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502 W. Washington St. Marquette, MI

Meet the 2024 Candidates


Therese Cavalier

I come from generations of foodies. My great grandparents and many aunts and uncles worked in the food industry, either running restaurants or owning markets. My first job was in a bakery; then I worked in a popular deli for many years. I’ve worked in several restaurants both in the back of the house and front of the house. I’ve got an extensive background in catering and sales and graduated from The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago in 1995 (later to become Le Cordon Bleu). I also have years of experience selling wines and specialty food products and olive oils from Italy. Lastly, my experience extends to working for two large franchise groups as a Catering Sales Manager based in the Chicagoland area. I’m currently working in the insurance industry for a global carrier as an account executive managing a $4MM book of business. I’m licensed in 26 states. For fun and adventure, I love everything to do with hiking and nature. I am a recent graduate of The Forest Therapy School, certified in Forest Therapy. I have no significant or obvious conflict of interest.

Why would you like to serve on the Co-op Board of Directors?
I’m a recent transplant to Marquette as of October 2023. I enjoy shopping at the Co-op and would love to contribute my ideas to the board to ensure its longevity in the community it serves.

While board experience is unnecessary, have you ever served on a board before? If so, what type of
board and how would you describe your experience?
I’ve served on a condo board before – the experience went well.

Have you done any volunteer work or contributed in some way to this co-op, another co-op or similar organization 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 am a trained chef; my insurance agent and finance background, my food and wine sales, catering and sales management experience, my account management experience and client and people skills all make me a great candidate.

What role do you see the Co-op  in the community today? Over the next five years?
I’d like to offer my skills to the community to enhance the area and really make Marquette a true food destination. That said, I think it’s important to give the community not only what it needs but wants. This is not so much about what I think the community needs, it’s also about knowing what the community wants (and of course needs). Collaboration with the community is key to its success and the success of the Co-op.


Maria Danz

I grew up in and around Duluth, spent 10 years in Colorado, and moved to Marquette several years ago. I have 21 years of professional work experience in the nonprofit and government sector, with a focus on affordable housing development and administration, including the financing and development of nearly 100 units of affordable housing in Minnesota. I am Ojibwe and my tribal affiliation is with Couchiching First Nation. Serving on the Co-op’s board would allow me to use my skills in management, finance and administration to support an important local institution. I have no significant or obvious conflict of interest.

Why would you like to serve on the Co-op Board of Directors?
I am interested in foodways, particularly Indigenous foodways, and how the Co-op can assist local growers, farmers, and foragers in engaging in environmentally sustainable and humane practices. For example, regenerative agriculture promises to increase biodiversity, sequester carbon, and improve the soil, goals that are critical to the health of the land and its plant and animal occupants, including humans. As a board member, I would help ensure the Co-op’s operational success so it can continue to serve its owners and the community.

While board experience is unnecessary, have you ever served on a board before? If so, what type of board, and how would you describe your experience?
I have served on several boards and groups including as an officer for the Women in Construction Training Project board, the City of Duluth Human Rights Commission, and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota Social Change Fund Committee.

Have you done any volunteer work or contributed in some way to this co-op, another co-op or similar organization in the past? If so, please describe.
In addition to the work described previously, I served on the Minnesota Indian Housing Conference planning committee and volunteered for North Country RIDE and the Duluth Animal Shelter.

What strengths or talents do you feel you have that would be assets to the board?
I have considerable management experience through my work in nonprofit affordable housing development and federal grant administration. I’ve proven the ability to create and maintain positive relationships, build consensus, and solve difficult problems among a variety of stakeholders including American Indian tribes, city, state and federal governments, non-profit organizations, and community members.

What role do you see the Co-op playing in the community today? Over the next five years?
I would like to see the Co-op continue to operate successfully so it can provide healthy food and programming to the public while supporting local farmers, artisans, and the environment.


