Co-op Board meetings are held the second Wednesday of each month unless otherwise posted. The agenda is posted the Friday before each meeting on the Board Bulletin Board to the right of the Information Desk, next to the Suggestion Board. All co-op owners are welcome to attend.
Board of Directors
The Ashland Food Co-op is governed by an elected Board of Directors. The Board oversees and guides the business and affairs of the Co-op. The primary duties of the Board are setting long-range strategic goals and plans for AFC’s future, acting as trustees on behalf of the ownership, conducting financial oversight and hiring and supervising the General Manager.
"I see the Ashland Food Co-op as a cornerstone of the community here in Ashland and the broader Rogue Valley. It's so much more than a grocery store. It centers values and ethics that I hold dear. I choose to give my time and energy to the Ashland Food Coop as a board member because of the important role the AFC plays in supporting healthy communities, resilient agriculture and a just food system." - Melina Barker, Board Director
All owners are welcome and encouraged to attend the AFC Board meetings. The Board meetings are held at 6 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month, except for July and December. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board will hold all meetings virtually until further notice. The Board meeting agenda is posted the Friday before each meeting on the Board Bulletin Board to the right of the Information Desk, next to the Suggestion Board. Owners on AFC’s mailing list will also be emailed a link to the meeting agenda and a Zoom link to attend the meeting.
Board Role and Duties
What Does the AFC Board of Directors Do?
Board Directors are volunteers who are elected for three year terms. The Board of Directors has four primary duties:
- Make key decisions to oversee and guide the business and affairs of the Co-operative
- Act as trustees for AFC owners and inform owners about the status of the Co-operative
- Ensure sound management of the Co-operative
- Set long-range goals and plans for the future
The Board of Directors acts as a single body and speaks with one voice.
The Board holds the General Manager (GM) accountable for their decisions and performance in conducting the store’s daily business.
- Monitor financial management to ensure adequate capitalization and profitable operations
- Approve capital and operating budgets
- Authorize loans and leases and capital expenditures
- Represent the Co-operative in major legal matters
- Recommends updates to the Bylaws
Policy and Planning
- Define the purpose and values of the Co-operative
- Establish long-range and strategic goals
- Set major policies and standards to achieve goals and objectives
- Look after the best interests of the Co-operative as a whole
- Make decisions about the Co-operative’s governance system and development of policies
Financial and Legal
- Hire the GM of the Co-operative, define their duties, and set their compensation
- Supervise and evaluate the performance of the GM
- Ensure that AFC is well managed according to all store values and policies
- Establish and serve on Board committees
- Monitor progress towards goals and achievement of objectives
- Perpetuate a strong Board through recruitment, elections, and training
- Review election procedures and ensure smooth transitions between Board terms
Ownership and Community
- Organize owner meetings
- Establish and maintain effective avenues of owner input and involvement consistent with AFC goals
- Establish standing and ad hoc committees of the Board, and recruit owner volunteers as needed
- Establish and review policies for Co-operative participation in social and community activities, including endorsements and donations
Code of Ethics
- Directors shall hold the good of the Co-op to be above that of any interest group, individual Board Director, owner or Co-op employee at all times. Directors act in accordance with the AFC Board Director Code of Ethics. (link to document)
Director Responsibilities and Participation
Being a Board director requires an average commitment of 10–20 hours per month.
- Understand AFC Bylaws and policies
- Attend monthly Board Meetings, Closed Work Sessions and Executive Sessions
- Serve on one or more Board Standing Committees
- Prepare for Committee and Board meetings
- Serve as Chair of a Board Committee at least once during a term
- Serve as a Board Officer at least once during a term
- Join an Ad Hoc Committee as needed
- Prepare annual GM evaluation
- Attend trainings, retreats and strategic planning sessions
- Plan and attend the Co-op Annual Meeting
- Fulfill the duties listed in the Board Director job description
- Maintain confidentiality and actively support all decisions made by the Board
- Fulfill commitments within the agreed-upon deadlines
- Financially support AFC by being an active owner and shopper
- Recruitment and mentoring of new Directors
- Participate in other Board/employee/owner events as assigned
Meet the Board of Directors
Ed Claassen - Board President
Chair, Executive Committee
Member, Strategic Planning Committee, Finance Committee
End of current term 2023
Ed is a Senior Associate for The Grove Consultants International, a San-Francisco-based consulting firm that utilizes its own unique form of graphically-enhanced facilitation to assist organizations and teams undertaking processes of planning, revitalization, and renewal. As an Ashland Food Co-op board member, Ed brings expertise in consulting and management, including team effectiveness and leadership development. He co-authored the “Team Leader Guide,” a rich resource based on the Drexler Sibbet Team Performance Model.
After conducting a strategic planning process for the Save-the-Redwoods League in 1997, Ed was invited to join the League’s board of directors to help implement the strategic plan. As a director, board Vice President (2000-2002) and President (2002-2008), he helped guide the organization implement a planning and performance management process that was driven by a clear set of strategic initiatives. Prior to joining The Grove Consultants, Ed was responsible for the training and organization development processes at SRI International. Ed completed undergraduate studies in physics at Rice University and graduate studies at Stanford’s School of Business. His passions are running and helping to preserve California’s ancient Redwood forests. He and his wife, a Jungian analyst, have 4 sons.
