2011 board candidate statements and videos

The 2010-2011 nominating committee presented a slate of five candidates for consideration in the 2011 election.

Each candidate provided some biographical background as well their thoughts on three questions regarding PCC’s future. Those questions are repeated below for each of the candidate's statements.

Carol Binder

Carol Binder (incumbent)

I have lived in Seattle for more than 30 years, all of them in West Seattle. I am a regular shopper at the West Seattle PCC and remember when it opened. Having lived and raised a family in the same neighborhood, I have developed a strong support of community enterprises. It is that sense of community and the loyalty that goes with it, that has attracted me to PCC and service on its board of trustees.

I have a 30 year career in business and finance, beginning with work for a large international accounting firm, to owning my own business, and most recently, to serving as chief executive officer of the Pike Place Market.

Throughout my work and personal life I have been drawn to businesses whose focus has been broader than just economic success. I have a strong personal commitment to good food and a healthy lifestyle. I have recently retired from the market, but have continued to work as a consultant effecting a smooth transition. I am looking forward to using my time and talents to work with other great community assets, such as PCC.

Why do you want to serve on the board?

I am running for my second term on the PCC Board of Trustees. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a trustee and hope to continue in that role for a variety of reasons. My background, both personal and professional is a good match with PCC's Ends policies and its values as a cooperative business.

I have learned in my first term that PCC is a complicated organization, being in the competitive retail grocery business and also a model community asset. Understanding and balancing these complexities takes time and effort, but is an interesting and rewarding challenge. I am committed to PCC's value driven business model, plans for continued growth and member satisfaction, and would love to continue to work with the members and staff to accomplish these ends and more.

What makes PCC a different kind of business?

PCC is a cooperative business whose bottom line consists of more than just financial success. PCC is committed to doing business in an environmentally and socially sustainable way. The cooperative model generates a strong loyalty from members, customers and suppliers that comes from feeling like you belong and have shared values.

PCC has been successful in developing a strong financial position and an admired brand in the very competitive grocery business in Seattle and surrounding areas. It is staying true to its values of financial, social and environmental success in our community that make PCC the organization that it is today.

What unique skill or perspective will you bring to the board?

I have experience balancing the varied demands of a large and complex organization such as PCC. From day to day store operations, to store expansions, to its membership and the policy governance model of organizational management, PCC is unique. I have learned much about PCC in my first term and can bring that knowledge to my next term on the board.

During my years at Pike Place Market, both on that board and as the CEO, I have developed a knowledge of local food and agriculture issues that exist in our state and nationally, particularly issues surrounding small farmer and distribution systems. I believe that understanding adds to value as a trustee of PCC. In addition, my work with the Pike Place Market entailed real estate leasing and major retail renovation construction projects, both planning and implementation. This background can be of value to PCC as it continues to look for locations for new stores.

Julianne Lamsek

Julianne Lamsek (incumbent)

Community is important to me and I believe in community service. Since becoming a PCC board trustee in 2008, I have supported the health of our co-op through listening and learning, thinking strategically, and collaborating with the board and management to ensure PCC's continued success.

As the technology Director at KCTS 9, I plan and execute strategic use of technology to advance business operations. I have a demonstrated background in leadership, analytical thinking, and creative problem solving — skills I've utilized as a PCC trustee.

As a consumer and aspiring cook, I seek food that is safe, nutritious, and sustainably produced. I believe access to quality local food is essential to sustaining healthy communities. Being a Seattle native, lifelong PCC shopper, and long-time PCC Cooks volunteer, I value PCC's leadership in supporting our community and environment through education, advocacy, and farmland preservation.

Before joining PCC's board, I proudly served as a University of Washington Business School MBA Board Fellow. I'm currently on the YWCA's finance and philanthropy committees, and previously sat on its board.

I am committed to devoting my expertise and experience to PCC and would be honored to continue my service on the board.

Why do you want to serve on the board?

I am passionate about participating in PCC's leadership because I value all that PCC brings to our community. It is inspiring that every product PCC sells directly contributes to the welfare of the environment and our community. I value PCC's commitment to serving member values — supporting sustainable agriculture, building healthy communities, focusing on local, and sustaining the financial well-being of our co-op.

Since becoming a PCC trustee, I have used my skills, energy and experience to enhance the onboarding process for new trustees, improve board self-evaluation, and increase the board's education on topics relevant to board governance. I want to continue to work on educating PCC's board on topics such as the food system, issues surrounding childhood nutrition, and the competitive environment our cooperative operates in, so that PCC can best serve our community.

What makes PCC a different kind of business?

Every aspect of PCC's business aligns with its model of balancing economic, social and environmental responsibilities. From consistently providing high quality food to supporting local sustainable agriculture, PCC is a proven, profitable, socially responsible business — a role model for others to follow.

