Meet The Board Candidates!

Four seats (3 three-year terms and 1 one-year term due to the early departure of a Board member) are open on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors. There are also two Owner Referendums

  1. Owners approve expenditure, not to exceed $2,000,000, to remodel the Co-op property at 1221 Williamson Street, Madison WI. (See article for more details).
  2. Owners approve the addition to Bylaw section 6.5: “Patronage rebates may, at the discretion of the Board of Directors, be distributed in cash, allocated patronage equities or any combination thereof, upon such terms and conditions as may be determined by the Board of Directors in its sole discretion.” (See article for more details).

There are thirteen candidates statements available to read below. Make sure to vote by August 21st at 6:00pm; paper ballots are available in each store. To vote online, please contact Customer Service at 251-6776 or 284-7800; or go here for more information.


Rick BernsteinRICK BERNSTEIN
“The Willy Street Co-op means alot to me and my family and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.”

1. What strengths do you bring to the 3 Board initiatives of developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system? How will you utilize these strengths on the Co-op’s Board of Directors? Please provide specific examples.
As a board member for the past three years, I have worked with the rest of the board to develop the three current board initiatives—developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system. The board as a committee of the whole has been educating itself on food deserts and recently I wrote a board article for the Willy Street Reader. More recently the board has started to brainstorm what we as a Co-op can do to address the food desert situation here in Madison and met with representatives from the Westmoreland neighborhood to explore what kind of partnership we might be able to develop.

2. Why do you want to be on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
The Co-op is a large and complex business. In my three years on the board I have served on the audit committee, the retreat committee and recently as chair of the finance committee. In addition I started and chair the newly-formed policy development committee. As a result I have learned a lot about the Co-op and how it functions and hope to take advantage of this experience to help ensure the Co-op’s continued success, both financially and as a democratic institution.

3. What’s your interest in the future of food?
The Co-op is an essential link in bringing good, healthy food into the community. The future of good and healthy food is being challenged by corporatized agra-businesses, continued use of synthetic chemicals and more recently by global warming. The Co-op is part of a sustainable food chain that supports a sustainable model for change. The more successful the Co-op the greater the chance we have of making that change wider and more permanent.

Joshua ClementsJOSHUA CLEMENTS
“Sustainable development professional intending to contribute to improvements in Co-op community connections, maintain authenticity, and further develop our local healthy food system.”

1. What strengths do you bring to the 3 Board initiatives of developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system? How will you utilize these strengths on the Co-op’s Board of Directors? Please provide specific examples.
I am a graduate of the UW Urban & Regional Planning Department (MS), and presently serve as a Community & Economic Development Educator with UW Extension. While in graduate school, I worked for the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence and served on the UW Union South Design Committee.

  • Green Initiatives. I will draw upon my experience as the Co-Leader of the UW Extension Sustainability Team where I develop initiatives to leverage University knowledge resources to decrease environmental impact in the public and private sector, and realize social and economic development opportunities in clean energy, local food, efficiency, and related areas.
  • Financial Accessibility. The price paid at the register is the product of many variables, and as a Board member a priority for me will be to work with staff to identify leverage points to decrease retail prices wherever possible.
  • Local Food. I work directly with local food producers and businesses in SE WI, assisting in strategic planning, market analysis, as well as access to educational resources. I am a member of the Extension Food Systems Development Team working on design, coordination, and delivery of educational and service projects.

I current support civic engagement and neighborhood vibrancy in Madison through service on the Preservation & Design Committee of the Marquette Neighborhood Association and as a Board member of the East Isthmus Neighborhoods Planning Council. 

2. Why do you want to be on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
I seek to serve the Co-op and broader community by leveraging my experience and training to supplement the great initiatives already in progress at the Co-op.

As a nearby resident of the Willy Street location, I am interested and concerned regarding the dialogue of a potential Co-op store on East Washington, and what future changes may take place on Willy Street. Regardless of the decision on a new location, I believe that the Willy Street store should continue as a flagship local food grocery store and neighborhood anchor. As a Board member, I would draw on my experience and educational background to make informed decisions regarding a potential East Washington site and ensure any changes to the Willy Street store would be positive for the Co-op and the neighborhood.
Likewise, I believe my background will be valuable in ensuring that the Jenifer Street alley, which is now permanently open to traffic, will become safe for both pedestrians and motorists. All feasible safety measures must be taken to reduce conflicts with pedestrians and bicyclists.

