Meet the SFS 2012 Board Candidates

The nominating committee of the Slow Food Seattle board of directors has completed the process of selecting a slate of four candidates for board positions that will be proposed for election by voice vote at the annual meeting on Sunday, April 1st.

The nominees submitted background questionnaires that were evaluated by the committee and the board. Those selected as potential candidates were interviewed by a committee member. Our criteria for selecting candidates were - who would bring balance, enhancement, and experience to help us reach our goals.

Our bylaws stipulate that the members of the Slow Food Seattle Board of directors be elected by the membership. The nominating committee with the approval of the Board prepares a slate of candidates for board positions to be voted on by the membership attending the annual meeting.

During the past year there have been resignations of two members because of their job commitments. Our bylaws provide for the appointment of members to fill the unexpired terms of those resigning. This resulted in the appointment of Anna Li and Renai Mielke. Anna and Renai are now being placed on the ballot to be elected for a two-year term.

The board further considered and approved the applications of two additional candidates for board positions, Robin Leventhal and Rob Salvino.

Learn a little about the candidates below by their responses to the questions we posed and more in person at the

Annual Members Meeting on Sunday, April 1st.

The candidates are:

  • Robin Leventhal, website

  • Anna Li, TwizzlePop Marketing

  • Renai Mielke, website 

  • Rob Salvino, Terra Preta Sales

Are you familiar with Slow Food and if so what aspects of the organization have been of most interest to you?

  • Robin - When I first heard of Slow Food, as in NOT Fast Food, it was on a trip to Italy after College Graduation. I was a big gardener and ceramicist at the time and had just begun my curiosity in the kitchen as more than just post college survival meals. I can thank my Italian roommate who taught me the recipes she had learned from her mother.This was in rural Maine where eating from the sea was a way of life and the table was very much a pleasurable experience. I ate this up as if I was famished. Not malnutrition from lack of food but rather devoid of soul. Very much the antithesis of what I grew up with. While my parents know good food, they did not know how to share the table with good conversation. Growing up, meals were about sustenance, and very devoid of pleasure. Butter, sugar and salt were forbidden in our household. And it seems my mother only knew how to kill what was already dead. What Barbra, my Italian roommate taught me was how fun and delicious dinner can be. I embraced the Slow Food philosophy the second I read about it, as it resonated with this new found appreciation of what sharing the table really can be.Our health is multi-faceted. Fundamentally, if we take care of ourselves then theoretically we will live a long and healthy life. But, in this day and age when time is short and opportunity for indulgence is everywhere, how do we find that balance? As a cancer survivor I know firsthand how vital a good night sleep and avoiding stress is to maintain our health. I embrace living well, sugar in moderation but to deny ourselves what the earth gives us would only deny our true potential.

  • Anna - I have been a member of Slow Food for a number of years. During my membership with the Seattle chapter, I furthered the Makah Ozette Potato presidium by spearheading an effort to use the potato in The Essential Baking Company’s Potato bread. The Makah Ozette was featured in the retail loaves during its season and the local potato, heirlooms, and Slow Food Seattle were featured in flyers inside the bread bags along with an extensive PR campaign. I feel Slow Food is a terrific organization that helps promote and educate about heirloom, local, and sustainable food systems, and the joys of sharing the table.

  • Renai - I love the awareness that Slow Food Seattle brings to the sustainability and harvest practices of Pacific Northwest seafood through social media and sponsored events, as well as Slow Fish. I’ve spent five years working in the seafood industry, and am also the daughter of an Alaskan commercial fisherman - seafood sustainability is what sparked my initial interest and love for food politics..

  • Rob - Although I have not followed it closely I am familiar with the Slow Food organization. In fact, I was living in Rome in 1985 when the first McDonalds restaurant opened up at the base of the Spanish Steps—an event which ultimately gave rise to the Slow Food movement. What most interests me about Slow Food? There isn’t just one thing. On the one hand there’s the appreciation of good food and food traditions. The commitment to healthy communities, sustainable agriculture, and the biodiversity of our food supply are just as important if not more so since they touch all of us.

Which volunteer or professional organizations have you been a member and what was/is the extent of your involvement?

  • Robin - HUTCH: Actively do outreach for the Premier Chefs Dinner. Cooked for it in 2005, have sat on the board from ’06 – present. This is a lifetime position for me as a Cancer Survivor. I want to see this research facility succeed in their pursuit of finding better treatments and ultimately cures for cancer. Northwest Pottery: Do outreach for the annual auction as well as teach a class combining my two passions: cooking and ceramic. This is about creating something special to share with someone. It’s about the aesthetics of pleasure, sharing and giving. The class culminates with a potluck where we share a table featuring students’ favorite dishes, both culinary and ceramic. My hope is they take away a few of the ingredients for a more meaningful and passionate life. FareStart: Have done 3 dinners over the past 10 years. I believe intensely in the vision and mission of this organization and am actively seeking employment as a Chef Instructor at their downtown location. My choice to return to teaching is threefold. I love facilitating people in their own personal discovery. Every day that I teach, I learn, thus perpetuating my own growth. But ultimately, it’s the importance of giving back that I feel teaching is important and rewarding work that not only empowers me but supports my community.

