2017 Board of Directors Election

Vote for the 2017 Board of Directors!

How to Place Your Vote:

  • Vote online by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 17.
  • Vote in-store in the seating area by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 17.
  • Vote at the Annual Meeting from 6:00-6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 18.

There are 3 seats open – Board Chair Mia Taney, Vice Chair Sara Kujawski, and Governance Committee Member Megan McGuire. Results will be posted on Thursday, October 19.

Paper ballot voting
All ballots must be submitted in the envelope provided, with member-owner information completed. This is essential for verifying voter eligibility before counting the vote. Ballots without complete information or envelopes will be invalid.

Vote Now!


VOTE ON ABANDONED EQUITY

This year, as you vote for new board members, we also invite you to vote for how $9,183.67 in abandoned equity will be used. During profitable years, we distribute patronage dividends to member-owners in October. We do our best to ensure these funds are received; however, some always remain unclaimed. After a few years, accumulated abandoned equity funds are donated to local community partners. Vote for one of the following three organizations. Funds will be dispersed based on the proportion of votes received.

FOOD CO-OP INITIATIVE
Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) provides exceptional free resources to people in the U.S. working to start retail food co-ops. FCI’s open-access assistance helps groups become established and incorporated during early stages of the startup process, putting them on a solid path towards successfully opening sustainable grocery co-ops.

FROGTOWN FARM
Frogtown Farm is one of the largest urban farms in the country. Located in the heart of the vibrantly diverse Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul, this certified-organic urban demonstration farm serves as a national destination for those seeking learning, innovation, reflection, and authentic community engagement.

U of M BEE LAB
Research at the U of M Bee Lab focuses on bee breeding and natural defense techniques, improving pollinator conservation and management, and ways to reduce pesticide use, all of which is shared with local beekeepers. Donations will support this research and promote the importance of pollinators within our local food system.

Vote Now!


Candidate Bios

Kate Armstrong

1. Why are you interested in running for this board?

As a former employee and long-time member of Mississippi Market, I have a deep respect for the co-op and a passion for its mission of providing nutritious, locally-grown and -produced food at an affordable price. I also admire Mississippi Market’s commitment to social justice, community engagement, and local economic development.

2. In your opinion, what is the role of the co-op in the community?

Mississippi Market is more than a retail store. Through its community activities and classes, it knits people together and provides a vital role in educating consumers about the importance of good nutrition, overall wellness, supporting local, community-based agriculture, and environmental stewardship.

3. What is your vision for Mississippi Market’s future?

I would love to see Mississippi Market grow into a fourth location, perhaps on the West Side or Midway Area of St. Paul. I think it would be wonderful if the co-op could grow its relationships with local food producers and increase public awareness of the impact that food co-ops have on job growth and local economic development. Big agribusiness and grocery chains are changing our nation’s food system. People are growing further apart from the origins of the food they eat. Food co-ops can play a vital role in educating the public about the importance of supporting local farmers and food producers and the positive impacts of buying locally-produced, organic food, for individual and population health outcomes, the environment, and local job creation and economic development.

4. What challenges do you think the co-op will face in the future? How could the co-op overcome these challenges?

I think a clear challenge is the commodification of the natural foods market and the proliferation of “healthy” products (often distributed by major food companies) at low prices. The co-op also faces the prospect of losing customers to larger retailers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. I think the co-op can overcome these challenges by continuing to grow the connections with the communities in which its stores are located, and educating current and prospective members about the important role it plays in supporting local food production and contributing to local economic development.

5. What professional, leadership, and/or volunteer experience uniquely qualifies you to serve on the Board?

As mentioned, I am a previous employee of Mississippi Market and a current member, so I am familiar with the history and mission of the organization. I am an attorney, and I have an understanding of the statutes and regulations governing cooperatives. Furthermore, as a public health attorney, I focused on nutritional policy and have expertise about healthy eating, state and federal statutes and regulations governing food policy, and the legal issues facing local nutritional initiatives (e.g., community gardens).

