2024 Board Election Packet

2024 Board Election Packet & Application

Dear Potential Board Member,

Thank you for your interest! This packet exists to answer your questions about Board service - what the Board does and how we operate - so you can decide if a leadership position with Common Ground Food Co-op's Board is right for you.


Information in this packet includes what a Board member does, the role the Board plays in the Co-op, and the candidate application. Included are the following sections:


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

Please review the information in this packet. After you have read it, we encourage you to reach out to us with questions, participate in the candidate information sessions, and take action to be as involved as you'd like to be with the Co-op, whether or not you decide to pursue Board service.


We hope this offers you an idea of how things operate behind the scenes at Common Ground and what roles owners can play in creating the change we want to see in our community and beyond.


In Cooperation,

The Common Ground Food Co-op Board of Directors


Application Process

  1. Read this packet and attend an optional Board Candidate information session or Board meeting.
  2. Submit your application by the end of the day on August 12, 2024.
  3. Once your application has been received and reviewed, a current Board member will contact you to set up an interview.
  4. The Board Development Committee will be screening candidates to ensure all potential Board candidates meet a minimum level of qualifications. The screening will be based on the written application and an in-person interview. Consideration will be based on four characteristics:
  • Contemplation
    • 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
  • Communication
    • Articulates their ideas in a way others can understand
    • Explains their thoughts in a coherent manner
  • Preparation
    • Is ready to be an active participant
    • Has the time and energy that is required to be on the Board
  • Co-operation
    • Can 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 petition with 10 owner signatures. That status will be noted on the ballot.


We'll officially announce the slate of candidates on September 1, 2024.


  5.    Consider attending the annual Meeting of Owners (MOO), which is the final day of voting. While 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!


Important Deadlines & Events

July 1 Candidate packet available In-store and online
July 8, 6:15pm Board meeting Virtual and FASS
July 9, 5:30 pm Candidate information session Virtual and Flatlander Classroom
August 12, end of day Application due online Online via website
August 14, 6:15pm Board meeting Virtual and FASS
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 & online
September 8, 2:00pm-4:00pm

Meet the Candidates event

(Board outreach event)

Flatlander Classroom
September 9, 6:15pm Board meeting Virtual and FASS
September 27, 6:30pm

Meeting of Owners

Voting Concludes

To Be Announced
October 7-11

New Board member orientation

(to be scheduled)

Flatlander Classroom
October 14, 6:15pm Board meeting Virtual and FASS


What Does The Board Do?

The Board Sets Policy

The primary function of the Board is crafting policy defining the work of the 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 an inclusive, vibrant community.
  • The cooperative movement is strengthened.
  • The Co-op serves as an educational resource on food issues.
  • Our local food movement 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 progress reports.


The Board Delegates Operations

The Board of Common Ground Food Co-op does not manage our store's day-to-day operations. Board members hold no individual power over staff or store policy. The Board does not directly implement operational details of store performance; instead, 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 toward fulfilling our Co-op's mission.


The Board Builds the Future

On a more nuts and bolts level, the Board is the critical catalyst for continued evolution at CGFC. Therefore, the Board ensures 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 legally and prudently. The Board also provides continuity. Board terms are three years; however, Board members may aspire to serve several terms 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 ownership's diverse interests, issues, passions, and concerns. Hopefully, these actions will 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. 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 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 ensure they have the best Board they can, and we researched different candidate screening processes to find the right fit for Common Ground. We settled on looking for candidates for our Board who would have these four characteristics:

  • Contemplation
    • 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
  • Communication
    • Articulates their ideas in a way others can understand
    • Explains their thoughts in a coherent manner
  • Preparation
    • Is ready to be an active participant
    • Has the time and energy that is required to be on the Board
  • Co-operation
    • 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. Below is a short list of some of the traits a good Board member has - if you think you possess some, many, or all, you could be a great addition to the Board.


  • 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 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 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 9, 2024. Each three-year term will last until 2027.


Q: How many seats are up for election in 2024?

A: We will be filling a total of five seats this year. Three of these are for full three-year terms (2024-2027). The other seats include: (1) 2025 and (1) 2026.


Q: Do owners still vote if the number of candidates is less than or equal to the number of seats?

A: Yes. All of 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 November and be required to complete some self-study work. New members will also be required to complete Columinate training CBL-101, a 4-hour virtual course. We also recommend new board members who 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. Directors are expected to attend Board meetings in person, but a virtual option is available for Directors who cannot participate in person upon request.


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. Then, the Board will spend 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 on 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 regularly (several times a week) or arrange otherwise reasonable accommodations.


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

A: We estimate the average monthly time spent 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, additional optional working groups, and preparing materials for the Board.


Q: Do Board members get paid?

A: Board members are not paid but do receive a store credit of $100 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