Julie O'Dwyer - Board Vice-President
Co-Chair, Strategic Planning Committee
Member, Executive Committee, AFC Gives Committee
End of current term 2023
Julie brings her passion for building community and fostering creativity in her role as an Ashland Food Co-op board member. A Co-op owner since 2003, Julie joined the AFC Board of Directors in 2014. Julie is the founder of the Ashland Design Studio and JulieO Design, providing resources and expertise to homeowners and building professionals throughout Southern Oregon, California, and Arizona. Her lifelong career as an architect and designer began in her father's studio at the age of 9 and has taken her around the world contributing her talents to design projects large and small. Julie and her daughters landed in Ashland, via Berkeley, where she quickly became one of the Siskiyou School’s founding families. Her involvement continues, long after her children have graduated!
Julie's love for combining food and community was ignited when she opened Tease, a popular restaurant located in downtown Ashland. Julie is proud of the impact this establishment had on the local food producers and farmers of Ashland and the way the community building events that were established there continue to grow and thrive in the Rogue Valley.
Member, Finance Committee, Board Development Committee, Strategic Planning Committee
End of current term 2022
As a native Oregonian, I completed my B.S. in Business/Economics from Willamette University. After pursuing a passion for skiing and living in Colorado, my husband and I returned to Oregon. Within our first years back, we took a leap and opened Pasta Piatti. We have been engaged in the food and wine scene ever since. Currently, we own and operate Pie + Vine, Sesame Asian Kitchen, Falafel Republic and we have a small vineyard that we farm for vine-to-glass wine for our restaurants. With our daughter, Olivia, we continue to spend lots of family time skiing, traveling and enjoying the local outdoors. I am someone that loves challenges, I enjoy staying fit through crossfit, and my most recent self-improvement challenge is taking Spanish at RCC.
Chair, AFC Gives Committee. Member, ED&I Committee
End of current term 2022
Raised in Ashland, Oregon, Melina developed a deep appreciation for the beauty and character of the Rogue Valley. Her love for the environment quickly led her to pursue a career in the outdoors. She has worked professionally educating youth and community members about the local environment and sustainability for over 10 years. After eight years exploring Colorado, she returned to southern Oregon to live and work on an organic farm in the Applegate Valley. She and her husband, Quinn, owned and operated Meadowlark Family Farm for 6 years, growing organic vegetables and berries. Melina holds a master's degree in Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University, and an undergraduate degree in International Politics and Environmental Studies from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO.
Melina helped to found Rogue Valley Farm to School and is delighted to combine her love of farming, the environment and educating youth as the RVF2S Program Director for the past 11 years. She currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network, as well as the Farm to School working group for the Oregon Community Food System Network. Melina also teaches Farm-based Field Education at Southern Oregon University. She has years of experience working with diverse stakeholders to build partnerships on a local and statewide level. Through her work with Rogue Valley Farm to School, Melina has developed a deep understanding of the local food system, and the many perspectives of the farmers, institutions, and families that live and work in the Rogue Valley.
Melina lives on a small homestead with her husband and two children. She spends free time gardening, hiking, preserving food, and playing outdoors with her family.
Chair, Board Development Committee, Chair, Owner Engagement Committee
Member, Board Development Committee, ED&I Committee
End of current term 2022
My career has included creating the weekly grocery ads for a newspaper, finishing college degrees in Art Education, Women's Studies and Radio and TV Broadcasting, a 15-year career in Public Radio at KLCC and Jefferson Public Radio, and a 25-year journey as Marketing Manager at Ashland Food Co-op.
My passion now lies in growing cooperative enterprise in the Rogue Valley in every economic sector. I am an avid student of cooperative and non-profit governance. I believe that cooperative enterprise is a way to address the local and global challenges of poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice.
Mark Gibbs - Board Treasurer
Chair, Finance Committee; Member, Executive Committee
End of current term 2023
Born and raised in the Chicago area, Mark has lived and worked as a volunteer high school teacher in the Bronx, NY and a financial analyst in Manhattan and Tokyo, Japan, prior to returning to graduate school and a professional career in corporate finance and banking back in Chicago. Mr. Gibbs has an undergraduate degree in Economics and an MBA in Finance, Strategy and Marketing. Mark and his wife Colleen spent the next 15 years living in the Midwest and starting their family.
In 2011, the Gibbs moved to Ashland with the intention of simplifying our lives and refocusing our values and priorities as we pursued raising our three young children in a more nurturing and natural environment. While few plans are perfect, this special community has been wonderful for our family. Today our daily life continues to revolve around the academic, athletic and artistic activities and pursuits of our three children ages 14, 18 and 20. We also especially enjoy gathering with friends and family at our terrific local establishments, hiking and exploring this beautiful region and skiing/biking Mt A. I am fortunate to now have more personal and professional flexibility to directly contribute even more time to important local organizations and activities that align with our personal values.
