by Harriet Tepfer
Behind the scenes of every incorporated institution is a very important group of people – the Board of Directors. The board members of the Brattleboro Food Co-op, elected by the shareholders, are entrusted with ultimate responsibility for the success of our Co-op. Success for a co-op means that the business thrives both financially and, equally importantly, that the purpose, mission and principles of the co-op are properly implemented by staff and shareholders.
How much do you know about your Co-op board? Does it matter who is on your Co-op board? Have you ever considered exploring a run for the board?
Who is on the current board?
Currently, the eleven members who sit at the board table once a month consist of four women and seven men. We are all over 50 years old. We are people with varying degrees of business experience. Five formerly worked at Northeast Cooperatives when it was in Brattleboro, and one is a current Co-op staff member. We have a wide variety of life experiences and points of view. The most important quality we have in common is that we all care passionately about our Co-op, believe that our Co-op is vitally important to our quality of life and that of our community, and have decided that we want to serve those interests by serving on the board.
What does the board do at their meetings?
The BFC board is responsible to watch over the Co-op’s financial condition, to monitor the policies that govern our Co-op, to evaluate the performance of our General Manager, to respond to shareholders’ concerns, and to make decisions that can only be made by the board. The board is also charged with assuring that the purpose, mission, and principles of the Co-op are part of every decision. It’s important to understand that the board does not make operational decisions – we delegate operational matters to the General Manager.
Should you consider running for the board?
If you care deeply about our Co-op, would like to be part of the overseeing and decision-making process and the ongoing conversation about the direction of our Co-op, and can attend monthly meetings as well as spend some time preparing for these meetings, you should consider running. The board election is held in November, so we’ve found it wise to start this process in the spring. The final date for submitting applications is mid-August.
There are two ways to place your name on the ballot:
- Nomination by the board. After conversation with one or more board members, sitting in on at least one board meeting, and submitting the application, you may receive a place on the ballot.
- Nomination by petition. You may nominate yourself by obtaining the signatures of at least ten shareholders.
It may help for you to talk with current board members about their experiences serving on the board and think about what you would bring to the board. We especially encourage the “younger generation” of shareholders to think about running.
If you are interested, we encourage you to come to board meetings, held the first Monday of each month, 5:15-8:30 pm in the Conference Room at the Co-op office on Main St. (and soon we’ll meet in the conference room of our new store!).
Two more notes: we have fun! Really, our board members get along very well, which helps us as we do the important work of the Co-op. And we have great dinners, an added plus!