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502 W. Washington St. Marquette, MI

Meet the 2019 Candidates

MFC Board Elections


Michelle Augustyn

 

Kelly Cantway

 

Angie Cherrette

 

Zosia Eppensteiner

 

Andrew Gale

 

Richard Kochis

 

 


Michelle Augustyn (incumbent)

I have been a Marquette resident and MFC member for almost ten years. I am currently the Board Secretary and am so grateful to have the opportunity to run for a second term, as being on the Board has truly been an honor. The Marquette Food Co-op has been a cornerstone of personal growth for me — from supporting local farmers to mingling with my fellow citizens, the Co-op represents a place that epitomizes the ideals of people coming together to build something they believe in.

What motivated you to run for a position on the board of directors?

I originally ran for the Board on a suggestion from a friend! I was so pleased to be elected for my first term, and it was (and still is) quite the learning experience. For my second term, my motivation for running is different. I am very dedicated to upholding the principles that our community-owned grocery store is founded on. I believe that our business model is a healthy counter-balance to the majority of businesses in our country. I have found it to be an amazing honor to represent all the owners of this business and would love to continue this role.

Have you ever served on the board before? If so, what type of board, and how would you describe your experience?

I am currently serving my first term on the Board of the Marquette Food Co-op. My experience has been a lot of learning, an exercise in listening with an open mind, and a struggle to find the ideas that will help to open the doors of communication within the board and with our members. I am in awe of the people that make up the members, employees, management, and board that make this business the success that it is.

Have you done any work or contributed in some way to our Co-op or any other co-op in the past? If so, please describe.

While serving on the Board, I have overseen a time that the Co-op has moved toward financial stability post-expansion. I have seen that it is possible to retain the core of our original ideals while expanding to reach a growing number of members — both of which are part of our global ends.

What strengths or talents do you feel you have that would be assets to the board?

I have found, since my time on the board, that I am a big believer in community. I always was, but it was never as tangible as when I started my role as a representative. I believe our Co-op is woven into the fabric of Marquette — it is a direct reflection of who we are, what we love, and what we want for our future. My strength is that I believe our Co-op makes our community a better place to live and I am dedicated to upholding our cooperative principles.

What role do you see the Co-op playing in the community over the next 5 years?

I foresee our Co-op continuing expansion into local food distribution and organization. There is a critical need for local food production and distribution and the Co-op could serve as an epi-center to disperse this information. The MFC will continue to serve our community based on its changing needs (that’s what we’re good at!) and becoming even more of a center for positive change.


 

Kelly Cantway (incumbent)

I have been a part of our Co-op community for over 11 years. My husband began our ownership while he was finishing school at NMU in 2006. When I first moved to Marquette, I began volunteering for the Co-op and was soon hired as a cashier. That was the start of my almost 11 years of employment with the Marquette Food Co-op. During those years, I served in many positions including over 5 years as a manager. My last three years were spent as the Human Resources Director. I am proud to have a “Co-op Baby” who is now almost eight years old. She has grown up with our Co-op, accompanying me to the NMU Hoop House, which I managed for our Co-op and NMU, when she was just two weeks old. I love our Co-op and I am committed to staying involved as a shopper, owner, and as a Board Member. I am currently filling in a temporary seat, and I hope to earn a full position in this year’s election.

What motivated you to run for a position on the board of directors?

The Co-op is part of my life. Working at our Co-op for over ten years, much of my professional career has been dedicated to serving the MFC staff and owners. After leaving for personal reasons, I want to continue supporting the Co-op community in any way that I can. I believe serving as a Board member is a great way to support the Co-op, Co-op owners, and our community.

Have you ever served on the board before? If so, what type of board, and how would you describe your experience?

I have not served on a Board before, however I have had training in how a Board for a Cooperative operates and communicates with the General Manager. I have attended MFC Board meetings regularly for the past 4 years, and intermittently since 2007.

Have you done any work or contributed in some way to our Co-op or any other co-op in the past? If so, please describe.

As an employee, I contributed in many ways as a staff member, manager, Outreach Director, and Human Resources (HR) Director. I have assisted shoppers on the sales floor, connected with the community through classes and presentations, and provided HR support to staff and managers. I have also shared ideas, training materials, and store policies with other Co-ops.

What strengths or talents do you feel you have that would be assets to the board?

My experience as an employee and now as an interim Board member gives me a well-rounded perspective of how our Co-op operates and meets the needs of our owners. I am familiar with our Co-op’s finance reports and key financial indicators that provide information on the health of our finances. I am also familiar with the reports that our General Manager provides to our Board of Directors. I have had training in how a Board of Directors works with a General Manager to ensure we are working within our Global Ends Policies. I think all of this knowledge will have a positive contribution to our Board and to our Co-op.

What role do you see the Co-op playing in the community over the next 5 years?

