We have four open positions on the board this year, and four “pre-qualified” candidates, all of whom are member-owners in good standing, who are highly qualified and interested in filling the slots. According to our bylaws, Article 5.2: directors will be elected for three-year terms at the annual meeting of member-owners. Terms of office shall be so staggered that one-third shall expire in each year. Directors shall hold office until their successors are elected.

Our board currently is composed of 8 directors and in anticipation of a heavier workload as we prepare to hire a General Manager after successful completion of our Capital Campaign, believe adding another director would serve the co-op well. In future years, we believe we will have more candidates than open seats.

If you have any questions about the nominations or elections process, we’ll be happy to answer! Please contact us at [email protected]

Each candidate completed an application and questionnaire.  Below are their answers.

Jacob Keller

Jacob_Keller

Q) Describe your experience with this cooperative and cooperatives generally.
A) I first became aware of cooperatives while at University at Buffalo. I was the treasurer of The Environmental Network club, and our president was establishing and living at the cooperative residential house on Elmwood. I didn’t live there myself, but I did help out some, and I also attended a cooperative conference in Ann-Arbor Michigan. At that conference I attended many workshops and learned of the great value in the cooperative model. I have been a member of the EA Cooperative Market for a couple years now, since I first noticed it. I have attended as many meetings open to members as possible. I look forward to helping out with the capital campaign.

Q) Describe your experiences working collaboratively in a group setting.
A) I have worked in a similar environment to that I experienced in the board of directors meeting while being the treasurer of The Environmental Network. The most important thing that I was responsible for was getting the budget approved and funded by the University. Our primary mission was to promote environmental awareness, and that entailed working together on campaigns and being active in the community.

Q) Summarize your professional experience and relevant skills. What unique skill, personal quality or perspective will you bring to the board?
A) Over the last 5 years, I have worked in Financial Services as a Financial Adviser. I have worked at Metlife for 4 years and at First Niagara Bank for 1 year.

At a basic level, being a financial adviser entails meeting with people, understanding their concerns, and coming up with solutions. Each step demands its own skill set. Meeting people requires scheduling appointments and customer service. Understanding peoples concerns requires earning peoples trust through good communication and listening skills. Coming up with solutions requires analytical skills, and a thorough knowledge of financial products, laws, taxes, the economy etc. In order to implement those solutions you need the ability to educate and sell concepts, all the while complying with state and federal regulations.

I am seriously considering becoming an electrician or a plumber, or better yet, working at the cooperative market grocery store.

Q) What is your vision for the future of our cooperative? What makes you passionate about the co-op and/our mission?
A) I think of the co-op in two ways. In one way I think of it at its basic level, being a pleasant store that you can go into, purchase some great products for dinner, and get out. But those products are going to be special in that there is a lot of thought and care behind what’s available. The member/owners ought to designate criterion for the products to pass. And I believe those criterion would reflect my own personal beliefs, that they be sourced with utmost consideration given towards environmental and social responsibility.

This leads to the second way in which I think of the co-op, that it’s more than just a grocery store, but also a base and catalyst for civic engagement. Beyond being activists that are standing up and voting for their beliefs with every purchase they make in the store, I imagine our like minded members will inspire and motivate each other to take on more. To that end, I imagine there being campaigns and fundraising (BBQ contest in the parking lot), community outreach through educational workshops (drinking and learning about fair-trade coffee), and activities for the kids (pumpkin carving contest). Whatever we want!

Q) Why are you interested in serving on the co-ops board of directors?
A) I believe where my heart is, and where the heart of the other members are, is in the same place. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s why everyone pitched in $200.00, because we all share some common beliefs. What motivates me to be a member of the board is that I do not want to sit passively by and wait. I want to take on a more active role, and contribute my efforts, so that I can proudly be a part of helping the cooperative come to fruition.

There are lots of things happening in this world that we would like to change. The EA Cooperative Market is so brilliant in that it addresses our social, economical, and environmental concerns with one fell swoop. I could go on and on, but if there is any hope, it starts with small groups of like minded people acting together to engender and become the change they’re seeking.

Q) Add anything else you feel is relevant to your candidacy.
A) And… I’m thinking about a career change, so I’ll have more time available

Mary Aiken

Q) Describe your expMary_Aiken2erience with this cooperative and cooperatives generally.
A) My experience with the East Aurora Cooperative Market began at the beginning, as one of the co-founders of the co-op. I have been an active participant ever since, serving on both the Marketing Committee and as a board member, first as Vice-President and then as President.

One of the cooperative principles is “cooperation among cooperatives.” As a result, we’ve had a great deal of interaction, sharing and support from other co-ops from the very beginning, especially Lexington co-op in Buffalo, our consultants, and in establishing relationships with other startup and mature co-ops at conferences and training events, as well as online cooperative communications opportunities.

Q) Describe your experience working collaboratively in a group setting.
A) As a graphic designer, collaboration is a key part of the design process. It involves listening, understanding the client’s needs and expectations, sharing ideas, problem-solving and working together through presentation and feedback to meet their needs.

When it comes to serving on a co-op board of directors, it’s a very similar process: listening, establishing and understanding expectations, studying, discussing and coming to agreement to meet the needs of the co-op and our member-owners.

Q) Summarize your professional experience and relevant skills. What unique skill, personal quality or perspective will you bring to the board?
A) I have more than 25 years’ experience in graphic design. I graduated with a BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1987 and have been working in graphics ever since, first in a small ad agency, then a college textbook publisher and a consumer products company.

