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Your Board Candidates

ballot initiative EXPLANATIONS

by Holly Fearing, Board President

Proposed Bylaw V Changes
The proposed changes to Bylaw V would move the Election Period in order to enable Owners to vote at the Annual Meeting and Party. The amended version of Bylaw V also spells out what would happen in the event of a tie in a Board election. This change is being proposed as a way toengage more Owners in the decision-making process by enabling you to vote at the Annual Meeting and Party (and continuing after for the normal timeframe) rather than the current process of voting that begins several weeks following the Annual Meeting and Party. A vote in support of the proposed changes to Bylaw V would change language to shift the Election timing process beginning in 2015. It also adds to our bylaws a process to follow in the unlikely event of a tie in Board election results.

Proposed Bylaw IV Changes
The proposed change to Bylaw IV would change the method by which Owners can put items on the ballot. Current bylaw language allows Owners to add items on the ballot for a vote during the Annual Meeting. If changes are made to allow voting to begin at the Meeting, then adding items to the ballot at the Meeting won’t be possible. The proposed changes will allow Owners to add items to the ballot with a percentage of Owner signatures. The timing for the item’s vote would be based on the amount of signatures. If 5% of Owners submit a petition to enter an item on the ballot, it would be added to our next scheduled election. If 10% signed, it would be put to special vote within 30-75 days of submission.

Proposed Changes to Policy D9—Board Compensation
The proposed changes to policy D9 change the Board’s current compensation structure from a percentage discount on Co-op purchases to a flat rate for Co-op purchases. The flat rate amount is equivalent to the current percentage amount the Board receives today; however this will create greater equality of compensation among all members of the Board.

Third Store Expenditure
The Co-op Board and management are considering opening a third store. You are asked to vote whether or not you support opening a third store at some time within the next three years. Our Bylaw 6.4 states that any decision to spend over ten percent of the Co-op’s total equity must be approved by Owners. While we are still exploring our location options, we are asking Owners at this time if they would support such an expenditure for a third location.

Please refer to exact ballot language printed on this ballot for more information, as well as articles on these topics published in the July Reader issue.


In the candidate application, we asked candidates to collect 20 Owner signatures supporting their candidacy and if they had attended a Board meeting. “Yes” responses (if any) are at the beginning of each statement.

 

Karen Bassler

“The Co-op provides food for body and mind, and I am hungry.”

Attended Board meeting: Yes

1) Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Board of Directors?
In a system that favors huge businesses over individual workers, a co-op offers a humane alternative. I am a fervent and sometimes overly effusive believer that co-operatives must be the future for our economy. To do my part toward that goal, I’d like to take a step or two beyond simply becoming an owner. Serving on the Board is one way that I can strengthen our co-op, so that it can grow and offer alternatives to more members of our community.

As I approach the end of my first term, I feel I’m hitting my stride as a productive and effective member of the Board. We have several weighty issues facing us in the next couple of years, and my experience and understanding of WSGC processes and policies will be an asset to ensuring we make quality choices and take direction that will maximize the benefits the co-op model in general and the Willy St. Co-op in particular can bring.

2) Willy Street Co-op strives to be a cornerstone of a vibrant community. Why is that an important role for the Co-op to play?
Communities with involved members tend to thrive and grow. The Co-op, based on the 7 Co-op Principles,has the means and mission to create informed, involved community members.

The Co-op is by its nature more than just a grocery store. It provides community members with the option of direct and indirect involvement in other local institutions through ownership, opportunities to support groups through CHIP and Community Reinvestment grants, participation in fun, yummy fundraising events, and information about local and regional efforts related to how we grow, produce, purchase and consume our food.

In addition, the Willy St. Co-op is a progressive business. We can and should be setting examples for others to follow, in our relationships with our vendors, owners, customers, staff and community. By setting the bar high, we encourage others to demand that they are treated fairly and sustainably.

3) What do you think are the major issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next five years?
The Race to Equity Report and recent rock bottom rankings for Madison and Dane County as places to raise children of color were troubling. As a community institution, striving to represent our diverse population, the Co-op can play an important role in taking action to remedy the wrongs identified, internally in our governance and personnel, and externally in our relationships with and contributions to projects and organizations that encourage equity.

