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YOUR BOARD CANDIDATES & Proposed Bylaw Change

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


holly Fearing“I’ve served on the WSGC Board for the past 3 years, working to help the co-op act on its values and improve our community.”
Attended Board Meeting? Yes
Signatures? No
Board Candidate Information Session? Yes
Links www.linkedin.com/in/hollyfearing

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
I want to see the true impact that organizations like the Willy Street Co-op can have on a local level to serve the needs of a diverse community while setting an example for triple bottom line business (people, planet, profit) on a national scale. Serving on the Co-op Board allows me to contribute my skills and expertise toward the betterment ofa cooperative system that produces democratically-run, ethical, and socially and environmentally conscientious businesses. Instead of getting angry about what I alone cannot change, I’m taking action to support a system that is changing the way things are.

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how they would relate to your service on the WSGC Board.
I’ve served as a WSGC Board member, Board Vice President and Board President over the course of my 3-year term. It has proven rewarding and challenging—I have grown as a person because of this work. I understand the demands and requirements to do this work successfully and while one may think it’s crazy to work so much in a volunteer capacity, it’s completely rewarding to see it pay off through the successful continuation and growth of what I believe in and care so deeply about.

I’m a founding organizer of a local cooperative business alliance, write for several cooperative and credit union publications, and present and train cooperatives on telling their stories through social media. While my experience positions me well to continue to serve as a Board member, being a Board member has also positioned me to be a better person.

3. What are the 2-3 issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next 5 years?
One issue that remains largely unresolved among food co-ops is the encroaching competition in the natural and organic foods market. With more ‘traditional’ grocery stores capitalizing on consumers’ desires for natural and organic options, the competitive advantage previously held safe by grocery co-ops gets whittled away more and more each year. While the Board focuses on governance over operational execution, it will need to lead the charge on taking back that competitive edge and telling the Co-op’s story that rightly puts us back on top.

Related, the Board will also need to focus on the continued financial health of the Co-op to ensure it remains a solvent business that can execute on its mission to make the community ever more vibrant. To that end, another focus will be the direction the Co-op takes with its store expansion: serving our existing members more, serving new and potential markets or something else entirely.


Jennifer Johnson“I care about food and I’d like to be part of the discussion.”

Attended Board Meeting? Yes
Signatures? No
Board Candidate Information
Session? Yes

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
At twenty-six I was diagnosed with a severe gluten allergy in response I became very involved with the origin of my food, where it came from, how it was grown, and learned a valuable lesson in food quality and how organic foods can help heel the body from the outside in. Since this experience, food and nutrition have become extremely important and I want to be part of my community’s discussion about our food source. I want to ensure that our community has the highest quality and sustainable forms of foods. Food is a billion dollar industry and every time we purchase a food item we support a part of that industry and I want to ensure that my community is supporting sustainable and high quality food producers. I would like to have a voice in the discussion about food and be able to offer my assistance for the betterment and overall health of our community.

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how would they relate to your services on the WSGC Board.
Growing up I found such fulfillment in volunteering that I wanted to make a career out of helping people, and I have been fortunate enough to make a career in non-profit law. I am an international and domestic non-profit attorney and consultant. Specifically working to establish 501c3 status and securing funding for various projects on behalf of multiple organizations. In addition to my career in non-profit law I am a Volunteer Fire Fighter for Middleton Fire Department.

Because I work with varying boards and communities, I understand the importance of unity and organization amid board members; my diplomatic skills may benefit the Board in seeing both sides of an issue and aid the Board in coming to an agreement while maintaining the integrity of the Co-ops mission. In addition to understanding board culture I also bring legal and fundraising expertise.

3. What are the 2-3 issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next five years?
These are issues that I see as a Willie Street Member, perhaps my opinion will changed should I become aware of other challenges faced by the Board.

  1. Ensuring the integrity of our food products, through researching companies and ensuring our product partners are inline with the Co-op’s mission of sustainable and quality food; omitting products that have controversial ingredients, such as corn syrup or corn syrup solids, etc.
  2. Better marketing and stronger web presence.
  3. Better competitive pricing of foods and ways to make organically grown food more accessible to our community.