3. What’s your interest in the future of food?
As a young person with children, my interest in the future of food is to ensure a healthy soil-to-plate-to-soil cycle that provides a range of nutritious food options while producing a light environmental footprint. I am interested in reducing the fossil energy inputs to the food chain, the total land use impacts, as well as the social and economic development benefits that can be realized through greater community engagement in local food production.

Mike EngelMIKE ENGEL
“I will advocate for a well-run cooperative that serves our owners and improves our community and local foodshed.”

1. What strengths do you bring to the 3 Board initiatives of developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system? How will you utilize these strengths on the Co-op’s Board of Directors? Please provide specific examples.
Passion, dedication, and experience. The Co-op is doing great things. But what can we do to be even better? I’m not satisfied that we are reducing waste, using less energy, buying local products, and increasing accessibility. I want to know that our waste was reduced 10% from last year, that our energy use per dollars of sales was reduced 5%, and that we increased participation in our Access Discount Program and Food Stamp/SNAP customers by 10%. Assessing our current state of affairs allows us to see and measure change. It gives us a basis to set goals and dream of the good our co-op can do in our community.
In addition to keeping track of the Co-op’s progress, I consistently ask where we are going. At a recent national conference of food cooperatives I attended workshops on: 1) Developing local food sheds through community gardens with an emphasis on urban and economically challenged areas 2) Retail operation in underserved communities (food deserts) and 3) Strategic leadership. 

As a founding member of the Co-op’s Strategic Planning Committee, I worked with member/owners at the Annual Meeting, listening sessions, and other communication to develop ten initiatives. At the Board level, we refined these from ten to three initiatives. With your input, I authored the financial accessibility and green energy white papers that the Board approved for action. Our management team is currently developing an action plan for these initiatives.

As a member of the Board Development Committee, we are working to include these initiatives in all Board activities. We successfully planned Board education sessions on each initiative for Board meetings. These sessions brought in local and national experts to help us determine how we can set measurable goals for the Co-op.

2. Why do you want to be on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
The co-op rocks! The Board does too! After three years serving as your representative on the Board, I am enthused to keep working to draw the co-op closer to the best organization it can be. I serve as the Board Vice-President, on the Board Development Committee, and Audit Committee. Formerly I served on the Strategic Planning Committee and Opportunities Committee. Having been a part of developing our three strategic initiatives, I’d really like to be a part of implementing them. To better serve you, I have attended training on leadership in cooperatives.

3. What’s your interest in the future of food?
Food brings us all together. My wife, son, and I eat food daily. We need safe, affordable, healthy food that supports a local sustainable economy. Outside the co-op, my job is to partner with famers and rural landowners to help them steward their land for the benefit of wildlife habitat, water quality, and endangered resources. Together we walk their land, discuss goals, problems, and possible solutions. Then cooperatively, we get our hands dirty making a change for the better.

Holly FearingHOLLY FEARING
“Hello! I live in the Atwood neighborhood where I actively organize activities and build connections within Madison’s vibrant cooperative movement. Democratic participation makes co-ops better!”

1. What strengths do you bring to the 3 Board initiatives of developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system? How will you utilize these strengths on the Co-op’s Board of Directors? Please provide specific examples.
I developed a sustainability strategy and established a program to engage employees in a variety of focused green projects at my company. I co-chair the Sustainability team which is now part of Madison’s MPower program—the same program that WSGC participated in to develop shades for the produce section in the East location. I’ve made great progress in strategically shaping a more green-thinking culture and I’d like to apply similar tactics to engage WSGC employees and members.

As part of the credit union movement, I work on numerous projects aimed at increasing the financial capabilities and access to credit for younger generations and the un- and under-banked populations. I’ve traveled the country working with young credit union professionals, mentoring them as future leaders and helping them develop solutions to consumer finance problems. There are many opportunities for credit unions to partner with other co-ops like WSGC, to bring innovative tools on-site to increase members’ financial accessibility and education.

Local food, like cooperatives, is good for the economy, environment and community. I’m a strong advocate for local food supply and promoting the win/win/win benefits for all. I want to use my strategic planning and communication skills to educate the community and bring in new co-op members to experience the many benefits of local food.