Ensuring that the benefits provided by the co-op—healthy food, informed consumers, strong local food systems, living wage jobs, community give-backs—are felt by the entirety of our surrounding neighborhoods and people will and should be a priority for the co-op, over the next five years and beyond.


Holly Bender

“Holly Bender is an attorney and a Director of Sierra Club’s national Beyond Coal Campaign. Holly hails from Vermont, and now lives in Madison.”

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Board of Directors?
As a Deputy Director with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, I primarily utilize my professional skills outside of my hometown where I lead teams working to phase out destructive forms of energy and replace them with wind, solar, and energy efficiency. My role in leading this campaign is extraordinarily fulfilling, but I am seeking the chance to bring my skillset to bear on something I believe strongly in, right here in my community in Madison.

Food is connected to our values, including our land ethic and our concepts of social justice. Food also forms the foundation of our relationships, and food memories are deeply engrained in mine. I remember the first time my Dad and I canned vegetables from our garden in Vermont, and I could recreate perfectly the first meal I cooked for the man who is now my husband. Now I cherish the opportunities to put together a double batch of (freezer-friendly) chicken enchiladas for friends and family who have just welcomed a new baby. I want to play a role in helping others express their values and connect with loved ones through food.

I am a proud Co-op owner and I excel in many of the skills the Board is seeking in new directors. In my campaign and legal experience, I use communications tools to advance outcomes, I facilitate strategic planning sessions, I draft and implement campaign plans, and I help facilitate the spending of a national budget in the tens of millions. I want to use these skills to help govern at the Willy St. Co-op.

2. Willy Street Co-op strives to be a cornerstone of a vibrant community. Why is that an important role for the Co-op to play?
A vibrant community is one that is committed to its own citizens, promotes health, culture, education, and ensures that its own growth and success is not at the expense of others. The Co-op plays a role in helping Madison achieve these values. The Co-op commits to the local community by supporting local businesses, sourcing its food from local farmers, bakers, and producers. It also gives back through the CHIP program to distribute the generosity of owners to organizations that perpetuate these shared values. The Co-op provides nutritious food and offers knowledgeable staff to help unpack complex dietary information. The Co-op understands the connection of food to culture and offers food from around the world to allow us to share in each other’s traditions. The Co-op models a vision of sustainability with stark awareness and meaningful action to reduce its impact.

3. What do you think are the major issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next five years?
In the next five years the Board will likely decide on an expansion plan. This will require significant financial decisions, and also consideration of factors such as how to grow to serve underserved communities, while recognizing the gentrifying impact a new location could have in some parts of Madison. The impact of increasing food prices, achieving greater nutritional and dietary literacy, and climate change’s impact on small farmers should round out the list.


David Clutter

“I’d be honored to utilize my skills and experience to strengthen a business that I believe in and reflects my family’s values.”

Attended Board meeting: Yes

1) Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Board of Directors?
I’ve shopped at Willy Street Co-op since the mid-90s, and I’ve seen everything from Chad Vader to the expansion of the west side store, which I now live a block and a half away from. Willy has continually provided quality products and services over the years, and I’d be honored to help support and build on this foundation of success.

Willy Street Coop espouses our family’s values and goals, and provides outstanding personal and community benefits. I hope to do whatever I can to support a business that I believe in, one that is a critical component of the community within which I live.

With a Master’s of Science from UW-Madison in environmental studies—which emphasized collaborative conservation, planning and policy implementation—I developed a sound academic foundation that prepared me to effectively deal with problem solving and complexity.

As executive director of a nonprofit conservation organization, I believe my skills and experience with financial and systems management, budgeting, strategic planning, board engagement, fundraising, real estate, human resources, communications and community engagement, will serve the Co-op and Co-op community well.

Finally, the Willy Street board of directors lacks representation from the west side of Madison and Middleton. As someone who lives a 3-minute walk away from Willy West, I hope also to represent the interests and needs of both stores and all owners.

