Democratic owner control is a fundamental principle of cooperatives and a defining difference between cooperatives and conventional businesses. “One Owner; one vote” as a business practice, is as radical now as it was in 1844, when the Rochdale Pioneers laid the groundwork for the cooperative principles practiced throughoutthe world today. Willy Street Co-op has more than 31,000 Owners and together, we own a business with almost $40 million in sales for the last fiscal year.
Last month, Willy Street Co-op Owners once again had the opportunity to use this cooperative principle and vote on the different initiatives put forth by their elected Board. There were several items on the ballot originally presented during July’s Annual Meeting & Party. Among these initiatives, there were bylaw changes to improve Owner participation, as well as develop a better standard for Board compensation. However, one of the most important ballot items was your approval for Willy Street Co-op to pursue a third retail site.
Overall, the purpose of these changes is to position the Co-op on a stronger path for the future. After counting the votes, the Owners’ decisions on the ballot initiatives are as follows:
|Third Store Expenditure:|
|Board Compensation Changes:|
|Bylaw IV Revisions:|
|Bylaw V Revisions:|
In addition to those important ballot decisions, there were also three seats available to fill on the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors. Every year, all Owners passionate about their co-op with a willingness to learn about governance are welcome to run as candidates for the Board.
This year, we were fortunate to have 11 candidates running for the Board, all with very diverse backgrounds and platforms that ranged from social justice to environmental stewardship to community outreach. The task of choosing candidate(s) was not an easy one.
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.
We would like to thank former Board members Karen Bassler and Marti Ryan whose contributions and insight will be greatly missed.
For the past year, the Co-op Board of Directors had a great mix of talent and passion. Board members had individual strengths (personal and professional), which proved value during the different conversations at Board and/or committee meetings. As a result, next year’s Board will have a clearer learning path, better understanding of our strategic goals and not to mention, a newly remodeled Willy East (hope to see you all at the grand opening on September 12th–14th!). We look forward to the opportunities this next year will bring.
With new Board members, the dynamic is bound to change, but change is something we welcome in order to better serve you. 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 Bender, Mike Martez Johnson, and Miguel Zamora.