2020 Board Election – Open Harvest Co-op Grocery

2020 Board Election

2020 Board Election

The 2020 Board Election was open to all current members of Open Harvest Co-op Grocery, and ran from October 18th to October 31st.

The Board of Directors represents all 2,700+ owners and shapes the vision for the co-op while evaluating the current performance of the business through Policy Governance. A strong and successful cooperative depends on a highly functional and effective Board of Directors. Your co-op needs your input in guidance and leadership to continue to thrive as a cooperative business. Claim one of your most powerful rights of co-op ownership and vote today!

The Open Harvest Board of Directors is comprised of nine co-op owners who are elected by the general ownership and serve three-year terms. Any co-op owner may run for a board position and all active co-op owners in good standing by October 18, 2020 are eligible to vote.

Voting will take place through a secure, online portal as well as by paper ballots available in store.

The Board of Directors is comprised of nine co-op owners who are elected by the general ownership and serve three year terms. There are three candidates running for four open seats on the board. You can read more about our candidates on the following page.

Voting will take place through a secure, online portal e-mailed to owners with e-mail on file, as well as by paper ballots available in store. All ballots must be received no later than October, 31st at 8 pm.


Congratulations to­­ Rosina Paolini, Corey Rumann, and Anna Hernoud! Together with current directors, these co-op owners are responsible for articulating the vision and goals for Open Harvest that management pursues and achieves. Thank you to all who ran and all who voted.

Corey Rumann

Anna Hernoud

Rosina Paolini

The voting period has ended – see you next year!

Corey Rumann (Incumbent)

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

I have served on the Board of Directors for two years and learned a great deal but I feel like I’m just getting started.  I still have a lot to contribute to the Open Harvest community and I am committed to being part of positive change.

What skills do you bring to a board of a $4+ million business?

Understanding the financial aspects of running a grocery store has been a challenge for me at times but after each meeting I am more confident in my ability to interpret financial reports and key financial indicators.  Also, if re-elected, I plan to attend additional training sessions to gain more knowledge of the financial processes at Open Harvest so I can be a more effective director.  Relationships are an important part of my community involvement and I try to be involved in as many community and volunteer activities as possible primarily through my kids’ elementary school and various advocacy groups.  I was one of three parents at Saratoga Elementary who started Community Cafés at the school to help parents, teachers, administrators, students, and community members connect and cultivate relationships.     I am committed to helping make the community a more equitable and inclusive space for all people with marginalized and oppressed identities.  Sometimes my many privileged identities cloud my judgement on how best to do that and I recognize I need to be more consistent and purposeful addressing my implicit biases and blind spots.  I am a work in progress but the last few months have reminded me of my responsibility to do my part in bringing about systemic change.  I believe I can help do that through my work on the Board.  Most recently, I have been engaged in a number of anti-racist trainings and activities including the Abolitionists Challenge and Building Racial Equity through the Race Forward organization.  I also participated in a reading group that reflected on and discussed Layla Saad’s book Me and White Supremacy.  Soon I plan to participate in Race Forward’s next level of training, Organizing Racial Equity, which will focus more on organizational change.  I understand increased knowledge and awareness without action will not bring about change and if re-elected I will be more intentional and active as a director when addressing issues related to racism, inclusivity, and equity.

What do you feel are the primary challenges and/or opportunities facing Open Harvest, and how could you help to meet such challenges/opportunities?

Financial stability is a constant challenge for smaller coops like Open Harvest.  The pandemic has made that even more of a concern and no one really knows what the future holds.  That uncertainty will be challenging but it can also provide opportunities to make the coop more resilient and stronger.  Even more pressing, in my opinion, is addressing cultural and systemic issues to make Open Harvest a more equitable and inclusive community. That change starts with the Board and if re-elected to serve a second term I would use my voice and position on the Board to bring about that change.  For example, I have been in communication with a food coop in Kalamazoo, MI that created an Anti-Racist Transformation Team (ARTT) to help their board more effectively address racism and oppression in their organization.  This team now informs nearly all aspects of their work and I think something similar to this would be beneficial to Open Harvest and the Board.  I recognize that creating systemic change can be a long and sometimes difficult process but I am willing to put in the work to help make that happen.  I want to do that work because I believe the Board and Open Harvest are and can continue to be an important part of our community but we can and must do better for all of our community members.

