2023 Board Election

The 2023 Board Election has closed.

The 2023 Board Election closed on November 4th.

The Board of Directors represents all 2,300+ 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 15th, 2023 are eligible to vote.

Owners can vote in the 2023 Board Election + 2024 Seed Recipients by:

  • Online voting (Preferred)
  • In-Store Kiosk (Preferred)
  • In-Store Paper Ballot

Your voter ID is your Owner #. Your voting key will be provided by email.  If you do not have an email on file, you will need to vote by paper ballot.

The Board of Directors is comprised of nine co-op owners who are elected by the general ownership and serve three year terms. This year, there are four candidates running for 4 open seats.

Voting will take place through a secure, online portal e-mailed to owners, as well as an in-store kiosk and in-store paper ballot.
Online Voting is run through a third-party system, Election Runner, to ensure ballot & counting integrity.

The 2023 Election was closed on November 4th, 2023.

Board Members

2024 Elected Board Members: Kay Walter, Anna Hernoud, Lynne Ireland, Carina Olivetti

SEED Recipients

The 2024 SEED Program recipients include: Community Crops, Matt Talbot Kitchen & Outreach, Friends of Wilderness Park, Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition, Wachiska Audubon Society, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, Food Co-op Initiative, Milkworks, Prescott PTO and Wellbeing Initiative. The first five were chosen by community choice, the last five were chosen by the staff-led Harv-aid committee.  

Kay Walter

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

I have been serving a one-year term on the Open Harvest board and am excited about running for a three-year term to help Open Harvest establish itself successfully in the new location on N. 21st ST. The past year has been great–I’ve met many members while tabling in the store and talking with members on the phone. I am impressed with so many who have a sincere interest in seeing Open Harvest thrive.

What skills do you bring to a board of a $3+ million business?

I have been on the Open Harvest Board of Directors for a year, and helping with fundraising. Currently, I am on the Neighborworks Lincoln Board which is involved in building or rehab for affordable housing. In addition to these organizations, I have a lot of experience serving on boards, often in leadership positions. To name a few organizations I’ve been involved with: Clinton Neighborhood Association, Humanities Nebraska, Centernet, Nebraska Literacy Heritage Association, several capitol campaign committees, etc. As a member of the OH Food Co-op since the early 1980’s, and previously a member of the New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City, I think member-owned cooperatives are shining examples of what we can do together to support local farmers and provide healthy food to our communities.

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

Among challenges, there is more fundraising that is needed to meet all the debts associated with the new location, including construction, new equipment, repayment of loans and the move itself. Moving from a location where we have been for 33 years means we will lose some shoppers, but there is the opportunity to attract more shoppers in the Telegraph district. I can help with fundraising and brain-storming with 0ther board members and GM Amy Tabor about ways in which to attract new shoppers. The Telegraph District’s businesses will help with mutual support as will the new signage and the proximity to the Mill Coffeehouse.

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

As an incumbent since October 2022, I think my most important contribution has been to engage in the fundraising campaign through in-person special events such as tabling in the store and at Innovation Campus for Earth Day; calling members; donating myself and serving specifically on the capitol campaign committee.

Anna Hernoud

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

This is an exciting and critical time for the Open Harvest Board. I joined the board in 2020 and I am running to be on the board for a second term. With a primary focus on getting the store moved successfully while keeping an eye on the financials and policy, I want to continue to serve the Open Harvest Grocery Store, the Store Team and Member/Owners. I am a long time advocate of Open Harvest and I hope to help position the store for success today, tomorrow and well into the future.

What skills do you bring to a board of a $3+ million business?

With 23 years in Retail Banking, I understand the constant balance of client expierence, employee development and retention, business financials and policy & compliance. After serving on the board for 3 years I have gained a solid understanding of how each of those impacts the success of Open Harvest. I am passionate about food and serving our neighbors that are hungry and food insecure. I am a member of Rotary #14 and believe in their moto “service above self”. I volunteer at the Gathering Place and help with a monthly initiative to help keep the Little Free Pantries stocked. I want to continue to help keep the Open Harvest Ends Statement true. These statements are aligned to my own values and mission as a member in our community.

Open Harvest Cooperative Grocery exists so there will be a vibrant community that: Has access to healthy, organic, and local food Supports economic justice and strengthens the local economy Upholds inclusive, socially responsible practices Contributes to a strong local food system and a sustainable environment Embodies cooperative principles

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

Right now we are full steam ahead with the relocation of the store. I have helped with fundraising, decision making and celebrating successes along the way.

What is your motivation for running for board?

I feel the biggest contribution I bring is the knowledge and tenure I have gained over the past 3 years of being on the board. I have gained a good understanding of the Policy and Governance that are used between the board and General Manager and I serve on several committees including: Operations, Annual Meeting, General Manager Review & Contract and my favorite, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Lynne Ireland

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

Food not only provides vital nutrition, but offers us a way to express who we are, where we’re from, and to explore new options for our futures. In its 50+ years of operation, Open Harvest has provided Lincoln’s communities a growing range of choices, connections, education, and resources. “The co-op,” as we often called it, has been a truly “co-operative” endeavor, welcoming a broad range of people, products, and philosophies. I have been the beneficiary of the work of directors and staff who have diligently pursued food options that are local, healthy, and reflective of a wide variety of nutritional and cultural needs. Serving on the board would allow me to pay back a bit of my indebtedness.