6. What experience do you have in any of these areas: Diversity, Inclusion, Marketing, Law?

In my work at Casa de Esperanza and Guadalupe Alternative Programs, I worked closely with the Latino community in St. Paul. As a Guardian ad Litem Program Manager for the Second Judicial District (Ramsey County), I served abused and neglected children and families in under-served communities. I have almost always worked with diverse communities in my legal work. As explained above (#6), I have been a practicing attorney for 14 years and have expertise in interpreting co-op by-laws and the statutes regulating cooperatives, as well as federal, state, and local nutritional policy. Finally, as a long-time employee of non-profit organizations, I have experience with board development, mission development and strategic planning, grant-writing and reporting, volunteer recruitment, fundraising and special event planning.

7. Tell us about your favorite co-op food, and how you like to enjoy or share it.

To limit the universe of answers I’d have to choose from, I’ll relate a few items I purchased this morning: local heirloom tomatoes, local fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil. Insalata caprese is on tonight’s menu. I love purchasing seasonal, fresh local produce at its prime.



Camillya Bryant

1. Why are you interested in running for this board?

Mississippi Market has been my co-op for nearly 20 years. It is where I was first exposed to many concepts about food that I now place a priority on, such as locally produced. When my daughter was little, the Randolph and Fairview store is where she wandered around inviting employees to her birthday party six months in advance. I want the co-op to continue to thrive. I now have time to commit and would like to contribute to the co-op above and beyond my membership.

2. In your opinion, what is the role of the co-op in the community?

The role of Mississippi Market includes providing natural food options for the community and helping to education the community about the importance of natural food in obtaining the goals of overall health and wellbeing.

3. What is your vision for Mississippi Market’s future?

I would like for all people to feel welcomed at Mississippi Market and to understand the value of food from a co-op. I would like non-members to view the co-op as less exclusive and more inclusive, especially those in communities surrounding the stores.

4. What challenges do you think the co-op will face in the future? How could the co-op overcome these challenges?

In the highly competitive grocery industry, defining and marketing for its niche will continue to be key for the coop. The Market will need to clearly communicate the value added that comes uniquely from a food co-op to a more diverse population than the current membership in order to sustain current market share and continue to grow.

5. What professional, leadership, and/or volunteer experience uniquely qualifies you to serve on the Board?

My combined experiences from working as an environmental and project engineer and as a lawyer give me a unique perspective and skill set to share on the Board. I have also volunteered on several boards and committees including Model Cities Inc. and the Collaborative Community Law Initiative out of Mitchell Hamline. Through these experiences I have learned how to conduct strategic planning and move projects along. I also have the ability to take the lead or to be a productive team member when others are in charge.

6. What experience do you have in any of these areas: Diversity, Inclusion, Marketing, Law?

I have worked as a lawyer for over eleven years. I am the community outreach chairperson for the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers. Under my leadership the organization has refocused its outreach to address issues of racial equity and inclusivity. In addition, I served on the Minneapolis YWCA’s “It’s Time To Talk” committee for two years.

7. Tell us about your favorite co-op food, and how you like to enjoy or share it.

Do people really pick “a” favorite co-op food? On my lazy days, I am really grateful for the hot bar and the burritos. Besides the hot bar, there are so many foods I was first exposed to through the co-op such as freekah, maple sugar, hokey pokey, which are now just part of my diet. I can’t imagine picking a favorite. However, there is one item that totally hooked me on the concept of natural food and has since made my cooking seem much better than it really is — that is the free range organic chicken. Once I tried the co-op chicken, Tyson’s was a thing of the past.



Judy Caravalho

1. Why are you interested in running for this board?

I love people! We are amazing! Recently, I had an opportunity to meet, listen and share with a few board members. Their care, humanity, laughter, knowledge and gifts inspire me to run.

2. In your opinion, what is the role of the co-op in the community?

It is to serve our members, staff, neighborhoods and communities by having a clear, focused presence; engaging all people with care, dignity and delight; and providing meaningful “grocery store” options through examples modeling education, dialogue and collaboration.

3. What is your vision for Mississippi Market’s future?

To cultivate deeper roots of who we are so that, like a tree, we can reach out further to: food deserts, health care providers, health care clients, people of color/minorities, non-profit agencies, and families of all social and economic levels.

