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Your Board Candidates

 

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


Brian Anderson1.  Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op’s Board of Directors?

 I want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op board because I support the cooperative form of business, particularly its emphasis on democratic control and economic participation by the owners.  Cooperatives and their cousins (credit unions, employee-owned companies, and nonprofit organizations) should be encouraged to proliferate, because they generally provide higher levels of service to customers and satisfaction to employees.  I have helped dozens of companies establish employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and thereby become employee-owned.  (Note: Willy Street is not a candidate for an ESOP).  Having provided professional services to businesses and nonprofit organizations for approximately 35 years, and having been a Willy Street West frequenter and Co-op member since 2010, I have come to an appropriate time to provide service back to the Co-op.  I’m a lawyer and CPA, but don’t hold that against me.  The board should have diversity.

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how they relate to your service on the Co-op Board. 

The 4 years I served as an elected member of the board of governors of the State Bar of Wisconsin (and the 2 years I chaired its Business Law Section) provided valuable leadership experience in a democratic organization.  The 3 years I served in elected office on the Village of Sussex (WI) board of trustees provided valuable experience responding to citizens.  My current terms of service as a director of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc., a director of the Madison Benefits Council, Inc., and an advisory director of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, provide me with interesting volunteer experiences and ground me in the Madison community.

3. What are the two to three issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next three years? 

 

In coming years, the Co-op board needs to keep pondering the best ways to balance the Co-op’s multiple and sometimes competing interests, namely: (a) providing nutritious and affordable food to Co-op members and the broader community, (b) paying fair prices to local farmers and other vendors for their products, (c) serving the community in other ways, such as education and training, and (d) supporting the cooperative movement more broadly.  Having survived and thrived for 43 years, the Co-op needs to remain economically sustainable, despite constant changes in the business environment (with other groceries opening and closing) and constant changes in food supplies and needs.  The Co-op also needs to continue devoting resources to actively assist other food cooperatives across the country.  Build bridges, not walls.


Jeannine Bindl

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op’s Board of Directors?

I’d like to serve on the Willy St. Co-op’s board of directors to deepen the impact and expand the reach of the co-op’s thriving community.  I am a Registered Dietitian; my vocational passions are improving access to healthy foods and building supportive communities.  The Co-op board is a fantastic vehicle for my passions, a place where I can work towards improving the health of communities in Madison and Dane County.

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how they relate to your service on the Co-op Board.

In addition to my vision and passion, I will bring my experience to the Board of Directors - my experience in community outreach, business management, and pilot program development, execution, and evaluation.

Our family recently moved back to Madison after three years in Portland, OR. While in Portland, I served on the board of directors at a community-focused non-profit, and taught nutrition through a culinary program serving at-risk teens.  These opportunities expanded my leadership, communication skills, and my horizons. 

Before becoming a full time parent, I worked as a nutrition educator within the Dane County Women, Infants and Children program.  During this time I was confronted by specific community needs: access to healthy food and affordable physical activity resources.  I responded by contributing to city-level conversations about food deserts and insecurity, and planned and executed a pilot study which offered free exercise classes at the Lussier Community Education Center. 

My self-motivation and desire to connect people with existing resources are skills that will help our Co-op continue to succeed and grow sustainably. 

3. What are the two to three issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next three years?

This is a very exciting season for Willy St. Co-op; Willy North recently opened and there is potential for a fourth store on the South side.  It is important during this season that we prioritize fulfilling our mission statement. Change can be challenging and we need to focus on being our best selves in its midst. Two specific areas to monitor are our financial health as a business, and the satisfaction of our owners and employees—old and new.

Additionally, I believe we should creatively consider how our current locations can more positively impact the neighborhoods we are already in.  Some ideas include but are not limited to: increasing classes offered, creating space for community groups such as postpartum moms or language learners to meet, and stepping outside the store walls to help with school gardens.  By engaging in we can be part of a more healthy and vibrant community.