2) Willy Street Co-op strives to be a cornerstone of a vibrant community. Why is that an important role for the Co-op to play?
Shopping at Willy is more than a place to purchase fresh vegetables and organic fare—it’s an anchor within our community, both east and west.

Good & healthy foods should be a common denominator among all folks. As with the conservation of land, water and wildlife, the food we choose to eat should not be a partisan issue.

For that reason Willy is very well positioned to speak to a diverse and vibrant community of people; and as owners we all have a stake in the type of community we hope to build.

3) What do you think are the major issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next five years?
It’s critical that our kids have greater access to healthy, local foods. Determining how best to achieve this goal is a major challenge for the Co-op board and our community.

Food costs are a significant concern for urban and rural families alike. Whether it’s creating a food fund for underserved populations, partnering with organizations like REAP Food Group or working directly with schools and/or assisted living facilities, Willy Street Co-op is in an excellent position to be a true community leader through its vision and business model.

In a related vein, determining how best to effectively engage the community and support the local economy is another potential major issue. As a “cornerstone of the community,” it seems very important to continually develop new strategies that maintain our status as a well-known and respected community institution.

Finally, balancing growth goals with long-term sustainability will always be an important consideration for the board for the next 5 years and beyond.


Bryan Dean

Attended Board meeting: Yes

20 Owner signatures: Yes

1) Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Board of Directors?
I have worked at the coop since 2009 and have gone from cutting fruit at the Willy East produce department to managing the maintenance department of both the off site kitchen and Willy West. I have worked within the organic food movement in one way or another since the late 90’s and believe in the core principles of coops and the mission of the Willy Street Coop. I want a hand in shaping thefuture of my place of employment and want to work in any way to make it a place that employees can say that they are proud of where they work and owners can say that they are proud of where they shop.

2) Willy Street Co-op strives to be a cornerstone of a vibrant community. Why is that an important role for the Co-op to play?
What is a better way to invest in the community than an organization like the coop? If we, together, make a profitable business that hires people that live in Dane county that then use their money to support other local businesses and give to local charities then we all win, producers, owners, employees. If a business locates here and siphons off profits to investor’s pockets out of state we all don’t see the return. The last thing we need to do is to be sending the resources of our local neighborhoods to corporate headquarters in Austin TX or Bentonville AR or any other such places. We know the farmers and vendors and we know our neighbors, we work with local charitable organizations and we support local businesses. The coop should be a central part of that model as much as possible.

3) What do you think are the major issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next five years?
Expansion, affordability, sustainability, staff and owner satisfaction, and the furthering of the coop model are all things that the board should be focusing on right now. We have many opportunities for growth in all of these areas over the next several years and we should have a strong forward thinking board prepared to deal with each one.


Michelle Dunn

“Busy mom wants healthy, socially-responsible food choices. Will volunteer time, energy & financial expertise to keep Willy Street Co-op successful!”

Attended Board meeting: Yes

20 Owner signatures: Yes
1)  Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Board of Directors?
Simply, I love to serve. Giving back to our communities is critical. I’ve volunteered with music, youth and financial organizations. Now I’m ready to dig in and help Willy Street be successful.

Experience—I have a marketing degree, a CPA, and 20 years of accounting experience. I’ve been a controller for service and construction companies so I can help with Willy Street’s challenges in finances and building/buying stores. I also have Board experience with a cooperative—I served on the Board for Dane County Credit Union for 7 years.

Passion—Finding healthy food choices as a working mom is tough! Willy Street provides hope that food canbe nutritious and socially responsible! I’m willing to share my time, energy and expertise to insure that Willy Street continues to provide healthy options for local families.

2) Willy Street Co-op strives to be a cornerstone of a vibrant community. Why is that an important role for the Co-op to play?
As a Co-op, Willy Street reflects the interests of its members and they care about more than just food. Employee satisfaction, small businesses, and sustainability are all areas that Willy Street supports actively. Co-op members can buy healthy food and know that they’re supporting causes they find meaningful.

3) What do you think are the major issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next five years?
Higher demand—more people will want locally produced, healthy, organic and affordable food. Willy Street will need to meet the demand. Proper store locations and sizes will be crucial. Innovative options, such as Mobile Market trucks, could be viable.

