Run for the Willy Street Grocery Co-op Board of Directors—You can help set the strategy and direction of the Co-op. It’s the decisions we make, and the values that drive them, that sets Willy Street Co-op apart from other retail and grocery businesses. And as Owners, we all have a lot to be proud of because of the impact of those decisions.

It is strange to advocate for something while simultaneously not doing that thing. After six years on the Board of the Willy Street Co-op, I have decided that my term expiring this fall will be my last. It’s time for another Owner to lead this amazing cooperative into the future and that person could be you. I personally believe turnover at the Board level is essential to get fresh ideas and new energy.

The skills, attitudes and responsibilities that a successful Board member needs are clearly laid out online ( and are also listed in the formal Board nomination packet (available on and at Customer Service desks at both retails). Reflecting on the past six years, I would also add that you have to be a curious person. In the course of my Board tenure, we had to deal with such varying issues as bylaw rewrites, Owner relations, failed expansions, successful expansions, General Manager compensation planning, contract law and many other items. Service on the Willy Street Co-op Board gives you an opportunity to interact with topics that may not be your specific area of expertise. If you have a curious mind, this type of service should be catnip to you. While you won’t become an expert in all these things, serving on the Board will certainly help in your personal and professional development, plus your actions will move our Cooperative into the future.

We govern
If you count yourself as a curious person and you are able to check off the other skills and attitudes we’ve assembled, it’s important for you to know what Willy Street Co-op Board members actually do: we govern. Governance means we set policies that give the GM and the rest of the staff guidance on short and long-term goals of our Cooperative. We do this work through monthly Board meetings, monthly committee work, annual planning meetings, and oodles of pre-reading assignments. All told the commitment is 10 to 15 hours a month. Oh, and it is a volunteer gig except for the generous 15% discount.

Taken at face value, many people may consider this kind of work about as interesting as white bread, yet serving on the Willy Street Co-op Board is more than just meetings and policy review. The work of the Board directly contributes to the growth of a community jewel. And this jewel is going places fast. Soon we will have $40 million in annual sales, more than 30,000 Owners, 300 plus employees and upgraded locations. We are an organization that continues to evolve as the vibrant cornerstone of its community, whether it be in Madison, Middleton or beyond.

So, all of you curious cats wanting to make a difference: run for your Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors. You can also feel free to ask me any question about what it’s like to be on the Board by emailing me at Thanks for the opportunity to serve you these past six years.

Run for the BoardAnnual Meeting & PartyDr. Ingo Mahn