Evan Cameron

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op’s Board of Directors?

I think I have a unique perspective as someone with a wealth of board and cooperative experience. I also have a strong passion for the cooperative model, the welfare of humans and animals, and an interest in what some may consider tedious minutiae: writing policy, scheduling tasks, and reviewing minutes, for example. Additionally, as a graduate student at UW with limited income, I have a desire to balance the sometimes conflicting goals of providing sustainable, ethical, and local food at lower costs. 

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how would they relate to your service on the Co-op Board. 

I have several relevant experiences through working for the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA), a multi-million dollar non-profit group of cooperatives with the goal of providing at-cost housing and dining to students at Oberlin College. From 2012-2013, I led the negotiation of a lease agreement between OSCA and Oberlin College. From 2013-2014, I served as the Chair of the Board of OSCA, navigating issues including changing staff compensation and navigating a restructuring of our Bylaws. Afterwards, from 2014-2015, I was the President, collaborating with 25 student staff, three Officers, and four, salaried employees through chairing the Personnel Committee. I maintained communication between disparate areas of staff, including working with Operations Managers and chairing the General Management Team. They in turn ensured the seven co-ops ran smoothly. As President, I was the public face of OSCA, meeting with attorneys, overseeing outside correspondence, and attending conferences. I averaged 30 hours/week working for OSCA as a full-time student. As President, I approached 40 hours. I think that the strategic planning, board and cooperative experience, and OSCA’s goal of keeping costs down while providing sustainable, ethical, and local food all contribute to these experiences’ relationship to my service on the Board. 

3. What are the two to three issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next three years? 

One of the most pressing issues is the addition of the Willy North location. The Board will still have much to discuss in the coming years as to how it can grow and serve the needs of the north side. The Board will likely continue navigating the addition of conventional products that still meet the Co-op’s mission, while respecting the desires and needs of the north side’s communities. The second most pressing issue in my mind is the overall cost of Co-op products relative to costs at competing grocers. The recent arrival of several new grocery options in Madison brings products that are marketed in similar ways and with a customer base similar to the Co-op’s. I think that the fundamental challenge here is promoting Willy Street as a cooperative, as something that one can truly “own” a part of and play a fundamental role in running. This is ultimately the largest strength of the Co-op, something I have always appreciated about the cooperative model, and something I believe the Board should make appeals about to the owners and potential owners whenever possible. 


Sarah Daniels

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op’s Board of Directors? 

I want to support the continued success of the Co-op. My values are harmonious with the values of the Co-op: respecting and honoring everyone and giving our best to everything we do. The Co-op is a natural leader for values I support of integrity and excellence in the goal of good, clean, healthy food and a strong, caring community. 

It was love at first sight for me with Co-op starting in 1974. I appreciate the values of courtesy, working with local suppliers, the leadership role for sustainable agriculture, appreciating the land and farmers, and networking with others who share these values. 

Also, I have experienced food insecurity, and I appreciate the Co-op’s participation in the Food Prescription Program. 

I have a strong work ethic, realistic life experiences, common sense and commitment to kindness. The Board can rely on me. It would be my pleasure and honor to serve, and so I ask for your vote. 

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how would they relate to your service on the Co-op Board. 

I have good communication skills, I’m reliable, and I have a commitment to kindness and good will for all. 

I worked at Wisconsin Public Radio. I produced radio shows, hosted shows on air and wrote scripts. I also studied W. Edwards Deming’s Quality Improvement methods. After WPR, I attended from UW-Madison law school, then clerked for a Wisconsin Court of Appeals, worked at a private law firm, and finally at the Wisconsin Office of the Public Defender. As a lawyer, I did my best to bring about the best possible resolutions. This required diplomacy, attention to detail, imagination, persistence, preparation, mastery of facts and law, and a realistic understanding of the current legal system. 

