Do you have an interest in influencing the vision of the East Aurora Cooperative Market? Would you like to be in on the ground floor of this important venture? Can you make a difference for our community? Then you may just have what it takes to be a member of the co-op’s board of directors!

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the co-op business model is Principle No. 2: Democratic Member Control. As member-owners you likely exercised this principle last year during our first election of new board members Ted Brelsford, Gerry Gallagher and Susan Swarts.

Believe it or not, election season is coming up again, and preparations have begun! In fact, from now on, each year one-third of the board positions will expire and these slots will be available for which member-owners in good standing or incumbents may run.

The board of directors plays a critical role in ensuring the continued success and health of this vital organization. Collectively, members guide the co-op by establishing the vision and ensuring its long-term vitality. Once a general manager is in place, the board will provide oversight and guidance for the GM and monitor his or her performance.

Read on to learn more about the board and the election process. The time is ripe!

Who are we seeking?
East Aurora Cooperative Market member-owners in good standing who do not have any conflicts of interest (more information is available in our Board Packet); who are able to work collaboratively; who are passionate about and interested in serving the community by ensuring the long-term success of the co-op; who are willing to commit to fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of the board of directors.

What are the requirements for running?
In addition to being a member-owner in good standing, board members must sign a statement of agreement and publicly disclose any potential conflicts of interest. Regarding personal qualifications, board experience is helpful, but not a prerequisite. More important are: willingness to work closely and cooperatively with the other directors; commitment to providing the time and energy necessary to accomplish the board’s objectives and fulfill the required term; the ability to learn quickly; and possessing organizational skills.

Board FAQs:

What is the Length of Term?
Board members will serve a three-year term (2014 – 2017) beginning in June. This is a critical time in the co-op’s history, as we are coming ever closer to meeting the thresholds that will allow us to open!

What is the Board of Directors and what does it do?
The Board of Directors is the governing body for the member-owners of the East Aurora Cooperative Market. It is composed of no fewer than five individuals and no more than nine, all of whom must be member-owners in good standing of the East Aurora Cooperative Market. Beginning in 2013, open positions for board members were put up for election by member-owners. To ensure continuity of the board and its work, board positions have been set up by three classes that have been staggered.

The Board is responsible for ensuring organizational performance on behalf of all East Aurora Cooperative Market’s member-owners. This work includes developing clearly stated expectations through written policies; delegating responsibility for, and authority over the achievement of stated objectives; and monitoring compliance with written policies.

photo 1-1

2013 EA Co-op board retreat focused on developing our Ends statements

Our East Aurora Cooperative Market Board of Directors must not be myopic; rather, we need to be strategic and visionary in our view toward the future. For the past three years, board members have focused on laying a strong foundation upon which to build our co-op and develop a thriving, community-centered business that best serves the needs of the communities we serve.

With this shared, long-term vision, the board will ensure that we adequately position our organization for the maximal benefit of our member-owners, as well as anticipate trends and values that may have a critical impact on our relevance and survival.

The board governs the organization and delegates all operational duties to one person, currently the project manager (ultimately the general manager). Board members act as advisors on matters that include strategic planning, financial oversight, member-owner linkage and community outreach.

What does the Board of Directors NOT do?
The board of directors does not make decisions about, become involved with, or take part in any of the day-to-day activities or decisions regarding the operation of the East Aurora Cooperative Market.  The board’s sole official connection to the operations of the cooperative is currently through the project manager, ultimately through the General Manager, once hired.

During a board term, what is the time commitment for serving on the board?
At the outset, board members must attend an orientation session, which provides basic training on co-ops as well as an opportunity to meet-and-greet fellow board members. Board meetings are held once a month for approximately two hours, at which attendance is expected. In addition to this regular monthly meeting, the time commitment for a director typically averages out to an additional two hours per week, including preparation for regular monthly meetings as well as any specially-called board meetings. There may be additional time if the board member also participates on a committee.

Is there any compensation for serving on the board?
Board service is voluntary and there is no monetary compensation.

It sounds like a big step!
And worthwhile! As a cooperative, the East Aurora Cooperative Market is only as strong as its member-owners. The board is intended to be a diverse group of people with a wide range of skills who each contribute toward building a vibrant organization which benefits our member-owners!

If you’re interested in running:
Interested member-owners must complete an application, available upon request at [email protected]. Completed applications must be emailed back to the Nominations Committee no later than February 28, 2014, at [email protected]. (This email may also be used for additional questions.)

The Nominations Committee will meet with potential candidates and present the proposed slate to the board of directors for approval. Once approved, ballots will be prepared and mailed to member-owners about a month prior to the annual meeting in May. While elections will take place at the Annual Meeting, ballots may be cast prior to the Annual Meeting by mail or in person at the Mini Market and, of course, at the Annual Meeting itself. The announcement of new directors will take place after the Annual Meeting.

If you’re interested in helping out with the elections process ([email protected]) or at the Annual Meeting ([email protected]) itself, please let us know.