How the Board Works

Your Board of Directors steers the path of EACM toward the future. The board is made up of nine owners just like you, chosen by annual election. This is where the true power of co-op ownership comes into play. Unlike corporations, co-op board elections are democratically run — owners all have an equal vote. Board members serve staggered 3-year terms.

Why does the Board exist?

Board members represent member-owners to ensure that their needs are met and support the General Manager to maintain the vision and ends of the co-op.

What does the Board do?

CREATES CO-OP POLICIES The board’s primary role is to oversee the direction of the co-op through EACM’s general manager through the creation of board policies. EACM employees, as directed by the GM, manage day-to-day operations like stocking, cooking, ordering, marketing, product selection and administrative duties.

ENVISIONS & EVALUATES The board conducts its ongoing work at monthly board meetings. At these meetings the board monitors policy compliance, understands the co-op’s finances, plans activities to engage owners, discusses the future and evaluates their work.

See for yourself! The best way to understand what the board does at the co-op is to attend a board meeting and see for yourself. Meeting information is to the right.

Board Meetings

Meetings are held from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month.

Member-owners are welcome to attend regularly scheduled board meetings. If you are interested in attending, please contact us at [email protected] in advance of the meeting.

Meet the folks who govern the co-op on your behalf.

Mike Benzin

Treasurer | 2018

Treasurer and Finance Committee member Mike has more than 25 years’ experience in fundraising and management with local non-profit organizations. Through Mike Benzin Developments, a private practice dedicated to helping mission-focused organizations realize their goals and objectives, Mike provides fund & constituent development, marketing & promotion, governance and organizational planning services and solutions. An active community volunteer beyond the East Aurora Co-op, the Canisius College graduate is also a board member and Vice President with AdoptionSTAR and board member and President of the FBI Buffalo Citizens Academy Alumni Association. He is also a Leadership Buffalo graduate, a former chair and 20-year board member of the Taste of Buffalo, and was a Business First “40 Under Forty” honoree. Mike is a believer in wholesome and locally-grown foods and also understands the dietary challenges faced by people with food allergies and sensitivities. The Eden native and former North Buffalo resident lives in the village with his wife and two children.

Theresa Bindig

Vice President | 2019

Theresa Bindig lives in East Aurora with her husband and three children. She is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist doing Nutrition Counseling/Consultation through her small private practice in JoyWheel Yoga and Wellness on Main Street East Aurora.

Bob Colligan

Board Member | 2020

Bob Colligan lives in East Aurora with his wife and has been married for 30 years. He and his wife have lived in East Aurora for almost 30 years and their daughter, Laura, farms (Dirt Rich Farm) on part of their three acres.

Why are you interested in serving on the co-op’s board?
I am very health conscious and made many lifestyle changes to maintain my health. The co-op provides the type of food I feel leads to healthier and happier lives and I want to be a part of helping to continue to build the co-op to allowing a greater share of our community can benefit from the good foods provided. I am especially interested in expanding economical food choices for the members of our community that have more limited budgets, but share my desire to be able to feed their families more healthful foods.

Describe your experience with cooperatives.
Prior to living in East Aurora, I lived in Buffalo and frequented Lexington co-op, when it originally was on Lexington. I was an early seed member of EACM and did significant volunteer work in helping to grow the membership of the EACM. I have been passionate in bringing a food coop to East Aurora since the idea was presented at the East Aurora Theatre.

Professional experience and relevant skills 
What unique skill, personal quality or perspective will you bring to the board?
I have broad range of skills, primarily in leadership and management. I understand the importance of for profit organizations being profitable so they can grow and thrive and support the membership. I am very familiar with balance sheets and feel my skills will be valuable in working with the rest of this EACM board of directors. I feel we can meet this objective while still serving members of all financial means.
What is your vision for the future of the cooperative? 
What makes you passionate about the co-op and/or our mission?
My vision is to see the EACM become a place where all members of our community can buy healthy foods for both their loved ones and themselves regardless of their incomes. As we become more established, I would like to see significant expansion of affordable local food choices and all of our groceries can be purchased at the EACM. We now have a great store and location and I hope to be part of realizing this vision. I would like to see the day where the co-op also becomes a place where members see it as a meeting place where health conscious community members can socialize, share stories about health and just enjoy each other’s company.