I’ve also developed my spirituality and a heart-centered approach to living. Although I’m significantly better now, I left the Public Defender’s office when I got mononucleosis, which morphed into disabling Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I experienced a lot of isolation in those years. 

Spirituality offered me a way to find meaning inlife when my scope of activity had essentially disappeared. I learned from many: Byron Katie, Matt Kahn, Abraham-Hicks and more. Locally, I practiced Compassionate Communications, learning from Mary Kay Reinemannand Robert Gonzales. I also practiced energy work in Paul Ditscheit’s Soul Awareness School. More recently, I’ve led and taught meditation at the Center for Conscious Living. I teach a transformational meditation designed to reduce suffering and enhance happiness in everyday life. I want benevolence and well-being for all. 

3. What are the two to three issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next three years? 

1. EXPANSION: I support reasonable expansion as long as the values of the Co-op are retained. 

2. SERVICE TO NEIGHBORHOODS AND COMMUNITIES: Listen and Learn how best to serve communities and neighborhoods so that the Co-op may be of the most benefit. 

3. ENHANCEMENT: Continuing efforts to enhance employee and customer satisfaction. Continuing to listen to employees and customers. 


Meghan Gauger

 

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op’s Board of Directors?

I believe in the Co-op’s mission—serving needs of Owners and employees by running an economically and environmentally sustainable cooperative. The Co-op’s leadership in supporting local farmers and food producers is important to me as a way to serve the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit).

I’m interested in serving on the board to gain a broader perspective of the diverse needs of our Owners, and to be a part of making decisions on how the Co-op can meet those needs. I’ve been impressed with the ideas that Owners and staff have come up with to increase accessibility for customers in terms of product mix and co-op services, especially regarding our Willy North location, and I look forward to working on additional creative ideas that we can implement.

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how would they relate to your service on the Co-op Board.

I have served on the Willy Street Co-op’s Community Reinvestment Fund Committee for the past four years, which has been a rewarding way for me to contribute to the Co-op, and a great way to be involved with the Co-op’s efforts to help local non-profits launch innovative programs for the benefit of the community. I view the opportunity to volunteer on the Board of Directors as the next step in serving the Co-op and our Owners.

I have experience working with non-profit boards and I understand the role that boards play in running a healthy organization. I understand principles of board governance, how to read financial statements, and the commitment of time and effort it will take to be an effective Board Director.

On a personal note, I am passionate about protecting wilderness on public lands and for years I have spent countless hours as a grassroots activist working with a wide coalition of citizens, elected officials and fellow activists. When I commit to something, I commit! 

3. What are the two to three issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next three years?

The board needs to ensure that the Co-op maintains a competitive advantage as competition grows for organic and natural foods. This includes thinking about what we can offer to attract more customers to become Owners, and what we can do to ensure that the Co-op attracts and retains great employees.

Along with that, the board needs to ensure that the Co-op remains in a strong financial position both in the short and long term. 

 

The board also needs to continue working with staff and Owners to create and maintain accessibility in terms of product price and selection, and inclusivity by listening to Owners’ needs so that theCo-op is an attractive place for customers to spend their dollars. 


Ben Gold

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op’s Board of Directors?

I want to apply my background in business and interest in food security to give back to the co-op. Serving on the board combines my desire to give back with satisfaction from working on large scale business problems and the potential to address food security issues. 

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how would they relate to your service on the Co-op Board.

I manage and lead projects from 1K—1mm with non-profit healthcare organizations through large-scale software implementations. 

I am excited at the prospect of working with a mission driven organization again. In my regular work, I collaborate, manage, and influence folks from varying backgrounds and roles to help organizations to meet their goals. At the core, my background provides me the skills and framework to help solve problems the co-op currently faces while keeping an eye on challenges yet to come. 

3. What are the two to three issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next three years?

The co-op board first needs to address the financial health of all co-op locations. The focus on financial discipline ensures the future of the co-op and I believe it ought to remain a highly visible priority. The co-op’s primary goal is mission, not profit; however, the mission cannot maintain its viability without a margin. Financial discipline is imperative for the continued operations and growth of the co-op. 