PCC differentiates itself from other businesses with its talented, service-oriented staff, innovative culture, high quality products, and strong commitment to upholding member values. By being accountable to its members rather than corporate shareholders, PCC is demonstrating actively that the cooperative model is a viable and profitable business model.

What unique skill or perspective will you bring to the board?

With nearly three years of experience on PCC's board, my understanding of PCC's business needs and challenges is strong — knowledge built by listening to member views, learning about the business, and educating myself about the landscape within which PCC operates.

As PCC's current board chair, I perpetuate the board's work while serving as a close link between the board and management. This experience has helped solidify my understanding of the board's role in governing our co-op, how the board supports PCC currently, and how it can shape PCC's future.

My expertise with information technology is not otherwise represented on the board. Information systems are critical to PCC's operations and I gladly contribute my technical business expertise.

In addition to serving currently on PCC's board, I proudly have served my community through other organizations. These experiences have taught me the skills and value of effective board governance.

Michael LaBaw

Michael LaBaw

I graduated with a degree in accounting from Colorado State University and started my career 35 years ago as a certified public accountant. I subsequently held key management positions as an owner or executive for several privately held companies in the retail, agriculture and service sectors. I am currently the founder and president of Sound Telecom, a 25 year-old nationwide telephone answering and call center service headquartered in Seattle.

Community service is important to me. I have served at church, Little League baseball and softball, and several parent-teacher school association boards for the past two decades. I have gained invaluable experience on several non-profit boards, serving in leadership roles as chairman, treasurer and chairing audit and marketing committees.

My wife, Cheryl, and I have five children from age 35 to 16. We are residents in Sammamish and frequent the Issaquah PCC store several times a week at the juice bar, dining and shopping. It would be a pleasure and honor to serve as a PCC board trustee.

Why do you want to serve on the board?

I have been a customer of the Issaquah store since it opened 10 years ago and became a member in early 2009. I am a recent cancer survivor and PCC played an important role in my recovery. I completely revamped my lifestyle and embraced a healthy, sustainable way of life. PCC provides a one stop shop for a fresh juice every morning, fresh locally grown organic vegetables, education, recipes and a large variety of products promoting health and well-being. The friendly and helpful employees make it an enjoyable part of my daily regimen.

I simply would like to serve, give back, and be part of this incredible organization. It's no mistake that PCC is the nation's largest natural foods retail co-op. PCC's values, mission and governance align with principles I am passionate about:

  • Friendly customer service
  • Customer education
  • Delicious food
  • High quality food standards
  • Excellent natural and organic products
  • Community involvement and support
  • Support of local sustainable farming
  • Support of local vendor partners

What makes PCC a different kind of business?

First and foremost PCC differs dramatically from other organizations because it is organized as a co-op. PCC epitomizes the fundamental principles of a co-op in its dedication to valuing its employees, members and partners, and their ideas and input; supporting and being involved in the communities it serves; and educating, training and informing its varied constituencies. This creates a distinct opportunity for involvement and input that is not available in most organizations and is unusual in today's world.

My shopping experience at PCC is vastly different than anywhere else I shop. The customer service and dedication of the people who work here is a major differentiator. It's a joy to shop and eat at PCC stores.

What unique skill or perspective will you bring to the board?

I have broad-based experience and resources to draw from that have been accumulated across several business sectors in the areas of executive management, sales and marketing, and finance and accounting.

The common thread throughout my career is that I enjoy working with people and thrive in roles that require collaborative sharing of information and ideas, and working as a team to create, assimilate and implement sound decisions and solutions.

Being an owner of small farm acreage, former controller of a processor of dry peas and lentils, and member of a local CSA (Sol to Seed Farms in Carnation) gives me a unique perspective and interest in seeing continued support for the PCC Farmland Trust and local Northwest growers.

Jane Repensek

Jane Repensek

I have spent 24 years as a financial services executive with a breadth of accounting, finance and corporate governance experience in both for-profit and not-for-profit environments. I currently serve as the vice-president of finance and administration for Special Olympics Washington and as a board trustee with Mutual of Enumclaw.

Prior experience includes various positions in banking and investment management, corporate accounting and budgeting, public accounting, and internal audit.

My favorite activities include running, skiing, golfing, wine tasting, traveling and reading. I earned an MBA from the University of Chicago, have my certified public accountant license, and celebrate all of the things that living in Seattle has to offer.

Why do you want to serve on the board?

I believe that individual participation strengthens institutions. Strong institutions lead to strong communities. Serving on the board for PCC will allow me to contribute individually to the organization, an institution that serves a vital role in the lives of those living in the greater Seattle area.