2. Why do you want to be on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
I’m extremely passionate about co-ops and I’m eager to use my skills to promote and grow the movement from within. I’m involved in several projects in the local cooperative space already, including the Co-op Connection, and I’m excited to build stronger connections and partnerships between Willy Street and other local co-ops. As a younger member of the community, I also want to represent the needs of those in my generation and encourage participation in the democratic process to ensure the future of the movement.

3. What’s your interest in the future of food?
I’m concerned that future generations won’t have access to the variety and quality of fresh food we have today. It’s vital to continue to educate individuals on the importance of eating healthy—what it means and how to do it. WSGC is a leader in food education and I want to guarantee they continue to be effective in these efforts for many years to come.

Jim FischerJIM FISCHER
“Family farming and stewardship of the land has brought me here—leading by example, dedicated to improving the Co-op and community every day.”

1. What strengths do you bring to the 3 Board initiatives of developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system? How will you utilize these strengths on the Co-op’s Board of Directors? Please provide specific examples.
My 35 years of agricultural experience, combined with more recent experience as a dedicated Co-op employee, has given me a unique perspective on the local food market. I have worked in the grocery departments of both East and West side stores and have firsthand knowledge of day-to-day operations. My experience includes years of capital management, contract negotiations and resource conservation, all built on a strong work ethic. I held the office of Mint Marketing Board President from 1991-1993 and participated in Grower Assessments for cooperative research from 1993-2005. I know what it means to run a business and grow, contract, sell, and survive in a competitive market. I am dedicated to supporting all green initiatives. I bring to the table a passion for maintaining a sustainable and profitable business that will support both the employees that make the Co-op a special place to work, and the community that all of our combined efforts serve.

2. Why do you want to be on the WSGC Board of Directors?
It is the core values of the Williamson Street Co-op and what it stands for that inspires me to take a more active role as an employee representative and member of the Board of Directors. I look forward to working as a representative of the cooperative community and having a voice in the creation of the Co-op’s future policy, operations, and growth.

3. What is your interest in the future of food?
My interest in the future of food is directly related to the work I do every day. My goal is to be of service to the Co-op and its members, using my extensive experience as a farmer to source, purchase, provide and support locally-produced, pure, healthy food at affordable prices.

Julia GengenbachJULIA GENGENBACH
“I love what WSGC stands for and am excited and passionate about helping to bring to fruition the potential it has yet to fulfill.”

1. What strengths do you bring to the 3 Board initiatives of developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system? How will you utilize these strengths on the Co-op’s Board of Directors? Please provide specific examples.
I will bring to the board of directors an interesting, beneficial, and diverse set of strengths that I believe will have a positive influence on the three current board initiatives and any future initiatives laid before the board. As a current employee of the WSGC, I am uniquely positioned to see both how BOD decisions as well as store based decisions will have an impact on the ability of the WSGC and the BOD to meet these initiatives.
One strength that I will bring to the board is creative problem solving. I am able to see solutions to problems that others tend to overlook or dismiss. The three current initiatives before the board are things in which I am extremely interested. As the assistant deli manager I am already working on ways to make the deli less wasteful and brought in locally-sourced deli packaging that meets the conditions of the City of Madison’s recycling program.

I am dedicated to working towards a more locally-based food system, I know that the co-op can be a leader in this initiative if we continue to work with the local farmers and producers to make it so. Growing up on a farm, I have a keen understanding of how integral supporting locally produced goods is to the economy. I also believe that there is a significant connection to be made between developing the local food system and increasing financial accessibility. While there are numerous small things that can be done to help increase financial accessibility-from paying closer attention to departmental margins, to continuing to reduce waste-there is also a much bigger picture that needs to be focused on, and local food systems are certainly a large part of that picture.

2. Why do you want to be on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
I want to be on the board of directors so that I can have a positive impact on the direction of the co-op. I also believe that having an employee sit on the board is highly beneficial to both the BOD and to the Co-op as a whole. The co-op has had such a positive impact on my family’s life, I would very much like to return the favor.