As a consumer, it is a pleasure to see so many grocery stores offer organic and high-quality ingredients, but competition from other grocery stores represents a growing challenge for the co-op as it continues to embody its mission through its products and customer experience. 

 

The co-op board should also investigate whether the Willy North location business model can be replicated in other locations in the greater Madison area. I’d like to examine using the co-op’s model: shared ownership, ongoing education, community engagement, and commitment to quality as the foundation for improving access to different communities within Madison. 


Scott Isabella

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op’s Board of Directors?

a. In an era of food industry consolidation, co-op’s like Willy Street provide the community with a consumer-first option focused on local and sustainable products, as well as community engagement. As a food industry professional who has witnessed firsthand how core principles can dissolve as organizations search for profits, I recognize the criticality of Willy Street’s mission and want to support the organization to further its goals while remaining financially sound.

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how would they relate to your service on the Co-op Board.

a. I began my career as a supply chain professional at H.J. Heinz, where I built a deep understanding of the food industry and the intricacies of consumer packaged goods. I then joined HD Supply as a Branch Manager in the state Virginia, where I lead a team of professionals at various stages their careers and ran a $30 million P&L. Most recently, I managed the sourcing department of Earthbound Farm, the nation’s largest grower-processor of organic produce. I currently lead operations at Miss Jones Baking Co., a start-up that produces organic baking goods sold in retail stores nationwide. My professional experience has grounded me in the practical underpinnings of the food industry and developed my ability to understand and manage financial statements. Most importantly, however, my experience has made me acutely aware of disparities in food quality andavailability and ignited my passion to increase consumer awareness of and access to organic and natural foods within my community. 

3. What are the two to three issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next three years?

a. Differentiated and Profitable Product Assortment—Although we are in a unprecedented era of food industry consolidation, we have also never had more products available for consumers to choose. It is the Co-op’s responsibility to provide an assortment of products that aligns with the Co-op’s mission and its Owners’ demands, and the Board can play an integral role in fostering that alignment.

b. Member Engagement—The Co-op’s democratic model should be upheld and strengthened. The Board can encourage engagement activities to maintain a constant connection between the Co-op and its Owners to ensure meaningful participation and satisfaction.  A membership fund could subsidize the cost of membership for low income residents and address local food insecurity issues.

 

c. Sound balance sheet and cash flow policies—The Co-op can best serve its Owners when it is financially strong. Key financial ratios and operating metrics should be in place and measured against to ensure responsible management of Co-op resources. 


Caryn Murphy

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op’s Board of Directors?

I think that the Co-op is one of our city’s great assets, and I believe in its mission of environmental and economic sustainability. I want to serve my local community by helping the Co-op succeed, and I think that my background and skills speak directly to the duties of a board member. My undergraduate majors were business administration and communication, and I’ve utilized related skills in every job I’ve ever held. 

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how would they relate to your service on the Co-op Board.

My previous volunteer work at Community Shares of Wisconsin and Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services involved both administrative and organizational tasks. I’ve devoted my time to causes like these because I believe they serve important and necessary social functions. 

My work as an associate professor involves teaching, research, and service responsibilities. This has helped me to develop both leadership skills and an appreciation for collaboration. I am capable and reliable—and I think those are two attributes that go a long way in any organization. 

3. What are the two to three issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next three years?

 

The first issue that I’d like to highlight is growth and expansion. The Co-op needs to continue to grow in order to continue to thrive. A second, interrelated issue is that the Co-op’s three stores serve different areas of the city, with distinct needs. As the Co-op grows and changes, I think it’s important to maintain some unity of identity while respecting the needs of the communities being served. This might be a good place to add that I think that Willy North has been doing a really good job of meeting this challenging goal. As a third issue, the Board needs to consider opportunities and threats in the overall market; evidence suggests that the way that people shop for groceries (and what we’re seeking) is changing. As much as possible, the Co-op should be able to benefit from a greater consumer demand for produce and prepared foods.  