Fair pricing—Food should not be about profit. Food must be managed and sold locally at prices everyone can afford. A Co-op is the preferred method for this community function but pricing is always a challenge.

Maintaining a Co-op atmosphere during growth—With over 30,000 members and 350 employees, Willy Street isn’t a corner grocery store anymore. As growth continues, the Board will have to keep “a human touch” in individual stores, while making the most of any efficiencies that occur.


Mike Martez Johnson

“When we raise our expectations, we raise up our communities.”

Attended Board meeting: Yes

20 Owner signatures: Yes

1)  Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Board of Directors?
Serving on the Board of the Willy Street Co-op allows me to engage people around our shared interests—around foods, around cultures, around the community. With a background working within the community on various issues including labor, environmental and education, I know we are better at shaping our needs when we work collectively and raise people’s expectations of our service and our value. I would like to be a part of that effort by serving on the Willy Street Co-op board.

2) Willy Street Co-op strives to be a cornerstone of a vibrant community. Why is that an important role for the Co-op to play?
As a pillar in the community, the Willy Street Co-op should strive for three solid ideals—that through our work and members, we create new leaders, new ideas and new opportunities for the co-op organically, that we build unity across communities and our members who live there, and that we have a positive measurable influence on the lives of others. Through these core ideals we play a significant role in the lives of others and hopefully can do our part to make a better place.

The beauty of a co-op is that we as a community of consumers can choose not only what we want to eat, but also where we want to send our hard-earned dollars. Our collective capital should go to producers whose practices support fairness to workers, a sustainable environment, and human rights.

3) What do you think are the major issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next five years?
I will split my response into two here; the co-op itself or the ‘workplace’ and the community at large, or the ‘non-workplace.’

Within the workplace, are we providing the best value and service to our members? Are we responding to the ever-changing needs of our membership effectively and positively? Are we encouraging our staff and providing them the tools to provide value and meet needs? Are we building capacity to serve our members more broadly as a food resource?  

Within the non-workplace, are we seeking new communities to engage and build? Are we responding to diverse needs, such as food access and food security? Are we attempting to use our influence as more than just a sponsorship or a grant, but actively seeking out chances to use our resources to address community issues that fit our values?

Maybe that seems like a lot for our friendly neighborhood co-op, but ultimately solving issues requires raising people’s expectations of what they can do collectively, as members and staff of the co-op, but also as members of a shared community with deep, smart and practical investments of both personal and organizational resources.


Jake Schlachter

“I’m a cooperative developer working with food co-op boards to engage members and bring our most valuable resource to bear on improving our communities.”

http://jakeschlachter.com/

Attended Board meeting: Yes

20 Owner signatures: Yes

Essay response
For five years, I’ve been training the board members of established food co-ops and start-ups across the country in member engagement and community organizing, first with Food Co-op Initiative and now with Cooperative Grocer Network. Most recently I led a workshop on member engagement at CCMA, our annual food co-op conference hosted by Willy Street in June. The number one question by far on co-op boards right now is, “How do we engage our members?” My answer is, “How are we listening with our members? How are we creating opportunities for our members to build relationships and listen with each other?”

Our cooperative is a democratic association that owns and controls an enterprise—in our case, our grocery. With 31,000 members, we have one of the largest memberships of any food co-op in the country. I believe that we can and ought to have a unique role to play in strengthening Madison’s community life. But if our cooperative is to be more than just our grocery, first we have to know who our fellow members are. We have to create opportunities for our members to meet each other and to understand each other’s interests well enough to see where we have opportunities for working together on our shared challenges.

This is the listening challenge, and I believe it is the most important issue facing our growing co-op. How can we listen to 31,000 people? The SECU credit union, with two million members, tackled this by creating a volunteer committee at each of their 244 branches. In one example, it allowed them to understand how vulnerable some members were to payday loans. In response, SECU created a replacement product with better terms, freeing their members from predatory lenders.

Other cooperatives around the country are exploring and innovating in different ways. Many are borrowing from community organizing and have created house party campaigns that meet, perhaps over potluck dinners, and provide opportunities for members to build relationships with each other.