What do you believe has been your most important contribution to the board during your tenure?

I am typically not shy about asking questions and offering my genuine perspective which I hope leads to more meaningful discussions.  I also try to view issues with a critical lens and offer possibilities that others may not have considered.

Rosina Paolini (Incumbent)

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

Open Harvest is a vibrant community I want to continue investing in.  I learn something from every visit, whether it be about food or our community. The cooperative principle is the business model of the future.  We invest in each other making our local community more resilient in light of what may be happening nationally.

I served a term, been the secretary. I am engaged in multiple committees, the Annual Meeting, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Committee, and have been  on the Election Committee in the past. I try to get to know the staff and express the value in their being and hard work. I learn much from our staff.

Our board needs the experience of past board members to move forward with changes in our society, changes in the coop and continue to build our community. I foresee our store evolving to better serve a broader customer base, to attract and support inclusivity in the products offered

What skills do you bring to a board of a $4+ million business?

As a current board member, we come to understand the finacials, margins, the expenses of running a cooperative. Understanding the need for our policies to reflect the current times, with the need to be available and inviting to all.  My experience as secretary, writing charters and chairing various committees so that I may mentor the next person into these roles.

As co-chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity committee, I brought Inclusive Communities to our forefront to assist us with improving our cultural competancy.

I worked with the Expansion committee to understand how location and size may better serve our community.

During the renovation at Open Harvest,we created an improved deli space, community seating and reorganized the location of the shopping carts.  I assisted with hammer in hand.

I show up prepared for meeting and provide another lens on the issues at hand. I feel the presence of board members in the store creates a unity with the staff and membership for more opportunities to listen to your needs.

What do you feel are the primary challenges and/or opportunities facing Open Harvest, and how could you help to meet such challenges/opportunities?

The our grocery business continually faces competetion with one stop bigger stores and the profit margin is slim. Increasing the membership thus increasing equity in the store, and increasing basket size due to a decrease in visits and limited hours of operation during these past few months is challenging. We are all blessed with a fantastic operational staff with whom I feel important to strengthen connections and offer support of their investment in the store.

Changing the cultural climate to be more inclusive is at the forefront of action with board members and staff addressing how we improve the culteral climate to reflect our community. As a board, we review policy constantly and update our policy to address improve language to support cultural competency.

Our board had a shake up that provided opportunities for growth, improved communication amongst ourselves and our member owners. As a result, more member owners and staff are attending the board meetings. Having their presence and feedback makes the board more accountable for their action.

What do you believe has been your most important contribution to the board during your tenure?

Showing up, to listen, to provide ideas and at times to express what no one else in the room is expressing. Viewing issues with different lens provides opportunities for growth in us all. During this time when board members resigned, those of us remaining grew together, hurt together, laughed together and it brought us closer to do the necessary work to continue on this meandering path of a healthy cooperative community with a thriving store. I will do my best to continue to show up.

Anna Hernoud

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

I have been a lifetime customer at Open Harvest. I love the co-op and the efforts taken to support the local farmers and producers throughout Nebraska. Recently, Open Harvest has supported and invested in me by inviting me to join the Abolitionist Challenge. It is time that I take more action to support the co-op, it’s mission and the goals for today and into the future.

What skills do you bring to a board of a $4+ million business?

I have over 20 years of experience in retail bank management. I have extensive knowledge in customer experience, customer acquisition and customer retention. I have been a hiring manager for 20 years and have managed employee development, succession planning, conflict resolution and disciplinary action for 8 locations across Nebraska. With this experience I have also gained a wide range of knowledge in the areas of audit, compliance and risk.

