2017 Election for VFC Board of Directors
& Recommended Vote to Change Article V Language

Board of Directors' terms are 3 years.
VFC Owners can vote for 2 open seats from the following 3 Candidates:

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Aurora BoydAurora-Boyd-2017.jpg
NEW CANDIDATE

Why are you interested in serving on the VFC’s Board of Directors?

The Co-op is an integral part of this community, of my own personal community, and I am excited to be running for the Board this year. I have strong memories from my childhood of the excitement I felt roaming the tiny aisles of the old Co-op, which I now see in my 3 year-old daughter as she points out the Co-op every time we drive by. As a teenager, I was a volunteer, bagging lettuce and kale and now I am a frequent patron of the Co-op, filling my kitchen with delicious foods I feel good about sharing with my family.

One of the most important reasons I am running for Board is that I believe that there is an underrepresentation of women in places of power and influence, particularly where they are the main consumer. I was surprised to see last year’s photo of the Board members with one woman surrounded by a group of men. I have no doubt that each person elected was and is qualified to be on the Board, however, I also think that bringing gender balance to the Board of Directors will benefit the community by appropriately representing the larger community that the Co-op serves. In Vernon County women make up a small majority and world-wide we account for nearly 50% of the population. According to one report from 2013, two-thirds of women assume grocery responsibilities for their households, and with such a dominant presence in the food-shopping industry I believe women should be more involved in shaping its future. Furthermore, I believe that candidates like myself, with young children, would be well-suited to represent the member-owners, as families are a large, important and growing part of our community.

The second most important reason I’m running for Board is that I believe we can resolve most of the issues that continue to persist in the community surrounding the expansion, livable wages, and general Co-op conduct. I believe that the community will benefit from the expansion, primarily because 1) the Co-op will be more accessible to the elderly and handicapped, 2) it will offer a wider variety for hot bar items (which I think is a valuable contribution to Viroqua’s lunch market), 3) it will also be offering a community space that will host enrichment courses from which everyone can benefit, and 4) the in-town location of the Co-op continues to provide a place where families and individuals can shop without having to drive to the larger business district. I believe that the current Board of Directors has been accommodating in providing clarity on the expansion timeline as well as the financial implications of such a large and influential project.

When I attended the "Coffee With The Board" I felt that all of my questions were addressed and that I was able to learn more about the finer details surrounding the expansion. I was able to listen to other member-owner concerns and learn from their questions. The current members of the Board were friendly, offered answers and acknowledged when they might not be able to answer and directed questions to the financial accountant or general manager. I believe that we can support the Co-op’s growth, that we can renegotiate the hourly wage cap, and that we can continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of the community.

What skills and experience would you bring to this job?

I am a woman and mother, but I also have continued my professional growth as a teacher. As many know, the teaching profession is often carried on volunteered hours and requires organization and leadership. I currently work part-time at Youth Initiative High School where I enjoy teaching French and Algebra 2. While I attended the school as a student I served on the personnel committee, where I gained invaluable experience actively participating in making important decisions that would have a lasting impact on the school and students. I continued to bring initiative into my undergraduate work, serving on the Gay-Straight Alliance and student council at MATC. I later transferred to UCLA where I continued my involvement in student leadership on the Undergraduate Student Association Council, and attended a DREAM Act negotiation with state representatives.

After graduating, I was admitted into the highly competitive organization, Teach For America, where I was challenged mentally, physically and emotionally during my first year teaching in San Jose. I taught 3rd grade in an underprivileged bilingual school, actively participated in developing the long-term community outreach, attended university classes and obtained my teaching license, all while pregnant. During that year I learned that I am capable of accomplishing more in a day than I ever previously imagined possible. I bring my activism with me in my personal and professional life, and if elected to the board, would continue to strive for the best conditions for the Co-op, its workers, and the greater community at large.

What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the Co-op in the next 3 years?

I know that the next few years for the Board will be challenging as we navigate the community discussions of the expansion. I am privy to the conversations on social media and I know that the community seeks to have a voice at the meetings. I will not assume that I can represent the entire body of member-owners but, if elected, I will do my best to bring forth carefully thought-out arguments both on behalf of the member-owners and the Board. I truly believe that we can grow together and that we will overcome the obstacles we face in the years ahead.

What's your favorite thing to buy at the VFC?

As a young mother with two little ones at home, I rely on the high quality produce and deli items (especially the soups on chilly days!) to nourish my family while we’re in town running errands or at home making dinners together. And we love the endive salad (which no other stores in town offer).

Check box.jpgI have signed the VFC Board of Directors Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Agreement Form.*

*See page 7-10 of the Board Policy Governance Register

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KJ-Jakobson-2017.jpgKJ Jakobson
NEW CANDIDATE 

Why are you interested in serving on the VFC’s Board of Directors?

