Do you love shopping at the Co-op, value its contributions to our community, and think the cooperative business model is the bee’s knees? If so, you should consider running for the Viroqua Food Co-op Board of Directors!
Like all other cooperative businesses, the VFC is owned and governed by its owners. We exist because owners like you have invested in the business. When I first moved to Viroqua, investing in Co-op was a no-brainer. I recognized that I wanted to be involved in this successful and vibrant business, and do what I could to ensure it would remain a cornerstone of our community. That’s why I decided to run for the Board of Directors three years ago, and why we’re looking for owners who are also invested in the long-term success of the Co-op to run for the Board this fall.
So what does the Board of Directors do, exactly? The short answer is that we’re stewards for the Co-op. Our job is to make sure the business is legally and financially sound, and that owners’ values are being represented in business decisions. But beyond that, we’re also responsible for setting the long-range goals and vision for the Cooperative, whether that be initiating new programs, exploring new business opportunities, or planning for store expansion.
Our seven Board members meet monthly (right now it’s the third Wednesday of every month), as well as attend other special events like Coffee with the Board and our annual day-long planning session.
What the Board doesn’t do is manage the day-to-day operations of the Cooperative. That’s what we hire a General Manager (GM) to do. While the Board and GM work closely together, our roles are different. We use a system called Policy Governance to define the roles and responsibilities of the GM, and the purpose, mission and strategies of the organization. We then monitor the performance of the GM and our own performance using this system. Policy Governance takes a little while to learn, but is a pretty cool way to ensure we’re all working together as a productive, engaged team in the interest of the Co-op.
The only prerequisite for Board candidates is that you must have been an owner of the Cooperative for at least a year. Beyond that, all we’re looking for are people who are committed to attending (and preparing for) our monthly meetings and other special events, and acting as a representative of the VFC owners. We also ask that you commit to a three-year term, since most of your first year will be spent learning how the Board functions, and we want you to have plenty of time to fully contribute your special skills and perspective. We ask that you attend a Board meeting before submitting an application, so that you can get a better sense of the work we do, and we as a Board can get to know you.
As you’ve likely heard or read in previous issues of the Pea Soup, the next three years are going to be an exciting time for the VFC. The Board is in the midst of a learning and exploration journey that will likely lead to us making some big decisions within the next year about the future of the store. Now, more than ever, we need strategic thinkers with strong leadership skills to help guide the ship as we explore new waters.
If this sounds like you (or that it could be you), I would be more than happy to answer your questions about what it’s like to serve on the Board and talk you through the candidate application and election process.
For more information and to download the Prospective Board Member Packet, visit viroquafood.coop/board-of-directors and please contact me by June 30th to discuss your interest. My contact info is on the right hand column on this page.