Meet the Board: Madeleine Wolske

- Ming Kuo


This continues an intermittent series of interviews, in which Ming Kuo (CGFC Board member) interviews other members of our Board.


Madeleine Wolske is a former staffer at Common Ground and the business librarian at the Champaign Public Library, where she creates collaborative and inclusive learning opportunities, provides resources, and meets one-on-one for those wanting to start or grow their business. She’s also managed a league of charitable amateur wrestlers, run a school library, organized large events and art markets, and supervised staff and volunteers. We’re glad to have her on the Board.


Ming: Thanks for making time for this interview, Madeleine! Let’s open with the question,”What brings you to the Board?” What makes it worth volunteering your time and energy?

Madeleine: I came to the Board with the desire to reconnect with my Urbana community and my interest in small, family farms. I applied because I wanted to become part of a like-minded group that cares about sustainable agriculture, local food systems, increases community education, and supports a business philosophy that prioritizes fair treatment of their workers.


Ming: Do you have any goals for your time on the Board? Or a vision for the Co-op?

Madeleine: I am most interested in increasing and facilitating social and fiscal responsibility through forging partnerships with like-minded community organizations and would love to create a grant that goes directly to small, local farms or aspiring farmers.


Ming: I see you’ve already assumed a leadership role, chairing the Owner Engagement Committee – any goals or hopes for Owner Engagement, specifically? 

Madeleine: From my own experience, a lot of owners would love the opportunity to “do more,” not just for the Co-op, but for their community. When provided with the right information and opportunity, I’ve found that our community really responds and comes forward. Through programming, workshops, and outreach, I aim to increase overall owner engagement and investment in the Co-op.

I also hope to decrease social and economic barriers within the Co-op but also how the community perceives the organization. As a librarian, I deal directly with accessibility and ensuring that resources can be understood and accessed by all; and I’d like to extend that to the Co-op. Through listening, education,  and programming, I believe we can strengthen our relationship between the Co-op and our community. 


Ming: Are there any special perspectives or skills you bring to the Board, as the Business Librarian at Champaign Public Library, or from your many leadership and organizational roles in the community?

Madeleine: Lately, I have found my ability to pivot, adapt, and be creative to be the most valuable skill in all my positions. At the Library, we have had to completely change how we approach serving the community and organize programming. Through innovative thinking and exploring alternative ways to serve the community during this time, we were able to really be there for our small business owners and burgeoning entrepreneurs. 


Ming: If there was one thing you could tell Owners (or non-Owners!) about the Co-op, what would it be?

Madeleine: Read the 2021 Impacts Report!


Also, three cheers go to our GM, Gary, and purchasing team for working around price increases during supply chain issues to ensure that staples at the Co-op are still within an accessible price range. This is a hard time to be a grocery and they are killing it while still supporting local farmers.


Ming: Any fond memories of your time as a staffer? 

Madeleine: I used to work at the Co-op from 2012-2015. I had a range of jobs in the kitchen, but my favorite was being a bread baker! The smell of fermentation and the squishy whoosh of throwing the bread around was joy. I was also renowned for creating animal-shaped punny buns.



Ming: Thanks, Madeleine! 


Owners, we hope you enjoyed this chat with one of our Board members and hope you’ll keep an eye out for future chats. These interviews will appear intermittently in the “Word from our Board” in the newsletter. Let us know what you think! [insert board email address here]