VERNON – A new executive director has been found to lead the Certified Organic Associations of BC following the departure of Jen Gamble, who spent nine years at the helm of the organization.
Eva-Lena Lang will step into the role on March 1, bringing with her a long association with organic farming and community-oriented agriculture.
“After conducting a thorough search, our hiring committee found the right candidate within our own community,” said COABC co-president Heather Stretch. “Eva-Lena grew up on an organic farm and throughout her academic and professional career has focused on community networking to build a strong organic agriculture sector within BC. We are delighted to welcome her into this role.”
Lang’s family farmed in the North Okanagan and she has worked with farmers in the region and overseas. She completed a Master’s degree in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies program at UBC Okanagan in 2019. The focus of her work was regional food systems. An offshoot of her studies was a project that led to the formation last year of the North Okanagan Land to Table Network.
Before starting graduate studies, she served as operations manager with COABC from 2015 to 2017. Her appointment as the association’s executive director brings her full circle, both to the organization and the community in which she was raised.
“I’d like to continue the momentum of the important work the organic sector has been doing in growing an organic BC,” says Lang. “I believe building relationships and trust is fundamental in this work. In that regard, I look forward to connecting with individuals and organizations from across the province.”
Gamble, for her part, will be returning to school. The decision to step down was a personal one, driven by the desire to continue her studies.
She made the decision last fall, and a search began shortly afterwards. The deadline for applications was December 2 and a decision was expected by the end of the year. The three-month delay between the selection of a new executive director and Lang taking the reins was designed to ensure a smooth transition between executive directors.
One of the first orders of business for Lang will be addressing the results of a core review of COABC. It follows on the heels of a strategic plan unveiled two years ago that aims for “a resilient organic movement” in BC.
“The core review provides valuable guidance on how to focus our energies during this time of transition both at the [executive director] level and the chair level,” says Stretch, who has been serving as co-president alongside Carmen Wakeling for the past year.
Stretch is set to become president during the association’s annual general meeting. It coincides with COABC’s annual conference, which takes place in Richmond, February 28-March 1.