Forty years ago, Willy Street’s founders came together around the shared challenge of access to healthy food, and I dare say, for 6% of the county, our excellent cooperative grocery has got that one licked.

It is a time of success, transition, and growth for our grocery, but our world isn’t standing still around us. How are changes in our economy, our community, our politics, and our environment creating new challenges and new pressures for our families? What’s keeping 94% of Dane County from joining us? These aren’t questions our cooperative can answer without the ability to engage the wisdom, experience, and concerns of our members and our future members in the broader community.

I want to serve Willy Street’s members by helping to create space for these conversations and to serve as a conduit for innovative ideas between Madison and the national food co-op community.


Kalim Siddiqui

“Experienced running my own retail grocery and wholesale Indian food production businesses and with co-ops as my principal outlets. Committed to small, local, quality food.”

Attended Board meeting: Yes

20 Owner signatures: Yes

1)  Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Board of Directors?
I came to the USA in 1970, to attend the University of Chicago. There I organised a buyers’ club and started going to South Water Market once a week to pick up specialty produce/grocery items for club members and distributed out of the basement of the Blue Gorgoyle Church. Back home in India I was the one who went shopping every day for my family. My mom would not let me go to USA without learning how to cook. I have a good knowledge of cooking and have practised and taught Yoga for over 30 years. I ran a successful grocery business for some eight years on Park St. in Madison, and a restaurant on King St. in Madison for some five years. During that time I started making samosas for wholesale distribution which sold at all the midwest Whole Foods stores and stores like the Willy Street Co-op and other stores in Madison, Milwaukee and the Chicago area. With my background as an engineer by profession at Joslyn Industries in Chicago and John Deere in Waterloo, Iowa, I have designed and implemented lots of innovative ideas in my professional career. My relevant experience I think would make me an asset to the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors.

2) Willy Street Co-op strives to be a cornerstone of a vibrant community. Why is that an important role for the Co-op to play?
The grocery store is the centre for a lot of activities for the community and should be able to accommodate all aspects of a diverse society working together to benefit all. The co-op performs a pivotal role in supporting sustainable, healthy food production in the local economy and sets the bar for other food retailers to attain to in terms of consumer food choice and employee remuneration. To this end I would like to some how make it possible for the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots, to all shop in and benefit from this vibrant community.

3) What do you think are the major issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next five years?
From my point of view, the coop has grown too big too fast. It needs to better balance growth with preserving the core values and principals of the co-op movement.


Martin Whitehead

“The Willy Street co-op inspires me and I want to help make it better!”

https://www.linkedin.com/pub/martin-whitehead/1/a85/291

Attended Board meeting: Yes

20 Owner signatures: Yes

1) Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Board of Directors?
By volunteering on the Willy Street Board of Directors, I want to make a contribution to the Madison community.
I’m passionate about food. I have followed the grocery industry for more than 25 years and worked in the business for approximately 14 years.

My applicable experience includes serving as the Brand VP on the organic brands Muir Glen and Cascadian Farm.

On a personal note, I have seen how diet and eating adjustments have had a transformative effect on my family and me.

In short, I want to help the Co-op perform at a high level for Owners by working collaboratively with board members, Owners and all participants.

2) Willy Street Co-op strives to be a cornerstone of a vibrant community. Why is that an important role for the Co-op to play?
When we make thoughtful, well-informed decisions about what we eat, we begin to transform ourselves, our communities, and the world. By celebrating these decisions in our community, we are inviting others to join us on a regenerative journey.

3) What do you think are the major issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next five years?
Over the next five years, I see three challenges for the Co-op’s Board: considering the impact of climate change, improving service in a challenging environment, and adjusting for demographic changes.

  1. Across the globe, world-class businesses and developed countries are preparing for climate change that will impact the biosphere.
      The board can help the Co-op understand, anticipate and adjust for environmental change and it’s impact on food systems. In addition, I believe Owners should consider transitioning from a sustainability approach to a regenerative approach that understands, engages and seeks to reverse past negative outcomes inherent in the current food system.
  2. The board must help improve service to Owners in order to achieve the Co-op mission in the face of increased competition and technological change.
  3. Demographic changes such as population aging and the increased urbanization of populations require adjustment and change. The Board can help educate Owners and stakeholders and lead positive transitions.

