Norma Samame

Owner #1790


Why did you join the Dill Pickle?

Shortly after moving back to Chicago, my spouse and I were meandering around our neighborhood and walked past the old Co-op store on Fullerton; immediately, we were so excited! As vegans who believe everything personal is political, we wanted our money spent on places that represent our values. We knew about co-ops and their commitment to community, environmental sustainability, and social justice, so it was a no-brainer; we had to join, and join we did.

How have you participated as an owner?

From the start, my spouse and I wanted to contribute to the Pickle because we value the sense of community co-ops represent. Of course we shop at the Pickle, but we have also tabled at farmers' markets and festivals, talked up the co-op to our Chicago-based friends, and even attended a board meeting that wasn't the Annual Meeting! (we did attend those too). About 2.5 years ago, I was fortunate enough to be approached by Pickle board member and employee superstar Ally Young who wanted to know if I was interested in filling a seat recently vacated by another board member. Of course I said yes and am proud of the work I have done to date to support all of us.

Why do you wish to serve on DPFC Board of Directors?

There is so much to do! I was one of the Directors on the Committee responsible for interviewing and hiring our new GM and I, along with my fellow board members, recognize and acknowledge the challenges we all face in this period of change. These are exciting times for the Pickle as we welcome our new GM, settle in and get comfortable in our newly expanded store, and continue building our community with the energy of our members and our local institutions. This is a great opportunity to start working towards our vision of economic and environmental sustainability and justice and I'm ready for it. Plus, I've finally figured out this whole policy governance thing the board applies in their approach to working with the Pickle and the GM. I don't want to waste my newfound knowledge and talent!

What perspectives, skills, experiences, or affiliations do you hope to bring to board leadership?

I work in risk management and compliance at a large human rights organization. I know, it doesn't sound sexy, BUT, it provides me a unique lens through which I perceive the operations of an organization. Forefront in my approach is the idea of a welcoming, safe, and secure environment for all who walk through the doors of my organization. This is the kind of environment we should always strive to attain at the Pickle and my work on the board has focused on making sure that this is an ongoing reality. I am also a daughter of immigrants and my parents have maintained close ties to their ethnic community. Being bicultural/bilingual gives me a critical eye towards how we welcome our owners and potential owners, and how we build relationships with community leaders.

how might the co-op open its doors wider to prospective new owners and community members?

The board has recently re-launched a committee dedicated to strengthening our bond with current owners while creating opportunities to reach out to potential owners. I joined this committee because this is what I'm most interested in. Some of our proposed work includes low-hanging fruit such as re-starting our Coffee With The Board on a quarterly basis which I'm excited about. Some of the activities we want to pursue are bigger, such as holding socials and being more present at community events. Other ideas include bring our vendors on-site to meet with shoppers (and provide tasty samples) so we can get closer to the food we buy, and encouraging the use of our cafe as a community gathering point. Other ideas I would love to see happen include having all Pickle materials provided in other languages and spotlighting ethnic foods and/or staff favorites.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thank you so much for your consideration and for the opportunity to serve you again.