3. What’s your interest in the future of food?
I am both fearful and hopeful about the future of food. Living in Madison I see all the wonderful and diverse ways that our community supports it’s local farms and markets and realize that this is something that is happening across our country. I am, however, deeply bothered by the increased presence of GMO’s in our food and the reluctance of our government to require labeling of these products. The influence and power of larger corporations on organic labeling is also of significant concern. These are problems that are, I believe, best overcome by grass roots movements and actions taken by those of us who are most aware of the impacts such things can have.

DAVID LEZAKSDAVID LEZAKS
“I’m a sustainability scientist working to transform our food system. I’m ready to help the Willy St. Co-op meet its social, environmental & economic goals."

1. What strengths do you bring to the 3 Board initiatives of developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system? How will you utilize these strengths on the Co-op’s Board of Directors? Please provide specific examples.
I am a sustainability scientist whose research focuses on social, environmental and economic solutions to local, regional and global food systems. I help manage a multi-disciplinary partnership focused on how to better inform local decision-making about how valued services (e.g. food, water) are accessed from landscapes, that in aggregate help to shift our trajectory toward a “safe operating space” for human beings and the planet. My personal fulfillment comes from making connections between people, ideas, networks and opportunities and my background and training has prepared me to engage in the issues and challenges faced by the WSGC and its owners. I will help the WSGC Board of Directors promote the Co-op’s mission, improving current practices while also working towards a sustainable long-term vision. I can take a lead on nutrient recycling programs (e.g. community composting), sourcing new products from Tribal and other under-represented groups, and tailoring educational materials available for owners about food, farming, nutrition and the environment.

2. Why do you want to be on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
In the nearly ten years that I have been in Madison, I have been inspired by the many people, places and events that make this great city what it is. As my roots grow stronger, I would like to take a more active role in the community. The WSGC is a central institution in Madison and is an exemplar of what a 21st century community-oriented grocery store could be. With my knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for finding innovative solutions, I think that I would make an excellent addition to the Board of Directors.

3. What’s your interest in the future of food?
My interests in the future of food are both personal and professional. Traditional institutions are just beginning to acknowledge (or accept) the importance of shifting the food system toward one we could call “sustainable.” My day job includes research on how positive social and environmental solutions can be implemented across sectors of the food system through the use of innovative policies and new knowledge. One indicator of success will be when the costs of sustainability produced goods (e.g. an organic gallon of milk) are less than goods which are produced in a less socially just manner and with more harmful effects.
While it’s difficult to capture many of the food system’s hidden costs (or benefits, in the case of sustainable production methods), my colleagues and I are working hard across academia, business and government to find and implement these positive changes.

My interest in food extends to my personal life as well. On the weekends and evenings, you can find my wife and I in our community garden plot, checking in on our beehive, putting away the summer bounty for the off-season (with jams, pickles, sauces, and salsas), brewing beer, foraging or cooking up dinner for friends. For me, food is more than the calories that keep us alive; it’s also a way of engaging with land and living in community with others.

Dawn MatlakDAWN MATLAK
“Sustainability must take into account our well-being as eaters, our collective environment, the livelihoods of food workers, and the nurturing of community.”

1. What strengths do you bring to the 3 Board initiatives of developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system? How will you utilize these strengths on the Co-op’s Board of Directors? Please provide specific examples.
I am immersed in food on a daily basis, and not just as an eater. I am employed in the Cooperative Services department at Willy Street Co-op, which is a role that allows me to listen to and provide resources for Owners, particularly through fielding online, written, and in-person customer comments. I also research current food issues, plan curriculum, and facilitate workshops for staff and Owners. Topics have included: demystifying food labels, understanding the bulk aisle, controversial ingredients, seasonal eating, and racial justice.

As a co-owner of Bare Bones Farm, my strengths are rooted in my love of growing food. I have worked in the food industry as a prep cook, barista, cafe manager, server, and baker, and I carry a commitment to create alternative food systems while struggling for racial, economic, and gender justice.

In regards to the board initiatives, “developing our local food system” has the potential to prioritize certain communities, while ignoring others. To me, this initiative should move hand in hand with efforts to “increase financial accessibility.” Food deserts have become buzzwords that often neglect the powerful community organizing that is rooted in low-income communities, especially communities of color. For direction, the Willy Street Co-op Board can look towards the “Food is a Human Right” resolution, which was initiated by Freedom, Inc and recently passed by the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

When size and subsidies dominate global food markets, how can local food networks be a viable alternative? The strengths I specifically bring are those of practical and creative vision, as well as a willingness to question my own privilege. As a farmer, I am well aware of the difficulties in financially sustaining the small scale production of vegetables. As a food educator and researcher, I understand how big business—even within the “natural foods” sector- continues to control the options of eaters and confuse consumers. Yet, cooperatives are showing the potential to transform the food system on local levels, through transparency and integrity. For example, the P6 (Principle 6) movement has the ability to educate and inform consumers, while building a more cooperative economy.

