2017 Board Candidate Statements and Videos

Ben Klasky

Years ago, my wife and I went on some of our first dates at our local food coop. It was the breed of coop that required each of its members to volunteer each month in the store. While interacting with other members at the cash registers and sorting bulk foods, I first learned how remarkable the culture and community of a co-op can be, as compared to typical grocery stores. I have been impressed with how PCC has maintained many of these positive cultural and community aspects, even though it is significantly larger than my first co-op.


Why do you want to serve on the PCC Board of Trustees?

I want to serve on the PCC board because it is a truly special organization and I want to support its mission. I am currently the CEO of IslandWood — a regional nonprofit that is focused on teaching thousands of children each year about the environment and sustainability. From our organic garden to our incredible family-style meals, I get to observe daily the values of both high-quality food and the joy of eating in community. I am committed to PCC because it shares both of these values as well.

I also want to serve as a trustee because I’m impressed with PCC’s culture, and want to help maintain the best aspects of this culture in the future — a challenging goal as we continue to grow and serve more people in our region. Finally, I want to serve as a trustee because I believe in the power that the PCC community has (with our shopping choices) on the world around us. Through my experiences, I believe strongly in the power of our collective purchasing power on creating positive social and environmental change in the world.


In your view, what differentiates PCC from other businesses?

In a graduate class that I teach at UW, I have my students debate whether an apple purchased at PCC is better than an apple purchased from a large chain grocery store. In my opinion, the answer is a resounding yes. PCC’s commitment to quality, organic, natural foods mean there is a good chance that the apple is actually of higher quality than those sold at a competitor. But even if the apples were picked on the same day from the same farm, I’d argue that PCC’s apples are better because of how they are delivered to our members. PCC has made extraordinary decisions that ordinary corporations see as too risky. An example of this is PCC’s pledge to be non-GMO. PCC has also taken stands on energy efficiency, waste management and air quality — all of which corporate competitors struggle to do at times because of their stronger focus on profits.


What experiences, skills and/or perspectives will you bring to the board?

I have an MBA and have served as the CEO or executive director for three different companies. One of these was a membership organization (with tens of thousands of members), and it was focused on sustainability and corporate social responsibility. In addition, I have served on 10 boards throughout my career — including our region’s largest National Public Radio affiliate, with an audience of 350,000 listeners. While serving on boards, I have held officer roles ranging from treasurer to secretary to board chair. Early in my career, I worked as a management consultant at Deloitte, and I specialized in Change Leadership. I will work to help PCC maintain its positive culture and values as it navigates an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Stephen Tan

PCC does what few commercial enterprises would even consider. It puts the well-being of its members and customers, our local communities and the environment at the heart of its business plan. This principled way of doing business creates certain challenges, but it also gives PCC the opportunity to prove that a company can prosper, not despite its genuine commitment to the welfare and the environmental and social interests of its patrons, but because of it.

The values by which PCC operates reflect my own. As an attorney with an exclusive practice in environmental law, I have devoted my professional life to the protection of public health and the environment and the wise use of natural resources. As a trained conservation biologist, I understand how impaired ecological health affects us as individuals and as a regional and global community. As someone with an extensive history of board service, I have seen firsthand what dedicated, well-run organizations can achieve. And as a business owner, I know that without financial success, other goals have little meaning.


Why do you want to serve on the PCC Board of Trustees?

Food matters. It matters in ways that are fundamental and personal, and in ways that are less apparent but no less important. Collectively, the decisions we make about what we eat, its quality and how it’s produced drive agricultural and environmental policy. They dictate where we devote the resources of our health care system and how we manage our public lands and waters. They determine our trade relationships with other nations. To a significant degree, they define our culture. As they say, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are.”

PCC understands that these seemingly simple choices we make multiple times each day have profound implications. By offering us food that is responsibly produced, educating us on matters of nutrition and personal wellness, and advocating for a more thoughtful agricultural and food policy, it helps us make these decisions wisely. I know of no company engaged in a more important business.


In your view, what differentiates PCC from other businesses

Most businesses operate without regard to the environmental and social consequences of their actions. While they may present themselves as good corporate citizens, a closer look reveals a single-minded focus on profit. Of the few companies that do take steps to adopt sustainable business practices, most view their efforts as a sacrifice or as a means to promote themselves, not as an investment in their future or in the future of the people and communities they serve. Predictably, their efforts often lack substance.

At PCC, we believe that profitability, social responsibility and environmental sustainability can be not only compatible, but coextensive. We believe that success in one of these measures of performance can create opportunity and foster achievement in others. And we believe that succeeding as a business truly driven by its values can show other companies that doing good can help them do well.


What experiences, skills and/or perspectives will you bring to the board?

My experience as an attorney and my education in conservation science allow me to understand how the environmental issues our region faces affect our everyday lives, the welfare of our communities and the health of our local economy. In addition, through my business and boardroom experience, I understand the responsibility of serving clients, fulfilling obligations to employees and working collaboratively with others. I would consider it a privilege to be allowed the opportunity to devote my experience, time and effort to serve on PCC’s board.

Bruce Williams

My wife and I have shopped at PCC for more than 35 years for the healthy food, the environmental leadership, the advocacy and the sense of community. I am completing my second term as a PCC trustee and would like to serve a third and final term.

PCC is an important part of my family’s life. 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 of local farmers and its advocacy work.

I have many years of board experience for numerous organizations, both nonprofit and for-profit. I also have been a Peace Corps volunteer, parent, lawyer, banker and the CEO of HomeStreet Bank, a local community bank with an award-winning social responsibility program. In addition, I have learned a lot about PCC and its board in my first two terms.

Because of my values and experience, I am 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 PCC Board of Trustees?

First, I am passionate about PCC’s mission, which is not only close to my values but also important to our community. To be economically prosperous and environmentally sustainable, our region needs more businesses like PCC.

Second, because of my commitment to PCC’s mission and my many years of board experience, I believe I make a difference in the board’s contributions to PCC’s success.


In your view, what differentiates PCC from other businesses?

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. Through PCC, members’ individual actions in buying their groceries are united into a strong collective force that advances our mission. 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 experiences, skills and/or perspectives 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 nonprofit and for-profit organizations and experience in 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, I was the board chair and finance committee chair of Forterra (formerly the Cascade Land Conservancy). For eight years I chaired the board of HomeStreet Bank.

In addition to board work, I have been a Peace Corps volunteer, parent, lawyer, banker and CEO. These give me skills in community service and working together with diverse people, 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 one of us could have created individually.