Why did you join the Dill Pickle?
I’m an avid supporter of cooperatives and naturally became a member-owner when I moved back to the area. I spent 10 years in Philadelphia growing the cooperative movement there, and now that I’m back home I’m actively working to grow Chicago’s cooperative movement. I believe that cooperatives can be a beacon of hope for an otherwise severely broken economy that is built on exploitation.
How have you participated as an owner?
I’m a regular shopper, and really love the store! I’ve encouraged friends and neighbors to shop and join the co-op. I’ve been in a lot of food co-ops throughout the country and really think we have a great one in our community.
Why do you wish to serve on DPFC Board of Directors?
I believe that supporting cooperatives is important social change work. We can build a better future for our community by supporting the Dill Pickle Food Co-op. I feel like now is a great time for me to support the Dill Pickle, lending my experience with cooperatives. This is an exciting time for the Dill Pickle, with a new General Manager and a new Board term. I’d like to be part of this new era for our co-op.
What perspectives, skills, experiences, or affiliations do you hope to bring to board leadership?
For the past 9 years I’ve worked professionally in cooperatives. I co-founded a food co-op in Philadelphia called the Kensington Community Food Co-op, and an association of co-ops called the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance. In those roles I’ve consulted and advised multiple boards and managers about co-op governance and small business development. I helped raise $1.9 Million to open the food co-op through member loans and equity, and large institutional loans. I’ve been a bookkeeper, created financial reports for co-op boards, led finance committees, and policy blitzes. I hope to lend that expertise to the Dill Pickle by serving on the Finance Committee.
I am also a former staff member of Mariposa Food Co-op in West Philly, where I worked with the staff and Board during a difficult transition period following a recent expansion to a new store that resulted in a massive growth in members, staff, and customers. Through that work, I fell in love with grocery store operations and got a big lesson about the challenges of operating a food co-op in urban communities that are racially, economically, and politically diverse.
Since moving back home to Chicago, I’ve joined the Board of the Co-op Ed Center, a non-profit that is supporting worker co-op development in low-income and immigrant communities. I’m also involved in multiple coalitions that are organizing to support co-op development in Chicago. I believe that there are great opportunities for the Dill Pickle to continue to align with the broader cooperative movement and I’m eager to help with that.
Also, I’m the Tee Ball coach at Kilbourn Park. It was amazing working with a broad cross-section of neighbors with 4 and 5 year old kids who wanted to play baseball. Lots of opportunities for the Dill Pickle to engage with other community institutions.
how might the co-op open its doors wider to prospective new owners and community members?
First and foremost, the co-op needs to have its house firmly in order so that it’s attractive for more community members. To me, that means operating a grocery store that makes enough money to pay its bills, fulfill debt obligations, and fully support the needs of staff. It also means running a co-op that is worth engaging with beyond shopping, which I think can be measured by more members, shoppers, staff and board leaders that represent the diversity of our community. From what I can tell, the Dill Pickle is heading in the right direction, but will need to constantly strive to be inclusive of all people in the community.
Anything else you’d like to share?
My father-in-law served as Dill Pickle Board Treasurer during the expansion. It was a challenging but very rewarding experience for him. Having talked to him quite a bit about that experience, I have a good sense of what the work entails.