Larry Cooper - Director
Member, Finance Committee, Board Development Committee, Owner Engagement Committee
End of current term 2024
Larry Cooper grew up in Los Angeles and was educated at U.C. Berkeley and UCLA. After earning a BA in motion picture production at UCLA, he worked briefly in the film industry as a cinematographer and producer before decamping for Northern California where he switched careers to subsistance farming and forestry work. Living off the grid for several years, Larry focused on the environment and ecology learning about the Klamath Siskiyou region while working for the forest service and being a small farmer. Living near Yreka, Ca, the nearest organic shopping was the Ashland Food Co-op where Larry signed up and worked as a member in the first year of the stores existance in 1972. Next was 10 years of founding and operating various natural foods businesses including Nature's Kitchen in Yreka and Ashland Bakery and Cafe here in Ashland. Both businesses produced natural and organic bakery products that were also sold at the Co-op.
Larry and wife Lisa moved to Ashland in 1982, and as his family grew to include 3 children, Larry ultimately hung up the apron and entered a career focused on accounting and information technology. First as a consultant and later as a data analyst and network administrator, Larry helped create and run information and billing systems for restaurants and later for Rogue Valley Sewer Services where he served as a manager for 10 years. A most important part of Larry's life is serving the community. As his children grew up in Ashland, he volunteered in their schools, joined the Ashland School District Budget Committee and worked for a decade with Ashland High Arts Advocates. Larry is currently Vice President of the Chamber Music Concerts Board and also serves as a member of the City of Ashland Conservation and Climate Outreach Commission. And Larry continues his long relationship with the Co-op as a member of the Co-op Finance Committee. After shopping at the Co-op store for over 30 years, learning about the business aspects of the Co-op was the motivation for Larry to seek a position on the Co-op Board.
Chair: Ed Claassen
Members: Julie O’Dwyer, Mark Gibbs, Annie Hoy, Emile Amarotico and Abby Lazerow
Chair: Mark Gibbs
Members: Ed Claassen, Lisa Beam, Larry Cooper, Emile Amarotico, Mel Gedde, Kelly McNamara, Tracy Kaiser and Bob Kaplan.
Board Development Committee
Chair: Annie Hoy
Members: Lisa Beam, Emile Amarotico and Abby Lazerow
Members: Melina Barker, Emile Amarotico, John Strange, Sarah Huque, Rianna Koppel, Barry Haynes, Joe Reyes and Ethan Bernstein
Owner Engagement Committee
Chair: Annie Hoy
Members: Larry Cooper, Annie Hoy, Abby Lazerow, Mahlea Ramsey and Kris Risley
Strategic Planning Steering Committee
Co-Chairs: Julie O’Dwyer and Emile Amarotico
Members: Ed Claassen, Lisa Beam, Barry Haynes and Kelly McNamara
AFC Gives Committee
Chair: Melina Barker
Members: Julie O’Dwyer, Mel Gedde, Abby Lazerow, Eleanor Hobson, and Aria Bettinger
The Ashland Food Cooperative is a member-owned and member-governed cooperative corporation with the Board of Directors acting as the decision-making center of the business. The board provides overall direction for the Co-op on behalf of the ownership, ensures sound management to achieve the goals of the Co-op, and keeps the ownership informed about the status of the business. Board members are elected by the ownership for a three-year term. We encourage all members to consider service at this level.
Wondering if you’re a good candidate? Here’s what we suggest:
- Board members must be Co-op owners in good standing.
- Knowledge of natural foods is desirable.
- Prior experience, education, or skills could include: work on a volunteer board; financial, business, or legal background management, supervisory, or organizational skills; negotiation, facilitation, and conflict resolution skills; collective/cooperative experience.
Interested? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at [email protected]
Become a Candidate
The AFC Board elections cycle begins each year in March when applications become available. The Board candidate application packet is updated annually. Interested owners may also contact the Board Development Committee throughout the year to learn more about becoming a Board candidate.
Board Candidate Qualifications
- Co-op member in good standing for at least one year
- Knowledge of natural and organic foods
- Passion for the Co-op and our community
- Strong leadership skills
- Collaborative approach
- Ability to engage in respectful debate and dialogue
- Offer unique perspectives and skills
- Previous board, committee or other group experience
- Strong leadership, organizational and communication skills
- Ability to understand financial issues and financial statements
- Understanding of cooperative principles and values
- Intelligence and integrity
- Creativity, vision and flexibility
- Ability to empower others and delegate authority
- Respects multiple elements of diversity and diversity of thought
- Ability to put the interests of the whole organization above the interests of the few
- Computer proficiency
- Ability to maintain confidentiality
- Understand the responsibilities and duties of AFC Board Directors
The Board Nominating Committee will read all applications and then schedule interviews with candidates before the April Board meeting. Candidates must pass a screening interview with the Board Nominating Committee to check for basic qualifications and potential conflicts of interest. All candidates who are forwarded by the Nominating Committee will be notified and officially entered into the election process. Forwarded candidates will be asked to submit a 150-word campaign statement and to provide a high-resolution photo, which will be published in election materials.