2022 Board Election Packet

Dear Potential Board Member,

Thank you for your interest! We have put together this packet as a way of answering your questions about Board service - what the Board does and how we operate, so you can decide if a leadership position on Common Ground Food Co-op's Board is right for you.

We begin with an outline of what a Board Member does, the role the Board plays in the Co-op, and conclude with the candidate application. Included are the following sections:


  • Application Process
  • Important Dates, Deadlines and Events
  • What Does the Board Do?
  • Board Service Q&A
  • Board Application


After you have read the information in this packet, we encourage you to reach out to us with questions, participate in the candidate information sessions and take action to be more involved with the Co-op, whether or not Board service is the path you choose.


We hope this offers you an idea of how things work at our Co-op and what roles owners can play in creating the kind of change we want to see in our community and beyond.


In Cooperation,


The Common Ground Food Co-op Board


Application Process


1) Read this packet and, optionally, attend a Board Candidate information session or Board meeting.


2) Submit your application by the end of the day on August 14th.


3) A current Board member will contact you to set up an interview.


4) To make sure Common Ground has the best Board it can, our Board Development Committee will be screening candidates to make sure everyone meets a minimum level of qualifications. The screening will be based on the written application and an in-person interview and will consider four characteristics:


  • Listens to other points of view with an open mind
  • Weighs things critically
  • Thinks through scenarios and more than one set of consequences for a decision
  • Articulates their ideas in a way others can understand
  • Explains their thoughts in a coherent manner
  • Is ready to be an active participant
  • Has the time and energy that is required to be on the Board
  • Is able to be respectful of alternative views
  • Is excited about community engagement
  • Is passionate about our Co-op


If a potential candidate is screened out through this process and is still interested in running, the bylaws allow any eligible owner to have a space on the ballot by petitioning with 10 owner signatures. That status will be noted on the ballot.


We'll officially announce the slate of candidates on September 1st.


5) Consider joining current Board members during our Candidate Forum at the September Board Outreach Event on September 10th from 10am to 12pm. Also consider attending the annual Meeting of Owners (MOO), which is the final day of voting. While both of these events are optional, many owners appreciate the opportunity to meet candidates in person in addition to reading your answers to the application questions. Application answers are posted in the store, online, and available on the electronic ballot.


Thank you for applying and good luck!

Important Dates, Deadlines and Events


July 1 Candidate packet available In store and online
July 11, 5:30 pm Candidate information session Virtual and Flatlander Classroom
Jully 11, 6:15 pm Board meeting Virtual and Flatlander Classroom
August 8, 5:30 pm Candidate information session Virtual and Flatlander Classroom
August 8, 6:15 pm Board meeting Virtual and Flatlander Classroom
August 14, end of day Application due online Online via Google Form
August 15-20

Candidate screening interviews

(by appointment)

Flatlander Classroom
August 21-30 Petition period In store
September 1 Candidate slate announced to the public In store and online
September 10, 10am-12pm

Meet the Candidates event

(Board outreach event)

Flatlander Classroom
September 12, 6:15 pm Board meeting Virtual and Flatlander Classroom

Meeting of Owners;

Voting concludes

To be Announced
October 3-8

New Board member orientation

(to be scheduled)

Flatlander Classroom
October 10, 6:15 pm Board meeting Virtual and Flatlander Classroom


What does the Board do?


The Board sets policy

The primary function of the Board is crafting policy defining the work of Common Ground Food Co-op (CGFC). To accomplish this, the Board uses a Policy Governance Model outlined by John Carver in his book, Boards That Make a Difference. This approach to governance emphasizes empowerment and accountability. The most far reaching of our policies define the Ends of CGFC. They are:


  • The Co-op is the center of a vibrant, inclusive community.
  • The cooperative movement is strengthened.
  • The Co-op serves as an educational resource on food issues.
  • Our local food system is equitable, robust and environmentally sound.


You can think of it this way - our store serves as a means to these Ends. Access to fresh, sustainably produced, or local food is what owners expect, but doing this also satisfies each of these Ends in a particular way. Ends Policies answer questions like "Why does Common Ground exist?" or "What changes does it make in the world?" or "And for whose benefit?". The Board delegates accomplishing these Ends to the Co-op's General Manager and receives regular reports on progress.


The Board delegates operations

The Board of Common Ground Food Co-op does not manage the day-to-day operations of our store. Board members hold no individual power over staff or store policy. The Board does not directly implement operational details of store performance; rather, a General Manager (GM) hired by the Board, handles the running of CGFC. Board members steer long-term goals for CGFC, and their deliberations and resolutions guide the GM towards fulfilling the mission of or Co-op.


