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Jason LaTurner

Community Based Evaluator

Why do you want to be on the Outpost Natural Foods Board of Directors?

My interest in serving stems directly from wanting to use my talents in service for the residents of our community. My first purchase when we moved to the city 18 months ago was at Outpost – in a time of anxiety it was truly a great lunch. After we moved and became owners – I found an organization in sync with much of what I have done in past volunteer experiences – providing opportunities for individuals to have increased access to healthy food. Having witnessed my grandfather run a small farm – I am looking forward to working for a sustainable future in food that includes small/local suppliers and growers. I see the Board as an opportunity to meet and support others, and to support the mission of Outpost - resulting in healthier outcomes for individuals and our food ecosystem.

What professional skills do you bring to a Board position of a $50 million business?

I earned an MA in higher education administration and a PhD in sociology, followed by 10 years as an evaluator for non-profits and school systems. I then spent 10 years in a large consulting firm supporting state agencies and schools - during which time I helped organizations determine how to best use data and evaluation during times of programmatic or leadership change. I also had the privilege of leading a large multimillion-dollar center - all while receiving ongoing professional development to support staff, better manage finances and support organizations going through change. That said, the most important thing I have learned during all of these experiences is to talk less and listen more, allowing me to both learn and unlearn and to get to the heart of the matter. In doing so I am equipped to flexibly support the success of individuals and organizations.

Please describe how you would contribute to the diversity, equity, and inclusivity of the board.

To be transparent – I am a straight, white, cis-male. While I did grow up with limited means – that at times included assistance from others for food and shelter – I am aware of my advantage being white and male. My journey toward understanding equity and inclusivity began as a teenager living in China in the 1980s. This immersion shook me to the core. I returned to the US after a year abroad full of frustration and disbelief (breaking into tears upon entering a grocery store). My unlearning had begun and continues today as I question, explore and listen. For example, I spent four years working with international college students, I spent 3 years working in an urban school district, spent 10 years delivering meals, and read all I can to better unlearn and learn – so I could be of best service and an ally to all.

Describe your prior involvement with community organizations and/or cooperatives.

I have worked with numerous food-focused, community organizations in Austin, TX prior to locating to Milwaukee. There, I partnered with the Sustainable Food Center evaluating their program, La Cocina Alegre, that offered cooking and nutrition classes. I supported Urban Roots to scope their initial work helping urban youth learn about gardening and farming. I delivered Meals on Wheels for over 10 years and volunteered as a route manager for Mobile Loaves and Fishes where once a month we would deliver meals out of a food truck to those experiencing homelessness and poverty. It was humbling and powerful. Since relocating last year, I am volunteering with Imagine MKE to scope out measures of success and trust for their work in the Milwaukee community.

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