Fair Trade USA's Diverse Leadership Delivers Award-Winning Results

Fair Trade USA's Diverse Leadership Delivers Award-Winning Results

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 7:00pm


Since its inception, Fair Trade USA has sought to incorporate the collective wisdom and constructive feedback of its diverse constituencies into the governance and strategic direction of this social enterprise.  Our diverse leadership team and Board of Directors, combined with policies and advisory groups that ensure multi-stakeholder input, have enabled Fair Trade USA to deliver more impact to more farming communities around the world.  

Leadership Team

Fair Trade USA is guided by a diverse team of leaders who are united under Fair Trade USA’s mission to alleviate global poverty and promote sustainable development. These seasoned leaders bring exceptional integrity, experience and expertise to our organization.

Paul Rice—President & CEO

Paul is a highly awarded social entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in sustainable agriculture, community development, ethical sourcing and supply chain sustainability. Since opening our doors and launching the Fair Trade Certified label in 1998, Paul has consistently pushed to innovate and mainstream the Fair Trade movement. His vision and determination to expand impact for farming families are rooted in 11 years of field work in the mountains of Nicaragua. There, he founded the country’s first Fair Trade, organic coffee export cooperative and witnessed first-hand how the model empowers farmers and improves lives.

Todd Stark—Chief Operating Officer

Todd joined Fair Trade USA in 2008 with more than 25 years of experience in the consumer goods and produce industries, and a strong desire to do mission-based work. Todd brings to the organization broad international business experience in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Throughout his career, he has played a key role in production, supply chain, export operations, and global e-Retailing.

Mary Jo Cook —Chief Innovation Officer

Before joining Fair Trade USA, Mary Jo was Vice President of Sustainability and Innovation at The Clorox Company where she created and led the company's first cross-functional innovation group, which developed and launched products such as GreenWorks. In addition to her business career, Mary Jo has contributed her time to numerous local nonprofit organizations

Board of Directors

 Consistent with best practice in non-profit governance, Fair Trade USA recruits its Board of Directors from a range of diverse constituencies, including NGO’s, producer groups and industry. We recently elected Erik Nicholson, National Vice President of United Farm Workers of America(UFW), and Carlos González of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, to our Board of Directors. Both of these seasoned leaders come from grassroots movements and rose within their respective organizations to positions of international stature. Both add depth and diversity to an already distinguished Board of Directors that includes:

  • Tom Bullock, former CEO of Ocean Spray Cranberries, a $3B farmer-owned cooperative
  • Theresa Fay Bustillos, a labor and immigrant rights lawyer who ran the Levi Strauss Foundation
  • Susan Clare, lender, business consultant and Treasurer of Oxfam America’s Advocacy Fund
  • Ron Cordes, philanthropist and winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award
  • Todd Gentzel, principal at Yaffe/Deutser, a strategy and communications consulting firm
  • Rick Larson, Director of Sustainable Ventures for The Conservation Fund
  • Will  Rosenzweig, entrepreneur, VC and winner of the Oslo Business for Peace award
  • Carlos Vargas, coffee farmer and leader of CoopeTarrazu Coffee Cooperative in Costa Rica

Multi-Stakeholder Engagement

Historically, we have engaged key stakeholders around our core programs and innovation initiatives.  For example, in 2010 we created the Multi-Stakeholder Apparel Group to advise us as we introduced Fair Trade Certified apparel in the U.S. market.  Notably, the Group’s feedback led to numerous modifications of our standards.  We’ve taken similar approaches when we created the Coffee Producer Advisory Council, the Coffee Roaster Advisory Council, and most recently, the multi-stakeholder Coffee Innovation Council, charged with helping innovate and improve the current model for Fair Trade coffee in order to increase positive impact for all participants.

Finally, multi-stakeholder consultation is a key part of Fair Trade USA’s Standards Developmentprocess, consistent with best practice in the certification field. Our draft Farm Worker and Independent Smallholder standards are both online and available for public comment.  In the coming months, we will publicly share the feedback we have received and our modifications to the standards developed as a result of this consultation process.

Multiple Stakeholders Support Fair Trade for All

In 2011, we launched Fair Trade for All, an innovation strategy that will double U.S. sales and farmer impact by strengthening farming communities, expanding standards to include more people, and engaging consumers to grow the Fair Trade movement.

This vision is supported by representatives of farmers and farm workers, including: Iris Munguía, who heads the Latin American Banana Workers’ Union (COLSIBA), Arturo Rodriguez, President of the United Farm Workers of America,  and Fernando Cerqueira, President of COOCAFE Coffee Cooperative in Brazil; by NGO leaders like Pierre Ferrari, President & CEO of Heifer International, and Premal Shah, President of Kiva.org; and by business partners like John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, and Larry Blanford, President & CEO of Green Mountain Coffee Inc.  To view the full list of supporters, visit: http://fairtradeforall.com/call-to-action/.

International Awards and Recognition for Results

We have been fortunate to receive numerous honors for our pioneering work in the Fair Trade movement, including: the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, World Economic Forum Award for Social Entrepreneurship, Fast Company magazine’s Social Capitalist of the Year (four-time winner), Avina Foundation Leadership Award, the Ashoka Fellowship and Ethisphere magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics.”   Ultimately, this recognition speaks to our results. Since Fair Trade USA began operations in 1998, farmers around the world have earned over $225 million in additional income through a combination of better prices and community development premiums.  Farmers use these premiums to improve education, healthcare and housing, as well as product quality and environmental stewardship. These transformational results are a tribute to the powerful partnership between farmers, industry and consumers that lies at the heart of our model.



Jenna Larson
Fair Trade USA