The Board builds the future

On a more nuts and bolts level, the Board is the key catalyst for continued evolution at CGFC. Therefore, the Board works to ensure communication with the ownership and responds to owner concerns. Beyond responsibility to equity holders, the Board is legally accountable to the State of Illinois for the actions of CGFC. Therefore it must craft policy to ensure that the organization operates in a legal and prudent manner. The Board also provides continuity. Board terms are three years; however, Board members may aspire to serve several terms, in an effort to learn the way the organization works, thus providing leadership and stewardship for generations ahead. Through its actions, the Board shapes the future of CGFC encompassing the diverse interests, issues, passions, and concerns of the ownership. Hopefully these actions encourage owners to further their personal involvement at Common Ground Food Co-op.

Board Service Q&A


Q: Who can run for the Board?

A: Any Co-op owner in good standing may run for the Board. "Good standing" means that your equity (owner share) is paid in full and that your current, correct contact information is on file with the Co-op. Additionally, Board members may not be relatives of the General Manager. For the purposes of eligibility, relatives are defined to include spouses, parents, children, brothers, sisters, brothers- and sisters-in-law, fathers- and mothers-in-law, stepparents, stepbrothers, stepsisters and stepchildren. No Board member shall reside with or date the General Manager.


Q: Why is there a candidate screening process?

A: The candidate screening process is designed to make sure you as a candidate know what you're getting yourself into by joining the Board - that you're excited and ready to start learning more after your election - and that all candidates meet a minimum set of qualifications. Co-ops around the country do this to make sure they have the best Board they can, and we researched different kinds of candidate screenings to find the right fit for Common Ground. We settled on looking for candidates for our Board who would have these four characteristics:


  • Listens to other points of view with an open mind
  • Weighs things critically
  • Thinks through scenarios and more than one set of consequences for a decision
  • Articulates their ideas in a way others can understand
  • Explains their thoughts in a coherent manner
  • Is ready to be an active participant
  • Has the time and energy that is required to be on the Board
  • Is able to be respectful of alternative views

  • Is excited about community engagement
  • Is passionate about our Co-op


Q: How can I know if I would make a good Board member?

A: While prior experience on a board may be helpful, we don't want anyone to think it is required. We have made a list of traits that are good to have - if you think you possess some, many, or all, you could be a great addition to the Board. These include but are not limited to:

  • Commitment to the Ends of Common Ground Food Co-op;
  • Knowledge of and interest in the issues of concern to the Co-op;
  • Capacity for personal growth;
  • Willingness for long-term service;
  • Readiness to work with and listen to others;
  • Unique background, skills, and contacts;
  • Humility, humor, honesty and integrity;
  • Ability to commit time and energy to focusing on the big picture.


Q: How many owners serve on the Board?

A: The Board consists of at most 9 elected owners There are four officers - President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary. Officers are elected by the Board as a whole at the first meeting with newly elected directors.


Q: How long are the terms?
A: Full Board terms are three (3) years. Newly elected Board members will begin their service at the Board meeting on October 10th, 2022. The three, three-year terms will last until 2025. The fourth position will be for a one-year term.


Q: How many seats are up for election in 2022?

A: We will be filling four seats this year. Three of the seats will be full three-year terms (2022-2025) and will go to the candidates receiving the three highest vote totals. The next candidates will get a one-year term (2022-2023).


Q: Do owners still vote if the number of candidates is less than or equal to the number of seats?
A: Yes. All our Board members must be democratically elected in accordance with our bylaws. Article 4, section 3 states, "All directors shall be elected by secret ballot, and the nominee(s) receiving the greatest number of votes shall be elected." They need your votes!


Q: Is there any training for Board members?

A: Newly elected Board members will attend a New Board Member Orientation in early October and be required to complete some self-study work. New members will also be required to complete Columinate training CBL-101 which is a 4-hour virtual course. We also recommend new board members that may not have a financial background attend Columinate Finance training. This is a four session virtual course. Opportunities for ongoing training and development opportunities are provided to all Board members, including an annual one day retreat, and Board members often participate in national conferences.


Q: When are Board meetings?

A: Meetings are the second Monday of each month from 6:15-8:15pm. They are currently held virtually using Google Meet. We hope to have a hybrid option soon.


Q: What happens at a Board meeting?

A: Each meeting has an agenda, which we follow closely. The meetings begin at 6:15 with an opportunity for visitors to give comments, followed by about an hour studying or discussing a specific topic or project. The second hour of the meeting is devoted to business items such as GM and Board monitoring and ongoing Board projects. Some meetings include Executive Sessions to discuss issues of a sensitive nature. Typically, these regard staffing or financial information for which confidentiality is necessary to protect the interests of the Co-op.