4. What challenges do you think the co-op will face in the future? How could the co-op overcome these challenges?

Becoming exclusive and thus, irrelevant to larger groups. Overcoming challenges? Assertively developing an environment of curiosity and joy in discovery, as well as acknowledging those that have had a long “co-op” relationship. Also, finding additional ways to increase affordability.

5. What professional, leadership, and/or volunteer experience uniquely qualifies you to serve on the Board?

June 10, 2017 – Charles Avenue Block Party sponsored by four non-profits. I negotiated full lunch, catered by Hampden Park Co-op in lieu of food trucks (all organic, soup, sandwich, salad, fruit, beverages for 150 guests). July 28, 2017 – I and neighbors organized a memorial regarding the bus/car tragedy of July 21, 2017. 1996 to present – I’m active in my community, attending meetings, church, etc. I’ve sat on two boards, 23 years ago; one in Minnesota, one national, both ecumenical. It is important for me to hear from everyone present and I seek to find the voice of those not present. My being born and raised in Hawaii informs me that there is richness in diversity. It is my norm, ethically and culturally.

6. What experience do you have in any of these areas: Diversity, Inclusion, Marketing, Law?

Inclusion – it is important to me to hear from everyone present and I seek to find the voice of those not present.

Diversity – My being born and raised in Hawaii informs me that there is richness in diversity. It is my norm, ethnically and culturally.

7. Tell us about your favorite co-op food, and how you like to enjoy or share it.

Chicken necks, chicken feet, ginger, celtic salt, water in a crockpot on low overnight. It’s easy, healthy, cleansing, nurturing, cost effective, and thirst quenching. Eat, freeze, or give away. Like a classic pair of jeans – can be dressed up or down with additional ingredients.



Katie Colón

1. Why are you interested in running for this board?

My husband and I have been members at Mississippi Market co-op for many years and love that we have a place close to home where we can buy quality, locally sourced organic food with which to feed our family. I believe strongly that eating clean is vital to our overall health, that supporting local farmers is positive for our economy and collective livelihood, and that access to healthful food for all is something for which we should strive as a community. I am interested in being a part of the board of directors in the hopes that together with the organization’s staff and co-op owners, I might have the opportunity to help impact the success of the market in its mission to influence the production, distribution and enjoyment of food.

2. In your opinion, what is the role of the co-op in the community?

I believe that providing a source for people to have access to a wide variety of healthful natural foods is a vital role that the co-op plays in our community. While you can find some organic products and perhaps a small organic produce section in many of the larger grocery stores, the co-op offers a place where those types of food are the norm and not the exception. In a similar vein, the co-op offers a substantive selection of foods that people with allergies or food sensitivities are less likely to find in large grocery chains. For people with those types of sensitivities, having access to these products undoubtedly has a positive impact on their ability to enjoy food. Lastly, the market’s member/owner model serves as a community within the community. Customers get to know staff and other customers, and there is a definite community feeling to being in the market’s space. While I have not yet explored any of the cooking or other classes that are offered at the market, I can image that this too helps build community. When I am at Mississippi Market, I get a sense that the people who are there, both staff and customers, are invested in the market’s success and believe in the power of the co-op model to not only impact, but to build community.

3. What is your vision for Mississippi Market’s future?

I would like to see Mississippi Market continue to thrive as a local neighborhood market – in each of the communities in which the stores are based. There are so many choices when it comes to where people can purchase their food, and a few of the factors that have distinguished the co-op in the past (natural healthy foods and food choices) are becoming less unique. But no one can become a member at those competing locations. There isn’t the same sense of community when you walk into a large grocery store. I believe continuing to find ways to foster this community feeling and sense of ownership through member engagement is key to the future of Mississippi Market. Additionally, I am a believer that healthy food should be something that all people should have access to, and not just something that people of some means are able to enjoy. My vision for the future of the market would include finding ways to engage more diverse groups of people in the community, including those who may typically shop elsewhere due to limited means. I don’t know exactly what this might look like (or to what extent it is already happening) but to truly serve as a neighborhood market that reflects the diversity of the surrounding community would be part of my vision for the co-op.