Kathy Kemnitz“As a long standing employee and Owner, I am interested in the opportunity to further support our Co-op community.”
Attended Board Meeting? Yes
Signatures? Yes
Board Candidate Information Session? Yes

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
After being an Owner for over 20 years, and an employee for 12 years, I feel prepared to share my experience and strengths with the larger vision of the Co-op. I look forward to all I can learn from being involved with the Board of Directors and this facet of the operations of the Co-op. I am dedicated to the people and sustainability of this organization as I consider the Co-op and the Community it encompasses my family.

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how would they relate to your services on the WSGC Board.
During my employment here I have worked as a Cashier, Customer Service Representative,  Maintenance Assistant, Stocker, Buyer and  Department Manager. I have also served as an Employee Council Representative. The range of positions I have been employed in fills me with a vast amount of knowledge about how the Co-op operates as a store.  This includes but is not limited to community, employee and vendor relations as well as an understanding of financial metrics.
I have been active in the Emerson Elementary Parent Teacher Organization ranging in involvement from Co-President to Beautification Coordinator to Cupcake Walk Lady (don’t underestimate to importance of this role!). My time at Emerson, both as a parent and a volunteer, left me with experiences of workingwith a great variety of people from many walks of life.
Prior to working at the the Co-op, I was employed for a time as a volunteer coordinator at the Parent Stress Center after an eleven year span of working for non-profit child care centers and other child welfare non-profits. I have served as both a staff representative on BoDs in those ten years, as well as at times a union steward that negotiated contracts with those BoDs. My most memorable ‘volunteer’ experience was a year in Memphis as an AmeriCorps member, working at the Exchange Center for Child Abuse Prevention.

3. What are the 2-3 issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next five years?
3a. Support the value of staff as  part of our community and Ownership. It is important that the Co-op once again be seen as  a progressive employer, especially lifting and serving it’s ground level employees. Most of the entry level staff are the face of the Co-op, the people that all Owners and potential Owners interact with everyday.  It is vital for the continued success of the Co-op that these people feel supported by the organization. As the Co-op has expanded, and continues to expand, there has been potential for a more us and them feeling to grow. It is important for the Board to be more active and available to see staff as part of the vision for our community’s growth in the future.

3b. Solid Planning for Expansion. The Co-op either needs to expand soon and smartly, or adjust its operations in order to succeed financially. This is a need of maintaining a strong focus on supporting our current operations while simultaneously securing a third site with good leadership.


Alexia Kulwiec“I bring experience in law, employee relations, and food systems, to ensure continued availability of quality food that is healthy, accessible, fair, local, and sustainable.”
Attended Board Meeting? Yes
Signatures? No
Board Candidate Information
Session? Yes

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op’s Board of Directors?
I am new to Madison, and am very impressed with the ideology and quality offered by the Willy Street Co-op. As an Assistant Professor at UW Extension, I am currently studying labor standards in our country’s food systems, and am particularly interested in supporting practices such as those required by the Co-op. I strongly believe that as a member of this community, I should be involved in efforts to ensure continued availability of quality food and products that are healthy, accessible, fair, local, and sustainably produced. I wish to increase my efforts towards these goals, in a manner broader than my own consumer habits.     

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how would they relate to your service on the WSGC Board.
I have recently starting working with a Healthy Procurement Work Group, which will be considering food procurement policies related to the City of Madison’s purchasing of food.  I believe this experience will partner well with serving on the Board, providing expertise in further refining and developing the means by which to meet the Co-op’s goals.

I have served on various volunteer legal advisory councils, and directed a small legal department, thus bringing supervisory skills, as well an ability to effectively delegate. I have been part of the management team of a large labor organization, bringing management skills, employee relations’ skills, communication skills, legal skills, and the ability to create and enforce policy.