I am committed (since 1969) to involvement with, working in and support of food co-ops. All my life, I have committed almost all of my grocery dollars to co-ops wherever possible. I fervently believe in the cooperative model and principles. I am interested in joining the Board to collaborate with other directors in becoming more active in Member Education in two areas: 1) helping board and membership develop a deeper understanding of and commitment to each one of the cooperative principles, 2) helping board and membership develop a deeper level of knowledge about what is in our food, where it comes from, who owns it and what are the issues in agriculture, processing and distribution that impact our food. I would like the Board to increase member engagement by mandating more transparency and democracy, and after the expansion dust settles, explore bringing back a working member program as exists in other co-ops. I would like to see the Board much more deeply address the two issues that have been repeatedly expressed by a majority of members by creating policies to guide management to place a much higher priority on lowering prices and raising employee compensation.  While this may seem to be an impossibility, there are co-ops around the country that we can learn from that have, at least to some degree, successfully tackled both of these issues head on. 

What skills and experience would you bring to this job?

I have 40 years of professional general business and financial management experience. I have experience with the particulars of a variety of cooperative enterprises, as a consumer-owner, worker-owner, working member, board director, employee, manager, consultant. Last year I served as Interim General Manager of another WI food co-op. Previously I served as financial manager in 2 other retail natural food groceries and a wholesale co-op distributor. I have worked as a manager in a wide variety of fiscal environments, including very profitable companies, bankrupt companies (some turned around, some did not) and companies operating at breakeven. I am familiar with Policy Governance from my time as Director on the North Farm Cooperative Board. I am passionate about the 7 Cooperative Principles and welcome the opportunity to serve the VFC membership in collaboratively developing policies to guide management in implementing the priorities of the membership.

What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the Co-op in the next 3 years?

VFC will face both external and internal challenges. Externally, we will be impacted by changes happening on a national scale such as Amazon acquiring Whole Foods, and grocers, including the majority of food co-ops, in the US experiencing significantly declining sales in the past few years. Even though VFC bucks trends, to think we will not be affected by these shifts would be naive. How co-ops can develop more market independence is an important challenge that many co-ops, and co-op programs such as P6, are grappling with. We are very fortunate to have resources within our reach, to collaborate with, to create a higher degree of local independence. Internally, expansion changes in the store will likely bring some unanticipated challenges. Undertaking the current plan in a very uncertain market environment has a significant degree of risk and needs to have a heightened level of oversight. The challenge will be to avert crisis through collaborative problem solving in a proactive fashion, if things do not go as planned. The current plan also creates a bigger challenge to raising employee wages and making good food affordable.

What's your favorite thing to buy at the VFC?

Hot bar items that are 100% organic

Check box-no check.jpgI have signed the VFC Board of Directors Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Agreement Form.*

*See page 7-10 of the Board Policy Governance Register 

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Michael Linkmike-link.jpg
INCUMBENT

Why are you interested in serving on the VFC’s Board of Directors?

I am interested in continuing my service to the Co-op through Board membership. Two previous terms have prepared me to continue providing direction to management and speaking for the majority of members as the Co-op grows into our new space and continues to meet the healthy food needs of the community. Important to this growth is a well-managed expansion of the existing store.

We are now in the fourth year of communicating, listening, learning and sharing the plans and programs with the membership concerning this expansion. While there has been a lot of misinformation spread on social media, the board and management has carefully crafted a solid financial basis to improve the shopping experience, increase our sales volume which will lower prices at the store.

The improved workplace will benefit employees, as well as shoppers, by adding restrooms, offices and better facilities for their productivity. As the store grows so will the workforce, adding more well paying jobs in the community. VFC employees are the highest paid grocery staff in the county.

While I would like to continue to serve the membership as a board director, I have also chosen to support the Co-op as an investor by purchasing shares as part of the Capital Campaign. I believe in putting ones money where their mouth is rather than criticizing at the eleventh hour.

What skills and experiences would you bring to this job?

In my work life as an engineer, project manager and executive responsible for a business’s performance, I have now adopted the cooperative model of working toward consensus for the benefit of the membership and community while still maintaining a positive financial result. In the co-op model this results in returns to the community and the membership rather than to the business. My ongoing training while on the Board has enriched my view of a company’s success to also incorporate the staff’s well being, management’s productivity and the contributions to the Viroqua community including local farmers, suppliers and investors.

What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the Co-op in the next 3 years?

Continuing to bring a sense of community to the membership within the new spaces at the Co-op. These include utilizing the new community room for education and training on natural foods, cooking and health. Maintaining the business environment for shopping and customer satisfaction during construction will require excellent planning and continued superior customer service.

What's your favorite thing to buy at the VFC?

Deli sandwiches and fresh baked sourdough french bread.

Check box.jpgI have signed the VFC Board of Directors Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Agreement Form.*

*See page 7-10 of the Board Policy Governance Register  




2017-Recommended Article V Change



TO VOTE, CLICK HERE!

You will be taken away from this website to a 3rd party site to vote in this election. Voting starts at 12:01am on 8/6/17 and ends at 6:30pm on 9/6/17.