Joseph Andriano

Joseph Andriano
Position: 
President

How long have you been a Co-op member?

I have been a member of the co-op since August of 2013. Joining the co-op was one of the first things that we did upon moving to the area. 

What do you appreciate most about the Co-op?

What I appreciate most about our co-op is that it is a vital part of our community. I love that a trip to the co-op is so much more than just a shopping experience. During a trip to the co-op I almost always see someone I know and end up having a good conversation. Additionally, I appreciate that the co-op produces such high quality prepackaged food. From our breads to our soups to everything in between, every day there is something tasty and irresistible being cooked up.

What opportunities have you had to be involved in the Co-op?

I was a core worker in the Carriage House Bakery from September 2013 until July of 2014, when I had to leave my position due to work obligations. I loved being a core worker--it was incredible to be part of the co-op in that way, and I suggest everyone try it if they are able!

Why have you chosen to run for a seat on the Board of Directors?

I have chosen to run for a seat on the Board of Directors for two reasons. First, I had to leave my core worker position, and I wanted to find a way to remain involved in a manner that would better fit my work schedule. Second, I have extensive non-profit experience that I would like to bring to the table. I have served as a member of the Board of Directors of Windsor County Partners (a youth mentoring non-profit), was a founding board member of Royalton Community Radio (a community radio station), and currently serve on the board of TAUNY. I also have managed Kingdom County Productions, a film and arts non-profit in Vermont. I believe that my extensive experience in this field will be an asset to helping to grow and sustain this institution that I love.

My Vision for the Co-op is for it to continue to be a vital community resource for healthy food, and to be a place where people can come together and share their passion for local and sustainable food practices.

 

Laura Cordts

Laura Cordts
Position: 
Vice President

Co-op Member Since:   A long time!  I can remember packaging at the old Co-op on Market Street, by the bypass.  

Co-op Board Member Since: 2013 

What do you appreciate most about the Co-op?:  The availability of healthy, local, and/or organic food, in a fun and friendly setting.

What brought you to the Co-op Board?: I love the Co-op and want to make sure it remains viable in our community.  

What will you contribute to the Co-op and the Board?: Well, I am certainly interested in food: growing it, cooking and baking it, and eating it!  I also have a keen interest in my own health and the health of our local economy and environment.  For more than 25 years I have worked in fund-raising, marketing, and public relations. I was a Board Member and past President of the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce, past-President of the Potsdam Rotary Club, and I am currently on the Potsdam Holiday Fund Board, so I know what it takes to be a volunteer-leader.   

Robin McClellan

Robin McClellan
Position: 
Treasurer

Co-op Member Since: 1973

Co-op Board Member Since: 2012

Why I ran for the Board: I believe that I live in an extraordinary and dynamic community, one that takes care of its own and values that self-reliance. I sought a seat on the Board because the Co-op is part of the foundation of this community and I believe I can make a difference in assuring the Co-op remains strong and evolves to serve the next generation of community members. I have served as treasurer for a number of non-profit organizations and hope that experience will help me serve the Co-op in these economically challenging times.

Erica LaFountain

Erica LaFountain
Position: 
Secretary

Co-op Member Since: 1980s/2014

Co-op Board Member Since: 2015

What brought you to the Co-op Board?: I want to be more involved. I am proactive, and I care about the Co-op. As a mother of two young children I’ve decided not to hold a traditional job for the time being, so this is a welcome opportunity to apply myself in a different capacity.

What will you contribute to the Co-op and the Board?: I have experience with the co-op model, having participated in another food co-op as well as housing and childcare co-ops. I also have a background in organic farming, and I feel strongly about locally and directly sourcing everything we can. Perhaps I’m about the right age to connect with the younger Potsdam crowd, while being old enough to have nostalgia about the Co-op’s earlier iterations. I hope we can keep the Co-op solvent and relevant without sacrificing its character and mission.

Gail Anderson

Position: 
Board Member

Our family has been patronizing the Co-op for 13 years, starting with an occasional visit when we were in the ADKs. We became members when we moved to Potsdam 4 years ago.

I've enjoyed the fellowship and community spirit of the annual meetings/dinners, many of the promotional events, and last year baked in the Baking Contest.

