The board of trustees for Seattle-based Central Co-op has hired Catherine Willis Cleveland as CEO.
Central Co-op, a community-owned natural foods cooperative, is a full-service grocery store dedicated to sustainable practices and the Washington food economy. It sells 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.
Cleveland has 13 years of experience as a store director and community relations manager at PCC Community Markets and 10 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 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.
Cleveland has managed annual budgets of $23 million, overseen staff teams of more than 100 employees, and pursued extensive public relations and community outreach strategies.
“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’s first day is March 25.