Board Candidate Profiles

Get to know them a little before the election!

Board Election

Sunday April 16 - Saturday April 29

The election is open to current members of Open Harvest Co-op Grocery, and runs from Sunday, April 16th to Saturday, April 29th. 

Ballots are limited to one per member number -- that is, one per household. Please note: member numbers MUST be entered on your ballot to confirm elegibility. If we receive duplicate ballots from the same member number, the first ballot we come to during the tally will be counted as the vote for that member. 

Ballots can be mailed in or dropped in the ballot box at the front of the store.


Board Candidates Q & A

Get to know your 2017 Board Candidates a little bit better!

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Aaron Druery | Owner for 3 Months

Why are you interested in serving on the Open Harvest Board of Directors?

I have been coming to Open Harvest for about 30 years. I know the place well. I have always felt a call to leadership and have advanced to a stage in my life where I have much to offer in the forms of: creative problem solving, basic administration, human interaction, sustainability and more.

Briefly Describe any experience you have had with cooperatives, non-profit organizations, or other experience relative to Board Service.

I have volunteered as an ESL teacher for a Karen refugee family. I have donated to Community Crops several years. I volunteered for Meals on Wheels once a month for several years. I am on the leadership committee for my son's Cub Scout pack. I have lead a committee when I was an employee for Pioneer's Park Nature Center for monitoring maintenance and restorative activities.

Is there anything else you would like the membership to know about you?

I am certified in Permaculture Design from Midwest permaculture. i have researched and studied many aspects of sustainability, gardening, and small-scale/local agriculture. My Love for nature and the interconnectedness of humans to the natural world is one of the main reasons I am interested in this position, paired with the desire to work together with like-minded people. I have a degree in Public Administration from Doane College with a focus in management.
 
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Aaron French | Owner for 3 Years

Why are you interested in serving on the Open Harvest Board of Directors?

As in recent years, I see Open Harvest faced with amazing opportunities in terms of membership expansion, community partnerships and new business possibilities. I'm personally excited and enthused by these potential opportunities for the store and would be honored to help empower the dedicated staff with the goal of creating a more secure, inclusive and financially sound cooperative. Also, as a farmer and grower of local food, I believe I can bring an important perspective to the board, as it relates to how the store works with local producers.

Briefly Describe any experience you have had with cooperatives, non-profit organizations, or other experience relative to Board Service.

I've been a member of various types of cooperatives for since 2008. They include food cooperatives, community bicycle cooperatives, purchasing coops, and coops sharing farm labor. I've been involved with non-profit organizations and groups working on issues relating to climate justice, food security, renewable energy, fair labor and racial justice in a volunteer capacity. I've also worked for non-profit organizations, on and off, since 2006 and have served on several executive committees, boards and other leadership bodies.

Is there anything else you would like the membership to know about you?

I have a deep commitment to organizations who value non-hierarchical leadership structures, inclusive and participatory decision making practices and a dedication to social, economic and racial justice. For me, Open Harvest also shares these values and can continue to strengthen its dedication to these principles. Also, I enjoy riding bikes, making (and eating) hot sauce, playing cribbage and cats!
 
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Eastlyn Wright | Owner for 4 Years

Why are you interested in serving on the Open Harvest Board of Directors?

I am interested in serving on Open Harvest's Board of Directors to educate and engage members of Lincoln's community in the value and benefits of our local co-op. Additionally, serving on the Open Harvest board would provide me an opportunity to apply my interests and previous work related to interpersonal skills, program development, and passion for sustainable agriculture.

Briefly Describe any experience you have had with cooperatives, non-profit organizations, or other experience relative to Board Service.

My educational background in horticulture, AmeriCorps Service experience at Community Crops, combined with 10+ years in customer and volunteer services, including previous supervisory experience had provided me with the skills necessary to be a valuable asset and leader. Currently I am employed by an accredited organic certification body, which offers me a unique perspective and understanding of issues facing our current agricultural system.  

Is there anything else you would like the membership to know about you?

I have an excitement for developing relationships, creating opportunities, and meaningful experiences for members of our community. I am interested in serving on the board to increase my involvement in a system I truly believe in.
 

Lori Gottula | Owner for 8 Years

Why are you interested in serving on the Open Harvest Board of Directors?

I love to shop at Open harvest and enjoy attending the events that they host. With the other grocers opening in Lincoln, I'd like to be a part of ensuring Open Harvest's continuing success.

Briefly Describe any experience you have had with cooperatives, non-profit organizations, or other experience relative to Board Service.

I work at Voices of Hope, a non-profit. Other organizations I have had experience at are Elliott School Neighborhood Advisory Committee, Lincoln Center Kiwanis, and American Legion Artillery #370. I have been chairs of committees, co-chair of the organization and treasurer.

Is there anything else you would like the membership to know about you?

I miss my involvement at Elliott and I was in an environment where, if an idea was presented, we'd give it a try. I want to be part of that type of organization again.
 