2. Why do you want to be on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
I am in this work for the long haul, and searching for strategic, long term solutions. I am (secretly) a big co-op nerd, and believe in re-gaining community control of food.

3. What’s your interest in the future of food?
I want the food we eat to be normal, simple food that tastes good and satisfies us. I am interested in cultivating greater awareness of the convoluted, corporate-driven food system, and am invested in creating and sustaining smaller, community-based food networks. Most importantly I want there to be enough good quality, affordable, clean food for all. I am interested in the future of food justice.

Kristel RennKRISTEL RENN
“With passion for local food, ideas for education, and a new perspective of the future: I’m like the co-op: fresh and from the community.”

1. What strengths do you bring to the 3 Board initiatives of developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system? How will you utilize these strengths on the Co-op’s Board of Directors? Please provide specific examples.
I believe that my primary strengths lie in the financial aspect. I have a strong background in increasing financial viability of organizations I worked for; this has occurred directly through sales as well as through measures to increase sales and viability in a less direct manner. Appropriate marketing would be my first suggestion in this aspect, as my background in advertising would lead directly to a better awareness of the Willy Street Co-op brand. I would like to pursue developing our local food system through an increase in cooperation with local food sources and their educating of our owners. I would love to create curriculum that allows owners to not only grow or be involved in growing and cultivating local food, but also to understand the benefits of using local products. This would also involve education on how to properly use local ingredients for better health and wellness. A great way I would like to see the green initiative enhanced is through a greater encouragement for everyday green living. In conjunction with the current discounts offered for certain green practices; it would be great to recognize those who live by these practices with features in the newsletter. Hosting community events that promote green lifestyle (bike safety courses, DIY tutorials to increase household efficiency, etc).

2. Why do you want to be on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
I love food. What I love about food is the way it can make you feel. What I love about the Willy Street Co-op is that they give access to food that makes you feel good. Not only because the ingredients are good quality, but also because you are purchasing ingredients that benefit others in your community. I would love to be on the Board of Directors to help sustain the co-op and it’s initiatives, as well as further its goals and increase its awareness in the community.

3. What’s your interest in the future of food?
I’m afraid my European mother has destroyed my faith in the future of foods. Slowly, the love of good food has deteriorated to a love of preservatives and processes. My interest in the future of food is a reminder of what food once was. Food is meant to be eaten in pure forms, without the additives that ruin our systems. I understand the place that some processed food has in our society, but I also understand the benefits of eating fresh, local food. I believe in the impact eating naturally can have on our system, both internally and externally. Internally in improving health and wellness, and externally in improving community and well-being.

Brian SchneiderBRIAN SCHNEIDER
“As an organic farmer, I help construct a just local food system that nourishes people, culture and the environment with financial accessibility for all.”

1. What strengths do you bring to the 3 Board initiatives of developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system? How will you utilize these strengths on the Co-op’s Board of Directors? Please provide specific examples.
The strengths I bring to the board’s initiatives are my experiences as a beginning organic farmer, board member of Slow Food UW and my college degree in agricultural sociology. My knowledge as a beginning organic farmer combined with my college degree has taught me how to build local food systems from the ground up. I have relationships with farmers in the area and I will work with them and the co-op to strengthen our local food system that nourishes not only the people, but also the local culture and the environment.
 The Co-op is a pillar of the Willy Street and Madison community, and I will work to increase its financial accessibility for all the members of our community. I am proud to be a part of Slow Food UW, a student group that brought local and organic foods to the boy’s and girls club on the south side of Madison. We traveled there once a week to cook with youth and show them how to enjoy real food. Our organization also produced a weekly meal for college students using clean, fair, and local food for an affordable five dollars. We purchased all the food from either farmers or the Co-op.

