Richard Drace, President
Occupation: Retired business owner, building designer, project manager, and nonprofit director
Education: Honors B.A. in Interdisciplinary Humanities, Stanford University, M.A. in Religion, Yale University, Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Humanities, Syracuse University
Business Experience: Owner, Owner Builder Summer Camp, a residential program that taught hands-on building skills in classroom, workshop, and jobsite settings to adult prospective owner-builders.
Founder and Executive Director, Common Ground Communities, a nonprofit self-help affordable housing development company
Owner, Viridian Development, Inc., a design/build/project management company
Board/Community Leadership Experience, former involvement: Founding President, Nevada City Schools Foundation; Governance Council, Nevada City School of the Arts; Founder and Executive Director, Common Ground Communities; Board member, Gold Country Piano Institute; Board member, Sierra Green Building Assoc.; volunteer, Music in the Mountains. Current involvement: Board member, North Star Historic Conservancy; volunteer, Nevada City School District Foundation Bike & Hike; volunteer, SYRCL; volunteer, Sierra Express Bicycle Club
Year joined BriarPatch: 2008
Debbie Plass, Vice President
Occupation: VP Marketing & Business Development, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Healthcare
Education: Masters in Organizational Development, Registered Nurse
Business Experience: Marketing, Communications, and Business Development experience
Board/Community Leadership Experience: Former President of BriarPatch Board, Nevada County Economic Resource Council Board
Louise Jones, Secretary
Louise Jones’ first experience with co-ops was back in the ’70s as a member of a buying group in Mendham, New Jersey. Her interest in co-ops rose again here in Grass Valley at the BriarPatch store on Washington Street.
Currently, Louise is making plans to teach cooking classes for BriarPatch. She has been an active student at the Living Light International Raw Food Chef program in Ft. Bragg. Louise is a certified election official and serves Nevada County as the inspector for the voting precinct of Nevada City.
Louise and her husband Mark live on the border of the Tahoe National Forest. This gives the opportunity for hiking, mountain biking and cross country skiing just outside the door. Much of this activity she enjoys with her dog Malcolm.
Mark Fenton, Treasurer
Mark Fenton’s career shows a long history of involvement with organic agriculture and the natural foods movement. His work with food co-ops goes back to 1976, when he was a manager at Sacramento Natural Food Co-op. He has been a Briarpatch owner since 1984. Now semi-retired, he still works part time for Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply, which he and his wife owned from 1989 to 1996.
Mark enjoys gardening, is active in the Nevada County Biodynamic Association, and supports many environmental and service organizations. He and his wife Kathleen live in Grass Valley, and enjoy hiking, camping and traveling.
Education: PhD, Education, Stanford University; BA, History, UC Berkeley
Business Experience: BriarPatch Board for 7 years, ran own consultancy business for 25 years
Board / Community Leadership Experience: Nevada County Board of Education for 7 years, President of Board of 2 nonprofits, consultant to help high school principal’s leadership skills
Year joined BriarPatch – Approximately 1988 1995+-
Education: Humboldt State University, Sierra College; fields of study: Environmental Sciences, BA in Spanish Education
Business Experience: 5 years Accounts Payable Manager, 5 Years Customer Service Manager.
After moving to Nevada County I was employed with two of the largest solar manufacturers managing their Accounts Payable Department. Before leaving Humboldt County I was a Customer Service Manager for a well-known restaurant. I was employed by BriarPatch during the transition from the Joerschke store to its current location ending as a lead cashier. I really enjoyed the customers, employees and the potential of BriarPatch. My employment term was short as my husband and I decided to dedicate my next 5 years to raising our daughter.
Board/Community Leadership Experience: I’ve been involved in several neighborhood associations for many years; formerly the You Bet/Red Dog Association and its Outpost Group, and currently the Greater Cement Hill Neighborhood Association where I manage the association’s website.
Year joined BriarPatch: 2005
Occupation: Retired high school teacher, organic gardener
Education: MS, USC; BA, UC Riverside
Business Experience: Director, NCTV (5 years); Dean of Admissions, American International School, Bucharest, Romania (5 years)
Board/Community Leadership Experience: United Way Board, Nevada City School Board, NCTV Board, BriarPatch Board, Occupy Wall Street Nevada County
Year joined BriarPatch: 1978
Occupation: Self employed
Education: University of Oregon, Gold Gate University (San Francisco), Business and Humanities
Business Experience: 15+ years ago, in San Francisco, I started and operated two fine-dining restaurants and a fresh food manufacturing and distribution business that serviced Bay Area natural food stores. The businesses employed about 45 people who reported directly to me. When I moved to Grass Valley in 1998, I started and co-operated Asia (restaurant), that eventually became Asia (catering), which serves larger public events including High Sierra Music Festival and Burning Man. As a lifestyle, I am deeply passionate about healthy food, business, finance, and community.
Board Experience: Yuba River Charter School Ed Foundation — 1994-1999, BriarPatch Board – 1999 to 2004, Boys To Men Nevada City – 2010 to 2012, Xiao Mao Culture Club (CATS) – since 2012
Year joined BriarPatch: 1998
Education: Stanford University, B.A., M.A. Anthropology
Business Experience: Small, organic farm management, farmer’s market stand management, archaeological independent contractor for Stanford, waitressing and retail experience
Board/Community Leadership Experience: Nevada City Farmers Market Association Board member since 2014, currently Board President
BriarPatch Co-op owners elect our Board of Directors. Owners are eligible to run for the Board (a three-year term) one year after joining the Co-op.
2016 Board of Directors Election Results
Turnout: 475 electors voted in this ballot
Last Tuesday of each month, 6:00 p.m., in the BriarPatch Community Room.
The upcoming meeting agenda is posted on the store bulletin board at least one week prior to the meeting.
Contact the Board
To send a message to all the Directors, address an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individual Directors’ email addresses are: their first name and last name initial, followed by “@board.briarpatch.coop.” (example: email@example.com).
Paper letters left at the Customer Service Window are picked up periodically.
Board Meeting Minutes
To find out more about the Board’s standing committees, please add the following Committee names to the subject line when you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Owner Engagement Committee
- Board Development Committee
- Finance Committee
- Executive Committee
- Governance Committee
Run for the Board
Board elections are held each May. For more information, contact the Administrative Assistant at 272-5333 ext. 102.
$200 per month for non-officer Board members
$250 per month for all officers except President
$350 per month for President