Favorite Food Leafy multicolored vegetables that are so high in antioxidants.

Jen Gaenzler

Board Member | 2020

Jen Gaenzler is a Supply Chain Manager at Moog in the Space and Defense Division in East Aurora, NY. She lives in Lancaster, NY with her husband, Rich, and their rescue fur-babies – Charlie (an 11 year old cat) and Dieter (a 5 ½ year old dog).

Why are you interested in serving on the co-op’s board?
As I learn more about healthy eating and the importance of local economy, I am very grateful to have this market in our backyard and I simply want to be a part of it! I have recently started a clean eating journey and I am more aware of what I am consuming. It is shocking and a bit scary at times! I think it is important to educate as many people as possible on the benefits of clean eating as well as how to prepare healthy meals. I believe the co-op is a great platform to do that while building and strengthening the local community.

Describe your experience with cooperatives.
I recently became a member of the East Aurora Co-op Market. While I may be new to co-ops in general, I believe that this is just the beginning for me and I am very excited to learn more! I love the concept and I think it is important to support farmer’s markets and the local economy not only from a business perspective, but from a health and wellness perspective too.

Professional experience and relevant skills What unique skill, personal quality or perspective will you bring to the board? 
I have expertise in project management, contract negotiations, risk management, and strategic sourcing. I am diligent, dependable, and I am extremely well organized. I am not afraid to ask questions and I will work hard to get the answers.

What is your vision for the future of the cooperative?
What makes you passionate about the co-op and/or our mission? My vision for the co-op is to see it thrive within the community, educate consumers, and increase memberships. I hope the co-op is a success so I can have access to clean and healthy foods on a daily basis and so I can gain information on locally sourced products to make the best educated decisions when shopping.

Favorite Food PIZZA! I love pizza and there is so much you can do with it! Thin crust, thick crust, flatbread, naan bread, cauliflower crust….the possibilities are endless! You can make breakfast pizza, veggie pizza, meat lovers.….I have even made a salad pizza with arugula and balsamic vinaigrette drizzled on top! You can cook it in the oven or even on the grill! It can be an appetizer or the main course! So many options! Delish!

Gary Kimmel-Hurt

Board Member | 2019

Gary Kimmel-Hurt has recently retired from Suicide Prevention and Crisis Services of Buffalo, where he worked in fund development and also volunteered as a hospital advocate. He is the former owner of East Aurora Locksmith.

Andrew Layer

Board President | 2018

Andrew is an engineer at Moog and an EAHS graduate. He and his wife Holly have been members of the co-op since returning to Western New York four years ago. Andrew has held various engineering roles at General Electric and Moog over the past ten years. In addition to his technical background, he has an MBA from Indiana University with a concentration in strategic planning. Since joining the EACM in 2011, Andrew has served as chair of the finance committee, working with the board and our consultants to develop the co-op’s business plan and financial projections. He envisions the EACM as a cornerstone of our community, serving locally sourced foods, providing nutritional education, and serving as a place where producers and consumers can come together in partnership.

Barry Phillips

Board Member | 2020

Barry Phillips lives in the village of East Aurora with his wife, 2 daughters in EAHS, their dog, cat and bird. Barry has an MBA and is Vice President of a global safety and environmental instrumentation company supporting industrial, government and food retail markets. He has served on boards of directors for private and public organizations and looks forward to the opportunity to further support the local community and East Aurora Co-op Market.

Why are you interested in serving on the co-op’s board of directors? I want to help to ensure the success of the EACM and think I have some background and experience that could be beneficial to the team.

Describe your experience with cooperatives.
Our primary experience with EACM is our shopping experience at the store and promoting it. My family and I have been advocates and supporters of cooperative markets in the areas we have lived. We also value and support the various benefits of locally grown food, locally owned and operated businesses, healthy and natural foods and community involvement.

