Strengthening Co-op Elections: How Boards are Ensuring that Members Can Vote for Excellent Candidates

By |2019-09-09T15:36:06-04:00July 18th, 2018|

In her book Democracy’s Edge, Frances Moore Lappe makes a strong case that a healthy democracy is about much more than elections and voting. Even so, board elections are still a particularly important and visible part of cooperative governance. A successful board election includes at least two critical elements: enough qualified candidates on the ballot and enough information so that members can make educated [...]

Officer Elections and Board Leadership

By |2019-09-30T17:03:30-04:00May 29th, 2017|

It is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it… anyone who is capable of getting themselves made a [leader]… should on no account be allowed to do the job. - Douglas Adams, 1952-2001 The question who ought to be boss is like who ought to be the tenor in the [...]

Nominating Board Candidates

By |2020-05-06T23:58:17-04:00May 25th, 2015|

“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” -- Thomas Jefferson “You have to remember one thing about the will of the people: it wasn't that long ago that we were swept away by the Macarena.” -- Jon Stewart   Why screen and nominate? Screening and nominating candidates makes sense. More and more, co-op boards are recognizing that finding [...]

Ensuring Meaningful Elections

By |2019-09-10T01:04:26-04:00November 4th, 2014|

By Thane Joyal 175 November-December 2014 Within a consumer cooperative, the purpose of electing the board of directors from among the owners is to democratically control the co-op. All fiduciary responsibility for the cooperative rests with the board of directors. Consequently, everything that happens because of the cooperative happens because of the board of directors. How do we make our board elections meaningful in this [...]

Great Idea: Get a Head Start on the Nominations Process

By |2019-09-09T18:08:15-04:00March 2nd, 2014|

The nominations committee of the Friendly City Food Co-op in Harrisonburg, Va. has been meeting since January to get a head start on the board nominations process. In addition to finding excellent candidates and improving the voting process, the co-op also wants to ensure it has contested elections. “Each year we are trying to be more proactive,” said Laura Toni-Holsinger, the board president. “I [...]

Great Idea: Process for Replacing a Board Member

By |2019-09-09T22:14:58-04:00October 2nd, 2013|

There’s always the possibility of a vacancy on the board, and sometimes it’s a planned event, and at other times it’s unexpected. In either case, it’s important to have a backup plan or a process for replacing people if necessary. This was something the board of Wheatsville Food Co-op in Austin, Texas, learned when they were faced with three vacancies, one that was expected, [...]

Be the Best You Can Be—Quicker

By |2019-09-09T21:15:21-04:00May 2nd, 2012|

By Nina Johnson 160 May - June - 2012 You know the feeling: you walk into your first meeting, you don’t know anyone, you’re not sure what to say or do, and everyone but you seems to know what’s going on. That’s how it can feel for a newly elected board director who has had no orientation, and this feeling can last for months. [...]


By |2021-07-27T10:58:48-04:00November 1st, 2011|

Was your last Board election a thoughtful exercise in democracy in which members chose a well-qualified set of directors that add value to the Board and to the co-op? More than anyone else in the cooperative, the Board itself is responsible for ensuring that the answer to this question is “Yes!” Elections should be neither mundane nor contentious, but should honor and reinforce the [...]

Planning for Board Officer Elections

By |2019-09-09T19:47:11-04:00August 2nd, 2011|

  Talking about board leadership and officer positions a few months before a new board is seated can be an important strategic conversation for a board. Board members who do take on an officer position might be positioned to understand their roles and more prepared to handle them. At Whole Foods Co-op in Duluth, Minn. vice president Theresa Koenig said that before they had [...]

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