2022 OWNER ELECTION
The 2022 Election is open October 1-23, 2022. Your Owner number is your Elector ID. Your password is the last name of the primary person on your Owner account. Results will be announced at the Annual Owner Meeting on October 27, 2022.
In this election:
- Rank and select six (6) Board candidates
- Approve Minutes from last year’s meeting
- Rank top 10 GIVE! 2023 applicants
Cast your vote and play a role in guiding Co-op leadership and our impact on the community – it really makes a difference! Full candidate information and GIVE! 2023 applicant information is below.
VOTE BOARD MEMBER CANDIDATES
It’s time to pick your Board! Six Whole Foods Co-op Board Member seats are up for election. Your ranked vote will help determine the length of terms; election results will fill three 3-year, two 2-year, and one 1-year terms.
Please provide a brief statement of introduction/ bio I have lived in Duluth since 1998 and joined the WFC around 1999. I have a professional background in agricultural engineering (soil and water) and water resource management and have worked in the public and private sector preserving, restoring, monitoring and maintaining natural resources for over 30 years. I have also taught at the middle, high school, and college levels. I have been a part of The Food Farm CSA for over 20 years as well. I have taught and practiced sustainable living and communities and know that our natural environment has a value to our health and well being that we have yet to understand and work into our economic assessments. I am volunteering with Stepping on Up through CHUM with goals to provide housing for low income/homeless people in our community and have learned much about the importance of understanding their needs for housing and food for they are a part of our community; we are all in this together. I believe in a more just society and hope WFC can serve all sectors of income to provide affordable, local, healthy produce.
Why would you like to serve on the Board of Directors of Whole Foods Co-op? I want to spend more time giving back to groups/entities that I have been a member of and I think my skills in planning, lobbying, government, and love of gardening can provide some level of insight to issues and concerns as WFC works to implement their strategic plan.
Describe any volunteer or paid experiences relevant to your service as a Co-op Board member. What skills or experience will you bring to this Board? My work in planning for clean water, ecological diversity and implementing projects to restore impacted areas and preserve high quality areas. Grant writing and management on the state and federal level. Work with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa on various projects and learning their decision-making processes. I have worked for the State of Minnesota and City of Duluth and have an understanding of ordinance language and development, rules and regulations, and the importance of public input and good governance.
What opportunities and challenges do you see in the future for Whole Foods Co-op? Providing affordable healthy food to low income sectors and eliminating food deserts. Reducing the number of errors that occur at the checkout. Educating the public on why membership is important and staying competitive with companies such as Costco, Cub, and Aldi.
Other Comments: If I am selected to serve on the WFC Board, I will do my very best to hold myself to the highest standards of commitment. I understand this means taking extra time to study issues, concerns, and reports, and to participate fully.
Please provide a brief statement of introduction/ bio Hello! My name is Amber Schlater (she/her) and I am a Duluth transplant; originally from Pittsburgh, PA, I moved to Fort Collins, CO in 2007, and then to Hamilton, ON in 2014 before settling here in Duluth’s Lakeside neighborhood in 2016. Along the way, I met my best friend (now husband) and had three children. Professionally, I am an associate professor at The College of St. Scholastica, where I teach in the biology department and study comparative physiology in a broad range of models, including cells, muscles, rodents, and even seals. Personally, I am interested in doing just about anything outside with my family, including running, cycling, hiking, camping, canoeing, and our newest hobbies, skiing and snowboarding; on rainy days, we Lego (yes, “Lego” has become a verb in our family). When we’re not busy playing, we enjoy food; I love to cook, and cater as best I can to the wide breadth of lifestyle choices that reside in my household (having vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore diets all under one roof keeps things interesting!). My initial attraction to Whole Foods Co-op (WFC) was actually two fold: 1) availability of a broad range of health foods, and 2) large bulk section for zero-waste/plastic-free shopping.