I think our Co-op will always be a community gathering place and resource for locally grown food. With technology and online purchasing of groceries becoming more common, I think our Co-op will seek new opportunities to serve our shoppers and to create a shopping experience that will draw people out of their homes and into our store. As the desire for healthier convenience food continues to rise, I think our Prepared Foods department will continue to grow in sales, especially with the new hospital opening. I am excited to see what the future holds!


Angie Cherrette (incumbent)

I grew up in Marquette and moved back here 4 ½ years ago from California to start my own Massage and Wellness business, Sage & Spry, here in my hometown. After struggling with my own health, I have become passionate about learning ways to eat and live better while teaching others to do the same. I have been a long-time supporter of the Food Co-op and it acts as a wellness and community hub for me. I would love to find more ways to involve myself in that community and give back to something that has played such a huge role in my life.

What motivated you to run for a position on the board of directors?

After being elected into the board last year for a one-year term, I’m eager to continue to serve. Since joining, I’ve had a deeper glimpse into the Co-op and have never been prouder to be a member. I’d love to give back to this community any way I can, as I believe strongly in what it represents and care for the people it serves.

Have you ever served on the board before? If so, what type of board, and how would you describe your experience?

Yes, the Co-op Board beginning June 2018. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed joining forces with the other board members and getting to know more about the Co-op and its staff. My experience is still limited, but I can tell you that I feel very much inspired and can see the heart of this organization is represented by its board, staff, and members and I hope to continue to help it beat strong and proud.

Have you done any work or contributed in some way to our Co-op or any other co-op in the past? If so, please describe.

Besides being on the Board, I have also taught some cooking classes at the Co-op.

What strengths or talents do you feel you have that would be assets to the board?

I have spent a lot of my career working with people, participating in communities, focusing on health and wellness, and working with food. As a Wellness Coach, Natural Chef, and Massage Therapist, I have lived and worked on farms, managed kitchens, lived at wellness centers, and built and managed a successful business. My experience has taught me the value of our food and where it’s sourced, the importance of communities and service, and the need for institutions that promote healthy lifestyles and conservation. I believe my experience, coupled with a deep passion for health and wellness, people and communities, and conservation and sustainability, can serve this board well.

What role do you see the Co-op playing in the community over the next 5 years?

I think the Co-op will continue to blossom in Marquette and broaden its reach in this community and others that surround it. I love coming to the Co-op for groceries that I know represent my values and support my health and I’m grateful for its presence in our community for those reasons, but I feel like it will continue to be so much more than a grocery store in a time when we need more. Over the next few years, we’ll need places that offer community, education, service, support, and leadership and I believe the Co-op will continue to fulfill this need and grow in its ability to offer services to the public.

 


Zosia Eppensteiner

I was raised in Gdansk, Poland, where I graduated with a degree in Math Education and Sociology. Growing up, we spent summers at our family farm in the south of Poland. Resources were limited in Poland during that time. Food has always been a central aspect of Polish culture; bringing people together even if there wasn’t much at the table. I moved to Marquette, MI, in June 2005, where I started a family. Here the food industry experience was much different — everything was seemingly in abundance. I quickly learned that store bought tomatoes, lunch meat, and bread don’t taste anything like they are supposed to. The Marquette Food Co-op has been not only one of few options to get real food but also a place which brought people together.

I have been a Co-op member for a number of years and I am grateful to have the option of purchasing local, quality, real food. Though I have a lot to learn about our Marquette Food Co-op, I believe my personal experiences and professional skill set will be an asset on the Board of Directors. I work at the Community Foundation of Marquette County as the Director of Finance and Administration. I would like to contribute my knowledge and skills to Marquette Food Co-op, whose values and principles I strongly associate with.

What motivated you to run for a position on the board of directors?

I want to become more involved in our local community, particularly in areas I feel passionate about. Through my work, I interact with nonprofit boards on regular basis and see all the work community volunteers are putting into matters which they believe in. I love our Co-op, so that seemed like a natural choice.

Have you ever served on the board before? If so, what type of board, and how would you describe your experience?

I have never served on a board before.

Have you done any work or contributed in some way to our Co-op or any other co-op in the past? If so, please describe.

I have not.

What strengths or talents do you feel you have that would be assets to the board?

I work for the Community Foundation of Marquette County as the Director of Finance and Administration. I believe I can contribute my organizational and analytical skills, particularly in terms of finance and operations. I have a good understanding of our local community and its needs, challenges and opportunities.

I am currently participating in two leadership programs: first is the LSCP Leadership Academy, second is the Council of Michigan Foundations Mentee Program. I believe both will allow me to grow my contribution in my community.

What role do you see the Co-op playing in the community over the next 5 years?

I believe the Co-op is going continue to serve its patrons as a source of wholesome food. I think its role as a community center will continue to increase; as well as its role as a community leader. I think some of the current initiatives and partnerships will continue to expand, putting the Co-op in a position of a sustainability and community focused leader.