On a more personal note, I value PCC as an organization because it is a great influence on my nutrition. Like many, I had to overcome poor eating habits. PCC has helped to make this easier with beautiful, nutritious and delicious natural foods.

I also admire PCC as it embraces many of the things I value in my community: preservation of pristine farmlands, sustainability of agriculture, education of consumers, employment of the disabled, and a food bank for the disadvantaged. It would be an honor to serve on the PCC Board of Trustees and contribute directly to maintaining the strength and integrity of PCC Natural Markets.

What makes PCC a different kind of business?

PCC strengthens all aspects of our community — local farmers who produce great food, employee associates who educate and serve customers, and consumers who can choose among healthy and flavorful dietary options. Much of this is made possible by PCC's corporate structure as a "cooperative" by promoting priorities other than profit maximization.

It is very easy to see the enthusiasm that the farmers, employees and customers have for PCC. Farmers participate in PCC's Farmland Trust and can be seen in photographs around the stores and occasionally at PCC locations. Employees promote and participate in advice, tours and cooking classes to educate customers about wholesome and nutritious alternatives. Cooperative members embrace the PCC mission and patronize the stores, tours and cooking classes. PCC members also help to establish and guide the organization's overall priorities.

From my perspective, these aspects set PCC apart from other grocery and food service providers in the greater Seattle area.

What unique skill or perspective will you bring to the board?

PCC plays a unique role in our community by bridging the gap from producers to end consumers. It looks at food production as a holistic and sustainable process, not simply "the best deal today." Thus, there are countless ways to broaden PCC's reach throughout the community.

Professionally, I have experience in balancing this institutional enthusiasm with the financial realities and operating constraints that face all businesses. I have helped for-profit and not-for-profit organizations grow and thrive while remaining mindful of sound business practices, laws and regulations, and good corporate governance.

Protecting the integrity, sustainability and strength of PCC as an organization are primary objectives. Further, as a first-time PCC board member, my curiosity will lead me to ask the questions "why" and "why not" with a fresh set of eyes.

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams

My wife and I have shopped at PCC for more than 30 years. PCC is an important part of our lives. For example, eating healthy, sustainably grown food is important to us, so we have an organic vegetable garden — and we shop at PCC. The environment is important to us, so we bike to work, are active with environmental groups, and we value PCC's support for local farmers and its advocacy work.

My family has lived in the Puget Sound area since the 1800's and I grew up in Seattle. I have many years of board experience for non-profit and corporate organizations, most recently chairing the board of the Cascade Land Conservancy, a local non-profit that has been phenomenally successful in protecting natural lands, including local farmland.

I have been a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, parent, lawyer, banker and, for eight years the CEO of HomeStreet Bank, a local community bank with an award-winning social responsibility program.

Because of my values and experience, I would be an enthusiastic and experienced board member, working to provide value to our members, to maintain PCC's financial strength, and to increase PCC's influence in our region.

Why do you want to serve on the board?

Because PCC supports my family's values and how we want to live, I am passionate about PCC's mission. I also care deeply about the Puget Sound region and its future. To be economically prosperous and environmentally sustainable, our region needs businesses like PCC — that provide their customers with environmentally sustainable choices, that have a strong sense of social responsibility and are financially strong.

Also, because of my many years of board, non-profit and business experience, I believe I could make a difference in the board's contributions to PCC's success.

Finally, I would like to give back to the PCC community that has served my family for so many years.

What makes PCC a different kind of business?

PCC is different from most businesses in its ownership, its mission, the value it provides to its customers and the benefit it provides to its communities. PCC is owned by members who, through the board of trustees, have directed that its mission go far beyond profitability and even beyond providing healthy food at fair prices.

Our mission includes nutrition education, support of local sustainable agriculture and policy advocacy. When we spend our money at PCC, we not only get healthy food — we join together to contribute to a safer food system, a healthier environment and a stronger community.

What unique skill or perspective will you bring to the board?

I bring many years of experience helping organizations contribute to their communities and be financially strong. This includes serving on boards of both non-profit and for profit organizations and all aspects of board work: board chair, chairing and serving on board committees, planning and leading meetings and board retreats, recruiting and evaluating board members and working with management teams and employees.

For example, in addition to being the immediate past chair of the Cascade Land Conservancy, for many years I have been CLC's Treasurer and Chair of its Finance Committee. For eight years I chaired the board of HomeStreet Bank.

In addition, having been a Peace Corps Volunteer, lawyer, banker and CEO, I bring skills in community service and working together with diverse peoples, and many years experience with legal, financial and leadership issues.

Finally, I bring a cooperative spirit and enjoy sharing different perspectives and ideas resulting in a better solution than any of us could have created individually.

More about: board of trustees, election, member meetings, membership

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