I have chosen to run for a seat on the Board because I have found in my previous board positions in other organizations it is an effective way to support and nurture an organization: in this case, to see our beloved Co-op thrive.

As a dietitian working with individuals in New York City I shared my intense passion for healthy and sustainable food. Subsequently, I created and owned 2 health oriented restaurants in CT that included a full scale bakery. I also attended the Culinary Institute of America's final semester focusing on the business side of food production. Consequently, I have working knowledge of food purchasing, budgets and personnel management.

I value the Co-op's dedication to quality and sustainability, and its focus on local farmers. The bakery, deli and value-added products contribute to its unique position in the marketplace. I think that trend needs to continue to ensure future viability. I enjoy business, and even though the Co-op is not for profit, it inevitably has to compete in the marketplace.

Shopping at the Co-op is always a pleasant experience, including the tone set by the staff and the added benefit of seeing neighbors and friends. My goal is to focus on outreach to expand membership and to ensure we maintain an identity that will make the Co-op the go-to place for healthy eaters and gourmands alike.

 

Samantha Dagrossa

Position: 
Board Member

How long have you been a Co-op Member? 3+ years.

What do you appreciate most about the Co-op? What do you think is working well? I appreciate the value such a place brings to the community by promoting healthy, whole food options, an assortment of products from NY-based farms and vendors and the opportunity for neighbors to come together in an accessible way. Any establishment that honors the past while promoting present and future environmental and economic wellness should not be taken for granted. Specifically, I appreciate the prepared deli options, the coffee/tea/soup bar, and the selection of personal care products. The Co-op makes my lunch 3-4x a week and helps me support environmentally-conscious businesses.

What opportunities have you had to be involved in the Co-op? I have only been a member-owner up to this point.

Why have you chosen to run for a seat on the Board of Directors? was approached by a co-worker who is a member of the Board, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to become more involved in a local place I feel so passionate about. My husband and I moved to the North Country four years ago, and I was grateful a place like the Potsdam Food Coop existed so close to my work and home. Anything I can do to strengthen it as a pillar of the community, along with secure its future stability, is important to me.

What interests, skill, and talents will you bring to the Board of Directors? I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communications, with a concentration in Radio/ TV/Film and Writing Arts. I am skilled in writing, proofreading, various computer applications and software, marketing and all levels of communications. I also have experience in retail/merchandising and website maintenance, along with having volunteered at The READ Center in Richmond, VA and currently at the Potsdam Humane Society. On a personal level I am interested in organic/local farming, cooking in my crock pot, nutrition-related causes, such as childhood hunger and food deserts, and personal well-being through nutrition. I am talented in creative writing and painting, and love the arts, music and my tabby cat, Elmer.

Jessica Diagostino

Position: 
Board Member

Hello, My name is Jessica Diagostino. I have been a member of the co-op for just over a year. I joined the co-op when I started working for my employer, Wholeshare, in Potsdam, NY. I moved up to Massena in 2013 from Charlotte NC. It was tough moving from a big city where I had access to local, organic, and sustainable foods to the food desert up here. I was thrilled to find the co-op and the different cuts of local meats and fresh organic fruits and veggies!

I unfortunately haven’t been able to get as involved with the co-op as I would have liked. I tried a couple of times to help out with inventory but had other obligations each time it was scheduled. But I feel that this would be a great way to get involved and become a part of the community. I have an extensive background that encompasses customer service, recruiting, adult education and training, basic financial knowledge, and a passion for great food.

My favorite thing about the co-op is the variety. For such a small space, there is an amazing variety of product that appeal to a large number of people. The prepared food section always has something a little different each time and the soups are amazing. There is also no way to leave the co-op without a fresh baked bread!

My only regret is not finding out about the co-op sooner. Moving up here and not knowing many people I didn’t know about the co-op until I started working in Potsdam. My child’s babysitter, who has been living in Massena for 60+ years had never even heard of it! I think a bigger presence in the surrounding areas to get the word out would be beneficial in raising membership numbers. I was also thinking that a pop-up store in Massena would be great too.

My final suggestion would be to increase the social media presence of the Co-op. Like it or not, social media is here to stay and embracing it might help bring in the younger crowd who are taking more of an interest in local and organic foods. There are plenty of colleges and universities around and getting the students attention would be key to bringing them into the shop.

