Our Women Leaders

From left: Rebecca Lee, Director of Purchasing and Merchandising; Angela Ritchie, Wedge Table Manager; Alex Zappa, Catering and Wholesale Manager; Madeleine Isaacson, Digital Communication Manager; Emily Kaster, Wedge and Linden Hills Health & Body Care Manager; Kanitha Ma, Accounting Manager; Jess Pierce, Director of Brand Marketing; Laura Glass, Creative Partner; Deb Kermeen, CFO; Missy Smith, Director of Culinary Operations; Lori Zuidema, CPW Office and Sales Manager
Not Pictured: Megan Petrowski, Human Resources Manager; Christa Sorenson, CPW Outside Sales Manager; Leah Korger, Commissary Kitchen Manager

Our cover features a few of the smart women that keep our co-op businesses running. Their insight and expertise guides our finances, culinary operations, sales, everyday decisions and more. Here’s what they have to say about what they’ve learned and who inspires them.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF 10 YEARS AGO?

“Be strong and stand up for yourself. As a female it is important to have your voice heard and make sure you are advocating for your needs. I would remind myself of work-life balance and to be smart about my finances — put more in my retirement! Also, do lots of yoga!”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. You will make mistakes and learn from them. They will be a gift, from which you will grow.”

“Be positive, curious and adaptable. Trust your gut and work hard. And it’ll all work out better than you ever thought.”

“You are just as lovely and capable as you think you are — stay true to your roots and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. In the past ten years, I’ve proven many folks wrong, had a lot of tough conversations with myself, and achieved things beyond my wildest dreams. I could’ve done without the self-doubt along the way.”

“Be patient and kind to yourself. Early in my career, I felt like in order to prove myself, I had to do everything perfectly and without any failure. Turns out, that isn’t achievable and can lead to self-doubt and undue stress. I learned to ask for help, accept and expect failure, and learn from it. I also learned, and continue to learn, to be patient and kind to everyone I work with. It’s easy to pass judgment, but it’s so important to express gratitude and empathy for all your coworkers.”

WHO ARE YOUR WOMEN ROLE MODELS?

“My biggest female role model is my mom. She is hard working, strong, and advocates for herself! She is loving but firm and has a great sense of self. She takes time for herself and also does any and everything for her family. She is the smartest, most supportive person I’ve ever met and makes me want to be a better person!”

“There are so many amazing women at TCCP, so first and foremost, them. Then Michelle Obama. I literally have her picture above my desk, reminding me ‘When they go low, we go high.’ She’s amazing.”

“My mother, certainly. She is the oldest of eight, an Italian American tough-as-nails farm chick that could cook you under the table. She has led committees, taught cooking classes, raised four children of her own, and had a career as a social worker. If I’m half as productive, I will be proud. Also Oprah, I’m always so impressed by her zeal and self-assuredness.”

“One of my first bosses out of college was one of the fiercest, strongest women I could have ever learned from. She worked in a man’s industry and every day would break down stereotypes of what it meant to be a woman in business. She pushed me, allowed me to learn from my mistakes and taught me I could do anything in life. I also look up to my peers at work. When we work together, we learn and grow from each other and that is powerful.”

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN ENTERING THE LOCAL FOOD, SMALL BUSINESS OR CO-OP WORLD?

“Do it — we need more of you! Network, get in the room. Ask others to connect you to the right person. Put yourself out there and good things will happen.”

“Use your tribe. You can’t do it all yourself. Find an expert and build a strong support system to be here when you rise and fall.”

“Working for a small business is empowering, fascinating and engaging. Your role is vital and evolves with each new project and opportunity. Embrace the variety of problem solving and thinking you get to do, and stay flexible. Whether it’s working on the nitty gritty, or bigger exciting projects, everything matters. Everything keeps the wheels turning, and that’s powerful motivation.”

“Do it, we need you, we want you. That does not mean it’s going to be easy, but I always advocate for more women’s voices in the food industry. I would also say to keep trying even if you don’t succeed right away. There were many times I reached out for internship opportunities, applied for jobs, or tried to get an idea off the ground to no avail. Timing is everything, and just because it doesn’t work out once, doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea or that you should stop trying if you feel passionate about it.”

View Empowered Women Empower Women 

View Our Women Vendors 

Read Cultivate Spring 2018 articles

View Cultivate Spring 2018 PDF