Since graduating, I have begun my own small-scale organic vegetable farm named “The First Acre” which has taught me a great deal about the production side of food accessibility. I am so grateful to be apart of this local food movement while learning the hardship, skill, and luck needed to sustain a working farm. As a small-scale farmer, I strongly believe in greening initiatives because of the impact climate change will have on organic food production. I will help move the Co-op off fossil fuel usage and further away from chemicals that are neither safe for people nor the environment.

2. Why do you want to be on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
I want to be on the board of directors because I believe in the mission of Willy Street Co-op, and I want to bring healthy fair priced food to all demographics, from students on a tight budget, to seniors on a fixed income. I believe Willy Street Co-op can accomplish this task while staying competitive with other grocery suppliers and remaining at the forefront of economic cooperative development. Willy Street and its members are an amazing grassroots movement that has spearheaded natural and organic foods for the last few decades. I hope to continue to push the co-ops limits to a new level in the fight for a just food system for all.

3. What’s your interest in the future of food?
My interest in the future of food is a vision of worldwide access to food that nourishes humans and the environment alike; a world where knowing your farmer is second nature, and green indicatives are seen as commonplace. I want to live in a world centered on the importance of food sustainability, appreciation, and activism.

John ShadleJOHN SHADLE
“I’m genuinely excited to have the opportunity to work with owners and other board members to help make positive change in our co-op and community.”

1. What strengths do you bring to the 3 Board initiatives of developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system? How will you utilize these strengths on the Co-op’s Board of Directors? Please provide specific examples.
These initiatives, proposed by the members and accepted by the board this past year, provide unique opportunities for improvement of our community beyond the walls of the Co-op. My background in public health and policy analysis equips me with a strong skill set to approach each of these challenges, and my passion for getting to know my community and working hand-in-hand with others to make constructive decisions are all strengths I’d bring to the Board. While the number of members of our co-op is quite large, it still represents a small portion of the population of the Madison metro area; it seems to me that accomplishing these goals should be an effort of not only Willy Street, but a collaborative effort among other co-ops and like-minded organizations in our area. Already, other organizations are attempting to provide solutions to these initiatives. It’s important that we find a way to use our collective voices, through the board of directors, in a positive way to influence and affect change in our community.

2. Why do you want to be on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
With limited time outside of work and family commitments, I’m interested in spending the time I have left contributing to community resources which I find important. My family and I were members of a local co-op grocery store in North Carolina and immediately joined Willy Street after moving here because we appreciate the unique personal and community benefits that co-ops provide. I’m very interested in becoming involved with the leadership of the co-op so I can directly engage with others who share my same passions. I’ve served as a member of a not-for-profit board in the past and witnessed how the synergy of invested individuals can improve the experience of those who it serves. These experiences should serve me well as a member of the Board.

3. What’s your interest in the future of food?
I admit it: I’m a foodie. I grew up learning cooking techniques and tricks from my mother, and now enjoy teaching my son some of these same things. Since my family and I moved to Madison in November 2011, I’ve loved learning about the unique food offerings of Madison and southcentral Wisconsin by frequenting farmers’ markets, supporting restaurants and co-operative grocery stores which provide local food, and by exposing our son to the sources of his food. Being a parent, I’m concerned about the quality and safety of our food supply. As a consumer, I’m concerned about the availability of food at a reasonable, fair price which supports the efforts of farmers to maintain environmental and financial sustainability. I believe that healthy, nutritious food should not be something only achievable by the few. I also believe that education about the sources of our food be emphasized for the young and old, alike.

Deb ShapiroDEB SHAPIRO
“As the Co-op continues to grow into an increasingly larger and more complex organization, my skills as an educator and communicator are vitally important.”

1. What strengths do you bring to the 3 Board initiatives of developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system? How will you utilize these strengths on the Co-op’s Board of Directors? Please provide specific examples.
I’m good at context and connections—sleuthing out the background of a problem, and bringing the right people together to address it. I’m employed as a librarian and instructor at UW-Madison’s School of Library & Information Studies, a small graduate program at huge UW-Madison; approximately 35 faculty and staff and about 250 students. Besides teaching and advising students, I’m involved in the governance of the School, which means a lot of meetings, committee work, and figuring out who we need to connect with in the complex structure of the University to communicate our message and move the School forward. I am also active with library professional associations, like the American Library Association (ALA). In June, I planned a preconference workshop for ALA’s annual conference, on linked data, a new digital information format that is having a big impact on library practices. I lined up a dozen speakers who gave short talks, and afterward the 100+ attendees broke into facilitated workgroups. The success of the workshop was due to my researching the problem, and bringing together the right people at the right time, and I intend to apply the same skills to my next term on the WSGC Board.