Harley Erickson

I was born and raised here in the U.P., and so for good reason I consider it my home. I graduated high school from Gladstone just an hour south of Marquette proper. Before my time in Boy Scouts ended, I attained scouting’s highest rank of Eagle Scout and was formally recognized by the Order of the Arrow, scouting’s internal honor society. As a result, I am not unfamiliar with what it means to work hard, to work as a team, and to get some dirt behind my ears to achieve a common goal. I attained my associate degree in business administration with honors as well as a certification in sustainability studies from Bay De Noc Community College in Escanaba, and I anticipate earning my bachelor’s in sustainable business and enterprise creation from NMU in 2024. For years now, I have been interested by and involved in cooperative community building and solidarity economics with a focus on improving the Yooper quality of life. For my entire life, the MFC has been a beacon of hope and community resiliency, living proof that a better world free of exploitation is possible. Whether it’s the cold waters of Gichi-gami, the forests filled with birdsong, or in the faces of the kind yet hardy people that have made this place their own, the U.P. has asked nothing of me and offered everything in return. Now, I want to give back to the community that has given me so much. It would be both a privilege and an honor to serve on the MFC board, and it is my sincerest hope that you will consider me for the position. I have no significant or obvious conflict of interest.

Why would you like to serve on the Co-op Board of Directors?
I would like to serve on the Co-op Board of Directors because I see it as one of the most impactful ways that I can give back to the Marquette community and the U.P. writ large. I see it as an opportunity to represent the direct interests of food sovereignty, dietary health, environmental stewardship, and community democracy.

While board experience is unnecessary, have you ever served on a board before? If so, what type of board, and how would you describe your experience?
No prior experience.

Have you done any volunteer work or contributed in some way to this co-op, another co-op or similar organization in the past? If so, please describe.
I’ve done volunteer work for several local organizations; whether it be helping with landscaping for Tri-County Safe Harbor, helping to construct birdhouses for native fauna with Ducks Unlimited, raising funds for the U.P. Land Conservancy, or helping create strategic plans for tree planting grants with the Superior Watershed Partnership. I’m also a member of Embers Credit Union (and the MFC of course) and as a result contribute financially to their success.

What strengths or talents do you feel you have that would be assets to the board?
I recognize that I am new blood, even in comparison to some of the younger members of the MFC, but I do not see this as a hindrance or hurdle. If anything, I think my age is responsible for at least part of my unflinching drive to achieve utopian visions for the Marquette community. If I am set to the task of representing the interests of the MFC membership, then I will move mountains to do so. It is this militancy, not just in the face of adversity but in search of a better tomorrow, that I believe would be a great asset to the MFC board.

What role do you see the Co-op playing in the community today? Over the next five years?
Today the Co-op is a foundational piece of the Marquette community; it’s as much a part of the U.P. as Lake Superior and white pine trees. It also acts as a beacon for other local organizations to look to for how to do business better, without exploitation but with sustainability and solidarity. Over the next five years, I want to see the Co-op become the cornerstone of a push to make the entire U.P. more cooperative, more sustainable, and more equitable. I imagine a Marquette of the future, where we respect both the land and the work needed to show the land that respect, where we meet our collective needs and desires through solutions that let everyone have their say, and where no one tells us what we can and can’t do as a community.


Eric Hagstrom

I am an Account Executive at ServiceNow.org, focused on organizations that serve our most vulnerable community. I have an entrepreneurial streak and have owned and operated several businesses since 2018. Focused on contributing to the Marquette community, my work in Harvey puts thousands of dollars in tax revenue back into the local economy. My most cherished time is spent with my two fur babies and wife in the splendor of the Upper Peninsula. I have no significant or obvious conflict of interest.

Why would you like to serve on the Co-op Board of Directors?
I am eager to serve on the board to further the Co-op’s vision for a cooperative business supporting local vendors and owners. Serving the Co-op community also creates opportunities to serve the broader Marquette community. Service in and for the community with a focus on ending food insecurity.

While board experience is unnecessary, have you ever served on a board before? If so, what type of board, and how would you describe your experience?
I have served as a board member on the City of McKinney Planning and Zoning Commission for two years. In that role, I was an outspoken advocate for the community. I was given the opportunity to align the long-term vision for the city with specific projects being brought forth by developers and residents. I also served as president on two separate HOA Boards.

Have you done any volunteer work or contributed in some way to this co-op, another co-op or similar organization in the past? If so, please describe.
I volunteer often and have supported organizations like Keep Growing Detroit and many food banks and pantries across the Great Lakes region as an Account Executive at ServiceNow.org.