 

Kayla French

Position: 
Board Member

I am a middle and high school English teacher. I am a 46R and a rescue-level scuba diver. I am a reader of books and a drinker of coffee. I am a mother of a son. I am a poet. I am a Virgo. I am a gardener. I love leaving the North Country, and I love returning home to the North Country. I try to live as conscientiously as possible.

Time has gotten away from me, but I think I’ve been a member of the co-op since 2009 or 2010. When I initially joined the co-op, I worked in packaging. It was gratifying to see all those little packages stuffed with their little twist-ties neatly holding them closed. And I thoroughly enjoyed all the conversations I had with people of all walks of life I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Thereafter, my husband and I were your after-hours produce cooler cleaners! We did that job for over a year. Now I am on the newsletter committee where I enjoy playing with language and fixing comma splices.

I appreciate that the co-op is more than a grocery store. It is a gathering space, an educational center, and a hub of community activity and events. As a vegetarian and someone who is health-conscious and environmentally-conscious, I appreciate that the co-op is a place I can shop without worrying about the products I’m purchasing for my family and myself. I also appreciate that, at the co-op, the employees and general manager are open to suggestions and ideas of their customers and are always striving to bring in new products and have new community events, while making sure to keep old favorites around too. At the co-op, I feel like more than a customer. I really have the sense of membership.

I view the co-op as an important hub of our community. This community has given me so much; I am eager for opportunities to serve my community. I see sitting on the Board of Directors of the co-op as the next step in my involvement in what I view as an essential element of Potsdam.

I have experience in event planning, fundraising, editing and writing. I am a skilled public speaker and neurotically well-organized. I am enthusiastic, forward-thinking, and eager to engage in any opportunity to make Potsdam a better place.

Abigail Lee

Abigail Lee
Position: 
Board Member

Co-op Member Since: 1988

Co-op Board Member Since: Initially in the 1990's and again in 2013

What brought you to the Co-op?:  What I appreciate most about the Co-op is its commitment to provide local, international and basic goods (at reasonable prices) to the community.

What can you contribute to the Co-op Board?:  I have experience with not-for-profit organizations (from both the Board member and employee perspective.)

I have organizational and system analysis skills and understand, from experience, the complexities of retail operations.

Maggie McKenna

Maggie McKenna
Position: 
Board Member

How long have you been a Co-op Member? I have been a Co-op member-owner since September 2014.

What opportunities have you had to be involved in the Co-op? This spring, I joined the Co-op marketing and membership committee and the outreach and education committee. I also have performed at the Fall Open House and represented the Co-op at the SUNY Canton Health Fair. On the marketing committee, I have worked with other committee members to create a new member brochure and to revamp the business partners program. On the outreach committee, I have also joined an ad hoc newsletter committee that edits the articles before they go to our newsletter designer - this process seems to have decreased the turnaround time for the newsletter significantly, and we believe this process will improve with each iteration.

Why have you chosen to run for a seat on the Board of Directors? I am a strong believer in supporting our community, especially in such a small town. I grew up in an area that was very commercialized, and there wasn’t even a co-op or farms nearby. Coming to Potsdam, I see the important role that the Co-op plays in the local community, and I want to be able to aid that in any way possible. I believe being part of the Board of Directors would allow me the opportunity to make a positive impact in not just the Co-op, but the Potsdam and North Country community. 

What interests, skill, and talents will you bring to the Board of Directors? I have a business and math background, so I can understand financial statements and revenue graphs and all that, but my true passion is marketing and events. While I can certainly use those skills in the committees I have joined, I feel like being a part of the board and offering my ideas for how to reach new customers and member-owners and how to satisfy our current member-owners can be beneficial to many discussions on the board. Considering the views of the member-owner base as a whole is crucial to every single discussion on the board. 

What do you appreciate most about the Co-op? What do you think is working well? I appreciate that the Co-op plays a vital role in our community and creates its own community as well. The Co-op is made up of a diverse set of individuals who are connected through a common goal: to promote a healthy, conscientious lifestyle. I think that “conscientious” is the operative term here as Co-op members are not just mindful of the food they choose to eat, they also think about the greater good and how their participation in the Co-op benefits the economic, social and cultural needs of the member-owner base and the community as a whole. I believe that that kind of prudence should be fostered across the globe, but it has to start in local communities. 

