What does the Board do? Running for the Board is a good way to find out!

Sarah S. Davis
Wheatsfield Board Member

Since our community has been emerging from physical distancing, many friends and Wheatsfield member-owners have been warmly greeting me with two questions. The first (said with bewilderment) is, “Did I see that you joined the WF Board?” followed by the second, “What does the Board do?” The bewilderment is understandable. Most member-owners are like me before I was elected to the Board, having only a vague sense of Co-op structure and governance. Now, I am grateful to have been elected and given the opportunity to learn and serve. Let me share what I have learned so far: The Co-op is more than a store, we are more than shoppers, and the Board is more like a bridge. 

Most member-owners initiate their membership through grocery shopping at the store rather than from a desire to join an organization, but the Co-op is not just a store and you are not simply customers. The International Co-Operative Alliance provides this definition of a co-op: “An autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.” The Wheatsfield Co-op Board serves as the conduit for that democratic control so that the store you own fulfills its mission and vision and is governed according to the core values that matter to you. 

You may see Board members working at co-op events like the Truckload Sale or during our monthly “Coffee with the Board.” The Board also meets monthly with the General Manager – who the Board hires and evaluates – and other store management. Its role is strategic – to set, review, and revise policy, monitor store operations, and support management toward meeting the Co-op’s mission and vision. It acts as a bridge between member-owners and management so that everyone’s needs can be heard and considered. Day-to-day operations of the store are directed by the GM and staff. However, if you have a suggestion or concern about our level of community outreach, support for local growers, or diversity, equity, and inclusion, please contact the Board. The co-op mission is to be more than a store for you. You are certainly more than a consumer. And the Board is a bridge between the cooperative principles and the way we manifest them at the Co-op. 

A year ago, I knew so little of what makes Wheatsfield a cooperative, but running for and serving on the Board has been a great way for me to learn. Now I see how important it is for us to be active members, to volunteer to serve on committees, at events, and to join the Board. All member-owners are welcome to apply to be a candidate for the Board of Directors. Three seats are up for election and the Nominations and Recruitment Committee will forward up to two candidates for each open seat to the membership for election in October. Apply by August 23, 2021.

The Student Member seat on the Wheatsfield Board ensures that student members’ voices are heard in the governance of the Co-op. This 1-year appointment begins in September 2021 and runs through August 2022. All student members are eligible to apply for the position here by August 23, 2021.