2. Why do you want to be on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
Primarily, my deep affection and respect for the Co-op – it’s awesome to be part of an organization that is at once successful financially and still has principles – that uses its profits to benefit its owners, employees, and community. Second, I’m actually running for re-election. I’ve been on the Board since 2005, and am currently the longest serving member. I have taken advantage of many educational opportunities: annual Board retreat, attending CCMA, the Consumer Cooperative Management Association conference, and regular educational sessions before each monthly Board meeting, that I’ve both attended and organized. In a recent strengths assessment of the current Board, I was the only member to score high in the areas of communication and arranging. My unique skill set, combined with the investment the Co-op has made in me, will continue to be valuable to the Board and the Co-op.

3. What’s your interest in the future of food?
I’ve been cooking, reading and researching recipes since I was nine. Before becoming a librarian, I worked in restaurants and other kitchens in Madison for 15 years. Food is really the issue where the personal is political. It’s dismaying to look at our industrial agricultural system, designed to crank out cheap, unhealthy calories. But, as Michael Pollan (and many other writers) has pointed out, individual eaters can “vote with their forks” – by choosing to eat locally, buy food from farmers we know, from co-ops like Willy Street, passing up processed foods and learning to cook at home. My interest is to continue to be a small part of this grass-roots revolution, made all the more powerful by membership organizations like Willy Street, that bring together thousands of us individual eaters.

William TurnerWILLIAM TURNER
“I hold both a Ph.D. in U.S. history (Vanderbilt) and a J.D. (Wisconsin). During law school, I served as a Board President.”

1. What strengths do you bring to the 3 Board initiatives of developing green initiatives, increasing financial accessibility, and developing our local food system? How will you utilize these strengths on the Co-op’s Board of  Directors? Please provide specific examples.
I bring the strengths of unusual intelligence, exceptional skills in written and verbal communication, long experience working with non-profits, always as chair or president, and considerable innate leadership ability. My previous work with non-profits was mostly working on behalf of the civil rights of an unpopular minority group in a southern state, so I am well accustomed to communicating the benefits of ideas that the larger society resists. Unfortunately, our society continues to resist the obvious wisdom of sustainability in energy use generally and more specifically in agriculture, with its implications for food distribution and consumption. As a specific example, I have worked to prevent the Army from covering up the hate crime death of a soldier at the hands of another soldier, which required coordinating with national advocacy groups and communicating via local and national press outlets, including television, radio, and newspapers such as the Washington Post and the New York Times. As a law student at the University of Wisconsin, I also had extensive dealings with the local press. I chose to move back to Madison after four years of living elsewhere because I feel comfortable and enjoy living here, and see Madison as a community in a genuine sense and one that values the contributions of people like me. So I need to make a contribution locally.

2. Why do you want to be on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors?
I want to be on the Willy Street Coop Board of Directors because I have a twenty-year history of community leadership in various capacities and, at the moment, I think contributing to an organization that participates in a dynamic community by providing its members with wholesome, nutritious food is the highest and best use of my considerable abilities. I genuinely believe in the old saw that, to whom much is given, from her/him much is expected. I know from experience that I excel at this sort of work, and I believe that my service on the Board will be beneficial to me, and to the Willy Street Coop.

3. What’s your interest in the future of food?
My interest in the future of food lies in the present of food, since the future grows out of the present. I see any number of practices becoming increasingly common in factory food production that are profoundly troubling for both the quality of the food we eat and the impact of food production methods on the environment. Examples include genetically modified crops, patenting of seeds, and non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animals. Coops in general, and the Willy Street Coop in particular, are practical, intelligent, effective ways to put the consumerist impulses of American culture to the service of resisting these deplorable developments. It is simply reality that commercially viable enterprise such as the Willy Street Coop are the most vivid possible proof that the future of food lies in sustainable, preferably organic, humanely produced, small-scale farming methods rather than the likes of Monsanto and Cargill.

Monona Grove Nursery School