The Board plays a critical role in ensuring the continued success and health of this vital organization. It represents all the member-owners in developing and maintaining the vision and long-term viability of the Co-op. The Board does not run the stores, nor do they have direct control over the daily operation of them; that is the role of Management. Instead, the Board monitors the operations of the stores via Policy Governance®, a system of oversight and accountability that emphasizes values, vision, and the empowerment of both Board and staff, while clearly delineating the roles and responsibilities of each.
DATE: September 27, 2017
TIME: 6:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Culinary Learning Center, Lebanon Store
Board Meeting Recap — August 23, 2017
Here’s a brief summary of key issues from the August Board meeting:
GENERAL MANAGER’S REPORT
Ed Fox told the Board that he has been in discussion with two of the more significant organizations with which our co-op is affiliated — the Neighboring Food Co-op Association and National Co+op Grocers — regarding enhancements in our financial and organizational arrangements with those groups.
This month, the Board discussed the organization’s compliance with Policies EL 3 - Asset Protection and EL 6 - Compensation and Benefits. The most discussion was around two aspects of the Asset Protection policy. One was losses to the organization due to shrinkage — a category that encompasses everything from spoilage, breakage, and paperwork errors to employee or customer theft. Our co-op’s shrink rate is only 1%, compared to a grocery industry average nationwide of 2.7%. General Manager Ed Fox said the portion of that 1% due to theft is only 4% or .04% of the organization’s gross receipts. The other issue that came in for significant discussion was the need to carefully monitor our co-op’s recent shift to self-insurance for employees’ medical coverage. Costs have run slightly higher than expected in the past year. Ed Fox and CFO Paul Guidone said their working assumption is that we will stay with the self-insurance model, but perhaps with a decrease in the threshold at which so-called stop-loss coverage kicks in.
COMMITTEE/TASK FORCE UPDATES
The Board recently established a distinction between committees — groups whose charge is long-range or ongoing — and task forces — groups whose charge is more time-delimited. The memberships of both committees and task forces may include Board members, employees, and Co-op members who are neither employees nor on the Board.
Four reports were discussed in August: The Charitable Giving Task Force reported that it is working to clarify the themes and criteria for allocating resources among the Co-op’s many charitable giving programs. The Election Committee reminded Board members that they all have a responsibility to help with recruitment of new Board candidates. The HCCF (Hanover Cooperative Community Fund) Advisory Committee reported that the Gerstenberger Scholarship Fund (named in honor of past giants of our co-op) will be rolled out in October, Co-op Month. Finally, the Retreat Task Force recommended holding two Board retreats — one in the fall and one in the early spring, potentially at a farm-to-table venue such as one of our co-op’s producer/vendors, with the theme for fall being future implications of past decisions and how we can and should seek solutions.
The Board discussed the orientation of new Board members and decided we need to enhance that process, especially with regard to imparting a deeper understanding of our co-op’s operation and structure. The Election Committee, chaired by Kevin Birdsey, was charged with overseeing the enhancement of the orientation process — possibly within the committee or possibly by delegating it to a task force.
The next Regular Board Meeting will be September 17, 2017, in the Culinary Learning Center at the Lebanon store.
president [at] coopfoodstore.com (Your comments are always welcome. Feel free to send an email HERE)
William Craig, President:
William is a writer and educator. He is the author of Yankee Come Home: On the Road from San Juan Hill to Guantanamo, and teaches writing at Dartmouth College. Many in the Upper Valley remember him as a former Valley News writer and editor. He is a former Headrest staffer and board member. You can find him playing bass in bands around the region. Term expires 2019Term ends in 2019.