The agenda and supporting documents are posted to the Board website. Meetings are open to owners. Minutes from the meeting are posted under the minutes section of the Co-op's website after approval by the Board, about a month after the meeting. Reading past meeting minutes would be a good way to learn what the Board is doing and what you could expect at a meeting.


Q: How does the Board stay in contact between meetings?

A: The Co-op Board primarily communicates through email and Google Workplace between meetings. Each committee also meets either in person or online between meetings. Board members are expected to have access to email and the internet and be able to use both on a regular basis (several times a week) or arrange otherwise reasonable accomodations.


Q: What is the time commitment for an individual Board member?

A: We estimate the average time spent per month to be a minimum of 8 to 10 hours. Board members are expected to prepare for and attend each monthly meeting. Preparation includes reading reports and other materials, participating in committee meetings, owner events, conference calls, and additional optional working groups, and preparing materials for the Board.


Q: Do Board members get paid?

A: Members of the Board are not paid but do receive a store credit of $90 each month to thank them for their service and work. You will receive a 1099-MISC for this compensation each January.


Q: I have another question: how can I get more information?
A: Great! Please send us an email at board@commonground.coop. You could also join us at our candidate information sessions at 5:30 before our July 11th and August 8th Board meetings in the Co-op classroom.


Common Ground Food Co-op is proud to be an equal opportunity workplace. Our Board is committed to the same spirit and all owners are encouraged to consider Board service regardless of race, color, ancestry, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, marital status, disability, gender identity, or veteran status. In compliance with the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), if you have a disibility and would like to request an accommodation in order to apply for Common Ground's Board, please call 217-352-3347 or email board@commonground.coop


Instructions to apply: Fill out our online application form: https://forms.gle/MDLyJRZADwXyxMfU6


The questions are included below for your reference.



Owner number:



The qualifications for Board service are specified in the Co-op Bylaws. To qualify for a position on the Common Ground Board, you must be an active owner in good standing with regard to your ownership equity in the store. You may not be a relative of the General Manager.

_ I certify that I am eligible to be on the Board of Directors. Co-op staff will verify your eligibility.


Conflict of Interest

A Conflict of Interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that your judgement or actions in your primary role as a Director of CGFC will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest. Per Article IV of the CGFC Bylaws, "directors are under affirmative obligation to disclose any actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest." This does not necessarily disqualify you from Board Service. Please note that reporting a Conflict of Interest is independent of the occurrence of impropriety. The purpose of this is to inform your fellow directors and the General Manager of any conflicting interests that may pose a risk to your judgement in order to prevent the occurrence of impropriety. Typical circumstances that may constitute a Conflict of Interest include:

  • Financial Interests (e.g. investments, employers, clients, partners)
  • Outside Positions (e.g. employment, Boards, or volunteer roles)
  • Personal Relationships (e.g. family, friendships, group affiliations)

If a reasonable person could conclude that there is a risk of any such circumstances unduly influencing your decisions as a CGFC Director, then you should report them. Conflicts of Interest are generally self-enforced; the Bylaws state that "direcors with conflicts of interest may not participate in the discussion or decision in matters related to the conflict." However, the Bylaws also give the Board the ability to take action: "the remaining directors by majority vote shall determine what action if any to take."


Please describe any relationships, positions, or circumstances in which you are invovled that a reasonable person could perceive as contributing to a Conflict of Interest in your role as a Director of the Common Ground Food Co-op. 


Time Commitment

Board members are expected to be prepared and attend each meeting. Our regularly scheduled meeeting is the second Monday of each month from 6:15-8:15pm.

_ I certify that I am able to be a prepared participant in monthly Board meetings and additional communication and activities, both online in person.



Attach a recent photo of yourself to your submission. Make sure you are the subject of the photo and easily identifiable - many of us know faces, not names! If you don't have a photo to use, we can have one taken for you.


Written Questions

Your answers to these questions will be publicly available during the voting period. They will be posted online and in the store, along with your photograph and the date you submitted your application.


  1. Why would you like to serve on the Board? What excites you about policy governance? 100 word limit
  2. We know that potential Board members may have past experiences serving on the Boards, in other leadership roles, and within our community. What professional skills will you bring to our Board? Share any relevant leadership experience. 200 word limit
  3. What do you hope to get from the experience of being on the Board? What do you hope you will learn about yourself or our organization? 200 word limit
  4. How will you help the Board balance the needs of upholding our Ends, planning for the future of our community-owned cooperative and monitoring the operations of our grocery store? 100 word limit