In my history museum career I was privileged to serve on local, state, and national boards so I am familiar with the critical role board members can play in oversight, policy development, advocacy, and financial support. The board acts as a partner with the coop’s talented and committed staff but must cede authority for day-to-day operations to those individuals. Staff, board members, and coop members form the three legs of a stable organization that is poised to provide even more meaningful service to Lincoln area shoppers and eaters. I welcome the opportunity to take a more active role in the organization of which I have been a member for most of my adult life.

What skills do you bring to a board of a $3+ million business?

In the course of 40+ years work in state government and museums I developed skills and experience in budgeting, financial forecasting, fundraising, grant writing and administration ($6-10M annually), human resources, procurement, and project management. I was an active participant in capital construction and improvement projects that resulted in new facilities and renovations to historic buildings to better serve new audience needs. I continue to serve on the board of the Nebraska Museums Association. During my tenure on the Lincoln YWCA board redevelopment of O Street properties for both retail and affordable housing units gave me exposure to blending business and social service needs. I was a member and served as board chair for the national American Association for State and Local History and was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Museum and Library Services Board, which oversees the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, which provides resources to all US states and territories.

Museums are fundamentally educational institutions, so I have spent much of my professional life seeking ways to spark curiosity and learning. As a faculty member of the UNL Museum Studies program I helped train a new generation of museum workers and co-authored a book on museum administration.

Writing about food and foodways in articles and a regular cooking column in the Lincoln Journal Star is another ongoing educational endeavor. I continue to be informed and amazed by the many people who are also fascinated by food and share their stories and recipes with me. Online groups like “Eating Through the Pandemic and Beyond” offer models to build community that extends globally the on-the-ground experience that is the starting point for all food production.

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

Change! It’s been part of the through-line of Open Harvest’s story. From a buying co-op that distributed through church basements to the Randolph Street store and the current South Street location, Open Harvest members, staff, and board have responded to challenges by changing. BIG new changes—a building renovation, move, new operations model and systems—bring opportunities for BIG new growth. Expanding service to communities with limited food options, introducing high school student neighbors to healthier food choices, providing a crossroads for new Americans, tech and professional workers, seniors, people of varying abilities, races, orientations, and perspectives are among the challenging opportunities that lay ahead for Open Harvest as it continues to live its “co-operative” identity on a daily basis.

For-profit food purveyors are a source of competition, but Open Harvest can expand its current partnerships with local producers, listen intently to customer needs and preferences, and offer personal engagement that builds loyalty and support. Financial management, cost controls and membership recruitment and engagement will help strengthen the solid base on which Open Harvest can grow in into its next chapter.

Years working in a public agency serving people statewide attuned me to the critical role seeing and hearing people where they are plays in moving forward meaningfully. I hope to bring this “first, listen” approach in responding to the organization’s challenges and opportunities.

What is your motivation for running for board?

Service on the Open Harvest board will give me the chance to give back to the organization and people that have literally fed me and my family through many decades of life in Lincoln. “The co-op” is now poised to create an even greater sense of community as it welcomes blends the many stories that its members and customers have to share.

A lot of hard work lies ahead. I believe my experience in organizational management and board service, my communication skills and my love of food can help grow the place where nourishment feeds souls and bodies both. It would be my privilege to play a small role in helping Open Harvest address the food issues that will only become more complex in our future. “That is happiness,” Willa Cather wrote, “to be dissolved into something complete and great.“

Carina Olivetti

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

I’m interested because I love Open Harvest and the community it has grown. It is a place of comfort and quality. I have considered joining the board in the past but hesitated because of the three year commitment. I was also challenged with health issues for the last year and half that made it hard to committ to anything. I am ready to jump out of my comfort zone and leave hesitation behind. Now I am healthy again and ready to try something new.

What skills do you bring to a board of a $3+ million business?

I have good people skills and an environmental studies degree. I’ve worked in waste management the past two and half years. My current role at Nebraska Recycling Council is focused on compost, biochar, and food waste. I attend community events as often as I can and try to support our farmer’s markets. I’ve also worked at several natural food markets over the years. Ellwood Thompson’s in Richmond, VA, Red Clover Market and Whole Foods in Lincon.

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 see being able to compete price-wise with national natural food markets and larger grocers as the biggest challenge for Open Harvest. The biggest opportunities for Open Harvest are to have the best selection of local foods, and to have a thoughtfully curated selection of products. I could assist with these challenges and opportunities by bringing my ideas to the table.

What is your motivation for running for board?

My motivation for running for board is somewhat selfish. I’m looking to grow as a person and face new challenges in life that are out of my comfort zone. It’s also part of my current role to get involved with applicable organizations and make professional relationships with those that have similar goals. Food security and sustainable resouce management are top priorities for climate change resiliency. That being said, I am not running for this board to push my organization’s goals, but to align with like minded people. I’ve been coming to Open Harvest for years and it is the only retail store where I would consider being on the board.

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.