Why would you like to serve on the Board of Directors of Whole Foods Co-op? Simply stated, I love WFC. Being a part of the food co-op community is a huge privilege, and I relish every opportunity I have to walk through those doors, peruse the aisles, purchase sustainable and healthy foods, and even make charitable contributions towards social justice organizations that are meaningful to me (thanks, round-ups!). Despite my adoration for the Co-op, however, I find myself increasingly unable to be a consistent patron. Affordability has been a barrier in shopping at WFC since my family moved to Duluth, and recent 9%+ inflation rates have only exacerbated this barrier. I am aware that affordability is a commonly shared WFC barrier in the Duluth community; to that end, it is of utmost importance to me to make the Co-op accessible to our community on a much more robust level, all the while maintaining a balanced bottom line. Doing this without compromising quality health and sustainability goals will require creative problem solving.
Describe any volunteer or paid experiences relevant to your service as a Co-op Board member. What skills or experience will you bring to this Board? I am extremely passionate about environmental stewardship, education, and social justice, and have a broad range of both professional and volunteer experience that collectively poise me for success as a Board member, both in content and in practice. My experience and passion as a biologist and educator brings not only a deep understanding of living systems, but also the ability to communicate effectively with a broader audience. To the latter point, I have organized and implemented several K-12 STEM outreach programs, something I got into as a graduate student in Fort Collins and have continued since moving to Duluth. Also, I am finishing up serving a full term as chair of our faculty governance at The College of Saint Scholastica; in addition to excellence and clarity in communication, this role required me to work effectively as the liaison between administration and the entire faculty body. Outside of my professional service, my personal experience raising a family while transitioning across multiple geographical regions (including a two year international experience) brings a greater breadth and depth in understanding broader approaches to healthy, sustainably, and ethically-sourced foods.
What opportunities and challenges do you see in the future for Whole Foods Co-op? I think of WFC as being the overlapping center in a Venn diagram of community access, health, and wellness, and environmental sustainability. Each of these three entities faces its own unique separate challenge moving forward, but like the Venn diagram, I also see substantial overlap in opportunity for improvement; likewise, improving access to health foods by making them more affordable and reducing carbon footprints do not need to be mutually exclusive agenda items. Breaking down silos and considering the interrelated nature of challenges extends itself to growing opportunity from challenge, and working together and bringing a broad spectrum of voices to the table allows for growth necessary for continued WFC success.
Other comments: Spending time at WFC is something I genuinely enjoy. Growing up, and even into early adulthood and early parenthood, I did not have reliable access to healthy, whole foods; groceries were often paid for with food stamps and/or WIC checks, and grocery shopping became a fearful, shameful, and sometimes traumatic event. While I no longer require food assistance services, those experiences have permanently shaped my relationship with food and food accessibility. I am also viscerally aware of the fact that food insecurity is a byproduct of greater societal inequities, and can present itself in the blink of an eye. To that end, the WFC’s commitment to broader social and environmental justice is extremely important to me, and I am eager to engage in as a more active member of the community.
Please provide a brief statement of introduction/ bio Hello! I have lived in Northeast Minnesota pretty much my whole life. I was raised in Two Harbors, attended the College of St. Scholastica where I majored in Food Science and Marketing, and then spent a couple of years serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA. After living on the East Coast for a few years, I came back to my home base and have been in Duluth for over twenty years. I have been serving the community professionally working within the non-profit sector and as a Board member. My free time is spent cooking, gardening, hiking, reading, swimming in Lake Superior, and spoiling my two dogs.
Why would you like to serve on the Board of Directors of Whole Foods Co-op? I have served on the Board for four years and would like to continue my tenure by serving out my final term. I will bring experience and Board knowledge to what will be a fairly new board and have a sense of responsibility to welcome and ease them into the inner workings and strengths of a policy board. I have served on the Finance, Owner Engagement, and General Manager Evaluation committees. I am also the chair of an ad hoc Policy committee. We are reviewing policies that haven’t been updated since 2014 and revising them to reflect best practices. I have also served on the Grow Local Food Fund, as part of the grant selection committee. It has been exciting to see the growth of farms – both established and new, and the number of food producers in our region. Given the opportunity to continue, I will serve to ensure that by following our ENDS, WFC continues to be a thriving consumer owner cooperative that supports, invests, and partners in creating a health community.
