OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Portland Food Co-op is owned by people in the community – over 4,000 in total! Obviously, having that many owners trying to directly manage a business would be impossible. Instead, the Member-Owners elect a Board of Directors to govern the organization on their behalf.
The Board of Directors is responsible for the overall governance of the Co-op. Directors are elected every spring and serve three-year terms. The Board meets once a month, and Board meetings are open to all Member-Owners. Those interested in running for the Board are strongly advised to attend at least one Board meetings to learn more about leadership within the Co-op.
An important role of the Board is to hire and oversee the General Manager, who runs the day-to-day operations of the retail store. The Board is also responsible for the long-term vision of the Co-op. While the current retail store is the most tangible product of the organization, the Board is always seeking ways to expand the positive impacts of the Co-op on our Member-Owners and the community.
Board meetings are held at 409 Cumberland Avenue on the fourth Tuesday of each month, from 7-9 PM. There will be no board meeting on April 23 as that will be the night of our Annual Meeting + Celebration. If you would like to attend a Board meeting, please always check the Co-op calendar to ensure that a Board meeting has not been moved or rescheduled. All Member-Owners are welcome to attend. Board meeting agendas are often very full, so if you would like to speak at a Board meeting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can make ample time for you. (please note that there is no Board meeting in December)
CURRENT BOARD MEMBERS
Chris Stacey 2019
Chris Stacey joined the Co-op in 2009 and has served on the board since 2013. She sat on the Member-Owner Engagement Committee for four years, working on the marketing and outreach portions of the retail store start-up campaign. Chris became Board President in 2015 and is proud of the strides the Board has made in implementing the Policy Governance system, which has enabled them to work more effectively on behalf of the Member-Owners. The journey of building the Co-op into a strong retail and community presence has been in turns challenging and exciting, but always gratifying. She enjoys attending cooperative conferences around New England and learning about ways to strengthen our own Co-op and grow the larger cooperative movement. Chris works for the city of Portland and in her free time enjoys horseback riding, knitting, and trying to grow vegetables
Julie Baroody 2019
Julie Baroody has been involved in cooperatives since college, when she lived in a cooperatively-managed house where one of the weekly jobs was food co-op shopper. She has been an enthusiastic Member-Owner of the Portland Food Co-op since 2014, volunteering with governance development aspects of the Board from October 2015-April 2016, and joined the Board in 2016.
Julie’s career has been spent with two nonprofit organizations that aim to improve the sustainability of land use: the Rainforest Alliance and the Verified Carbon Standard. Through work and study experiences, she has had the good fortune to encounter many different agricultural production systems around the world, earn knowledge of land use sustainability issues, and develop and challenge cultural sensitivity and curiosity. These themes influence all of Julie’s work on the Board. Julie is happiest when she has prepared a great-tasting meal using local, responsibly-produced ingredients.
Melissa Emerson 2019
A Portland native, Melissa Emerson brings a deep commitment to fostering economic viability and growth of our local food systems and was thrilled to see the expansion of the Portland Food Co-op. She has volunteered, helping to spread the word and recruit new Member Owners since 2014 and assisting with governance development in 2015. Melissa has a passion for meaningful conversation and cooperative problem solving as well as the added perspective that comes from years skillfully managing, and controlling the day to day operations of, a successful retail company. As the owner of Pinetree Garden Seeds in New Gloucester, she offers a pragmatic, fiscally minded evaluation, which is buoyed by her enthusiasm for, and commitment to, supporting local farmers and food producers. She currently serves as the Vice Chair for the Good Food Council of Lewiston Auburn, which works to make quality food readily available to the full community through education, coordination, and policy work
Inspired by the incredible success of the retail store, Melissa believes the Co-op is poised to engage even more meaningfully in the community and to dive deeply into its role as an agent for education, cooperation, and uplift for the full spectrum of Portland’s diverse citizenship. An impressive member of the local food network, the Co-op has, and can continue, to significantly bolster the physical and economic health of its larger community. This is a wonderful place to shop, connect, and support our personal and economic communities. The positive momentum of the Co-op will be maintained by thoughtful recruitment, engagement, and responsible representation of Member Owners as well as increasing access to the Co-op’s resources, both the physical and intangible, for the community at large. Melissa looks forward to serving with care and commitment.
