It has been a crazy (great) summer! First of all, a huge thanks to Owners, staff and local vendors for making this year’s Annual Meeting & Party (AMP) a success. This could not be possible without all of you. Willy Street Co-op’s AMP is something Owners (myself included), look forward to every summer. Its purpose (aside from the legal requirement in our bylaws) is to be a fun, dynamic and effective expression of our Co-op’s democratic structure.
Annual Meeting & Party —Bylaw Change Results
“The annual meeting gives you a chance to celebrate your past, inform about the present and be aspirational about the future. All three of these elements contribute to a satisfying experience” – Robynn Shrader, CEO, National Co+op Grocers
Having an annual meeting is a unique opportunity for Owners to learn more about the Co-op. This includes asking questions, making suggestions and engaging with Willy Street Co-op’s staff and Board. On the other hand, Willy Street Co-op and the Board also use this opportunity to communicate with Owners. This year we celebrated the Co-op’s 40th year. With this anniversary, there are both challenges and opportunities. Some of the challenges addressed are the shortfall in sales from last fiscal years andthe increased competition by traditional retail stores, which is felt by the entire Co-op community. On the other hand, the Co-op is avidly searching for opportunities to serve the Dane County community in a way that expands the cooperative values of Willy Street Co-op.
Recently, the AMP also presented Owners the opportunity to vote for initiatives, as well as Board candidates. This change was made to cast a wider net and better engage our Owners in the election process. Board candidates are now able to network with Owners first hand, which makes the democratic process much more effective.
On this year’s initiative, there was a small change proposed in bylaw 1.2 to amend the address of the Co-op office to what is on record with the State Department of Financial Institutions. The change to this bylaw was approved by Owners
Board Election Results
This year, there were three seats available to fill on the Board of Directors. Every year, Owners who are passionate about their Co-op are welcome to run as candidates for the Board.
The Co-op has a very talented pool of Owners/candidates. This year, there were five candidates running for the Board, all with diverse backgrounds and platforms. Once Board members are elected, their goal is to represent the ideas and concerns of their fellow Owners, while taking into consideration the Co-op’s strategic goals and values that make it a successful business. The Co-op’s community of Owners is increasingly diverse (in age, race and income, as well as geographic location) and we hope this is reflected in the Board as well.
Before getting to the results, we would like to thank Board members Rick Bernstein and dawn matlak for the time, insights and concerns they have brought forth to the Board; their contributions will be greatly missed. As the new Board is seated, we hope to continue their work in stewardship and inclusiveness in all levels of the Co-op and the community. I had the chance to talk to Holly Fearing and she had this to say about her time on the board:
“I am so proud and humbled to have served as a Willy Street Co-op Board Member over the past three years. It was an honor to participate in my Co-op in this way, helping it better serve the needs of our community while setting an example for triple bottom line business (people, planet, profit) on a national scale. Serving on the Co-op Board has allowed me to contribute my skills and expertise toward the success of a cooperative system that produces democratically run, ethical and environmentally conscientious businesses. Despite at times working long hours and making difficult decisions in a volunteer capacity, this has been one of my most fulfilling experiences of my life—I have learned an incredible amount about teamwork, business, community and cooperation—and I am truly a better person for it.”
The Co-op’s Board of Directors continually grows stronger with former members’ contributions and it gains fresh perspectives with the new Board members. Therefore, please join us to welcome our newest Board members: Holly Fearing (inclumbent), Kathy Kemnitz, and Dave Pauly.