Passing the torch and staying on the team

by Alan Weisberg, Board President

AlanIt’s with mixed emotions that I write this column for the Vine, since it’s probably my last column as Board President. Four years was a long time to hold that office, and I am pleased that during those years we accomplished so many of our Co-op’s goals, as well as important Board goals, which include a smooth transition of leadership. Richard Drace (just plain “Drace” to many people) will likely be the new Board President as of our May meeting. Drace is highly qualified for the job, and I am confident that our Board, with great support from our General Manager, will continue to be organized, thoughtful, and effective under his leadership.

After more than 10 years of Board service, I thought this might be a good time to just hang it all up, but I still love our top-notch Co-op, and will therefore continue to serve as a member of the Board. My responsibilities and time commitment will be reduced, but not my enthusiasm for our wonderful BriarPatch. Being President of the Board has many real positives, and I can’t tell you how often people have told me how much they appreciate all that I’ve done for the Co-op in that role. The task of facilitating the work of the Board — perhaps the biggest challenge faced by the President — requires a good deal of time and focus.

In early June I’ll be attending the annual Consumer Cooperatives Management Association conference, along with four other Board members. About 140 co-ops will be represented at the gathering, which is in Amherst, Massachusetts. While the announced theme of the conference is promoting diversity and inclusion, the sub-theme will be the very real threats faced by natural food co-ops country-wide. We recently learned that one out of three co-op markets is now operating in the red, and about half are facing changes in their General Manager. Fortunately, BriarPatch is not among those facing financial struggles. Our General Manager is quite happy with his job, and the Board is quite happy with how well he does his job.

A proposal we submitted to give a presentation at the Amherst conference was accepted. In that presentation, your five intrepid representatives will be sharing our conviction that one big reason for our continuing success and “competitive edge” is the reciprocal community support that we cultivate. We believe that the formal mandate of our social, educational, and environmental “Ends” policies, and our sincere efforts to achieve those ends, are the hidden reason for our success and good fortune — beyond business smarts and professional execution.

And to bring the conversation full circle, it’s this that keeps me wanting to stay “on Board,” and stay involved. And I know the same is true for many of you, as well.

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