Describe any volunteer or paid experiences relevant to your service as a Co-op Board member. What skills or experience will you bring to this Board? As mentioned above, are the WFC Board committees that I have served on and have also attended the Cooperative Board Leadership training and the Consumer Cooperative Management Association conference. At these training and workshops, I have learned about the cooperative business model and leadership. I continue to attend workshops where we meet, engage, and learn with co-ops from around the country. My tenure as a current Board member has been serving with a community of people that share an understanding and love of co-op practices. Together, the Board monitors the high-level policies and builds a strong working relationship with the General Manager, as she directs the operations of WFC. As a policy board, it is important that we are encouraging and monitoring the decisions about the future investment, growth, and stability of our two WFC locations. I continue to be active in the community, both professionally with my work at Minnesota Public Radio, 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? As we have witnessed during the times of COVID, there are many opportunities and challenges that are uncertain. It’s important for WFC to be flexible and nimble when there are shortages in staff and products. Certain policies during COVID showed WFC’s commitment to creating a safe shopping experience for the betterment of everyone. WFC has been adaptive and continues to work towards sustaining positive changes in its business and community. WFC continues to build and strengthen its relationship and partnership with regional farmers and food distributors, along with creating a greater understanding of where food comes from and the interconnectedness that food can bring to a community.
WFC is continuing the work of being inclusive among the Board, staff, Owners, and customers. One example of fostering diverse and inclusive communities is the new practice of adding inclusive trade shelf tags to assist shoppers in finding brands that are women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and veteran-owned. WFC also continues to find ways for a variety of people to be engaged at their comfort level, from curbside and delivery shopping, taking a class, supporting a community nonprofit by rounding up, and inviting everyone to come together at the annual meetings, to even joining the board.
It’s an ongoing evaluation and process for 50+ years that WFC continues to:
- Be committed to the enrichment of community development.
- Focus on local high-quality food and projects from around the region and beyond.
- Accessibility to healthy and fresh food.
- Support local, small-scale agriculture and food producers.
- Be socially responsible.
These are all the reasons (plus more) why I am a Whole Foods Co-op Owner. As a Board member, I continue to work with other Board members and the General Manager to ensure WFC’s stability through its cooperative values and policies. The work of a strong Board supports the General Manager and staff as they continue to operate a strong and thriving business that nurtures the emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical health of an individual, family, and the community.
Other comments: It would be an honor to continue to serve Whole Foods Co-op as a Board member. WFC has strong roots and is deeply tied to this community. I would like to continue the work to ensure its healthy future as it continues to bring vitality as a healthy and inclusive business, all while it grows in Ownership, and employment, and strengthens community engagement in the two locations.
Please provide a brief statement of introduction/ bio I feel grateful to have grown up in the Northland, spending much of my childhood exploring and playing outdoors in all that our environment offers. Duluth is a community that has taught me the value of cooperative principles to nourish the well-being of all. In college, I studied Sociology and Spanish, leading to a master’s degree in Non-profit management from Regis University. In my professional life I’ve had the opportunity to engage with various local, statewide, and international non-profits facilitating positive social change for people and communities near and far. In my day-to-day personal life, you can find me spending time with my family—riding our bikes, gardening, hiking or skiing—depending on the season.
Why would you like to serve on the Board of Directors of Whole Foods Co-op? Many of my earliest memories include moments participating in cooperatives, including the Duluth based Whole Foods Co-op. I’ll always remember playing in the play area as a child at the 4th Street and 14th Avenue E store location while my mom or dad shopped. These moments and experiences around whole foods have ignited a lifelong passion in me for supporting our community and nourishing locally based food options.
After serving one year as a Board member at WFC, I’ve had the opportunity to attend trainings and workshops in policy governance and finance. I’ve served on the Cooperative Economies Committee, Finance Committee and Policy Review Committee. I’d like to build on these learning with another term as a board member and to contribute to the continued success of our co-op.