Rachelle Curran APSE 2019
Rachelle Curran Apse has been in the leadership of the Portland Food Co-op since 2007. She is the Executive Director for the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and has worked for a variety of other nonprofits over the last fifteen years including the Environmental Health Strategy Center and Maine Audubon. In 2005, she received a masters in Environment and Community and passionately has put that education into action by helping to create the Co-op and ensuring the Co-op provides sustainable local food options through a shared community experience. Rachelle lives in Portland with her husband Colin and two small children.
Andrew Magoun 2020
Since moving to Maine in 2012, my family and I have been exposed to and gotten into the local
food movement (my 6 year old daughter’s favorite type of meat is “local, grass fed” now). I first discovered the Portland Food Co-op during its fundraising stage for the new store. We became members and watched its progress and success ever since. My family and I benefit from the ability to buy high quality, locally produced goods and food. I see a position on the Board of the PFC as a way to give back to the local community by helping to strengthen a grocery store
focused on both the community and local food.
As a Board member, I will call on both my experiences as an analyst for the Department of Defense, as well as my recent MBA from the University of Southern Maine to address some of the the strategic issues facing the PFC.
Two main issues I see currently are how to achieve and then maintain profitability for Member-Owners while solidifying the PFC’s position within the community and ensuring the PFC is accessible (and useful) to all socioeconomic backgrounds. I see this balance between profitability and accessibility as one of the largest issues facing the PFC in the coming years.
I know my skill set will help the PFC find and maintain the right balance that will benefit all stakeholders, including Member-Owners, local producers, and the local community, alike. Given my strong analytical, data-driven background, I can help ensure data collected by the PFC is both used and communicated effectively to Member-Owners and Board members for furthering important decision-making.
Elizabeth Chapman 2020
I’m grateful to Sam May for sharing his excitement and to Rachelle Curran for presenting to my family an organized opportunity to invest in the Co-op. We were here when the doors opened and since then, this has become something of a second home. I’m the executive director of a social justice non profit, the Portland Center for Restorative Justice. I often hold weekly meetings with our facilitators and Board of Directors in the cafe at the Co-op. We bring clients and consultants into this welcoming, central place. And, I do all my household shopping here as part of our larger agenda to support community change.
The director of the Faith in Action at the Unitarian Church, an economist, made me aware of Gar Alperovitz’s book, ‘What Then Can I do, Democratizing the Economy’. I’ve long understood the importance of being an informed consumer and spending money strategically, but his book details how we can contribute to the social, economic and environmental changes we want in our local and global communities by shifting towards co-ops, whose decision making structure and nuanced missions allow for ethical input.
I am not alone in feeling a need for informed living and to connect to individuals and institutions who also gather around these ideas. Many organizations in the Greater Portland Area have members who are seeking ways to live what they believe. There’s an opportunity to strengthen ties to the community and an untapped source of PFC members in these organizations. I’d welcome a chance to share my view with them, that PFC is as a center where buying can be a strategic activity supporting the changes we believe in. I would like to support that effort with focused and crafted outreach.
Erin Covey Smith 2020
Whenever I face the overwhelming social, political and environmental challenges of our time, my response always comes back to community and local action. I moved to Portland in 2012, getting to know and love my new home and its resilient, proactive inhabitants through involvement with the Winter Cache community gardening project, Hour Exchange Portland, the Resilience Hub, Portland Buy Local, Local Sprouts catering – and not least, membership
at the Co-op. Meanwhile, I developed my freelance graphic design practice, focused on assisting mission-driven businesses and farmers. When not designing, I taught visual and culinary arts to at-risk youth via various nonprofit organizations, until transitioning last year into a position as the graphic designer and marketing coordinator for the local sustainability publication The SunriseGuide. Working creatively with small, strongly principled organizations has lent me a solid perspective on balancing pragmatism and idealism, maintaining a budget while staying aligned with ethics and goals.
