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Whole Foods Co-op
Open Daily – 7am to 9pm  

2019 Board Election

Vote Online Now

Voting is open until 9pm on Friday, October 25th

MEET YOUR 2019 BOARD MEMBER CANDIDATES

Three Whole Foods Co-op Board Member seats are up for election. Learn more about our candidates and vote by October 25th.

MELI OSANYA

WHY WOULD YOU LIKE TO SERVE ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF WHOLE FOODS CO-OP?

I would like to serve on the Board of Directors of Whole Foods Co-op because I shop at the co-op every week while rarely encountering other young and diverse individuals (Denfeld Location). As a newcomer to Duluth, I have spent the last year determining the places in this city that have potential and that entice me to set roots here. My long standing love of food and my continuous desire to make diverse and accessible communities around me have led me to the co-op board as an opportunity to create another place in Duluth for people who look like me and want good agriculture, produce, and products.

DESCRIBE ANY VOLUNTEER OR PAID EXPERIENCES RELEVANT TO YOUR SERVICE AS A CO-OP BOARD MEMBER. WHAT SKILLS OR EXPERIENCES WILL YOUR BRING TO THIS BOARD?

I have spent years in college (I am a recent grad), advocating for diversity policies, activities, and initiatives. My experience writing policies, leading brainstorming sessions, creating and leading workshops, and bringing members of the community, administration, and students together to discuss problems and solutions is something I see as easily translatable to the Board.

I was also President of our Community Council for over a year, serving as a member for an additional year and a half. During that time I created and lead several different committees, including the Budget Committee where I was chair for just under a year. I have a lot to offer by way of organizational structure and support and well as creating and enacting collaborative initiatives. I also have a lot of experience with discontentment and working on ways to restore trust between different bodies within an organization.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES DO YOU SEE IN THE FUTURE FOR WHOLE FOODS CO-OP?

From my experience as an owner, the challenges and opportunities facing the co-op are membership, participation, and diversity. I would be excited to see more ways of garnering interest and buy in from younger and more diverse consumers and how to get more of our current owners to participate in the co-op beyond grocery shopping.

MARIA ISLEY 

WHY WOULD YOU LIKE TO SERVE ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF WHOLE FOODS CO-OP?

I have had the opportunity to serve on the board for the Whole Foods Co-op (WFC) for one year now, gaining a greater insight into the inner workings and strengths of a policy board. Rich in history since 1970 of serving this community, I will continue to work towards ensuring a welcoming and healthy environment of the co-op. Being on the board is one way to be part of a community of people that share an understanding and love of co-op practices. As a board member, I will continue to serve the mission/vision and work to monitor the high-level policies as they guide the operations of the WFC.

DESCRIBE ANY VOLUNTEER OR PAID EXPERIENCES RELEVANT TO YOUR SERVICE AS A CO-OP BOARD MEMBER. WHAT SKILLS OR EXPERIENCES WILL YOUR BRING TO THIS BOARD?

I currently serve on the Finance Committee where I have gained knowledge to understand the fiduciary responsibility and what it takes to make smart decisions about the future investment, growth and stability of the two WFC locations. Another committee that I serve on is the Owner Engagement Committee, newly formed to focus on owner engagement opportunities to learn and guide Board discussions.  I have attended the Cooperative Board Leadership training, learning about the cooperative business model and leadership. This past summer, I attended the Consumer Cooperative Management Association Conference where we had the opportunity to meet, engage, and learn with co-ops from around the country. I continue to be active in the community, both professionally and in a volunteer capacity. I have been fortunate to be involved with a variety of nonprofits gaining experiences where I have been able to strengthen and learn skills as a leader and as a community builder.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES DO YOU SEE IN THE FUTURE FOR WHOLE FOODS CO-OP?

WFC works to serve a diverse group by empowering people to engage with the Co-op at their comfort level. This could be shopping, becoming an owner, taking a class, supporting a nonprofit by rounding up and joining the board.  This is a continuing opportunity for WFC in being a welcoming and inclusive environment and business.  Food options continues to be both the opportunity and challenge for WFC.  An ongoing challenge for WFC, and many other co-ops, is the balance between price equity and offering regional/organic foods.  WFC works towards positive changes by offering consumers healthy options for both the body and environment. WFC has the opportunity to offer a greater understanding to the general public of where food comes from and the interconnectedness that food can bring to a community. 

OTHER COMMENTS

It would be an honor to continue to serve Whole Foods Co-op as a board member. Working to ensure its healthy future as it continues to bring vitality to the community as a healthy and inclusive business, all while it grows in ownership, employment, and community engagement in the two locations.

THOMAS DORR

WHY WOULD YOU LIKE TO SERVE ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF WHOLE FOODS CO-OP?

I would like to serve on the Board because I like helping the community and it benefits the community to have cooperatives in the market.   I have appreciated the co-ops involvement in the community and want to ensure it continues.

DESCRIBE ANY VOLUNTEER OR PAID EXPERIENCES RELEVANT TO YOUR SERVICE AS A CO-OP BOARD MEMBER. WHAT SKILLS OR EXPERIENCES WILL YOUR BRING TO THIS BOARD?