  • Anna - I have been involved with a number of organizations over the years in addition to my involvement with Slow Food Seattle. My experiences include member of Chefs Collaborative, volunteering for Seattle Tilth, board member of the Seattle Skating Club, member of Green Guerillas, founding member and board member of the Skating Club of Darien.

  • Renai - I am currently a member of the Puget Sound Mycological Society. I have in the past donated my time to Alleycat Acres; auction items, financial support, and time to Community Alliance for Global Justice/SLEE.

  • Rob - Organizations that I belong to or recently belonged to include Chefs Collaborative, Washingon Tilth, Seattle P-Patch, and PCC Farmland Trust. My volunteer life tends to mirror my personal and professional life. Over the past 15 years, my wife and I have been busy raising two very active boys so I’ve been involved in youth sports and schools. I’ve been a basketball and baseball coach. I was treasurer for the kids’ elementary school. I’ve had a keen interest in healthy food and healthy farms since the early 90s. Back in the early 90s while I was the chairman of the Chicago Sierra Club, I organized a group of members into a sustainable agriculture committee. We held conferences. We educated the broader community on the importance of healthy food and healthy farms.

Slow Food Seattle is dedicated to activities that create responsible and pleasurable experiences at the table. Please provide a brief description of your interest and activities related to such objectives.

  • Robin - I feel my connection to the table both through my background in ceramics and over 20 years in the culinary industry give me a unique angle on the pleasure of sharing a meal. It becomes even more powerful when we have been responsible for its creation. From planting the seeds for the lettuces in the salad to making the dressing and all the components that accompany it, I can facilitate that entire experience.

  • Anna - My interest in food and sharing its pleasures runs long and deep such that it is a core aspect of my being. I come from a family of foodies that conjures up memories such as my dad rousing a 4 year old me in the wee, early hours to get freshly made napoleons from the bakery and my having a distinct preference for the French-style powdered sugar versus the Italian-style iced napoleons. Or, my making soft pretzels at age 10. Or, the summer I picked raspberries with my 7-month pregnant sister so that we could put up that year’s supply of jam. Summers in Seattle, I’m obsessed with growing and harvesting from my peach tree and bringing forth the year’s heirloom tomatoes and other seasonal treats. I am an avid Farmers Market participant. I have also been a member of a supper club where a group of friends would gather together to prepare a multi-course themed meal. Knowledge is traded and everyone goes home nourished body and soul.All of this is to say that I have a devoted interest in food and that I believe that Slow Food is a wonderful hub where participation and the sharing of information with like-minded folks can result in the magical.

  • Renai - I maintain a "lifestyle" blog that focuses primarily on whole and wild foods, foraging, connecting with the outdoors and local farmers, and enjoying the Pacific Northwest through food and community. I have an interest in nutrition and herbal remedies, and believe strongly in eating out of respect, awareness, and pleasure.

  • Rob - Who doesn’t love a party? I believe that it is incumbent upon Slow Food Seattle to host events that people on both sides of the food equation together in a fun and informative manner. One of the particularly intriguing challenges that I think about all of the time is how to bring good food to the masses and reduce what tends to be an activity among the cultural elites (think Jamie Oliver). I don’t have an answer, but I’d love to share ideas with others like you.

What attributes/skills would you bring to the Board of Directors and what roles would you see yourself contributing to on the board.

  • Robin - What I bring to Slow Food is my passion for sharing the magic of life. As a chef, I know how wonderful a delicious meal can make us feel, satisfying not only our bellies but our soul. I want to be around for as long as possible to make as much delicious food, share insight on how someone can find their own personal bliss and then continue that cycle of pleasure into their communities. It will be a better world, one bite, one lesson, one shared meal at a time.

  • Anna - I have worked professionally in marketing for many years. My experience includes developing and executing brand positions, advertising, public relations, events and new media solutions. I have held positions with Ogilvy & Mather NY, Young & Rubicam, American Express, and at Starwave. As the Director of Marketing and Sales at The Essential Baking Company, I became well versed in the issues and regulations of organics and “clean” food. I have managed internal, external and multi-departmental teams, and have worked on projects requiring innovative solutions. I hope to contribute to Slow Food’s efforts through my team building, marketing, communications and organizational skills.

  • Renai - I work professionally as an Accounting Specialist, have done event planning and small-scale catering for previous employers, have an always expanding desire for knowledge of wild foods (just beginning to learn about mycology), bake a mean gluten free brownie, and am a social networking geek. I'd be happy to use any of these skills through Slow Food Seattle and would be open to contributing in any areas that were deemed a good fit.

  • Rob - My professional life centers around sales and marketing, so it would be straightforward for me to bring those skills to the Board of Slow Food Seattle. I also have some experience with finance and accounting and if push came to shove I would accept a treasurer role. I don’t like Facebook or other social media (note the similarities between slow food and slow communication) but I do know that it’s a valuable modern communication tool. I know some tricks of the trade regarding it.

You can find a current list of the Slow Food Seattle board here.