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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: Wed., April 25
TIME: 6:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Hanover Board Room, Hanover Store
BOARD PACKET DOWNLOAD: Available Here
Board Meeting Recap — March 28, 2018
Here’s a brief summary of key issues from the March Board meeting:
GENERAL MANAGER’S REPORT
General Manager Ed Fox informed the board that the Co-op is in significantly better financial condition this year than it was at the same time last year. Investments in infrastructure have begun to show results, including gains realized through the new perpetual inventory software system and the beneficial impact from employee cross-training and clustering.
Because unemployment is so low in the region (under 2%), Co-op staffing levels are still down (about 7% below the desired level). On the plus side, however, Ed noted that it is a point of pride that 80% of Co-op employees have full-time positions, with benefits, compared to only about 70% in the grocery industry in general.
He also noted that the Co-op management is putting considerable effort into several public policy outreach initiatives, including engaging with the Vermont-based Main Street Alliance regarding the fact that the minimum wage in Vermont will be raised to $15 by 2024 and discussing the regional workforce housing shortage through the Vital Communities Corporate Council.
Finally, Ed reported that there has been considerable positive feedback regarding the board’s recent resolution, sent to the members of the Vermont and New Hampshire U.S. Congressional delegations, objecting to changes being proposed at the federal level in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP — commonly referred to as “food stamps”). Co-op members and shoppers, as well as the leaders of other organizations with similar missions, have commended our organization for its stance on this important issue.
GLOBAL ENDS REPORT
In addition, Ed Fox presented to the board this year’s Ends Report. Among its highlights are the fact that the Co-op ended up posting a gain of $172,224 after taxes; while this sum is not sufficient to offer patronage refunds, the report pointed out that economic value was returned to members in other ways, including $444,882 in Member Appreciation Day discounts.
The report also noted that the Co-op continues its strong support of local producers, carrying 4,000 products grown or made within 100 miles; that at-will employment language has been eliminated from the Co-op’s employee handbook; that we have a new vision statement (“a well-nourished community, cultivated through cooperation”); that the Co-op won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s top award for reducing refrigeration emissions to 7.4% (compared to a national average of 25%); and that the Pennies for Change and Willing Hands programs represents particular successes of our emphasis on a triple bottom line (financial, social, and environmental strength).
The board formally accepted the report and commended Ed and the entire staff for the year’s successes on so many fronts.
This month, the Board approved compliance with several policies related to its own performance — Policies GP 2 (Board Deliverables), GP 3 (Governance Development), GP 4 (Board Members Code of Conduct), and GP 7 (Monitoring Board Performance).
But while voting itself in compliance with these policies, the board also spent some time discussing whether there is a more substantive, productive way of considering its own performance — perhaps by also soliciting input from management and other staff on its processes and impact. It was decided that discussing ways to do that may be a good topic for a future board retreat.
COMMITTEE/TASK FORCE UPDATES
Kevin Birdsey, chair of the Election Committee, reported that the slate of candidates for the 4 open seats on the board now stands at 8; that voting materials are now available in the stores and on the website; that postcards about the election have been mailed to all members; and that A-frame signs and displays on monitors throughout the stores are promoting the election period. A forum for candidates will be held immediately following the Co-op’s Annual Meeting on April 7. Kevin also encouraged all board members to sign up for one or more of the scheduled in-store meet-the-candidate events, sitting at tables with the candidates and helping promote participation in the election. In addition, he invited board members to submit suggestions to the Election Committee for the new-director orientation process.
Harrison Drinkwater reported that new members will need to be recruited for the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Fund Committee after the new board is seated.
Liz Blum introduced the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge, a way for organizations and boards to raise their awareness of racial justice and equity. It is an online initiative run by the University of New Hampshire (Learn More Here) The board enthusiastically embraced the project and passed a motion encouraging all members of the board to participate.
Lori Hildbrand, the director of Human Resources, explained that the Co-op is about to conduct an employee survey and invited the board to submit some questions for inclusion in the survey.
The possibility of considering changing the formal name of the organization to something more inclusive than the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society was introduced. There was considerable discussion on both sides of whether the possibility should be investigated, but the board ultimately voted not to engage in any further consideration of the prospect.
The next Regular Board Meeting will be Wednesday, April 25, at 6:00 p.m. in the upstairs Board Room at the Hanover 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.
Nourish. Cultivate. Cooperate.
193 A St.
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