In 1993, upon moving to East Aurora with my husband and first child, I started a small freelance business (AikenDesign) that continues today. Through this freelance business, I’ve had the good fortune to work for companies large and small, distant and local, doing everything from logo and identity, to advertising, collateral, and have had the honor of using my design skills to establish the co-op’s visual identity through our logo, website(s) and initial marketing materials.

In terms of unique skills, personal quality or perspective, good listening skills is one of my strengths. I also try to look at things through the other person’s perspective to understand a particular point of view. In terms of process, I look at the overall picture, by turns focusing on details, then stepping back to reflect on what’s working well for us and determining what needs further attention or development. That process of listening, understanding, reflection and refinement for my professional work lends itself to tackling – together with the whole board – the significant task of establishing a fully functioning co-op board of directors.

Q) What is your vision for the future of our cooperative? What makes you passionate about the co-op and/or our mission?
A) My vision for the future of our co-op is also what makes me passionate about it and our mission!

I believe our co-op will enhance our overall quality of life, as a community anchor connecting our initial desire to provide access to high quality, healthy food for our families to tapping into our significant local agricultural resources, strengthening our economy and our environment. That, combined with democratic ownership, governance and operations of the co-op, will result in a strong, healthy, connected community.

One of the important outcomes of getting the co-op off the ground is the creation of strong relationships which are respectful of diverse opinions and points of view, ultimately bringing us all together with a shared sense of purpose and commitment. This is one of the most important and gratifying aspects of this work.

The fact that we are a democratically owned, governed and operated business and that we adhere to an internationally adopted set of cooperative principles resonates deeply with me. To be involved in an organization whose purpose is to establish an enterprise based on equality, fairness and democracy is humbling indeed.

Q) Why are you interested in serving on the co-op’s board of directors?
A) It would be an honor to continue serving on the co-op’s board of directors so that I can, along with the rest of our wonderfully talented board members, follow through with the work we’re currently doing to lay a solid foundation for a strong future for the co-op and its’ fulfillment of our mission and vision.

Q) Add anything else you feel is relevant to your candidacy.
A) It has been an honor to serve the co-op these last four years and am proud of the what we’ve accomplished – together – as we work toward our goal of bringing the co-op successfully to fruition. It is some of the most challenging and gratifying work I’ve ever been involved in and am so grateful to be a part of it.

Derek Punaro

Derek PunaroQ) Describe your experience with this cooperative and cooperatives generally.
A) My wife and I joined as member-owners in 2010, recognizing the value of having an additional, year-round quality food source in East Aurora. We have occasionally shopped at the mini-market. We have been members of the Thorpe’s Organic Family Farm CSA for three years as well as a member of the Energy Cooperative of America, a National Fuel/NYSEG ESCO.

Q) Describe your experiences working collaboratively in a group setting.
A) My entire professional career has involved working collaboratively. My specialty was in information technology intranet and collaboration tools. I have been part of several small and large national and international project teams. I spent ten years as a member of the non-profit Central Terminal Restoration Corporation in Buffalo, the last three as a Board member and Treasurer.

Q) Summarize your professional experience and relevant skills. What unique skill, personal quality or perspective will you bring to the board?
A) My professional experience is wide ranging including a deep knowledge of technology, eCommerce, information architecture and organization, and marketing and business development. I have three years of non-profit Board experience and having served as Treasurer and CFO am familiar with bookkeeping and financial reporting.

Q) What is your vision for the future of our cooperative? What makes you passionate about the co-op and/or our mission?
A) I look forward to seeing the East Aurora Co-op open for operation, as I know all member-owners are. Through a well-researched, planned, and monitored rollout I envision the co-op growing into a stable, self-sustaining, and valuable business for the community. I think the co-op model provides an excellent opportunity for success by giving its members and customers direct input into how the operation of the business, and the ability to share in its success.

Q) Why are you interested in serving on the co-op’s board of directors?
A) I understand the critical time the co-op is at and feel I can offer my skills and experience to help the organization succeed in its mission.

Q) Anything else you feel is relevant to your candidacy?
A) You can find my full resume available at http://www.linkedin.com/in/derekpunaro

Jane D. Brewer

Brewer_8199-768pxHighPowerpoint-120813Q) Describe your experience with this cooperative and cooperatives generally.
A) I am a founding member of the EACM and have served on its board since its inception.

Questions 2-3: Describe your experiences working collaboratively in a group setting. Summarize your professional experience and relevant skills.
A) Having been in academia for over thirty years, I have worked on numerous committees throughout my career. Being a member or fellow of a number of professional organizations has given me the opportunity to serve in leadership positions including service on boards as well as chairing and serving on committees.

As a partner in a private prosthodontic practice (Orchard Park Prosthodontics LLP) I am involved in practice administration as well as patient care. I have been practicing dentistry since 1978 (specialty of prosthodontics since 1982).

Questions 4-5-6: Vision, interest, passion.
A) From the first “what if “ conversation during which we planted the EACM seed, I have been committed to getting our co-op established. I am passionate about food as “premium fuel” for our bodies. I see the co-op as a means to ensure we have access to premium fuel that we can have confidence in. I believe our cooperative will add to the vitality of our community-socially, financially and educationally. I want to continue my commitment to the EACM by serving on the board as we progress through opening the co-op doors.