Describe any volunteer or paid experiences relevant to your service as a Co-op Board member. What skills or experience will you bring to this Board? In addition to my current experience serving this past year on the Whole Foods Co-op Board of Directors, I’ve had the opportunity to serve on the Hawk Ridge Board of Directors for the past 7 years. My professional work with various non-profits in our community has led me to more than a decade of experience consulting in areas of strategic planning, fundraising, program development, management, and constituent engagement. These skills and experiences are transferable and something I’d like to contribute to our beloved Whole Foods Co-op community as a Board member.
What opportunities and challenges do you see in the future for Whole Foods Co-op? As our community grows, there are both challenges and opportunities presented to the success of our Co-op. There are more options for consumers to access organic foods—which is an opportunity for everyone to live a healthier and more sustainable life. However, more organic options to consumers poses a challenge to our Co-op with more competition. The opportunity we have is to promote the difference our Whole Foods Coop makes in our community with the cooperative principles and values we employ. This sets us aside from other grocers and wholesale markets. When we collectively support our Whole Foods Co-op, we are contributing and re-investing in our local economy—money and jobs that stay here. This is an opportunity that we don’t necessarily see when spending our dollars elsewhere. For example, less of the revenue is ensured to stay in our local economy if we’re buying from chains or large corporations headquartered outside of our city.
Other comments: It has been an honor to serve this past year as a Whole Foods Co-op Board member. I’m passionate about the work and community of our Co-op. It’s always so interesting to hear people’s stories and history with Whole Foods Coop—whether they’ve been a member since the beginning, like my parents, or they’ve been an employee at the Co-op—like my partner, sister, and mother-in -law. As Owners, we all have a sense of why Whole Foods Co-op is important or has impacted our lives. I encourage you to share your love for Whole Foods Co-op as a contribution to the success and impact it has within our community!
Thank you for considering me as a candidate for another term, and if you have any questions or want to chat more on cooperative topics, please reach out to me.
Please provide a brief statement of introduction/ bio Over the course of the past twenty three years, serving the community has guided my everyday principles in the work that I have done. From working at the City of Los Angeles’s Recreation and Parks Department, to a homeless youth organization in Denver, and in my work as the Director of Distributive Services at CHUM; I have been able to put a stamp on the community and made a concentrated effort to not only bridge gaps, but to help make communities be the best that they can be.
In Los Angeles, while being tasked with marketing the $93 million dollar renovation of the Griffith Observatory, I also worked with all of the major league sports teams to identify areas in Los Angeles that would benefit from sport courts, worked with City Forester’s to promote safe palm tree trimming, organized youth programs, and more. I served as a liaison between our department and these organizations among others to identify the needs of the community, and serve as the logistical and operations person to get the job done. We built recreation centers in areas of town where youth had no safe place to go. I helped to create and operate activity zones during the holidays so that the community could come together for free and celebrate coming together at free ice skating rinks, and other fun activities. In all of the programs, capital campaigns, and day to day activities that I did while I was there, they all showcased the mission of the department, while complementing the needs of the organizations, and areas in the city that we touched.
When I moved back to Colorado, I worked at Urban Peak, a homeless youth organization. I served as the Events and Marketing Specialist. My job not only included creating and implementing special events, social media, and marketing campaigns, I also served as the board liaison to the board of directors. I took minutes during meetings, coordinated meeting packets, coordinated meetings, and answered any questions that board members had about the day to day operations of the organization. I was also in charge of data entry for all donor information into Raisers Edge, and created donor letters, and ran giving campaigns. While at Urban Peak, I helped a donor to create a food waste non-profit called We Don’t Waste. After seeing how much food was thrown away from special events, and in grocery stores, the idea was to rescue food from suppliers, caters, grocery stores, hospitals, schools, professional sporting events, and more. I served as the Operations Director for five years. In this position I fostered relationships with over 300 food providers, in addition to over 70 non-profits that benefitted from free food to help hundreds of thousands of clients in Denver and the surrounding areas—including the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I also created a daily schedule of pick up and drop offs for four trucks, tracked daily donations and distributions of food, and created monthly reports from the database. I also provided monthly updates to the board that included grant reports, year-end projections, and operational procedures.