I have been an attorney for 19 years, and am a “certified” (recognized by the Cook County, Illinois Court system) Mediator, which I believe will bring valuable experience in reviewing contracts, and working toward avoiding or resolving any disputes with suppliers, customers or employees. I have particular experience in Labor and Employment law, provided potential guidance to the current Board during the unionization drive, and feel that I could be helpful in ensuring a return to collegial, cooperative and effective working conditions at the Co-op.  

3. What are the 2-3 issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next five years?
With the addition of a new store, and a major restoration project on the East side, it seems that the Co-op may need a periodof stabilization for some time. That being said, it is important to continue growing its understanding of fair trade products, perhaps with an eye towards domestic fair trade, as well as looking at efforts to increase local supply of fair and sustainably grown products.

Following the union organization drive this past year, the Co-op may need to review its internal employment policies to ensure fair working conditions, and safeguard the employees’ participatory role in running the Co-op, consistent with the Co-op’s mission and values. 


Dave Pauly“I am a compassionate business-person with deep board experience who strongly believes in Willy’s mission and wants it to continue thriving and being a great community citizen.”

Attended Board Meeting? Yes
Signatures? Yes
Board Candidate Information
Session? Yes

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-ops Board of Directors?
I believe very strongly in Willy’s mission and philosophy. A vibrant and healthy Willy Street Co-op is an important part of Dane County. It’s focus on local and organic food follows my belief that food should be near to home and healthy for you. Willy’s commitment to the community through CHIP, Community Reinvestment and grants aligns well with me and speaks highly for Willy Street Co-op being a good community citizen.

2.Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how would they relate to your service on the board.
I am a compassionate businessperson. I am currently the interim CEO at Big Brothers and Sisters of Dane County and prior to that I retired as CEO and Chairperson of the board of Capitol Transamerica Corporation here is Madison.

I am very familiar with financials statements, strategic planning and budgeting. I have been on many profit and non-profit boards and know the proper roles of a highly effective board. I believe strongly in giving back and was a Big Brother for over 25 years. I have picked up litter for Adopt a Highway, currently ring the bell for Salvation Army, am an Agrace hospice volunteer and am working with the Urban League of Madison to teach insurance to adults as a vocation.

3. What are the 2-3 issues the Co-op Board needs to address in the next 5 years?
Keeping Willy Street Co-op thriving and fulfilling it’s mission are the 2 biggest issues for me. There is more and more non co-op competition in organic foods and that will be a big challenge for Willy Street Co-op. It will be critical that we keep drawing customers who can see the important difference that makes Willy Street Co-op the place to shop.

A successful rollout of a third store is also a major issue and has to be done correctly. I am very familiar with expansions in my past work.

A final issue is the continued enhancement of our valued employees to be sure that we make Willy Street Co-op a lasting and very satisfying place to work.


Proposed Bylaw 1.2 change 

WSGC Bylaw 1.2 states 1221 Williamson Street as the principal office address. The actual office address is 1457 E. Washington Ave. 

The principal office address is required to be filed with the State of Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. 

The Articles of Incorporation must state the principal address, and Bylaws are not required to do so. The Articles of Incorporation can be amended by filing with the State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) a Board resolution changing the address. 

However, this presents the conundrum that the bylaws say one address and the DFI records say something different. 

After discussing this with our attorney, David (Rosebud) Sparer, we agreed 1) the Articles of Incorporation need to be amended, and 2) we amend the bylaws at the next opportunity (2015) in one of two ways; remove the address altogether from the bylaws or revise the language. Either option requires a vote of the Ownership.

Current language:

Section I: Organization

1.1: The name of this cooperative is Williamson Street Grocery Co-op, referred to herein as “the Co-op.”

1.2: The principal office of the Co-op is located in Dane County at 1221 Williamson Street in Madison, Wisconsin.

Proposed new language:

Section I: Organization

1.1: The name of this cooperative is Williamson Street Grocery Co-op, referred to herein as “the Co-op.”

1.2: The principal office of the Co-op is located in Dane County at such updated address as is on record with the State Department of Financial Institutions.

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