4. What challenges do you think the co-op will face in the future? How could the co-op overcome these challenges?

While large chain grocery stores do not currently offer the same breadth and variety of organic and locally grown foods as Mississippi Market, or items for those with food sensitivities, many of the higher end stores, such as Whole Foods, Kowalski’s, Byerly’s and Lunds are making these products more readily accessible. I see this as an ongoing challenge for Mississippi Market particularly as price points and selection become more competitive. To counter this, I believe the market will need to continue to create a unique experience for its member/owners that differentiates the co-op experience from others. Ownership is undoubtedly a significant factor in creating that unique experience, so finding ways to deepen that sense of ownership and investment in the market will be vital to the co-op’s viability into the future. Another way I see this position being strengthened is by the market’s continued partnerships with local community organizations, such as Clues and the Saint Paul Saints, and other forms of outreach to the community.

5. What professional, leadership, and/or volunteer experience uniquely qualifies you to serve on the Board?

I see that the board is currently interested in someone with a marketing background, and as noted in my answer to the question below, I have extensive marketing background both in non-profit and for-profit environments, with most of my experience being in the area of direct to consumer marketing. Also, although it was many years ago (in the early 2000s) I did serve as board president for a small local arts organization called El Arco Iris Center for the Arts, which was focused on the promotion of, education around and performance of traditional Afro-Puerto Rican music, art, dance and song. I likewise served a three-year term on the vestry (parish council) at my church in the role of outreach director, helping to organize and execute the church community’s involvement in several community-based projects. I believe these past experiences and skills would serve me well in the role of a board member for Mississippi Market.

6. What experience do you have in any of these areas: Diversity, Inclusion, Marketing, Law?

I have been a marketing professional for the last 30 years, primarily in the fields of health care and education. Currently I am V.P. of marketing for OptumCare (part of United Health Group).

7. Tell us about your favorite co-op food, and how you like to enjoy or share it.

This is a tough one, and it depends on the season! So I’m going to pick two. Apples in the fall are something I really look forward to enjoying — particularly honey crisp apples! Just for eating by themselves, or cutting them up to be used in salads or even desserts are favorite ways to enjoy and share this food. In the summer, I would have to say mangos (yes I’m a fruit lover!). There is nothing in the summertime I love to make more than fish tacos with avocado and fresh mango slices on the side. And of course fried plantains (tostones!) to top it off. Or how about a fresh mango salsa with tortilla chips as an appetizer when friends are over? And let’s not forget about fennel! Fennel in a salad with walnuts and apples. Yum! Ok, clearly I cannot decide. But you get the gist. Fruits and vegetables reign king on my plate!



Rachael Reiling

1. Why are you interested in running for this board?

Having healthy food availability is important to me. Mississippi Market plays an important role in supporting local producers so great quality ingredients are available for us and future generations. Also, I love the educational opportunities that Mississippi provides to its members and the community. We need to relearn how to nourish ourselves as a society.

2. In your opinion, what is the role of the co-op in the community?

I have worked for a cooperative and have adopted this as a lifestyle. I choose to do business with co-ops when I can because I love the idea of a community uniting to achieve a common goal that will benefit its members, providing better quality products and services at better pricing.

3. What is your vision for Mississippi Market’s future?

I believe MM has done a great job creating important educational content but we could still grow to getting this education to more people and different demographics. There is still an opportunity to grow membership and market footprint. These are areas I specialize in for my co-op credit union.

4. What challenges do you think the co-op will face in the future? How could the co-op overcome these challenges?

With demands for organic produce and proteins that yield a smaller quantity, I believe supply will be a headwind. Keeping prices affordable while supporting the co-op mission and producers will also be a challenge as overhead increases. The key is to develop loyal relationships with producers and continuously doing efficiency audits to control business expenses. Creating a “business forum group” with other like-minded community leaders will provide valuable suggestions and insight for improving these areas.

5. What professional, leadership, and/or volunteer experience uniquely qualifies you to serve on the Board?

I have been a leader for financial institutions for the past 12 years, 4 of which have been in the member-owned co-op sector. Understanding business models in the for-profit and co-op side has been extremely useful for decision making in business. I also serve on the board for the YMCA, who has a similar mission and challenges. I volunteer with Darts Senior Services to provide necessary help to keep seniors in their homes. I organize St. Paul trash clean-up crews every month and as part of my position at the credit union, do a lot of volunteer education in schools and government centers to create awareness around co-ops and promote financial literacy topics.

