Central Co-op Names New CEO

SEATTLE–Central Co-op today announced the Co-op’s Board of Trustees has hired Catherine Willis Cleveland to lead the 40-year-old community-owned grocer. Cleveland brings thirteen years of experience as a Store Director and Community Relations Manager at PCC Community Markets, as well as ten years of leadership in nonprofit organizations.

“Central Co-op is a model for building sustainable communities and a hub for celebrating healthy food,” Cleveland said. “When I was growing up my mother coordinated a cooperative produce buying club off our front porch and I have carried those cooperative values with me ever since. I am thrilled to be taking this leadership role at Central Co-op and to help guide this community-grown grocer into the future.”

Cleveland has managed annual budgets of $23 million, overseen staff teams of over 100 employees, and pursued extensive public relations and community outreach strategies. A seasoned fundraiser, Cleveland has raised millions of dollars, providing a structure for nonprofits to be successful with her focused approach to bringing people together.

“We are thrilled with Catherine’s blend of retail co-op and nonprofit experience,” said Co-op Board Chair Brian Bessembinders. “Her past success in managing PCC stores, her familiarity with the cooperative business model, and her extensive experience contributing to the growth of nonprofits make us confident that she will be able to hit the ground running as we celebrate the opening of our new Tacoma store and look ahead to future projects at our Seattle store and beyond.”

Cleveland replaces long-term interim CEO Garland McQueen who announced in January that he intends to return to Georgia to spend time with his family. He will stay on for a short transition period to ensure continuity with the Co-op’s anticipated store-opening in Tacoma in the coming months.

About Central Co-op

Originally founded on Seattle’s Capitol Hill in 1978, Central Co-op is a community-owned natural foods cooperative. A complete grocery store dedicated to sustainable practices and the Washington food economy, Central Co-op features organic produce, humanely raised meat and wild seafood, a large selection of bulk goods and herbs, an extensive health and wellness section and unique gifts. Through their Co-op Basics program, the Co-op offers over 250 everyday items at especially low prices and offers 10% off to those receiving government assistance twice a week, through their Healthy Community Program. Central Co-op follows a solidarity model with both worker and consumer ownership. Open to everyone, seven days a week, Central Co-op has more than 14,500 active owners, and in January of 2015 became the first grocery store in the nation to pay better than $15/hour at entry level with full benefits for full-time workers. Merged with the Tacoma Food Co-op in fiscal year 2016, Central Co-op is working to open a new location on N. Pearl St. in Tacoma. More information is available at www.centralcoop.coop.