Michigan Farmers Market Association Announces New Executive Director

 

Announcement from Michael Finegan, MIFMA Board of Directors

As the Vice President of the Michigan Farmers Market Association’s (MIFMA) Board of Directors, I have been proud to serve as the chair of MIFMA’s first-ever Search and Hiring Committee. Composed of selected MIFMA Board, staff, and stakeholders, the Committee met weekly beginning in January to select qualified candidates for MIFMA’s next Executive Director, following the transition of founding Executive Director Dru Montri to her new role at Michigan State University. The Committee worked together to build a list of the characteristics and skills required of MIFMA’s new leader, and with that list in mind, ultimately selected our top candidate after two rounds of interviews, a presentation, and a writing sample. In late February, the Committee proudly made our official recommendation of Amanda Shreve as MIFMA’s next Executive Director. The full Board approved the recommendation and announced Amanda as the new Executive Director at MIFMA’s annual meeting on March 7, 2018. The Board was very impressed with Amanda’s vision for continuing the growth and services for MIFMA members. Her great reputation in the field and tireless work ethic make us that much more optimistic for the future of MIFMA.

Response from Amanda Shreve, MIFMA Executive Director

When I started working for MIFMA in 2009, I could never have imagined all of the opportunities I would have, challenges I would encounter, people I would meet, or things I would learn about. I never expected to develop expertise in accepting food assistance benefits at farmers markets, licensing for farmers markets vendors, or how to pack way too many supplies for a five-hour farmers market into just two vehicles. I also never expected to travel across the country sharing what I have learned, going to Washington DC to advise a federal agency on how they could better serve farmers markets, or standing next to the Governor as he signed a bill into law to allow wine sales and samples at Michigan farmers markets. The only thing that has remained consistent over the past eight years at MIFMA has been the presence of the unexpected and the frequency of change and adaptation.

When our founding Executive Director Dru Montri told me about her transition in November of last year, multiple thoughts and feelings rushed into my mind, including, but not limited to: Wow—I’m surprised we lasted this long without some other organization snatching up this immensely talented woman; pure joy for a new, amazing opportunity that a true friend of mine had been offered; questions about how MIFMA would handle the transition and how the organization would change; and curiosity about who MIFMA would find to step into the tremendously large shoes Dru would leave behind (picture Ronald McDonald’s clown shoes and then multiply by 10!).  I could not even begin to list the range of emotions and thoughts that passed through my head in the following months as we prepared for her transition, and then I assumed the role of Interim Executive Director while applying for the Executive Director position myself.

I could never say enough about the impact Dru has had on our organization, on all of the people she’s interacted with during her tenure with MIFMA, or even on myself as an individual. I do hope that she knows that she’s had a greater impact on my professional development than any other person I’ve ever known and that I’ll consider myself successful in this role as MIFMA’s new Executive Director if I’m able to accomplish even half of what she did. I can also say that I know Dru too well to expect that her contributions and engagement with MIFMA have come to an end; after all, she was MIFMA’s first life-time member! I look forward to continuing to work with Dru and to calling upon her for her guidance, support and encouragement.

To you, our members and stakeholders, I want to say how excited I am to work with you all in this new capacity. As a part of the interview process, the Search and Hiring Committee requested that I write a letter to our members and stakeholders from a future date that reflected on all of the accomplishments the organization would theoretically achieve in my first five years as the Executive Director. That writing exercise was an energizing and optimistic process for me and I want to share with you an overview of that vision which focused on building a sustainable organizational culture, growing membership and financial stability, and marketing MIFMA and expanding our brand awareness. In the next five years, my vision includes refreshing our strategic plan (our current plan goes through 2018), balancing expectations and office culture in order to retain valuable and skilled employees, investing in strength-based leadership and management strategies, growing our membership base each year, increasing unrestricted fund revenue in order to grow programming and member support, expanding our programming for farmers and vendors through engaged partnerships, raising awareness of our fee-for-service offerings, and implementing consistently timed communications to all stakeholders.

In order to achieve an ambitious list of accomplishments like this, we will need to continue to rely on our dynamic and engaged board, our empowered and capable staff, the invaluable input of our members and key audiences, and the support of many partners and funders. Everyone has a role to play in the future of MIFMA and, as the new Executive Director, I so look forward to working with each of you!