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Matt Pirog | Owner for 7 Years

Why are you interested in serving on the Open Harvest Board of Directors?

Since I moved to Lincoln in 2009, Open Harvest has been an enriching institution in my life. I have discovered local farmers and their products. I have learned about unique and nutritious foods. Most importantly, I have found an oasis of community where people understand that eating is an ethical act and that our future depends on how we produce and consume food.

I have been a member-owner at Open Harvest since 2009, an employee member-owner in both the Grocery and Produce departments from 2010 to 2015 and I was a volunteer at the store up until the volunteer program was ended in 2016.

Competition from mega-corporate imitators has placed a lot of pressure on our co-op. We need fresh ideas and perspectives on where we’re going as a co-op and a strong conviction about what values we plan to take with us into the future. I want to ensure that the Board and the co-op strive for continuous improvement on being Lincoln’s trusted source for ethical and sustainable food choices.

Briefly Describe any experience you have had with cooperatives, non-profit organizations, or other experience relative to Board Service.

As an employee at Open Harvest Co-op for 5 years, I understand how the store operatesand the challenges we are facing. In my current position, I am the Growing Farmers ProgramManager at Community Crops, a local non-profit with programs for community gardens, farmtraining, and youth education. In this position I am responsible for conducting and facilitatingtraining opportunities for beginning and aspiring farmers in Lincoln and the surrounding area. I am in regular communication with a Community Crops board committee and prepare reports forthe whole board of directors every other month.

I am also co-owner/operator at RhizoCity Farms, an urban farm in Lincoln. As a smallbusiness owner, I understand the importance of cash flows, capital investments and customerrelationships. This understanding is supported by my educational background in businessaccounting.

In addition, for the last 2 years I have regularly attended and participated in the OpenHarvest board meetings as a member. I have a strong understanding of the format and structureof these meetings and am prepared to represent member-owner views as an elected boardmember

Is there anything else you would like the membership to know about you?

I am passionate about local food, local energy and local economies.

I believe you can change the world by changing your neighborhood.

I believe the most important sentence in the Open Harvest Global Ends Statement is: “We promote ecological, social, and economic justice, and health through good nutrition.”

One of the first jobs I had was at a grocery store in Imperial, NE.

 

Rosina Paolini | Owner for 14 Years

Why are you interested in serving on the Open Harvest Board of Directors?

I truly love Open Harvest, the employees, farmers, the business values of being the community and bringing local food to our tables.  If I can provide any assistance or insight into continuing the growth and excellent principles already in place, I am honored.

Briefly Describe any experience you have had with cooperatives, non-profit organizations, or other experience relative to Board Service.

As a member and investor in OH, over the years, I see the day to day function of the store. I can feel the pulse of the store when it is vibrant and when it is struggling.

As a founding member of the Local Food Shed Working groups, we brought farmers, city staff, and non - profits together for a common goal, to improve and assess the access to local food in Lancaster County. The Let’s Grow Campaign was developed to increase the number of gardeners in Lincoln.  This group evolved and is now the Lincoln – Lancaster County Food Policy Council. We partnered with the city and are included in the Land Use sub – committee of the Mayor’s Environmental Task Force.

Other board experience:

Nebraska Community Garden Task Force, Mayor’s Environmental Task Force, Friends of Wilderness Park, Nebraska Physical Therapist Association.

Is there anything else you would like the membership to know about you?

I am honest, passionate about a few things: my relationships, Wilderness Park, Open Harvest and local food. My visits to Open Harvest are like visiting family both employees and patrons alike. I visit my family almost daily. 

 

Tanika Cooper | Owner for 8 Years

Why are you interested in serving on the Open Harvest Board of Directors?

 I consider Open Harvest to be my go-to grocery store. To me this means when I need something I go to Open Harvest first. I go to Open Harvest first because I know they strive to provide food that is sustainable, organic, local and has minimal impact on the environment. These things are important to me and therefore Open Harvest is important to me. Being an engaged member-owner is important to me. 

I'm interested in serving on the Open Harvest Board of Directors because I share similar values with the Cooperative. I want to do what I can to ensure we continue to have a cooperative in our community.

Briefly Describe any experience you have had with cooperatives, non-profit organizations, or other experience relative to Board Service.

 I once worked as a staff member at Open Harvest and I have attended enough Open Harvest board meetings to call myself a witness of the process.

I have experience in group decision-making processes, and I'm familiar with and have practiced consensus building.

I'm dedicated to the store and its member-owners. I will put forth the necessary work to learn more about policy governance, cooperatives and food retailing in order to be an active and productive board member.

Is there anything else you would like the membership to know about you?

For the last 11 years, Lincoln has been my hometown. I live and love the Near South neighborhood. I work at a public school in the Near South neighborhood. I support Near South businesses especially Open Harvest. I want you to know that, if elected, I will be a dedicated member of the Open Harvest Board of Directors furthering the mission of the Open Harvest Co-op.