Equal Exchange veteran joins Fairtrade America in new management role
Fairtrade America is pleased to announce the appointment of Rodney North as the non-profit organization’s Director of Marketing and External Relations.
Rodney joins Fairtrade America at an exciting moment in our movement’s history, and brings with him almost 20 years of experience as a passionate advocate and communications leader for fair trade. His deep understanding of ― and commitment to ― fair trade will be invaluable as we continue to expand our work on behalf of small-scale farmers and workers around the world.
– Hans Theyer, Executive Director, Fairtrade America
North has worked in the fair trade foods movement longer than all but a handful of individuals in the nation and has been deeply involved in communicating the fair trade story to diverse constituencies. He comes to his new role from Equal Exchange, a worker-owned cooperative and market leader in the fair trade and organic food movements. North joined the pioneering company in 1996, serving in various positions, including for the past 15 years in media relations and public advocacy roles. He earned the nickname The Answer Man because of his extensive knowledge of fair trade, the global food industry, small farmer co-operatives, socially responsible and sustainable business practices, and how business models intersect with human development.
At Equal Exchange, North was also one of the co-operative’s 120 worker-owners. He was a two-term director of the enterprise’s Board of Directors, and he served as Vice Chair for three years. North has also volunteered with the Fair Trade Federation (membership screening committee), and for four years was an advisor to the board of directors of La Siembra, a Canadian worker co-operative and 100% fair trade, 100% organic food company.
It’s an honor to be given this responsibility at a time when more and more people, especially millions of millennials, seek opportunities to integrate their ethics into their daily activities. Whereas the massive, and growing, flows of international trade too often constitute a downward ‘race to the bottom’, Fairtrade America represents one of best innovations yet for converting that commerce into a force for positive change.
– Rodney North, newly appointed Director of Marketing and External Relations, Fairtrade America
Before entering the fair trade movement in 1996, North lived in Nova Scotia, Canada, where he obtained his BA in International Development Economics from Dalhousie University. His focus was on international trade and the development challenges of Latin America. He also lived in, and traveled through, Mexico and Guatemala for 13 months in the early 1990’s – experiences that led directly to his decision to work on behalf of small-scale farming communities.
As a member of the Fairtrade America senior management team he will help to chart the organization’s direction and assure its accountability to all stakeholders. North will oversee Fairtrade America’s marketing, public relations and advocacy efforts to increase awareness and support for equitable business practices involving smallholder farmers and other stakeholders.
North joins Fairtrade America at a critical time as it rapidly expands its operation to serve small small-scale farmers, workers, and businesses who are choosing to import Fairtrade products. This will enable the organization to expand its capacity to promote fair trade imports and generate more awareness of fair trade’s potential for more equitably distributing the wealth generated by international trade.
North begins his position July 27, 2015.
About Fairtrade America
Fairtrade America is a national, nonprofit organization committed to helping smallholder farmers and workers around the world get a fairer price for their products, access to international markets, and funds for community development that will enable them to lead better lives, and invest in their communities. Fairtrade America is a member of Fairtrade International, which comprises 25 such organizations around the world and three producer networks that together establish international Fairtrade standards.
Fairtrade International is unusual among ethical certifications due to the large governance role played by its members in the global south. Participating farmer producer groups hold half the votes in the Fairtrade International General Assembly and more than one-third of the seats on the Fairtrade International board of directors.
The Fairtrade Mark is the most recognized and trusted ethical label worldwide, found on products sold in over 120 countries that are sourced from over 1,200 producer organizations representing 1.5 million farmers and workers in more than 65 countries. The FAIRTRADE Certification Mark is backed by high-level global standards and audited by a rigorous auditing system from farm to shelf.
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