What do you think is missing, or isn't working, at the Co-op? I think the Co-op is struggling to bring in new member-owners. It is fantastic that anyone in the community can shop at the Co-op, but it is crucial to investigate the reasons why people do not become member-owners. I know a number of people who are even leaders in the community who shop at the Co-op regularly but do not join. I think our marketing efforts are a great start, but we must start a strong effort across the whole board. 

What is your future vision for the Co-op? I think it is not unreasonable to set a steady membership goal of 1,500 member-owners. Currently, we are relatively constant around 1,000.  An increase in community events and involvement at external events will help this. Also, we can research reasons why people do not join and make a more concerted effort in-store to sign people up. I understand there is a relatively constant debate about changing the dues and shares setup, but updating that system may also help. Some of the individuals who might be apt to join are university professors and their families, area newcomers, younger individuals and students. Enlisting enthusiastic students might be a great way to reach out to some of those groups. **New idea** I know some campus groups also do fundraisers like bake sales and commercial cookie dough or other baked goods sales - we might be able to implement a fundraising program that allows groups to sell our products instead.

Tim Messner

Position: 
Board Member

Co-op Member since: 2012

Favorite Co-op Item? The bakery and deli – best lunch options in town.

What brought you to the Co-op Board? I moved to the North Country in 2012. The Co-op played a large part in educating me about the local community and the good people helping to make foodways more sustainable. For the last three years, I have enjoyed being a co-op member. During that time, I had the opportunity to take on a work-share role in the bakery. I am now excited by the possibility of embarking on a leadership role and to contribute to the collective in a greater capacity.

What will you contribute to the Co-op and the Board? I am an assistant professor of anthropology at SUNY Potsdam. As an academic, my work broadly examines people/environmental interactions in the past and present. These interests permeate through all aspects of my life. My family and I currently own a small hobby farm where we produce fruits and vegetables. We also have chickens that my four-year-old son named after members of the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Chic-Jagger produces wonderful eggs. As a co-op board member, I would bring an ability to engage with a diverse public. In doing so, I hope to expand the co-op’s role in education and outreach. For instance, I would like to see more involvement with the campus communities. There’s growing awareness among college students of the importance of local, sustainable and just food systems. The co-op plays an important part of this in the Potsdam area. I would work to strength these ties to help continually revitalize the membership base. I envision a future where people not only shop, but spend time at the co-op. I truly feel we have some of the best lunch items in town. It’s exciting to see the new lunch counter, which will provide a warm place to enjoy food, friends and family during the cold winter months. 

Eric Ochranek

Eric Ochranek
Position: 
Board Member

Co-op Member Since: 2009

Co-op Board Member Since: 2015

What brought you to the Co-op Board?: I have a desire to work for the Co-op and give back to the community. I think this would be a great opportunity for me to accomplish that.

What will you contribute to the Co-op and the Board?: I have strong technical skills and was a critical part of the implementation of the membership card system, inventory tracking, and maintaining the Co-op’s online presence. I enjoyed doing all of that as part of the amazing team at the Co-op. I believe I offer a unique perspective as I’ve worked on the front-lines and as part of the back office. Since leaving the Co-op my technical skills have grown and I’ve earned a Master’s in Educational Technology. I support buying local, eating local, and the fair treatment of animals and humans along the way.

About Board Service

In general, the Board is responsible for the financial viability of the Co-op.  The Board evaluates and approves the Co-op Budget, evaluates the General Manager’s performance, sets goals and objectives for the Co-op and makes sure the Co-op continues to operate in accordance with and in the spirit of its mission and by-laws. 

The Co-op Board expects Board members to attend and participate in monthly 2-hour Board meetings (held the third Tuesday of each month).  Certain annual events hosted by the Board also require Board attendance, such as the Co-op Annual Meeting, the staff holiday party, and the Co-op Open House.  The Board accomplishes a great deal of work in committees and the Board expects members to participate in committees of their choosing.  Currently the Board has the following standing Committees: Executive, Finance, Governance/Nominating, Education/Outreach, Membership/Marketing, IT, and Buildings and Grounds.