 


 

Andrew Gale

My family and I moved to the Marquette area from Alabama in 2012. We have fallen in love with the Marquette community and are raising two wonderful boys here. I currently work as the VP of Technology Services at Lasco, a local Information Technology company. My wife, Amy, and I began changing our lifestyle in regard to foods, personal care products, and lifestyle back in 2016. We want to continue to set an example for our boys of not only nourishing and protecting our bodies, but the planet we live on as well. I can think of no better way to continue to do that by giving back to the community I love by serving on the board of an integral part of that community that holds my beliefs so dear.

What motivated you to run for a position on the board of directors?

Sometimes you are drawn for unknown reasons to something you may have never considered. When I initially saw the application, that feeling arose. I want to continue to give back to this amazing community that has welcomed us with open arms. The Co-op, in my eyes, is a central part of our community, providing local, natural, and organic products. What better way to do so, than my donating time to such a wonderful organization.

Have you ever served on the board before? If so, what type of board, and how would you describe your experience?

I am not currently serving, nor have I served on any boards thus far.

Have you done any work or contributed in some way to our Co-op or any other co-op in the past? If so, please describe.

I am passionate about my beliefs and have had many wonderful conversations with employees of the Co-op, discussing new products, ideas, and current research in regard to ingredients, etc. found in our food and personal care products.

What strengths or talents do you feel you have that would be assets to the board?

With my background in Information Technology (computers), obviously I would be willing to donate my time to assist with future computer purchases or support issues related to computers. As I mentioned, I am passionate about a natural and organic lifestyle. Along those lines, I make myself very knowledgeable through constant research about organic foods, personal care products and ingredients in both.

What role do you see the Co-op playing in the community over the next 5 years?

  1. Continuing education of natural and organic foods and personal care products. Focusing on children, changing the next generation.
  2. Continued growth in customer base through cost effective/no cost marketing strategies.
  3. Continued reduction in product costs through expansion of product lines or new vendors.
  4. Idea generation regarding the onslaught of organic and natural products in box stores.
  5. Continuing to increase products from local vendors and farms.

 

Richard Kochis (incumbent)

My family and I have been living in Marquette for about 22 years and we joined the Marquette Food Co-op shortly after moving here. I have served on the Board of Directors for the past three years and am currently the Treasurer on the Board. I also served on the Board as President and Vice President in previous terms.

I am asking for your vote because I would like to continue to help ensure that the Co-op remains financially viable for years to come. The Co-op is facing many challenges at this time. There is competition from new commercial stores moving into the area. Our Co-op has long-term debts from the expansion. We have worked to provide (and are now providing) a living wage for our staff. And, most importantly, we want to provide high-quality food at an affordable price. As Treasurer, I feel it is vitally important to have Board members guide management in their financial decisions. We want those financial decisions to support the management and staff in providing the goods and services that our members want, while at the same time, being fiscally responsible.

There are also other, more personal needs, that the Co-op provides. In addition to providing a good business model for our member/owners, we love the Co-op for the sense of belonging to an organization that meets our needs for community connection. It is truly wonderful to belong to this Co-op. Our new building, our fellow members, and the staff give us a sense of belonging to something greater than any one member or family. And, it’s fun to hang out here and see our friends and fellow “co-opers.”

I am social worker employed at U.P. Health System’s Behavioral Health Services. My spouse is originally from this area and our two children attended Marquette Public Schools and NMU. I am a U.S. Navy veteran and my roots are in the State of Maine (where I was a member of the Good Day Co-op in Portland).

What motivated you to run for a position on the board of directors?

To continue the work that I do now as Board Treasurer, helping ensure that the co-op remains financially stable in the years to come. Plus, I really like to work with the management and with fellow board members towards the co-op’s Global Ends.

Have you ever served on the board before? If so, what type of board, and how would you describe your experience?

Yes, MFC Board, for nine years prior to this current term. I love the work and the people that I have the pleasure to work with. Also, the Board of the Good Day Cooperative in Portland ME.

Have you done any work or contributed in some way to our Co-op or any other co-op in the past? If so, please describe.

Yes, board work at MFC and the Good Day Cooperative in Portland, Maine. When co-ops had a different member model, I have done all kinds of things such as cheese-cutting, cashiering, unloading trucks, etc.

What strengths or talents do you feel you have that would be assets to the board?

I think that I understand the budgeting financial process reasonably well. I also think that I understand personnel management. And I think that I understand the benefits of high-quality food that the Co-op provides to members and other shoppers.

What role do you see the Co-op playing in the community over the next 5 years?

  1. Continuing to provide and expand prepared foods offerings, which seem to be very successful at this time.
  2. Networking with other community organizations to help spread knowledge of the benefits of the cooperative model, especially in comparison to standard capitalistic models.
  3. Continuing to support local food producers.