After a satisfying period of way-finding and garnering relationships, I’m positioned to commit more fully to a cause and a deeper level of involvement. It has been inspirational to see the Co-op grow from an ordering club to a full-fledged and beloved grocery and social hub. I hope to contribute my creativity, business, and marketing skills to its continued success. I strive to engage in all situations with an open heart, open mind and most especially open ears. As a Board member, I would particularly adhere to this belief in effective communication.
Food—when treated with respect—has the power to heal, bring people together, and connect us to place and the earth. The Co-op provides a quintessential space to see this belief in action every day. As it continues to grow, I would like to help the Co-op be for all what it has already become for me and many others – a community staple and communication and resource hub that guides us toward a healthy future.
Timothy Lynch 2020
I believe in the Co-op’s mission to build a strong community by bringing together local producers with educated and discerning consumers. Each party benefits. Local producers profit from a larger market, and can in turn have more confidence to reinvest in their business. Consumers can get fresher and healthier local products from producers that share their values. This all helps keep money invested in our community.
My business experience is varied. I have a BS in computer science. Worked in healthcare. Earned an MBA from NYU. I worked in corporate banking. I took off time to stay at home, and raise my children. It was then that I really started focusing on where my food originated, what we ate and how it was prepared.
I’ve found a like-minded community in the Co-op. Portland Food Co-op is filling an important niche within Portland’s competitive food landscape. The Board, membership, general manager and vendors all worked together to build a very impressive storefront. The store has a broad and varied merchandise mix with quality products that meet the needs and budgets of the membership. The board puts a lot of effort and commitment into continually canvasing the membership and redirecting their efforts to interpret and adjust that mix of product offerings. My professional experiences and personal interests will allow me to make a valuable contribution to the board.
Mary Malia 2021
Mary is a long-time citizen of Maine and the Portland area. She has led three different nonprofits over the last 12 years at both the national and local level. Her experience includes working with a board consensus decision making model, strategic planning experience both as an ED and as a consultant, leadership development, employee engagement, grant writing and management, community relationship building, board recruitment and training, budget development, event planning, financial reporting and compliance. She has also sat on two boards.
“I love the Portland Food Co-op and what it does in this community. I believe in the co-op model for food access and distribution. As a vegan, the PFC is one of my go-to destinations for the kind of food I want to put in my body. Local, organic and grown and created with love. I’m always telling friends about the Co-op.”
Megan Banner Sutherland 2021
Megan Banner has been a Member-Owner and employee of the Portland Food Co-op since our doors opened on Congress Street. As our Grocery Manager, she collaborates with local producers to bring in food that speaks to our mission of growing a healthier community and food system. She also hears from customers and Member-Owners directly about their concerns and aspirations for our store and the surrounding community.
“At the Co-op we strive to create an inclusive environment where people feel welcomed and invited to engage in dialogues about where their food comes from and how we decide what goes on our shelves. I’m running for the board because I feel able to represent the diverse needs and interests of our Member-Owners, employees, and local food producers. As a board member I will work hard to ensure the success of the Co-op while keeping in mind the larger environmental, social, and political contexts in which we operate. I look forward to furthering our vision and strengthening our plans for the future at the Co-op and in the community.”
Sarah Alexander 2021
Sarah’s experience advocating for sustainable, local and fair food systems goes back more than fifteen years. A native of Ohio, she attended Northwestern University, then moved to the White Earth Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where she spent 3 years helping to restore traditional food systems and stop the genetic engineering of wild rice. She then headed to Columbus, Ohio and helped to grow the urban agriculture program at the American Community Garden Association. From there she went to Washington, DC and spent nearly ten years as the National Deputy Organizing Director at Food & Water Watch. She moved to Portland in 2015 and now works as a senior strategist coaching progressive nonprofits.
“I understand the hard work that goes into producing healthy food, and how important it is that the Co-op is a place where farmers can get a fair price for the food they produce. Our Co-op also helps keep our money local by supporting Maine producers who provide our community with food that is good for us and our environment. The experience I’ve gained working in diverse communities mobilizing people towards common goals will inform how I work with my fellow member-owners to help direct the growth and evolution of the Portland Food Co-op.”