Personal Message from Joe Wade, Provender Board of Directors

February 1st 2022

by Joe Wade, Board Member, Provender Alliance

If you talk to a dozen people around the Provender Alliance community, you’re liable to hear that many different stories about what they’ve learned, or experienced, or what they enjoy about being a part of the community.

I think back on numerous conversations that I’ve had that happened first at the many Conferences that I’ve attended. Those Conferences have always been a central part of the Provender experience for many of us including me. Each year the Conference would catapult me on through another year in Natural Foods, each year with a little deeper awareness of how the movement was growing and maturing, but always against the background of the community that had already been there for so many years.

Eventually I was able to spend more time with Provender as an active volunteer, first as part of the Steering Committee, then on the Membership Committee. Then came the opportunity to run for a Board position. I felt that I knew enough of the members and enough of Provender’s culture, and had enough time to commit, but mostly I had learned that Provender made me feel at home in my chosen work. This was my true community of colleagues and friends. I hope that you feel that way too.

Connecting at the 2019 Provender Conference

That was also a time in Provender’s history of an important change, a long-time Executive Director was leaving Provender and a new one was coming on. After several adjustments we had the good fortune of hiring Abigail Harris into the position. Her work has been effective in steadying the organization through an unanticipated period of innovation and redefinition, as we along with the rest of the world suffered from and along with the fortunate ones, survived COVID.

It’s been several years on the Board for me now with few regrets. The Board has faced difficulties and new challenges. Through this time though, there has been a core of other dedicated Board members to face these challenges together in what has been the purest experience of teamwork that I’ve ever experienced.

My message from the Board to Provender members today is that now is a time of rare opportunity to become a part of the core team at Provender. The teams that produce the content for the rest of the community are ready to include you in many ways:

  • We are actively planning on an in-person Conference again in Oct 2022. We are grown-ups who know that we can’t predict the course of the pandemic, but this seems prudent by current measures.
  • We also have an unprecedented level of other programming, with several different online trainings having been produced already and more to come
  • We produce a regular monthly Provender Community Conversation (the Conversations have so far included over 50 key contributors from 35 different Provender member organizations and others).
  • We are seeking our next Executive Director now

All these processes involves both Board and volunteers. I’m inviting you to share in this rewarding work as we continue to make Provender the strong, unique community that it has grown into. Please contact: the Provender office at [email protected], or me, Joe Wade at [email protected] / 206-478-4969.