What strengths or talents do you feel you have that would be assets to the board?
As a business owner, I have first-hand experience recruiting and evaluating the performance of key leadership staff. Annual planning sessions that included marketing, hiring plans, recruiting for staff, annual budgeting, and community outreach were typical in my duties as owner. My role as an account executive also connects me professionally with many of the food banks and pantries in the region. My role as a strategic consultant and ability to think about the impact of decisions on long-term plans for these organizations will translate into an effective voice for the board.

What role do you see the Co-op playing in the community today? Over the next five years?
The Co-op is unique in the ability to unite consumers and producers in more direct contact. The impact of commercialization in food production has removed the “human” from the equation and by continuing to partner closely with farmers and artisans in the community, we can encourage owners to get closer to the source of their food. The Co-op has a commitment to owners to provide quality products at reasonable prices. As recent inflationary pressures have shown, being prepared for quickly shifting macroeconomic environments is important to sustaining the long-term health of the Co-op’s finances and ability to meet its obligations to both producers and consumers.


Demetrios Kaltsas

I’m a recent NMU graduate. I’m currently employed full time as an engineer and joined the City of Marquette’s Board of Zoning Appeals. I want to serve to purely gain insight as to what it means to be on the board of a co-op. A personal goal of mine is to start a housing co-op in Marquette. As a 23-year-old, even though I’m an engineer, I cannot help but worry about housing and the cost of living. There are problems that I want to help solve locally in our community, and I truly believe an opportunity like this can help me help my community. I have no significant or obvious conflict of interest.

Why would you like to serve on the Co-op Board of Directors?
I want to learn and gain experience serving on a Co-op Board of Directors. With the immense need for starter homes and low-cost housing, A housing co-op is a much-needed opportunity for Marquette, and any experience that I can apply to that goal will be valued immensely.

While board experience is unnecessary, have you ever served on a board before? If so, what type of board, and how would you describe your experience?
In November of 2023, I joined the City of Marquette’s Board of Zoning and Appeals. This board is a fantastic learning opportunity for my understanding of city planning, zoning ordinance, and development processes. I do find these things interesting as I have made it a hobby to learn about traditional pattern development and fiscal sustainability.

Have you done any volunteer work or contributed in some way to this co-op, another co-op or similar organization in the past? If so, please describe.
As a young adult, I will be honest and say this past year after graduating was the first time that I had a chance to really reflect on what was next: what do I want to do and who do I want to be. So, as I have grown and started to volunteer on my own accord, I have yet to volunteer for this co-op, but it’s most definitely on my radar.

What strengths or talents do you feel you have that would be assets to the board?
I pride myself on being a strong generalist. Being fluid enough to be aware of my strengths and understanding about topics I will find myself in discussion about. I value feedback from more experienced individuals; however, I find my specialized talents are more geared toward my engineering experience, namely problem solving, quality control, design, project management, cost analysis, etc.

What role do you see the Co-op playing in the community today? Over the next five years?
Today I would say do what the co-op does best: fresh, local produce while supporting local farmers and creating jobs, creating a sense of community ownership, and promoting sustainability. For the future, I can see moving the idea of the co-op to housing like I mentioned prior. Add-in investments to the city that will bring more equity to the co-op. Add another level or add a second smaller location. We have a food desert in north Marquette by Saint Vincent. Maybe a partnership could come from that. There are a lot of things that can be done, and I would love to explore as many ideas as I can come up with.


Olivia Kingery

My name is Olivia Kingery, and I am a farmer, writer, and lover of local food. I own Pileated Farms in Chatham with my husband, where we live with our dogs, cats, goats, sheep, laying hens, and hermit crab next to Black Creek. I have two degrees from NMU, including a Master of Fine Arts in Environmental Creative Writing. After coming for my undergrad, I never left the UP–you know home when you find it. Being elected to serve on the Board of Directors would be an honor, not only because I love this community, but also because I *really* love this local food community. Being on the Board of Directors would allow me to use my voice as a small farmer and as a citizen living in a fresh food desert. I have no significant or obvious conflict of interest.