When my wife and I moved to Duluth, I was excited to be hired as the Distributive Services Director at CHUM. In my role, I operate three food shelves which has meant ensuring that shelves stay stocked with food, donors are engaged in giving throughout the year, that over 100 full-time volunteers are active in fulfilling needs of our program, in addition to overseeing three staff members. As a director at the organization, I am very involved with 43 different member congregations and the board, providing monthly reports, and overseeing the food shelf advisory board that meets monthly to review client data, food and donation trends, and needs. My job at CHUM has for the first time provided me the opportunity to engage directly with clients on a full-time basis. I see firsthand how a donation can impact a family in need, or an individual that has fallen on hard times.
Why would you like to serve on the Board of Directors of Whole Foods Co-op? My interest in serving on the Board of Whole Foods Co-op stems from the company’s “End Statement—Whole Foods Co-op is a thriving consumer-owned cooperative that supports, invests and partners to create a healthy community.” I believe in this guiding principal and how it has led to the amazing longevity and success of the Co-op, and kept many in the community of Duluth, safe, healthy, and thriving. I have seen the impact of the Co-op first hand at CHUM, in addition to many other organizations in town.
Describe any volunteer or paid experiences relevant to your service as a Co-op Board member. What skills or experience will you bring to this Board? My ability to work with people, as evidenced by my experiences, would make a positive contribution to the Co-op. I have extensive experience not only in ensuring efficiency and effectiveness through operational directives, but in utilizing best practices on internal systems and processes, implementing programing visions, fostering relationships with not only partners, but providing advocacy for people in need, which has prepared me to work with people to enhance their ability to become successful individuals. My work and training has honed essential communication skills coupled with compassion and a desire to motivate others to help themselves. My successful approach has allowed me to develop long-term program and operational models that establish and maintain effective performance measures through fiscal responsibility, with both the private sector, as well as through the use of grants from both public and private organizations.
What opportunities and challenges do you see in the future for Whole Foods Co-op Living in today’s world comes with many challenges and opportunities. Over the course of 4 years, everyone has had to reinvent who we are, what we do, and how we do it. I believe this will continue for the foreseeable future, and it will be up to the leadership at Whole Foods Co-op to continue to navigate through some tough channels, especially in the food procurement side of business. The Co-op has set itself up nicely through its working relationships with local food producers, and it will need to continue to do so to keep inventory stocked and moving through minor and major supply disruptions. Keeping it local has been and will be a huge opportunity, but pushing local producers to produce more, while keeping prices low, will be a challenge. Whole Foods Co-op is a tremendous gift and asset to the twin ports communities, and it will be important to grab every opportunity to continue to grow and expand the reach while keeping the community healthy and well fed.
Other comments: I am passionate about the mission of Whole Foods Co-op. The last three positions that I have had, have confronted poverty while nurturing a healthier community. The Co-op’s mission has been my internal mission that has been instilled in me since I was very young. After exploring the Board of Directors background information, I felt that this would be a perfect fit for what I know about the needs of the community, my skillset and experience, and connecting to the Co-op’s mission. Thank you for the opportunity to apply. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to speaking with you.
Please provide a brief statement of introduction/ bio I am a resident of Duluth and have been working at the College of St. Scholastica (CSS) for almost 18 years in various positions. I am currently the Chair of the Management and Business Studies Department in the Stender School of Business & Technology at CSS. As the Chair, I teach half time—mainly undergraduate management courses—and then manage our programs in Business, Marketing, Organizational Leadership, Accounting and Finance for the other half of my role.
I am married and have two sons. I became an Owner about 16 years ago after my younger son (who was a baby at the time) was diagnosed with several food allergies, and I needed to learn a different way to shop for and cook food for him.
Why would you like to serve on the Board of Directors of Whole Foods Co-op? I would like to be part of the Board because I care about the mission of the organization. I also appreciate the Co-op offering products that are not available at other grocery stores, the organization is focused on socially responsible approaches, and that I have a voice in the future of the organization by being an Owner.
