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Meet Your Board
Colette DePhelps, President
My passion for local food and agriculture began at age 21 in a dugout canoe in the upper Amazon rainforest. Our hosts, the Cofan people, were in the deepest sense sustainable agriculture practitioners and locavores (long before that word was coined). In sharing their homes, food and way of life, I came to understand the beautiful balance that exists in some cultures; sustainability as a way of life, not an adjective or even a goal. Upon returning to the United States, I engaged in a self-defined major at Western Washington University looking at sustainable agriculture and indigenous peoples. That is also when I discovered and joined the food co-op in Bellingham, WA.
A couple of years later, I moved to Pullman and enrolled in a Masters program at Washington State University, hoping to learn more about the philosophy that underpins conventional agriculture. It was then, in 1991, that I joined the Moscow Food Co-op. Upon graduation from WSU, I worked for several years for the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, then as the coordinator of the Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute’s community food systems program. I left PCEI in 1997 to co-found Rural Roots, Inc. a Moscow-based sustainable food and agriculture non-profit organization.
These past 20 years (how time flies), I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with extraordinary farmers, ranchers and other ag professional dedicated to creating a more just, sustainable and resilient regional food system. During that time, I have continued to grow in appreciation of the Moscow Food Co-op and its central role in our Palouse community. For my two children and I (Forest and Raven) the Co-op is an integral part of our lives: here we find sustenance in great food and a strong caring community. I am honored to be serving on the Moscow Food Co-op’s Board of Directors. Thank you.
Kurt (Sam) Obermayr,
Raised in South Idaho, the Palouse has been Kurt Obermayr’s home-base since 1980 when he came here, as many have, to attend the University of Idaho, and he stayed to raise his family in the Moscow community. He studied history and ceramic art at U of I. In 1988 he married Maree McHugh. Together they bought property on the edge of town and remodeled an old farm house. They moved to Arizona for six years when his wife took a position with the Indian Health Service. Kurt and Maree came back home to the Palouse in 2007 and are involved socially and politically in the Moscow community.
Kurt is a creative man, using his hands and applying his encyclopedic knowledge of anything he has ever read. He finds few problems unsolvable and can fix just about anything: cars, machines, houses, plumbing, and electrical and social systems. A potter and carpenter by trade, Kurt has earned a living doing what he knows he can do well. He has managed his own renovation-remodel and historical reconstruction business for 20 years. When he lived on the Navajo Nation he became involved in the local Habitat for Humanity and made many friends, not only because he had the right tools, but because of his sense of humor, willingness to learn how to build a Navajo hogan, his love of fry bread, and deep respect for the traditions of the Dine’.
Kurt has always had a passion for history, art, social justice, remodeling old buildings, rafting wild rivers, and hiking in wide open, beautifulplaces. He can analyze complex political situations, mix cement, pound nails, find his way through the woods, blend into a desert landscape in a heartbeat, and be comfortable and contribute at board meetings. Kurt has served on the board of the Renaissance Fair and on the Moscow Planning and Zoning committee, and is Precinct Committee Chair for Precinct 4. Adhering to the principles of “common sense,” building sustainable structures, both physical and within community alliances, is Kurt’s strength and commitment.
Laurene is a lawyer, mediator, and life coach. She joined the Co-op days after moving to Moscow in 2003 and has served in a variety of volunteer roles, including barista, burrito wrangler, sample server, and committee member.
This is her second go-round as an interim Board member, and she is looking forward to the challenges ahead. To stay energized, Laurene teaches and practices various movement disciplines, including yoga, slacklining, skiing, dance, and her passion, AcroYoga. As the verb “party” has some iffy connotations, she instead loves to eat, drink, dance, and give and receive hospitality.
Laurene lives with a herd of cats on a 4-acre farm just outside of town, and “shops” in her garden (and freezer) for delicious, very local produce. Her favorite foods from the Co-op include Panzanella rosemary flatbread, mushroom gravy, Spokane Family Farms milk, and satsumas.
I was born and raised on the Palouse, and the Moscow Food Co-op has been a part of my life since before I can remember.
Several years in Western Oregon taught me that there's no place like home, and so in 2004 I returned to Moscow and began working in the Co-op bakery. In 2008 I graduated from the U of I with a degree in Range Management, but decided to keep baking after meeting my husband, Geoff.
Today, I split my time between taking care of him and our daughter Sage, working at Panhandle Artisan Bread Co., and raising a handful of ducks, chickens, and gardens at our home in Moscow.
Born a good number of years ago to cattle ranchers on the Western Slope of Colorado, I grew up and headed out to enlist in the United States Army. Working in military intelligence for a few years, I then decided to try my hand at a bit of flying. I thankfully passed my arduous year of flight school – in spite of my red neck education – and was privileged to fly Black Hawks for the 101 Airborne division.
After serving 12 consecutive years in the military and with a growing family of six (wife and four children), I left the military and we endeavored on a new adventure of being self-employed. Happening upon a business for sale, we made an offer and became the owners of a dry cleaning company. Over the years we grew a small town business into a commercial laundry and purchased additional locations in two other states. Through this period of time we adopted our fifth child who is now the baby of our family.
Because dry cleaning was a bit of a change from flying Black Hawks, I needed a bit more adrenaline coursing through my veins. I became a member of the Sheriff’s Department for search and rescue and then went through fire training and served on the local fire department. Both enjoyable outlets for my “need for speed.” Our older children married and then grand babies started to emerge. The desire to be near our grandchildren and raise the remainder of our children near their siblings sparked a move north.
We sold the southern portion of our business and are now enjoying life in Moscow with its diverse weather and diverse people groups. Serving on the Co-op Board is a fun and unique way to serve this great community. I enjoy small business and enjoy growing small businesses that benefit local communities.
David Nelson is the Chief Technology Officer in charge of software development for Soteica Visual MESA, LLC.
Dr. Nelson is the primary architect and lead developer of Visual MESA, the flagship energy management product of Soteica Visual MESA, LLC. Soteica Visual MESA, LLC provides software to manage energy use in real-time to oil refiners, chemical manufacturers, ethanol plants and district energy installations. Major customers include ExxonMobil, Chevron, Repsol, BP, Shell, Ineos, and the Texas Medical Center.
Before Soteica Visual MESA, LLC, David founded and served as operating manager and owner of Visual MESA, LLC and its predecessor company Nelson & Roseme, Inc. since 1997.
David started his career in 1989 at Chevron Research & Technology as part of their Energy Management Team and Advanced Computing Team. David has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, and an M.S. and B.S. from the University of Idaho.
David is happily married and has two daughters, and he shares with them a love of rafting and the outdoors. He is involved in many volunteer activities, including but not limited to Rotary Youth Exchange for District 5080 and serving as Chair of the Latah County Democrats.
I grew up in Davenport, Iowa, the son of a baker and a librarian. I worked in my dad’s bakery (actually named Dad’s Cookie Company) from the time I was in junior high school, and later supported my first year of graduate school by working night shifts as the lead in small organic bakery in Gainesville, Florida.
Eventually I ended up in Pullman in 1978 with a PhD in anthropology (archaeology), and I’ve been working at WSU ever since! I love the rolling hills, the mountains close by, and the two vibrant university communities. I met my (eventual) wife here, Marilyn Von Seggern, and we have two wonderful children, now living in Austin and Portland. We’ve been members of the Co-op for nearly as long as it has existed, and so I decided that it was time for me to do my part by serving on the Board.
Outside my job, I like to hike, bike, run, garden, read, travel, and play accordion from time to time. I’d like to sail, but alas, that’s hard in the Palouse.