Andrew Keeley Yonda

“I’m a small business owner and I want to help WillySt. continue to thrive and set a great example for our community.”

http://www.ameliajohn.com/

Attended Board meeting: Yes

20 Owner signatures: Yes

1)  Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Board of Directors?
I love Madison, and I love Willy St. Co-op. I’m always proud to tell people how great our co-op is. I want to help the co-op continue to be a positive, unifying force in our community, and to be an example of what a business can be and how well it can serve its community.

I think my experience running a successful photography business on the near east side for the last 7 years could give me a useful perspective on the board. I also have experience participating in and leading consensus-based board meetings from several years I spent living in housing co-ops here in Madison. I think the board has been doing a good job and my goal as a new member would be to simply figure out how I can help keep the co-op on the right track.

2) Willy Street Co-op strives to be a cornerstone of a vibrant community. Why is that an important role for the Co-op to play?
It’s important for Willy St. Co-op to be a cornerstone of our community because it’s what the members want and what our community needs. The co-op has a unique position as a profitable enterprise that is truly dedicated to improving its community and is also large enough that its efforts can really have a noticeable impact. Our co-op sets an example for other businesses (co-op or otherwise) of how to thrive while treating suppliers fairly, giving employees generous benefits, and maintaining ethical and sustainable practices. I think it’s a place that we owners really believe represents our values, which isn’t something you could say about most businesses.

3) What do you think are the major issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next five years?
I think facing new competition and opening a third location are the two main issues coming up. New grocery stores will be opening in the next two years, one on the 800 block of East Washington and the other at Union Corners, so it’s important that Willy St. Co-op anticipates what this new competition means for us and how we might want to respond. The opening of Willy West was a success, and it will be largely up to the Board of Directors in the next three years to ensure that opening a third location goes just as well. Also I propose to double the size of our chocolate selection. :)


Miguel Zamora

“I want to bring my experience in agriculture and food systems to our cooperative to build a more sustainable and inclusive community”

http://coffeegente.com/

1)  Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Board of Directors?
I have been involved in sustainable agriculture for almost 20 years. During my career, I have had the opportunity to work agricultural fields, grow food, support smallholder farmers worldwide, and work with food companies to implement and increase their sustainability efforts. In the last nine years, I have been working with Fair Trade farmers worldwide to improve their access to more profitable and sustainable markets. Before that, I worked with smallholder bean farmers in Central America and in food production, particularly with bananas and melons, in Ecuador. By training, I am an Agronomist and an Agricultural Economist.

I moved to Madison last year, and I have enjoyed being a member/owner of Willy Street Co-op since I arrived. I believe that food co-ops, such as Willy Street Co-op, can play a key role to making our food systems more sustainable for the environment, for the consumers who support those systems, and especially for the people who work in the fields and produce our food products. As a board member, I want to support the members of Willy Street Co-op to continue advancing cooperative and sustainability principles in our community and to work on being an example to other communities across the U.S.

2) Willy Street Co-op strives to be a cornerstone of a vibrant community. Why is that an important role for the Co-op to play?
First, I believe that Willy Street Co-op can and should be a leader in educating consumers about sustainability issues in the food and agricultural systems and in supporting organizations in our community that share our principles, such as grower and processor co-ops and sustainable businesses.

Second, Willy Street Co-op has an important role to play in creating just and equitable access to healthy, nutritious food for all members of the greater Madison community. This necessitates we continue fostering the Co-op as an inclusive, transformative space that brings together people and families across lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, and ability.

3) What do you think are the major issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next five years?

  • Educating our members on food and agricultural sustainability issues
  • Supporting local and global organizations that share our same cooperative and sustainability principles
  • Supporting all members of our community in accessing sustainable, healthy food, regardless of income
  • Growing tighter relationships with our farming partners locally and globally
  • Serving as an example, regionally and nationally, to other communities that are willing and eager to improve the sustainability of their food systems




 

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