Jason Papenfuss

Jason Papenfuss
Academic Associate, Arizona State University

Why do you want to serve on the Eastside Food Co-op Board of Directors?
For me, Eastside Food Co-op board service translates directly into community service. After several years of growth, the co-op is no longer just a place to buy healthy food, it’s also a hub for cultivating partnerships, promoting equity, and building sustainable neighborhoods. If elected, I would work hard toward these ends on behalf of all Eastside owners.

What kinds of skills, interests, and experience would you bring to the board?
In 2012, I returned to college after 17 years of working as an engineer because I was passionate about understanding and helping to address environmental and sustainability challenges. I finished my master’s degree in conservation biology in 2015 and my Ph.D. in sustainability this year. My unique career path has provided me with values, knowledge, and skills that compliment current Eastside board members. Above all, I will bring a strong belief in the co-op model, a desire to learn, and a willingness to listen.

Eastside Food Co-op is founded on the 7 International Cooperative Principles. Please choose one of the principles and describe how you think the board can encourage and foster this in a cooperative.
Concern for Community – The staff, customers, and owners of Eastside come from diverse socioeconomic, race, gender, and cultural backgrounds. I think we need to do more to listen to these owners and promote the co-op values of solidarity, responsibility, and care – values that are crucial to healthy communities. One approach I would recommend would be the adoption of term limits into the board’s governance policy. Term limits would help provide opportunities for Eastside owners who come from diverse backgrounds to take part in Eastside board leadership.

Tell us your experience in working with fiduciary responsibilities for an organization.
After spending the last 7 years in graduate school, I am just beginning to get involved in community organizations around the NE Minneapolis area. Yet, I have a working knowledge of the model (called Policy Governance) Eastside uses to govern and build trusting relationships between the board, the owners, and the general manager. Most importantly, I am excited and willing to learn what is necessary in fulfilling the three primary functions of a board: listening to the needs of our owners, maintaining ethical policies, and monitoring the overall health of the co-op.

Tell us your experience in collective-decision making.
In the fall of 2018, I took part in a 5-week residential course at the Findhorn Foundation College, in Scotland, U.K. Part of the learning experience focused on collective decision-making models including novel approaches like “sociocracy,” where decision making is based on member consent. I also believe that collective decision-making processes are crucial to ensuring that ethical policies are created and implemented in ways that are transparent, equitable, and beneficial to owners.