6. What experience do you have in any of these areas: Diversity, Inclusion, Marketing, Law?

I do serve on the Diversity and Inclusion committee at my work. Also, I chair a sub-committee as a board member for the YMCA that specifically focuses on how to promote a diverse workplace environment, as well as inclusion of all kinds as members of the YMCA.

7. Tell us about your favorite co-op food, and how you like to enjoy or share it.

One thing I have purchased from MM is Kefir Grains and Kombucha SCOBYs. I enjoy creating new fermented foods and drinks and telling my friends and family about them. In my personal situation, integrating these into my daily diet has helped control medical symptoms and helped me feel better. So when I hear of someone experiencing the same problems I was, I love telling them about fermented products and maintaining a healthy gut.



Jeff Roberts

1. Why are you interested in running for this board?

I recently bought a home two blocks from the East 7th Street store and immediately became intrigued by the organization. My experience has been that employees are kind, friendly, and genuinely care about the organization. More importantly, I was enamored by the feeling of community and inclusion that radiates throughout the store. I would love to contribute to the mission of an organization that so clearly cares about its surrounding communities.

2. In your opinion, what is the role of the co-op in the community?

I think the primary role of the co-op is two-fold: 1) At the highest level, the co-op exists to provide high-quality food at affordable prices for people of all ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. 2) Equally as important, the co-op aims to bring people together, educate communities about diversity and inclusion, and provide a place in the neighborhood where everyone is welcomed and valued.

3. What is your vision for Mississippi Market’s future?

I would like to see Mississippi Market try to expand its community-based offerings to include more “outside of the box” opportunities. For example, in addition to local food providers giving away samples on Saturdays and Sundays, perhaps we could ask a West African drum circle to come in and play. Or maybe some of the classes could include language instruction, basic finance skills, basic computer skills, book readings, and other subject matter that supports inclusion and assimilation.

4. What challenges do you think the co-op will face in the future? How could the co-op overcome these challenges?

The mission of the organization is much more that just to make as much money as possible for shareholders. I think Mississippi Market has to balance profitability, growing membership, community outreach, providing affordable, nutritious food at a fair price. Its mission is tricky, in that focusing too much on one pillar could offset the other goals.

For example, focusing too much on community outreach and providing amazing classes, might cannibalize profits, thereby undermining affordability. Conversely, focusing too heavily on profitability could make the organization seem cut-throat and unapproachable to its consumer base.

Moreover, I think co-ops and the concept of “buying local” have become incredibly popular, which means competitors are sprouting up all over. To be successful, Mississippi Market needs to think of itself and conduct its business as a community resource, not just a grocer. Particularly in the East 7th and West 7th neighborhoods, there are few direct competitors in this space. MM should double down on community outreach and membership building to secure that consumer base.

5. What professional, leadership, and/or volunteer experience uniquely qualifies you to serve on the Board?

I am a marketing director at a Minneapolis based digital marketing agency. My job entails helping organizations of all sizes identify current and potential audiences and creatively attract and entice them online. I think I could help Mississippi Market leverage its digital properties, i.e., website and social media to better connect with target audiences.

Moreover, I have a master’s degree in management with a concentration in conflict resolution. I also spent two years as a volunteer mediator at the Minnesota Dispute Resolution Center, which taught me to consider the impacts of decisions from multiple angles and worldviews.

6. What experience do you have in any of these areas: Diversity, Inclusion, Marketing, Law?

I have worked in marketing for 6 years and have managed teams of professionals in Asia, the Middle East, and North America. These experiences taught me to seek creative, culturally sensitive solutions to organizational problems. After earning a master’s degree, I spent two years at American University in Washington D.C. doing postgraduate work in Justice, Law, and Society. This school of study is designed to teach students how cultural awareness, ethical practices, and integrity can positively shape society and transform the U.S. justice system.