I served on the BOD for the Crosspoint Federal Credit Union in Hamden CT for eight years before I moved to Duluth.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES DO YOU SEE IN THE FUTURE FOR WHOLE FOODS CO-OP?

The coop needs to continue strengthening the community and serving the needs of its members.  I think we need to strive to always keep prices as low as possible to serve folks with fixed incomes.

 

HEATHER STRASSER

WHY WOULD YOU LIKE TO SERVE ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF WHOLE FOODS CO-OP?

I would like to serve on the board because I care greatly about Whole Foods Co-op as a quality, local grocer and for the value that the cooperative bring to our community. A year ago when I ran for the board, I was interested because of a strong belief in natural and humanely raised foods. While this is still of course of significance, I now also see what an important role the cooperative model plays in our community. My interest in the board is in seeing that the Co-op continues to evolve and lead our community as a progressive grocery and thriving cooperative.

DESCRIBE ANY VOLUNTEER OR PAID EXPERIENCES RELEVANT TO YOUR SERVICE AS A CO-OP BOARD MEMBER. WHAT SKILLS OR EXPERIENCES WILL YOUR BRING TO THIS BOARD?

This past year was my first year on the Co-op board and I worked to get up to speed by attending Cooperative Board Leadership 101 in Minneapolis, and a three-day conference held by the Consumer Cooperative Management Association in Durham, NC. These experiences really brought on a breadth of knowledge and introduced exciting ideas for moving our Co-op forward. Additionally this year as a part of the Board, I have been a part of the Ownership Engagement Committee. In this committee, we identified the need for board members to better tell the cooperative story and shift the mindset in our community about some common misnomers. Focusing on that, we have been writing board member training booklets comprised of talking points, active listening exercises, and myth busters. It has been gratifying to be a part of this newly formed committee and I see many more possibilities for further engaging our owners. Lastly, my current position as Sales Manager at Loll Designs, an outdoor furniture manufacturer in West Duluth, often involves working in small teams to think critically and creatively, similar to our roles on the Board.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES DO YOU SEE IN THE FUTURE FOR WHOLE FOODS CO-OP?

In a time of increasing competition, and with Whole Foods Co-op experiencing flattening sales, I see opportunities for the Co-op to differentiate itself by focusing on environmental stewardship and local foods. Offering local products that are not found at other grocers will give shoppers reason to patronize the Co-op. They can also set themselves apart from larger chain grocery stores by leading the community on sustainability and waste reduction. Feedback from members has indicated concern over plastics and there is great opportunity in demonstrating that single use plastics can be reduced. If the Co-op prioritizes these initiatives, it will allow them to outshine the competition by showing their commitment to a better planet and a strong local economy.

 

DERICK CICH

WHY WOULD YOU LIKE TO SERVE ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF WHOLE FOODS CO-OP?

I would like to serve on the board of directors of the Whole Foods Co-op because as a local Duluthian and a small business owner I’m invested in this community and the positive effects our co-op has on it, as a shopper and owner I value the abundance available to us and want to continue seeing that grow, and as a former employee I feel an allegiance to the staff and their successes.  I love our Co-op and playing a part in its well being would truly be an honor to me.

DESCRIBE ANY VOLUNTEER OR PAID EXPERIENCES RELEVANT TO YOUR SERVICE AS A CO-OP BOARD MEMBER. WHAT SKILLS OR EXPERIENCES WILL YOUR BRING TO THIS BOARD?

As a former front end staff employee of almost five years I was able to have one on one interactions with literally almost everyone who came through these front doors.  I heard their complaints, their praises, and saw firsthand how diverse both owners and non-owners of the co-op are. I experienced both ups and downs with management and operations.  Having this connection I’m able to bring intimate knowledge and insight to the board that very few others can offer.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES DO YOU SEE IN THE FUTURE FOR WHOLE FOODS CO-OP?

Opportunities and challenges are inevitable for the Whole Foods Co-op.  More and more competition comes with the awareness of a natural foods lifestyle growing but that also opens up a bigger and bigger demographic.  The Denfeld location continues seeing growth but the Hillside store has reached physical capacity, not to mention the limited parking. All of these matters of business are navigable and I would help steer the ship alongside all the other board members.

OTHER COMMENTS

I have never sat on a board before but I have experience as a small business owner, I am on the leadership team of a local wedding vendor association, and have helped create and host events in the community.  I grew up in Duluth and plan on remaining here for the foreseeable future, I want to continue seeing our Co-op thrive and would love to play a part in that.

NOTE: Paper ballot packets will be available at customer service (or can be mailed, if requested via phone). A completed packet includes the Fall 2019 Garbanzo Gazette (includes candidate profiles), a paper ballot, two envelopes and very specific instructions for Owners using paper ballots to follow so that we can verify voter eligibility and ensure anonymity of the vote.

Whole Foods Co•op

218.728.0884
info@wholefoods.coop

Hillside Location

610 E 4th Street
Duluth, MN 55805

Denfeld Location

4426 Grand Avenue
Duluth, MN 55807