Liz Blum, Vice President:
Co-op principles and values are important to Liz Blum and that is why she serves on the Board. Liz is a retired Occupational Therapist. She worked in many settings in Vermont and New Hampshire: Visiting Nurse, nursing homes, schools, hospitals, and clinics. She likens occupational therapy to a jigsaw puzzle because it concerns problem solving and putting the pieces into place. Liz was a member of the Boston Women's Health Collective that produced the groundbreaking book: Our Bodies, Ourselves. She has been an advocate for universal, single-payer health care for 30 years and continues to work for it. Liz has served on a number of Boards including the Norwich (VT) Selectboard and the Norwich Board of Listers. She is on the State Committee of the Vermont Progressive Party. In the summer you may find her riding her bike or in the garden. Term ends 2020.
Benoit Roisin, Treasurer:
Benoit is Professor of Engineering Sciences at Dartmouth College (under the name of Benoit Cushman-Roisin, having hyphenated his wife’s name to his for all professional activities), where he has developed new courses in sustainable design and industrial ecology. Some of his students’ projects have been adopted by the Co-op and the Town of Hanover to reduce their environmental footprint. He is the author of three books and is working on a fourth. In addition, Roisin maintains an active consultancy in water issues and energy efficiency. He has volunteered his expertise for several non-profit organizations, including The Haven and COVER. He has served on the Co-op’s Board of Directors intermittently since 2003. Term ends in 2020.
Dana Cook Grossman, Secretary:
Dana is the director of publications emerita for Dartmouth Medical School, where for 25 years she edited the award-winning quarterly magazine Dartmouth Medicine. Since 2011, she has been a full-time freelance editor and writer; her clients include PBS Nova, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Association of American Medical Colleges. She's also been very active in civic affairs, including chairing the Thetford, Vt., School Board. Dana and her husband, Dan, have lived in Thetford since 1972 and been members of the Co-op since 1973; they have two grown daughters and four grandchildren. Term ends in 2019.
Thomas graduated from the University of NH with degrees in Philosophy (BA) and Education (Masters). Attended the Gemological Institute of American and holds the title of Graduate Gemologist. Currently, Special Education Teacher in the Lebanon school district. Work experience in the private and public sector and entered the teaching profession later in life. Spending most of working years in retail as sales manager of family’s wine/liquor brokerage company and gaining experience in sales and merchandising. The sales force worked very closely with grocers in NH, Maine and Vermont. In addition, having past experience serving as a board member on a variety of boards over the years. For example, served on Rockingham Community Action, as well as the Board of Commissioners in Rockingham County. Tom feels that the fabric of a community is woven with threads of community service. At the end of the day, you are judged less by what you have gained and more by what you have given. Term ends 2020.
Kevin has worked for the Co-op since 2002. Most of that time having been in the Front End department at the Hanover store, currently he can be found at the Community Market. When not working, Kevin is a student and assistant instructor at White River Budokan, a traditional martial arts school in White River Junction. Having spent his adolescence and early adulthood in Hanover, Kevin now lives in Lebanon. Term ends in 2019.
Retired after 42 years in customer service, including 18 years as the Co-op’s education director. He also serves on the Board of Headrest (drug and alcohol recovery; 24/7 hotline). He and his wife, Betsy, live in Enfield, New Hampshire. Term ends in 2018.
Worked in the art and film world, as a publicist, photographer, picture researcher and producer until bringing up her children, by far her most creative project. Now catching up with the digital age, she works as a freelance writer and artist for public awareness campaigns. She lives in Norwich, Vermont, and volunteers for the Rapunzel Project in an effort to bring it to the New England states and to make it available to all. Term ends in 2018.
A Co-op Food Store employee since 1994, Ed started at the Hanover Co-op Food Store as Manager of the ‘B.I.N.’ Department (Bulk, International, & Natural Foods). An active part of much Co-op growth since, becoming a Co-op Merchandiser at the start of the Lebanon Co-op Food Store in 1997. To broaden his Co-op experience and service, Ed was elected to the Co-op’s Board in 2003 and served for two, 3-year terms until 2009. In addition to merchandising, in 2014 Ed took on the Co-op’s category management co-ordination responsibilities and also became the Co-op’s liaison to the National Co-op Grocers, a 148 food co-op co-operative with over 200 stores in 38 states and combined annual sales of nearly $2 billion and over 1.3 million consumer-owners. Co-operatives working together is the only way to ensure our continued success serving our members! Starting up again as a Board Director in 2016, he has been active with committee work to improve the Board’s new director election process. Term ends in 2019.
