpful in my work assisting in conference planning. Additionally, my undergraduate and graduate studies focused on sustainable farming and social movements in Latin America, which leads me to bring a multicultural and justice-minded lens to the Board.

What interests you most about the work that the Provender board does?

Provender is an integral piece of the natural foods/products movement here in the Pacific Northwest. I truly believe in the work of this organization to bring people, businesses, and like-minded organizations together in an effort to create a more sustainable food system. Helping to shape this movement to reach its highest potential, to serve and represent all voices from throughout supply chains, is what interests me in the work the Board does.

Please share a favorite Provender experience and how it has affected you.

Every conference has been such an enriching experience for me—hearing Rosalinda Guillén speak was especially moving. I’ve also, honestly, really enjoyed participating in Karaoke from Hell and belting some Alanis Morrisette.

What are your passions in life and how do they align with the mission of Provender?

My passions in life include practicing yoga, playing banjo, reading and learning about other countries’ histories and cultures, and maybe above all else, eating good food. Nothing brings me into the present moment like a good meal. To me, a lot goes into making a “good meal”—the company I’m enjoying it with, the way the food was grown and brought to our table, the people who touched it every step of the way. The Provender community is that good company and it’s inspiring to know we are all working together to create a stronger, more just and sustainable food system.

James Dills – Ashland Food Co-op

Please share a little bit about yourself and why you want to serve on the Provender Board.

From early on I have seen the power of individuals and grassroots organizations to make changes for the better. Provender is a beacon in our industry, leading the way with solutions that create a win for manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and the environment. I want to be a part of that!

As a child of the Pacific NW I grew up immersed in the culture of natural foods. My dad facilitated a buying club for Mountain People’s Warehouse in the Sierra Nevada foothills, raising my brothers and I on local, seasonal foods (and lots of tofu). The book “Diet for a Small Planet” had a profound influence on us. I grew up primarily without TV, refined sugar, or processed food.

I have degrees in Applied Communications and Outdoor Adventure Leadership, work as a Wellness Consultant at the Ashland Food Cooperative, and live in Ashland with my wife and two children.

What skills do you bring to the Provender board that will make you an excellent board member?

I love engaging the issues of our times, and have sought out channels through which I can effect change. I was a founding board member of Ashland CarShare, served a term on the Ashland Housing Committee, and previously was a Provender Steering Committee member. I am enthusiastic, hopeful, and enjoy finding creative solutions that benefit people and planet.

What interests you most about the work that the Provender board does?

We have a wonderful group of people serving on the Provender Board. I would like to join this passionate group of people that make Provender Alliance an amazing resource and network for our rapidly changing industry.

Please share a favorite Provender experience and how it has affected you.

In 2005, I heard how Albert Straus started testing certified organic feeds for the cows. He found contamination from GMOs in some purchased feeds, so he implemented a non-GMO testing and verification system of all animal feed purchased by certified organic family farms supplying milk. Seeing the way his commitment to high standards changed the organic dairy industry was inspiring.

What are your passions in life and how do they align with the mission of Provender?

My passion is to be a benefit to humanity and be a good steward of our environment. As multinational corporations come in with a bottom line of making money we need to uphold high standards that have historically defined our industry. My desire is to see local companies with transparency and integrity succeed, and companies that harm people and planet to be exposed.

Vicki Reich – Individual Member

Please share a little bit about yourself and why you want to serve on the Provender Board.

I’ve been involved in the Natural Foods community for over 25 years. It is such a big part of who I am. I really grew up in this community and want to do what I can to help it succeed. I served as the Executive Director of Provender for two and a half years and decided to step down because the time constraints of running a family business and Provender at the same time got to be too much. However, I’m not done with Provender yet! I feel I can still contribute as a board member and help the community I love.

What skills do you bring to the Provender board that will make you an excellent board member?

In addition to knowing the ins and outs of running the organization, I also have 8 previous years of Provender Board experience. I am well versed in Policy Governance (and maybe even a bit of a PG geek). I think all that institutional knowledge will help the board with the tough job we have ahead of us.

What interests you most about the work that the Provender board does?

The board sets the direction of Provender. Right now, Provender is struggling to retain members and it will be the board’s job to figure out what our membership want the organization to do for them. This is a very difficult question to answer. I like difficult questions and I hope that my years of experience as both a board member and staff person will help us find some good answers.

Please share a favorite Provender experience and how it has affected you.

If I had to pick just on, my favorite Provender memory would be the board puppet show in 2012. It showed me what can come out of a group of crazy, enthusiast, and creative people who are all working to make things just a little bit better. It still makes me smile when I think about it.

What are your passions in life and how do they align with the mission of Provender?

I love long distance cycling, which is good because the other thing I love is eating. I’ve always loved food since I was a little kid. I was never a picky eater and started helping my mom cook while standing on a stepstool. Right now, I only get one day off a week and often spend that day cooking new recipes or baking desserts and bread. Good, healthy food is so important to me. I want to help ensure that everyone has access to it and that we are growing food in ways that are healthy for us and the planet. I think Provender has a role to play in making sure we all have access to quality food by ensuring that businesses that prioritize integrity as well as profit have a chance to success. Oh, and I also really love to knit.

Joe Wade – Individual Member

Please share a little bit about yourself and why you want to serve on the Provender Board.

I’ve been a part of the natural community in the PNW for over 40 years, as a retailer, distributor, and a broker – in addition to being a lifelong consumer. For me, this is not just an industry or a trade, or even just a livelihood. This is being an enthusiastic participant in what used to be widely known as a “movement” and for the Provender community, it still is.

What skills do you bring to the Provender board that will make you an excellent board member?

-Provender Board experience / Policy Governance experience – 2 yrs

-Other non-profit boards – 5 yrs

-Well informed experience networking with natural foods organizations and businesses 
throughout the PNW

-Play well with others

What interests you most about the work that the Provender board does?

The Board recognizes the increasingly singular role that Provender has of being the “glue” that holds the PNW community together. We continually reach past the illusion of isolation and impoverishment that can seem so real. I am energized by seeking ways to bring new members into our community and to make great natural foods available more and more widely.

Please share a favorite Provender experience and how it has affected you.

-Provender Keynotes: Paul Stamits and many others. I frequently talk with people about food issues and culture and often call on information that I learned at a conference keynote.

-Presenting at Provender workshops. The year the conference was in Bellingham I was asked at the last minute to sit in on a panel presentation (Brokers). The light bulb went on for me and since then I’ve presented as part of several conference panels.

What are your passions in life and how do they align with the mission of Provender?

-Food equity – including informed food choices, and economic equity.

-Community – an essential component of being fully human. Besides my neighborhood, 
small town, and County – Provender Alliance is the cross section of my intentional community.

-Music – I’m a serious amateur musician. I’m more or less always aware of harmony and 
ensemble playing, in a musical setting or in our community.