Provender 2021 Board of Directors Election Results

January 7th 2021

Provender Alliance recently held its annual election for the Board of Directors. For 2021, we have three newly elected board members for the three spots that were open seats.

Two of the candidates who ran are new to the board — Stephen Ohl from Community Food Co-op in Bozeman, MT, and Jackson Bagley-Bonner from Hummingbird Wholesale in Eugene, OR. Our returning member is Troy Eustice (treasurer) from Sundance Natural Foods in Eugene, OR. They will join Provender’s other four board members – Mark DiMaggio (board president), Meg Kennedy (secretary), Joe Wade, and Jenica Caudill.

Participation is at the heart of Provender Alliance as a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering our members’ independent integrity and their success in the natural foods trade. Every member organization received one ballot. Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote.

Each candidate completed answers to a number of questions, which are shared below.


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

STEPHEN OHL: I have only been working in the natural foods industry for a few years now, but I have had an outstanding upbringing working with the Bozeman Community Food Co-op. My work there has helped me to learn to balance idealism with realism, and given me a chance to see what organizations like ours can offer to all segments of our community. I have been proud to be a part of the Bozeman Co-op’s success, especially in the areas of analysis and planning. I have seen firsthand how a community-oriented business can thrive and even out-compete the corporate competition while maintaining and in fact spreading the values of natural foods and the local food economy. Provender is an organization that is clearly dedicated to these values. I would be proud to have the opportunity to bring my skills to bear for an organization that embodies this movement that I see as essential to our shared future.


JACKSON BAGLEY-BONNER
: I’m a 30-year-old transplant from the Ohio corn belt. I’ve been in the Eugene area since 2013. I discovered a love for whole foods and natural living when I was 19 that led me to an entirely new way of life, an organic farm in the North Carolina mountains, and a 150-pound weight loss journey. When I finally ended up in a small retail natural food store in Oregon, I knew I had found my people. I think there is something incredibly special and unique about the natural products trade in the Pacific Northwest and want to devote some time and energy to help maintain and build the industry and community that I love.


TROY EUSTICE: I am the Grocery Manager at Sundance Natural Foods in Eugene, Oregon. I have been a part of the Natural Foods movement since 1997. In continued service to the board, I hope to combine my experience, passion, and ethics to better our community and the greater Natural Foods movement.

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

STEPHEN OHL: I have been lucky enough to develop a very diverse skill set in my time with the Bozeman Community Food Co-op. I have had the opportunity to get face-to-face with our customers quite a bit, and to discover the paradigms that keep them returning over and over: transparency, quality and community. I’ve also had the opportunity to analyze our data in numerous ways and have learned not only how to interpret the numbers, but how to adapt to the changing realities we see. This has proven to be critical in helping our organization respond to the major shifts in the national economy this year. My perceptiveness and adaptability are the main traits I would like to add to the Provender BOD.

JACKSON BAGLEY-BONNER: I’ve worked all along the supply chain from the field to warehouse to retailer to plate and have a good understanding of our supply chain from a regional distribution point of view. My work has helped hone my communication skills and allow me to find common ground and success between parties that don’t always see eye to eye.

TROY EUSTICE:  I bring four years of experience as a Board member and over 20 years of experience in the Natural Foods Movement. As an “essential worker” I have been on the front lines during the pandemic at Sundance while working closely with business partners to create new ways of doing business. As we have seen, it is these everyday connections and relationships which become so important when a crisis presents itself. Provender exists to foster these relationships, supplying a space where we work together toward solving shared problems. I want to continue to build on the foundation of our connections in the Pacific Northwest and Provender is the organization to accomplish this mission.


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

STEPHEN OHL: I deeply believe in the advantages of the local food economy and food choice. The natural foods market has been a major, major driver in changing the way that our entire society eats. Historically this has been an uphill battle, and organizations like Provender that help to unify members of this movement are the vanguard as we collectively struggle forwards in it. Community is the basis of what we all do, and Provender is a ‘community of communities’ that can be incredibly meaningful and effective. I absolutely want to be a part of that.

JACKSON BAGLEY-BONNER: I’ve experienced incredible personal and professional growth at the Provender conference every time that I’ve attended. I think this organization provides an incredible space for what makes this industry so special and I want to work hard to allow others to have the growth and learning opportunities that Provender has given me. I also think board work will help expand me professionally while doing something I care about.

TROY EUSTICE: Provender, unlike any other group, is dedicated to building relationships through sharing and helping one another. I have long concerned myself with how to further those goals, how to encourage the growth of Provender while sticking to the integrity of its mission. Provender connects like-minded organizations and individuals in a deeply human way, unlike other organizations that prioritize politics or profits.

Like you and your businesses, Provender has seen increasing challenges and disruptions in recent times. But this only reinforces the importance of this Alliance—it is only through cooperation that we can survive and thrive.

 

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

STEPHEN OHL: I was able to attend the 2019 Provender Conference. Beyond the very practical elements of getting access to varied products (and the producers that make them, which is often impossible in traditional foods), there is a deeper philosophical element. I seriously enjoyed the first keynote speaker (Eric Holt-Giménez), who spoke at length about the global food economy and how it has abjectly failed (I mean seriously enjoyed – I took three full pages of notes). His anthropological take on the subject struck me as more meaningful and truer than anything else I’ve heard or read on the subject. It reinforced my belief in local food economy, and made it clear that Provender is an organization seeking to consider all of the elements of this global industry. Analysis is often too rare in our industry, and hearing that speech I was very encouraged that we can actually do this.

JACKSON BAGLEY-BONNER: At the 2018 conference I was lucky enough to take two workshops that radically changed my communication style and the way I do my job. The combination of the workshops “Engaging Customers through Authenticity” and “Emotionally Intelligent Customer Service” allowed me and peers to talk openly about company and role-specific challenges that really helped open my eyes to the best way to deal with problems and cultivate authentic relationships with customers. Ever since that conference, connections and communication have felt different. It’s allowed me to become more communicative and collaborative both personally and professionally. It was a truly “ah-ha” moment and things have been different ever since that day.

TROY EUSTICE: At the end of my first conference in 2011, early on Saturday morning, my only thought was, “I can’t wait until next year…” Each year the annual conference provides members a deeply meaningful experience, if one comes with passion and energy, open to genuine intention, learning, and experience.


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

STEPHEN OHL: I really do like food, and both cooking and eating yummy things is one of my favorite activities. I genuinely believe that our food system needs to be rethought in order for everyone to be able to enjoy food in the way I like to. I think that fixing our food systems is a ‘silver bullet’, that could help to affect everything from income & economy, to healthcare systems, to the environment, to global conflict. The first and maybe hardest step in this rethinking is education, and that’s where Provender really stands out to me. Additionally, the bringing together of producers, retailers, and consumers is a rare chance to come together to improve the system from all sides. These are things I really believe in, and I see working with Provender as an opportunity to make more a difference in this world.

JACKSON BAGLEY-BONNER: Provender is an amazing intersection of culture and business that encompasses so much of what’s important to me. Sustainable food systems, healthy living and self-empowerment are all paramount in my life and Provender. I’m passionate about using food as force for good and the amazing culture that built natural foods into the behemoth it is today. I think Provender is the most genuine trade organization in our industry and want to fight to keep such an important authentic part of our culture alive.

TROY EUSTICE: My passions: my family, my community, and helping to create a future in which health and opportunity are available to all. I focus my energy towards work which makes the world a better place.