Candidate Statement: Tomi Whitaker

Tomi Whitaker

Image1. Why are you interested in serving on the board of Bloomington Cooperative Services, Inc?  In the US we are experiencing the deterioration of our economy, health and natural resources; all around the world we face equal challenges that greatly affect our future.  
We are also experiencing a revolutionary and evolutionary time for the environmental movement; I am passionate about the welfare of our future and promoting the health, safety and humane treatment of the earth, humans and animals. For me serving on the board would be a tremendous honor.    
2. What experience or involvement have you had with Bloomingfoods or other cooperatives?  To this point I've been a consumer and supporter of Bloomingfoods, other co-op stores and farmers markets.  I'm a current Bloomingfoods member and a member of Co-op America. I also refer many of my family members, friends, coworkers and customers to the stores. I encourage everyone to eat organically, locally grown produce and meats; to purchase fair trade products that are environmentally friendly, humane and non-toxic.     
3. What do you see as the role of BCS, Inc. in the community?  The role of the board is to serve the people and our economy; to define the direction of the coop and support the general manager and employees; to research technology and products; plan and organize events to support the mission; also, to educate local businesses and consumers on incorporating sustainable practices in business and lifestyle.    
4. What are opportunities and challenges that you see in the future of the co-op?  Opportunities are economic growth; increased product development and availability; accelerated community/governmental support; technological advancement in services and products; exciting fundraising and educational opportunities; increased participation from consumers, local growers and green businesses.
5. Please share any professional, volunteer, or life experience you have had that will provide insight when serving on the BCS board of directors.  Include knowledge, skills, formal training, and education that will contribute to the mission of our co-op.  Future challenges will be competition (including box stores), green washing, product authenticity, energy and fuel prices, weather and water resources, membership retention and our current economic state.     
6. What has been your experience in working cooperatively with small groups of people (such as being a member of a committee, team sports, or volunteer as part of a work group for any organization).  I'm a licensed cosmetologist, however, I have contact allergies, and through my condition I've become knowledgeable in product ingredients and safety. Additionally, I have a BS degree from IU with an emphasis in resource management and geography. Early 2000 I worked for the US Army Corps of Engineers as a Park Ranger. I've been an environmental activist for 20 plus years and facilitated many environmental education, animal welfare and wildlife programs.
While I take pride in being an independent person, I have enjoyed being a part of committees, volunteered hundreds of hours, and worked with many small groups/teams throughout the years. I enjoy working with others, especially advocating for mother earth and the greater good of man and animals. I've learned that good communication and working well with others is extremely educational for all, but more importantly, imperative towards fulfilling a mission.  
I believe that through locally grown foods, sustainable, eco friendly-humane farming and business practices we can change the course of the economic future and improve the quality of life in our community and the world.       
More and more people every day want to know where their food and goods come from and how they are produced. Member-owned is the best way to connect people to the food they eat and goods they purchase.
7. How do your values and lifestyle align with the values and mission of the co-op?  While I'm from Bloomington, I've lived in Illinois, Kentucky, Florida and Georgia. My father worked in the petroleum business for 30+ years and we lived next to asphalt plants most of my childhood.  I've also seen first hand the horrors of factory farming – both were experiences that changed me and my life forever.  
8. Please share any other brief statement that you feel is particularly important regarding your potential service as a member of the board.  I believe that the role of BCS Board of Directors is critical to the continued success of the co-op. Boards can be a huge asset and benefit to an organization; ineffective and merely tolerated; or a detriment and an obstacle that must be overcome. Over the course of my career, I have seen all of these situations and I am committed to being part of a board that is valued for its contribution to the organization.