A Word from the Board: Why Become a Board Member?

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One of the ways our Owners can participate in GreenTree Cooperative Grocery is by serving on its Board of Directors. Is joining the Board right for you? This article aims to help you find out.

Visiting CMU on Earth Day in the late 1980s.

Visiting CMU’s campus on Earth Day in the late 1980s.

GreenTree, as a cooperative, is about providing healthy food alternatives organized under democratic principles. Cooperatives have a long history, not only in the United States, but across the world. As a Board Member, you will learn about the practices and policies of GreenTree as it operates within the world of food cooperatives. Becoming a Board Member also serves as an opportunity to provide input, including new ideas for growth. You will be able to participate in a living embodiment of the cooperative philosophy, where the Board of Directors and Co-op Owners alike, no matter their social or financial status, are entitled to one equal vote.

GreenTree is unique in our community, not only as a cooperative, but also in providing foods that can be difficult to find. The focus is on organic, allergen-free, local, non-GMO, and less processed items. By working with local farmers, the Co-op can encourage the  purchase of locally grown food for a more sustainable environment and a stronger local economy. The large bulk department also helps shoppers cut down on packaging waste. In 2014, 13.4% total sales were locally based. GreenTree also tests its customer service with Secret Shoppers, and in 2014, they received a 95% service approval.

Board Members Liz and Gary at the 2015 Annual Meeting.

Board Members Liz and Gary collecting votes at the 2015 Annual Meeting.

GreenTree is also socially responsive to the community by being involved in, and donating to, many programs. Some of them include Isabella County Health Fair, Cooking without a Kitchen, CMU Earth Week, Mt. Pleasant NEDA Walk, Isabella Community Soup Kitchen and many more. (You can see a list in the Annual Report for 2014.)

As a locally-owned cooperative, GreenTree has been an important leader in the Mt. Pleasant community, providing healthy food alternatives for over 45 years. It has been a participant in the national movement of healthy eating, which has gained increasing popularity in the past decades. This increased demand includes sales growth at our cooperative. Due to this, GreenTree is looking to expand to a new location to better serve its Owners, employees, and community. This will provide GreenTree and its Board Members not only a challenge, but also an opportunity to promote the long term growth of our cooperative.

So, what exactly does a Board Member do?

Board Members are essential to the long term operation and health of the Cooperative. The Board monitors policies and bylaws to make sure they are being followed properly. Board Members may be asked to serve on committees to explore specific issues and report their findings. The Board also hires the General Manager, who manages the operation of the store. Board Members provide feedback and guidance to the General Manager without interfering with daily operations.

Board Members Talat and Aiman enjoy a snack at the 2015 Annual Meeting.

Board Members Talat and Aiman enjoy a snack at the 2015 Annual Meeting.

There are monthly Board Meetings, the Annual Owner Meeting, and occasional meetings organized by the Cooperative Board Leadership Development (CBLD) team, of which GreenTree is a participant. The CBLD meetings are also an opportunity for self-growth and are based upon the pillars of cooperative governance. These include teaming, accountable empowerment, democracy, and strategic leadership. (Only current Co-op Owners are eligible to serve on the Board of Directors.)

If interested in applying, contact the GreenTree staff, who can tell you if there are interim seats available, and if so, the process needed to apply. (At the time of this writing, 9/14/15, there is one open seat.) When an interim application is returned it is forwarded to the Board, who will review it and vote to determine whether it is accepted. If accepted, the Owner will be provided an overview of GreenTree and an orientation to the Board of Directors by the General Manager. This orientation is brief and includes a tour of the store. Directors are provided with GreenTree’s Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and Board Policies. An approved interim Board Member must also be approved at the Annual Meeting by GreenTree Owners in order to continue their service on the Board of Directors.

Any Owner may also apply to run for a Board position at time of the regular Annual Meeting if there are positions that are expiring. GreenTree staff can assist with this application process and information on deadline requirements.

Current Board Members receive a $15.00 monthly stipend, while officers receive $30.00.

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