7. Tell us about your favorite co-op food, and how you like to enjoy or share it.

I love to grill so the meat counter at the East 7th store is always my first stop. I like the variety of offerings, consistent deals, and knowing that I’m supporting local livestock farmers. I also really like buying my olive oil, honey, spices, and soy sauce in bulk. I had no idea how many products could be purchased in bulk!



Michael von Fange

1. Why are you interested in running for this board?

To bring my skills, ideas and expertise to our co-op in order to help ensure long-term success of Mississippi Market, and ultimately drive our vision of improving the community through amazing food.

2. In your opinion, what is the role of the co-op in the community?

To build stronger, healthier and more cohesive communities. This extends beyond the co-op members and customers to employees and local food vendors and suppliers. Local, organic, and/or responsibly-sourced food positively impacts the community as well as classes/education and strategic partnerships.

3. What is your vision for Mississippi Market’s future?

Sustain/enhance current locations and grow. Find balance between driving value back to owners and making fiscally responsible choices that help keep Mississippi Market profitable. A profitable Mississippi Market is in the best interest of the owners, employees, customers and community.

4. What challenges do you think the co-op will face in the future? How could the co-op overcome these challenges?

Competition – Organic, natural and local foods are becoming more and more mainstream. This leads to cutting corners as a race to the lowest price ensues. In addition, signage and marketing is often misleading or downright false. This has also diluted the meaning and credibility of USDA Organic.

Community/consumer education – If our community doesn’t understand where our food comes from or why it’s important, they won’t be willing to go out of their way to find a co-op or spend more money for responsibly-sourced food.

Mississippi Market can continue to overcome these challenges by focusing, now more than ever, on the integrity and purity of our mission. We do this by continuing to invest in employees who understand and love our mission as much as the member-owners, finding and supporting the best local farmers who share our values and by telling our story!

5. What professional, leadership, and/or volunteer experience uniquely qualifies you to serve on the Board?

I’m the co-founder and CEO of Simpls, a grab-and-go organic marketplace that has two locations in the Downtown Minneapolis Skyway. A longtime college friend and I started the company three years ago, and built it into a thriving business with annual revenue in excess of $1.2M. We have 18-team members. To guide our own vision, we have 5 Simpls Values:  Sustainability, Organic, Local, Artisan and Convenience.

Additional unique qualifications include having an electrical engineering degree and working as a sales engineer for a large corporation prior to starting and managing my own organic food concept. This 180 in my career aptly demonstrated dedication and passion for food that is good and healthy for us and our local and global communities.  And, my commitment to the community is not limited to my professional life.  I currently serve as Treasurer on the Board of Directors for my condo association, and have held that position for four years.

Creative passion and strong analytical thought are attributes I bring to the table. I’m confident in my ability to bring great ideas, hear/use others ideas and help implement and execute effectively.

6. What experience do you have in any of these areas: Diversity, Inclusion, Marketing, Law?

As the co-founder and leader of my own company, I have experience in most of these areas. Each area is an important part of creating a successful company.

Diversity/Inclusion – GEDs to college degrees, 18-60 years old, African-American to Mexican-American, all sexual orientations and gender expressions. I’ve personally experienced and worked with a tremendous amount of diversity in my company. While working with diversity is important, inclusion is really where the rubber meets the road in terms of creating a work environment that embraces diversity. At Simpls, diversity is something we are able to leverage through inclusion. By having an inclusive environment, we have reaped the rewards of continuous improvement from different ideas and perspectives, created an enjoyable and safe working environment for everyone and promoted within and improved retention.

Marketing – My experience is extensive in this area with much of it through trial and error–the best way to learn. I have developed our overarching marketing strategy that is constantly evolving depending on its success or failure. For our business and especially our co-op, telling the story behind the food is really the paramount objective of any marketing campaign. I have worked on everything from in-store story/value messaging and signage to social media ads/post/pictures/stories as well as label development and POS coupons.

7. Tell us about your favorite co-op food, and how you like to enjoy or share it.

Tuscan Ground Chicken from the deli case. I caramelize onions and brown the chicken to have a simple yet amazing scramble. Or, I’ll make my own tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes, garlic, oregano and basil, and mix in a load of veggies and toss in the browned chicken to make a hearty delicious sauce to top some penne noodles.