I have served on other boards and committees including:

The Nebraska Bankers Association

South Street Business and Civic Association

Rotary #14

What do you feel are the primary challenges and/or opportunities facing Open Harvest, and how could you help to meet such challenges/opportunities?

I feel the customer experience needs some attention at the co-op. There have been many, many times when I have been in the store and not one employee (sometimes as many as 8 employees in the store) have said hello or even made eye contact until I got to the cash register. It does feel “exclusive” at times, even to someone that has shopped there for years. Customer retention and acquisition is an area I excel at. I can help meet these goals for the co-op.

What is your motivation for running for board?

After joining the September Board meeting, I realize the need for support is great. Open Harvest has been a staple in my life and in my community. I was surprised at the limited number of board members and interest, at that time, to support the board. I want the co-op to thrive today and into the future. I am ready invest more of my time and skills to help make that happen.

Board Candidacy FAQs

Have you ever considered running for the Board?

Our ownership is diverse and talented. We know that many of you are qualified and willing to serve. Serving on the Open Harvest Board is a responsibility and an opportunity open to all Owners in good standing*.

Within the cooperative structure, Open Harvest Owners, Management, and the Board each have their own particular duties to perform. Guided by the mission statement and goals of the Co-op, the Board concentrates on strategic decision making, long-term planning, and on the business’s financial soundness. An active, well-qualified board is essential to a healthy co-op.

*Good standing: membership must be paid in full and in applicant’s name, not the name of another member of your household.

What commitment is required?

Directors serve for a term of three years and commit to working at least 5-10 hours per month. That time is spent reviewing the Board Packet materials prior to a meeting; the monthly, 2.5 hour board meeting; and it’s typical to have at least one committee meeting, action items, and/or activities per month. The board also has events and trainings we attend throughout the year. 

What benefits are provided for serving?

For their committed service, directors receive an annual stipend of $150, provided quarterly as a store gift card. But there are so many other benefits to board service including leadership development, personal and professional growth, having a positive impact on our community and co-op, building financial acumen, practice in strategic thinking and planning, and learning about Policy Governance.

How is the Board structured?

The board uses a formal system known as Policy Governance to establish a structure for our work. The Policy Register is the document which sets out the details of how we apply policy governance. The Register describes the roles and responsibilities of the board, and the methods it uses to oversee the co-op. Check out the Board Policy Register for the complete set of board policies. 

What are the responsibilities of the Board?

  • Support and develop the Ends Statement and other policies to reflect the needs of owners
  • Ensure financial solvency and integrity of the co-op by reviewing monitoring reports
  • Support the mission, vision, values, goals, and objectives of the co-op
  • Keep informed on the affairs of the co-op and come prepared to discuss issues before the Board
  • Evaluate performance based on monitoring reports and external audits
  • Learn about the natural foods industry and cooperative organizations
  • Learn about and practice Policy Governance   
  • Consider at all times owners input in decision making
  • Keep owners informed about the affairs of the cooperative

What are Board candidacy qualifications?

These are some of the skill sets that lend well to work with the Open Harvest Board, and are desired, but not required, in our next set of directors.

  • Critical thinking: Capacity to be objective and open-minded to evaluate information with reason, reflection, and analysis.  
  • Continuous learning: A passion for learning new concepts through training and independent research, and contributing to building the board’s collective wisdom.
  • Communication and interpersonal skills: Ability to write articles, speak in public, and other communication with small and large groups. To also convey ideas, problem-solve, listen, and participate in consensus decision making processes with respect.
  • Social justice experience: Understand systems of oppression.
  • Natural food and retail industry: Knows the trends, opportunities, and challenges of the retail industry, specifically the natural food market.
  • Board experience: Knowledge of the qualities of effective boards.
  • Legal knowledge: Ability to read and understand legal language, concepts, bylaws, and other legal materials.
  • Financial acumen: Understand financial benchmarks and documents.
  • Community representation: Experience representing a community through engagement.