Professional experience and relevant skills
As an executive team member of many varied manufacturing and distribution organizations, I would bring a broad base of collaborative and leadership experience covering all aspects of business. With particular strengths in business development and marketing, I can provide support and leverage this experience where needed with the EACM team. In my current business position with Bacharach, where we provide refrigerant monitoring and management systems to the food retail industry, I stay close to this market segment and can share lessons learned and / or best practice experiences I encounter throughout the industry.

What is your vision for the future of our cooperative?
To provide the local community with a vibrant, healthy and perpetually sustainable cooperative market that provides our customers and suppliers with a local choice that they value and support.

What makes you passionate about the co-op and/or our mission?
My family and I feel that the EACM provides our village with a healthy and locally supportive option that is needed in our community, adding options needed by our residents and local producers, and value to our village. We want it to be successful.

Favorite Food Sushi and Sashimi, any fresh cheese, spinach omelets and salads, and anything with blueberries on it.

Kathy Pomerhn

Board Member | 2020

Kathy resides in the Village with her husband Paul, and has two children Jennifer Hamson of Rochester, NY; and SSGT Richard Pomerhn of Colorado Springs, CO.

Why are you interested in serving on the co-op’s board?
I am interested in continuing to serve on the Co-op’s Board of Directors because even though we are up and running there are many challenges and hurdles we are experiencing as a small business in the first full year of operation. The store is experiencing sales over and above what was projected and we continue to improve our margin and management of expenses, but these are not the only factors that will determine our overall success. I am invested and have asked others to invest in this project and I want to play a part in ensuring that we become the viable and stable business in our community that I know we can be.

Describe your experience with cooperatives.
I truly believe in the Co-op’s mission and vision and think it has been a fantastic addition to our community. I have served as a Board Member on the EACM Board for two years. It has been a pleasure to work with such dedicated individuals that serve on the Board and Co-op staff. This has been a very exciting time for the Co-op as now we are open, operating and thriving. I played a role in running the second phase of the capital campaign to that end.

Professional experience and relevant skills  What unique skill, personal quality or perspective will you bring to the board? 
Being Director of Operations of the Boys & Girls Club of East Aurora for 25 years has allowed me to work cooperatively with many people and develop relevant skills, including experience with a board of directors; management of a $1 million budget; establishing local contacts; organizational and problem-solving skills; as well as marketing & fundraising experience.

What is your vision for the future of our cooperative?
I envision our store growing stronger and becoming a vital part of the fabric of our community. It takes time, but I can already see that starting to happen.
What makes you passionate about the co-op and/or our mission? East Aurora is the perfect community to have a Co-op that boosts our local economy, supports our local farmers and businesses and offers shoppers quality food and products for our families.

Favorite Food I don’t have a favorite, but I love food! I enjoy the shopping experience, trying new recipes and using new cooking techniques.

Kara Spencer-Ching

Board Secretary | 2018

Kara is trained as an attorney and practiced law in New York City before moving to East Aurora with her family. After finishing law school, she completed a federal district court clerkship before joining two large international law firms where she worked on a variety of matters involving mostly complex commercial litigation, as well as some transactional work. After having her first child, she transitioned into an administrative human resources role at my law firm. After moving to East Aurora in 2006, Kara continued to work on employee performance and partnership evaluation on a freelance basis until 2010.  In addition, she has enjoyed volunteering, including being a Girl Scout leader and working with others on church committees. Kara envisions the cooperative becoming a vibrant anchor of our community that provides access not only to high-quality wholesome food, but also to programs and information that improve and enrich the lives of its members and the larger community.  She also sees the cooperative playing an important role in helping the local economy thrive both by providing a marketplace for local farms and small businesses and by attracting shoppers to the village.

East Aurora Co-op Market

EACM exists to create a vibrant, healthy community in the Southtowns by providing access to fresh, local and wholesome foods to everyone.

Open to Everyone 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. DAILY 
591 Main Street East Aurora NY 14052
PH: 716 655 COOP (2667)
Email: [email protected]