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.

Derek Punaro
Board President, 2017

Derek’s professional experience is wide-ranging, and includes a deep knowledge of technology, e-commerce, information architecture and marketing and business development. He has three years of nonprofit board experience, having served as treasurer, CFO and CIO for the Central Terminal Restoration Corp. Derek looks forward to seeing the East Aurora Co-op open for operation, envisioning the co-op growing into a stable, self-sustaining and valuable business for the community. He thinks the co-op model provides an excellent opportunity for success by giving its members and customers input into the operation of the business, and the ability to share in its success.

Andrew Layer
Board Vice 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.

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.

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.

Theresa Bindig
Board Member, 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.

Jacob Keller
Board Member, 2017

Jacob, a financial adviser, has worked in the financial services industry for the past 5 years. He believes the East Aurora Cooperative Market is a brilliant undertaking in that it addresses both social, economic and environmental concerns. He thinks of the co-op as both a friendly neighborhood store with products that are special in that have passed criteria that embody the values and goals of co-op members, as well as being a valued establishment in our community that will be a base and catalyst for civic engagement.

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.

Kathy Pomerhn
Board Member, 2017

Kathy is the Director of Operations of the Boys & Girls Club of East Aurora, a position she has held for the past 23 years. In her work with the Boys & Girls Club of East Aurora, she has worked closely with their Board of Directors, has been responsible for all of the finances at this location, as well as the Holland and Springville Boys & Girls Clubs. Kathy also played a key role in the marketing of the Boys & Girls Club, has worked on many fundraising committees and chaired the bi-annual “Bids for Kids” Auction. Her vision of the cooperative is that it becomes a thriving part of the community and that East Aurora is the perfect community to have a Co-op that will be a boost to our local economy, support our local farmers and businesses and offer shoppers quality food and products for our families.

Sandra Szalinski
Board Member, 2019

Sandra Szalinski is a scientist and writer who works for Restoration Services, Inc. providing environmental compliance and communication support services to the U. S. Department of Energy at the West Valley Demonstration Project.

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]