I am excited and honored to advance my career with East End Food Co-op as general manager. Having spent the past six-and-a-half years working as the grocery manager, I have come to truly appreciate the role that we play in the local community and food system. Some of the most rewarding parts of my role at the co-op have been getting to know our local farmers and producers and working side-by-side with the passionate people who have helped grow the co-op through decades of service.
Food has been the center of my entire professional career. My path in the food industry began in high school, where a vocational culinary class showed me how much I enjoy cooking. Continuing my training in culinary school, I found extreme satisfaction in making healthy food that serves a purpose to our bodies and our overall wellbeing. Luckily, I was able to work in the restaurant business in Providence, RI, while earning my Bachelor of Science in Culinary Nutrition at Johnson & Wales University.
In 2005, I moved to Pittsburgh to complete my dietetic internship, and I became a certified Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist in 2006. The next six years were spent working in healthcare as a clinical dietitian, food service director and retail manager in local hospitals. In these roles, I developed my managerial and team-management skills. I worked with financial budgets, inventory management, menu planning, staff development and scheduling. During my time as the retail manager at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, I became more interested in the way the food industry sources and grows its food and in the impact it has on our environment. For example: I was part of the initial setup of Magee’s organic courtyard program, where we grew organic vegetables and herbs to be used in the cafeterias.
In search of becoming even more involved in Pittsburgh’s local food system, I came across the grocery manager position at the co-op. While working here, I completed my Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems at Green Mountain College of Poultney, VT. My master’s program, in addition to my natural-foods experience, allowed me to learn more intimately the strengths of our food system and the areas that need advocacy. In my years of service at the co-op, I have further strengthened my skills in category management, leadership and team-building, and I have experienced first-hand the many roles the co-op plays in the local food community.
In many of my positions, I have had the opportunity to create and re-think processes and procedures in order to generate and improve results. As a leader, I have implemented and taught new systems to the teams I have led, as well as increased sales and profitability. I have used existing tools for data analysis, along with new tools I developed, to determine the success of promotions, sales, and programs.
The co-op plays an important role in our local food system, and I’m excited to be a part of that as we continue to grow. As we evolve as an organization, I would like to see us transition from a focus on the “triple bottom line” (People, Planet, and Profit) to a quadruple bottom line — also looking at our Purpose in the community we serve. As a cooperative business, this should be an easy transition. I see us working together with staff, our board of directors and our members to strengthen our culture to be more inclusive and transparent. Being connected to where our food comes from is important, and my intent is to connect our members and shoppers with our farmers, to show each group how important they are in creating a resilient local food system. My goal is to continue to grow our financial stability so that we can explore our options to serve our staff, members, and shoppers even better. This will likely include looking into improving our current location or finding one that better suits our needs, like serving as many shoppers and local producers as possible.
I am grateful and eager to begin as the general manager of our co-op. I feel that we have an exciting future ahead of us!