D. Maurice ("Don") Kreis:
Don is a lawyer and former journalist who serves as New Hampshire's Consumer Advocate, representing the interests of residential utility customers before the NH Public Utilities Commission and elsewhere. He previously served on the Board from 2003 to 2013, including three years as president, and returned to the Board in 2017. He spent nine years as a trustee of the Cooperative Fund of New England and is currently chair of the annual fund of the Northern New England Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Term ends in 2018.
Environmental attorney specializing in claims for damage from exposure to toxic pollution and the safety and environmental problems of nuclear power plants. He lives in Weathersfield, Vermont, with his wife, Gabriele Popp, and six cats. Term ends in 2018.
Ann Shriver Sargent:
Ann has spent most of her life living and working and raising her three children in New England. For the past 29 years, she has been a business owner, designer, and buyer in the home furnishings/interior design field. Currently, she is co-founder and president of Porte-cochère, a membership based service that connects premium and luxury furnishing manufacturers and prequalified interior designers. Ann’s vision for Porte-cochère is the outgrowth of her belief that companies committed to quality in design, integrity of materials and a commitment to building long-term professional relationships will find valued partners in the design community. Ann lives with her husband 4 horses, 4 goats and dog on a farm in Norwich Vermont. Term ends in 2020.
Responsibilities of the Board
The purpose of the Board, acting on behalf of the Co-op’s members, is to set strategic long-range direction, hire the General Manager and monitor organizational performance.
Specific responsibilities include:
- Representing all Co-op members in determining and demanding appropriate organizational performance.
- Ensuring adequate communication between members and the organization, including working mechanisms to determine member needs.
- Ensuring that members are well-informed about the nature of the cooperative, the activities conducted by the cooperative, and the results it achieves with respect to its Ends Policies.
- Ensuring that members understand the industry of which the cooperative is a part and can consider the activities of the cooperative in the context of relevant markets.
- Ensuring that members understand the different interests and stakeholders that exist within the cooperative.
- Ensuring that the cooperative continually analyzes changes in its membership and its environment, regularly revisits Ends-related issues in light of such changes, and innovates to meet changing member needs.
- Producing written governing policies that, at the broadest levels, address each category of organizational decision.
- Evaluating General Manager performance against Ends and Executive Limitations policies on a regular basis.
- Monitoring Board performance and providing effective leadership using the Policy Governance process.
- The Board is not involved in the daily operations of the stores. Board members have a duty to represent the member-owners at large and not a particular constituency and to act in the members’ best interests, consistent with the Co-op’s values, principles and policies.
Responsibilities of a Director
Directors are fiduciaries of the cooperative and shall at all times conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the cooperative values and principles.
Each Director must:
- Inform him or herself so as to be able to carry out the foregoing.
- Be committed to perfect or near-perfect attendance at Board meetings.
- Be willing to serve on at least one Board subcommittee.
- Be familiar with the Co-op’s bylaws and governing policies.
- Be willing and able to prepare for, and actively participate in, monthly Board meetings.
- Be able to attend Board training sessions, the annual retreat, and the annual member meeting.
- Be able to understand financial statements (training provided).
- Be willing to take responsibility for Board duties and work together with understanding, mutual support, and respect.
During their terms in office, Board members and their spouses/partners receive a 20 percent discount on store purchases and a 10 percent discount on auto repair service and related parts, subject to the restrictions and eligibility requirements noted below. The discount amount is taxable income for board members.
The following products are NOT eligible for the 20 percent discount:
- Annual case lot sale items
- Motor oil
- Fedco orders
Products purchased by the case, which are not part of the annual case lot sale, will receive the 20% discount only; the normal 5% “case discount” will not apply.