New Co-op Board Members: Welcome!

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Things continue to evolve at the Co-op: On April 30, 2017, three members were elected to our Board. Two are new to the Board, and one (Richard Donegan) has served since April 2016. Here’s a snapshot of each of the candidates, who share a commitment to group process and civility.

Mary Sweeney joined the Co-op in 2009. A retired town justice who has served on five other boards, she brings considerable experience to the position. As a member-owner, Mary has worked weekly at the Co-op, doing “whatever is needed,” as she said, from wrapping cheese to stocking shelves to interacting with customers to fulfill their shopping needs.

Mary brings a collaborative approach to her board practices, and comes skilled in group decision making. Good group process, she says, should identify common goals, and the interests of the group should come before the interests of an individual. Furthermore, “curiosity as to other viewpoints can yield good information and lead to sound decisions,” she says, “and a sense of humor can relieve tension” during difficult group processes.

Over the next five years, Mary says that the board needs to continue focusing on economic stability, honor our financial obligations while not compromising our values, and celebrate our diversity and cooperativeness, “all within a competitive market.” As a recent retiree, Mary has actively pursued an interest in wellness and nutrition, which led her to Honest Weight.

Anastasia Onorata joined the Co-op in December of 2014, and since that time, has worked in a variety of departments. Anastasia began attending Board members in 2015, and was heartened to see how the Co-op worked together as an organization to revisit their legal and financial affairs, and to put the store back on “sound financial footing.” Anastasia also served on the Corporate Compliance Committee and the Bylaws Panel, and wants to continue doing this work from her new position on the board, “to recruit new, motivated members to serve on committees which need them.”

A retired teacher, attorney, employee relations specialist, and naturalist, among other things, Anastasia wants to use her skills to develop standardized operating procedures for committees, to make them more effective and productive, and to use the opportunity “to forge a mutually supportive and beneficial alliance, by opening up lines of communication.”

Like her two new colleagues, Anastasia believes in the power of group process and mutual respect. “When we really listen to each other, and everyone feels they have been heard, it is easier for everyone to think more flexibly,” she explains. “We can then be more generous, and reach a consensus that is better informed, and that works for all.”

Richard Donegan brings a different set of skills. Currently a staff member in the Produce Department and a seven-year member, Richard has developed a good understanding of the Co-op community, especially over this past year in which he has served on the Board. He’s been on the Personnel and Elections and Nominations Committees. Richard also brings a wealth of experience from retail sales, and can talk the talk of profit and loss statements and employer/employee relations.

In his application, Richard explains that we have accomplished a lot in the past 12 months, ‘we’ referring not just to the Board of Directors, any one individual, or any one group. “The ‘we’ refers to everyone at the Co-op…whether it’s a large group such as the entire Co-op Membership or the Board of Directors…everyone should have an equal voice.” His solution to the biggest challenge to any group decision-making process is similar to Mary Sweeney’s – that is, the biggest challenge…is having to compromise your own personal views for the best interest of the group.”

In the next five years, Richard would like to see the Board review the compensation system for employees. Finally, now that there are “the most visible pathways for information” among the various stakeholders at the Co-op, Richard would like to continue the trend towards transparency.

It may also be of interest to know that there were no nominations from the floor, although nominations were called for three times during the meeting. Also, since the vote, Tim Corrigan has resigned from his Board position. It may behoove all of us to remember that serving on the Board is a demanding job, one that requires a lot of reading, paying attention, and coming prepared to the table to be part of a larger whole.

To those who have served on the Board in the past, we say ‘Thank You!’, and to our recently-elected members: ‘Welcome!’ from the Co-op Voice team.

For more specific information on the vote, please check out the Board of Directors section of the Co-op’s website.