Stephanie Ricketts

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op’s Board of Directors?

The Co-op is a very important part of my life, providing me with a place to buy high-quality, organic food and locally made products that support my fellow Wisconsinites and Madisonians. Equally important, the Co-op (especially my home-base at Willy East) is a community space, where I know I will see my friends, neighbors and other friendly faces on even the roughest of days. I would like to give back to the organization that has given me so much over the years by serving on the Board of Directors. I am passionate about cooperatives, sustainably produced food and building community, all of which are at the very heart of WSGC. 

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how would they relate to your service on the Co-op Board.

I am in a unique position, having spent 2008-2015 working for WSGC as its Executive Assistant and, for much of that time, Board Administrator. As a result, I am thoroughly versed in policy governance and the Co-op’s Bylaws and Ends policies, and I am also familiar with many of the Board’s duties, procedures and much of its history. Outside of the Co-op, my relevant experiences include serving as a REAP Farm-to-School AmeriCorps member, a certificate from the Edgewood Sustainability Leadership program, and founding/co-leading a small non-profit called Eat for Equity-Madison. Collectively, these experiences have taught me how to manage business finances, publicly represent an organization, facilitate group conversations and make deliberative decisions, and a whole lot about cooperatives, our regional food system, and our community. Time has also deepened my love for Madison, and the communities that make it a vibrant place to live. 

3. What are the two to three issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next three years?

 

The Co-op’s Board needs to explore and provide a vision for the role WSGC can play in creating a more equitable and inclusive Madison, for all of the people who live here. The other top issues I see for the Board are to 1) closely monitor the financial health and policies of WSGC post-expansion to a third store and 2) consider the long term future of the organization, particularly how cooperatives maintain their relevancy and grow their impact in an increasingly dense and competitive arena. 


Bonnie Watson

1. Why do you want to serve on the Willy Street Co-op’s Board of Directors?

Over the past eleven months, I have had the very fortunate opportunity to work with the Finance team at the Central Office. As part of my role, I have been directly involved in financial reporting and tracking of capital expenditures, and have assisted with the budgeting process. While my background in accounting is what first brought me to the Co-op as a contract employee, the education I have received since then has inspired me to run for the Board. The only thing more impressive than the collective kindness of the staff that I have encountered at the CO and at the retail locations, is the steadfast belief in the mission of the Co-op. The emphasis placed on giving back to the community, the support of local farmers and fair-trade products, and the depth of concern for the accessibility of healthy, organic foods for all are important values that I try to maintain as well.  The Willy Street Co-op has given me more than I could ever give back to them, but my hope is that my business background and experience would be a worthy contribution to the Co-op’s continued growth and success. 

2. Describe your previous volunteer or leadership experiences and how would they relate to your service on the Co-op Board.

In addition to volunteering in my children’s elementary school classrooms, I previously served four yearson the Board of the parent cooperative nursery school that they both attended. During the two years I served as President of the Board, I assisted in the creation of a finance policy manual, led a strategic planning initiative and helped develop a five-year plan. Additionally, I coordinated classroom volunteers and provided input on changes to the school’s bylaws.

3. What are the two to three issues the Co-op’s Board needs to address in the next three years?

Within the next few years, the Co-op’s Board would best serve the ownership by concentrating on the following:

a) Focusing on the triple bottom line by increasing operational efficiencies that would in turn increase profitability, maintaining a livable wage for Co-op employees, and managing food loss at the retail sites and off-site kitchen,

b) Continuing to expand in strategic locations that would benefit from easier access to local, fresh and organic products, as well as from the Co-op’s educational programs and community reinvestment, and

 

c) Keeping abreast of the changing needs of the locations the Co-op currently serves, in order to provide the appropriate mix of products and services for that area and to remain relevant in an increasingly competitive market.

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