Shiranthi Goonathilaka

Engagement and Member Experience Lead at Village Financial Cooperative

Seward Cooperative has a deep history of providing access to healthy local food. By leveraging its institutional, political and social capacity in legislative policy, Seward has expanded food access for community members—whether folks have a member-owner number, or not. As a board member, I will bring my 13 years of organizing, institutional change management, community engagement and policy advocacy in an effort to reinvest in infrastructure that’s actively responsive to communities’ holistic needs.

With a membership of over 20,000 members, aligned with Seward’s mission and vision, I can only imagine the ways in which our base can actively engage in more legislative work. Together, we can continue to critically ask ourselves, “What is our co-op’s role in addressing systemic oppression?” and “How can we cultivate healthier communities?”.

Currently, I serve on the Board of Youthprise and I am the co-chair of our Program Investment committee. Serving in this executive capacity at a young age, I sometimes find myself reminding my older peers that any social change must be authentically intergenerational, in order to chart a path towards sustainable social change. I am reminded of a comment that an elder shared with me when I was a teenager, “Don’t be afraid to live in your truth as a young person.” Young folks have historically been at the forefront of social justice movements, thinking outside of the traditional limitations of what’s already been done, in order to innovate and uplift communities.

When all aspects of a cooperative’s internal stakeholders are invested, amazing work, rooted in radical values and a vision for our shared future, is attainable. We can collectively build towards creating a grocery store, community and world that actively challenges systems of oppression in exciting and innovative ways.

I am ecstatic to be a representative for my communities. I look forward to collaborating with internal stakeholders, external partners and broader communities to reestablish the way cooperatives show up and invest in communities.

With Revolutionary Love,