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Board News | Summer Quarterly 2019

First Quarter Board Meeting Recaps

April, May, and June board meetings

Colin Fiske, Board President

If you haven’t been to a North Coast Co-op Board of Directors meeting lately, you’re missing out on some interesting and important discussions and decision-making. We’d like to see all of our members attending meetings—but we know you’re busy and there are lots of things competing for your time. So here’s a summary of what we’ve done over the last few months.

Changes on the Board
Four members responded to our call for letters of interest in the board seat made vacant by Mary Ella Anderson’s resignation earlier in the year. The four candidates all attended the April meeting and made brief statements. The board agreed that it was a very strong candidate pool. We later voted to appoint Ivy North to fill the seat. Ivy has a long history of involvement in our local food system and will bring that knowledge and passion to the board. If you see her in the store or around town, please congratulate her! Ivy will hold the seat only until this fall’s elections, unless she chooses to run and is re-elected.

In June, the board voted to remove Robert Donovan from the Board of Directors in accordance with our bylaws, as a result of Robert missing three consecutive board meetings and being absent from the majority of the meetings over the past six months. Given the vacancy, the board decided to reassess the officer slate and made some changes. James Kloor is now President and Treasurer, while Colin Fiske is now Vice President; other officers and committee chairs remain the same. 

The board is not appointing anyone to fill the newly empty seat, because applications are already available to run in the regularly scheduled board election this fall. If you want to help out your Co-op and have some time and skills to contribute – you should run for the board!

Finances and Budget
At each meeting, the Board reviews our financial benchmarks carefully and discusses trends and actions to improve our financial outlook. The benchmarks in the last few months revealed that we are making steady progress, through the hard work of staff and the support of our members. Still, we need to see more improvement to ensure our long-term financial health. 

In June, we had a lengthy and vigorous discussion of the Fiscal Year 2020 budget. (Our fiscal year changes around the end of March, so we’ve just started FY2020.) It was particularly helpful to get input from our employee board members (Ed Smith & Cheri Strong) as well as staff, who filled in the “people” portion of our triple bottom line principal. After all, while we do need to increase sales, it’s difficult to say, “we need to increase sales” without acknowledging that staff is giving it their all right now. The discussion also led to the realization that the financial benchmarks we’ve adopted—which closely follow national co-op benchmarks—might not fit our particular Co-op perfectly. The board will continue to discuss the budget and the benchmarks to ensure that our financial governance of the organization is as effective as it can be.

General Manager Search 
In April, the board finalized its approval of a set of “ideal candidate” qualities for the General Manager position. In May, the position was posted. We are conducting a search because current General Manager Melanie Bettenhausen’s contract expires this fall. In the meantime, Melanie continues as the General Manager, and she has indicated that she intends to re-apply for the position.

Pumpkin Patch
Given the Co-op’s recent financial struggles and reduced staffing levels, the management team has been looking at ways to reduce the staff cost of the annual Pumpkin Patch event. Concerns have been raised about the impact of these reductions to this beloved local institution, and the board has discussed the issues with employees, management team members, and Pumpkin Patch farmer Paul Giuntoli at recent meetings. Various ideas were put forward by staff and members for reducing costs while continuing to serve the children who learn from and love this event each year. The management team has adopted a number of these suggestions, and the Pumpkin Patch will go on this year as planned – although slightly smaller than in years past.

KHSU Underwriting
When the HSU administration cut all local programming and fired almost all the staff at KHSU, a number of members expressed concerns about continuing to underwrite the station. In fact, the Co-op ceased underwriting almost immediately due to the fact that KHSU had changed the underwritten programs without notice. The board discussed briefly what the future of KHSU may hold and directed staff not to renew underwriting the station at any point in the future without approval of the board.

Strategic Plans, Old and New
With the recent change in the fiscal year, the Co-op wrapped up our last 5-year strategic plan and started a new one. In June, General Manager Melanie Bettenhausen presented the 2014-2018 Strategic Plan Final Report. She summed it up this way: “The strategic plan served as a through line as institutional knowledge left the Co-op, making it possible for new leadership to continue the trajectory established in prior years. While we did not fulfill all the strategies identified, our achievements over the last few years have resulted in positive impact for the Co-op and the community.” Spanning nearly 15 pages, the final report captures our activities over the last five years. It’s well worth a read and can be viewed on the Strategic Plan page on our website! With lessons learned, we are now moving on to what we hope will be an even more effective and productive strategic plan taking us through the next half decade.

Final Thoughts
The board meets the first Thursday of every month at 6:00pm, alternating between Arcata and Eureka. We also have several committee meetings each month, focused on topics ranging from environmental responsibility to board policies and bylaws. Members are always welcome at our meetings. Full meeting minutes are available on our website. To get on the email list to receive board packets, that include the most recent minutes in draft form, email emilywalter@northcoast.coop


BOARD OF DIRECTORS & COMMITTEE MEETINGS

July Meetings

Board of Directors Meeting
July 11 • 6pm, Arcata Community Center (321 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Arcata)

Policies & Procedures Committee
July 17 • 6pm, upstairs in the Arcata Store (811 I Street)

Nominating Committee
July 18 • 5pm, upstairs in the Eureka Store (25 4th Street)

August Meetings

Board of Directors Meeting
August 1 • 6pm, Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center (921 Waterfront Dr, Eureka)

Member Action Committee 
August 14 • 5:30pm, upstairs in the Arcata Store (811 I Street)

Earth Action Committee
August 14 • 6:45pm, upstairs in the Arcata Store (811 I Street)

September Meetings

Board of Directors Meeting
September 5 • 6pm, Arcata Community Center (321 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Arcata)

Member Action Committee 
September 11 • 5:30pm, upstairs in the Arcata Store (811 I Street)

Earth Action Committee
September 11 • 6:45pm, upstairs in the Arcata Store (811 I Street)

Policies & Procedures Committee
September 18 • 6pm, upstairs in the Arcata Store (811 I Street)

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