I also have a very personal reason for wanting to serve on the Board. When I first learned about my son’s food allergies, the allergist recommended that I go to the Co-op to find some alternative food options for my son. I was overwhelmed and had tears in my eyes while looking through one of the aisles when one of the Co-op’s associates asked if they could help me. In that moment, it was exactly what I needed to help feel less overwhelmed and to focus on identifying a few new food options for my young son. This example is what has shaped my thoughts and feelings about the Co-op and the important role it serves in our community.
Describe any volunteer or paid experiences relevant to your service as a Co-op Board member. What skills or experience will you bring to this Board? I have enhanced a number of skills and characteristics in my work at CSS including: data gathering, data analysis, and report writing; problem solving and decision making; recruitment and retention efforts with regard to students as well as employees; development, maintenance, and evaluation of programs; and leadership behaviors.
What opportunities and challenges do you see in the future for Whole Foods Co-op The Co-op has many opportunities: building additional partnerships with local producers and other organizations; expanding brands and product options; expanding the educational offerings.
There are also some challenges. The main challenges will be to keep products affordable and to increase membership (especially in certain populations); also, not unique to the Co-op is the challenge of maintaining adequate staffing levels.
GIVE! 2023 Applicant Finalists
Help us select GIVE! Round Up recipients that are committed to Environmental Stewardship, Equity and Diversity, Food Access, and the Local Food Economy. In 2023, we expect to raise $40,000+ dollars for local non-profits in need. We’re excited for Co-op Owners to be a part of the process! Below are the applicants that have passed through the first phase of WFC staff voting.
American Indian Education Parent Advisory Council // We have funding for American Indian Students who are enrolled in federally recognized tribes but not for students who are not enrolled. All of our children should benefit from that programming. We would use this money to allow unenrolled to be able to apply for the same academic enrichment programming that our tribal enrolled students now receive. // isd709.org/programs-services/oaie-parent-committee
Arc Northland // The funding from the Give! program would help support our staff and programming. All of Arc Northland’s services are free to the individuals served! Children and Adults with disabilities. // arcnorthland.org
Bob Tavani House for Medical Respite // serving people experiencing homelessness in the Twin Ports. We would use RoundUp funds to provide guests with nutritious meals, pay our utilities, and help guests get to medical appointments. // bthrespite.org
CHOICE, unlimited // Continue building and supporting our remote and in-person services. This would include creating and offering three new remote and in-person hybrid classes focused on improving the health, safety, and wellness of of developmentally disabled individuals. // choiceunlimited.org
Community Action Duluth // Funding would support our Seeds of Success food access programs. These include our Deep Winter Greenhouse, Mobile Market, and Farmer’s Markets. These programs grow nutritious foods, provide markets in low-income low access areas, support local farmers and vendors, and match purchases by individuals using SNAP benefits. // communityactionduluth.org
Damiano Center // Support for our eight programs that provide essential, emergency help to homeless and other low-income neighbors. // damianocenter.org
Superior Hiking Trail Association // help manage and maintain the 300+ miles of Superior Hiking Trail as a place for all to enjoy, including: coordinating contractors and volunteers for trail maintenance projects, providing information to trail users; and completing the management, permitting, and administrative work that makes the Trail happen. // superiorhiking.org
WE Health Clinic, P.A. // Give! funding would be used for general operating expenses such as medical supplies, malpractice insurance, and staff salaries. // wehealthclinic.org
Western Lake Superior Habitat for Humanity // GIVE funding will be combined with donor and foundation funds, and income from new home mortgages paid to Habitat. Habitat will select and repair seniors’ homes. Improve safety and accessibility. // wlshabitat.org
Wildwoods // Depending on the month, we would direct the funds as follows: Jan-May: We just expanded outdoor pre-release conditioning area, and will build additional caging to better accommodate the number of animals in our care. June-Dec: During these busiest months, we would use the funds for animal care food and supplies. // wildwoodsrehab.org
Y W C A Duluth // Give! Program funding will be used to support the Young Mothers Program and Early Childhood Center. These Spirit Valley based programs have a shared garden space. Funds would be used to garden, teach participants to prepare nutritious meals with produce from the garden, and purchase supplies for the garden and kitchen. // ywcaduluth.org