Why would you like to serve on the Co-op Board of Directors?
I believe that as a young, female farmer I can be a strong member of the Board of Directors to help shape the future of what local food and local community will look like in Marquette. Serving on the Co-op Board of Directors is an honor I would be grateful for; and would use my position to continually advocate for the community.

While board experience is unnecessary, have you ever served on a board before? If so, what type of board, and how would you describe your experience?
I have not served on a Co-op board but am on the Rock River Township Planning Commission and absolutely love the experience. Advocating for our local communities is a passion of mine, and when local food is thrown into the mix like this Board of Directors opportunity, I am all in.

Have you done any volunteer work or contributed in some way to this co-op, another co-op or similar organization in the past? If so, please describe.
No.

What strengths or talents do you feel you have that would be assets to the board?
My best friend once called me a generator for joy, and I think that is where a lot of my strength comes from. I am able to stand in front of a situation that may not be ideal and distill it to manageable pieces while having a good time, while being thankful for just being there. As a farmer, I know determination and frustration, and I also know the pure bliss of a perfect carrot. As an academic, I know determination and frustration, and I know the pure bliss of seeing an idea connect with a student. I think these experiences have helped me get to here, and I am ready to take the next step to see how I can help better the Co-op community.

What role do you see the Co-op playing in the community today? Over the next five years?
The Co-op is a pillar in our community, not just for food but for community knowledge and space and education. I would love to see the Co-op dig deeper into that outreach. I would also love to know more and implement more practices that open connections with smaller farms, making them a core part of the Co-op community as well. The changes the Co-op has made within the past few years have been amazing, from renovations to classes, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds and hope to be a part of it.


Ashley McGrath

Although I am a troll native, Marquette is now my beautiful home. I would love to serve on the co-op board because as we have made roots and grown our little family, food has become a major part of our foundation and love language. Shopping at the co-op isn’t just your simple grocery shopping experience, it’s an impact on this beautiful community. Once you fall in love with why food is and where it’s from, there’s no better connection. I would proudly love to bring the co-op shopping experience to everyone from every background and bring some normalcy to shopping local. Thanks for your consideration, eh! I have no significant or obvious conflict of interest.

Why would you like to serve on the Co-op Board of Directors?
I would love to bring the normalcy to shopping locally and to bring that to every family of every background.

While board experience is unnecessary, have you ever served on a board before? If so, what type of board, and how would you describe your experience?
I have served on the Connect Marquette board, Halloween Spectacle board, lip sync battle organization team, and other committees. I very much enjoyed my experience, and I felt that I brought each experience and knowledge to the next chair.

Have you done any volunteer work or contributed in some way to this co-op, another co-op or similar organization in the past? If so, please describe.
I have not had the opportunity but would love to.

What strengths or talents do you feel you have that would be assets to the board?
I feel I bring a family outlook and a personable touch to my delivery of ideas.

What role do you see the Co-op playing in the community today? Over the next five years?

Today it serves as a platform for our farmers to have their products seen, along with many other quality products. In five years, I am hoping more community members think to shop there versus the big chain stores.


Carole Touchinski

I have about 30 years working in the nonprofit industry. I have successfully served on several nonprofit boards in Marquette and for the State of Michigan. I believe the co-op is and can become a significant leader in the community in terms of solving problems such as food deserts, focusing on nutrient dense and locally grown food.  I currently serve on the UPAWS Board of Directors, and Presque Isle Committee.

Why would you like to serve on the Co-op Board of Directors?
I see the co-op as a leader in the community. I would like to use my talents to help the co-op’s influence grow.

While board experience is unnecessary, have you ever served on a board before? If so, what type of board, and how would you describe your experience?
I have had wonderful experiences working on boards: UPAWS, Presque Isle Community, Women’s Center, Equality Mqt., Mento Michigan.

Have you done any volunteer work or contributed in some way to this co-op, another co-op or similar organization in the past? If so, please describe.
I have shopped at the co-op and have recommended the co-op to others.

What strengths or talents do you feel you have that would be assets to the board?
Strategic planning, board development, marketing.

What role do you see the Co-op playing in the community today? Over the next five years?
Co-op will become the leader in nutrition information, education on creating nutrient dense meals, and solving the issues of food deserts.