Click here for a copy of the 2018 Voter's Guide

In this election, we have five candidates for three open seats on the Co-op’s Board of Directors.

The Voter’s Guide and the Candidate Forum on March 19 (7 p.m. in the co-op deli) provide excellent ways to get to know your candidates.

The Board of Directors plays a vital role in the well-being of the Moscow Food Co-op, and it’s important that you have confidence in each Board member’s ability to be a successful contributor. When you vote in this election, you are engaging in what defines us as a cooperative. We are a democratic organization controlled by our owners. You elect member representatives to the Board, and those nine directors are accountable to the Co-op’s 7,800+ owners as they guide our Co-op through governance policies and supervision of the General Manager. Casting a vote for a fellow owner in a cooperative is truly a powerful act. Thank you for your interest in our Co-op!

                        - The Board of Directors Nominations & Elections committee


 Voting will take place Sunday, March 18 at 8 a.m. to Saturday, March 31 at 5 p.m.

Electronic voting is an easily-accessible way to reach owners, and it has proven to be successful for the past four years. When voting begins, all owners who have provided an email address to the Co-op will receive an email with a link to the electronic ballot. If you do not have an email address on file, you can access your ballot online at moscowfood.coop/evoting. To log in to vote, you will be prompted to enter 1.) the first four letters of the last name on the ownership, and 2.) the last four digits of the phone number on record.

The last day to become an owner and be eligible to vote in this election is Thursday, March 15. 

Owners are always welcome to access their electronic ballot during business hours at the Co-op Customer Service Desk voting kiosk. Voting privileges are extended to the primary ownership account holder, in line with the “One Owner, One Vote” cooperative principle.


We asked our Board candidates the following two questions

for these candidate statements:

1. Please describe what personal skills and experience you have that will help you be an effective Director.  For example: any skills obtained from working with a non-profit or for-profit business, management experience and/or leadership experience.
2. Please describe why you would like to serve on the Moscow Food Co-op Board of Directors.


Rob Ely

(1.) I have lived in Moscow for almost 11 years, and I am an Associate Professor in the UI Math Department. I grew up in Colorado Springs — a perfectly lovely city but one with lots of driving and big chain stores, no local food, and no farmer’s market (well, no farmers). After grad school in Madison, WI (where I had my first tomato that wasn’t pale and tasteless), my wife and I decided we wanted to live somewhere with a very different community set-up than where I had grown up. When we visited Moscow, we got a great impression of its community, culture, layout, farmers, and food. The Moscow Food Co-op has a central role in supporting that culture, and it is no exaggeration to say that the Co-op was the deciding factor in why we moved here instead of other cities where we could have worked. 

As part of my research I have managed several large research grant projects, and I think that background will enable me to be helpful on the Co-op Board of Directors. I have managed many employees, organized big institutes and workshops, run budgets, and analyzed statistics. I’m pretty good with numbers, and I have some experience with margins and expense ratios from my family’s retail business. I’ve been on lots of committees and boards, both at work and in the community, and I’ve gotten good at working happily with folks with varying personalities, backgrounds, and beliefs.

(2.)  I see the Moscow Food Co-op as the center of the community of Moscow, and I believe its well being is crucial to the vitality of our community. It promotes local farmers and producers, it puts healthy, sustainably-produced food on our tables, and it is our social site that brings together people of all kinds. The Co-op is facing some important decisions in the next few years, including whether to establish a branch in Pullman, and I would like to represent the Co-op owners in weighing the factors of these decisions. I would love the chance to help the Co-op continue to thrive, as a way to pitch in and support our community.


Brooke Lowry

(1.) I have treasured healthy food throughout my life. From my mother’s table where she taught us the importance of eating for health, to putting nutrition to the test as I won nationals in badminton in Canada, to studying health in my college degree in Fitness and Wellness Management, and now as a mother of three, healthy food and wellness has always been a top priority in my life.

One of my first “real” jobs allowed me to share my love of health and fitness as I helped start the Bellevue Badminton Club in Seattle as the first Head Coach. In this position I enjoyed working with people of all ages and skill levels. I worked hard to create a sense of community for players and families, a place to spend time together and share in healthy activities. This, I believe, lead to the success of the club.

In Moscow, from 2011-2016 I worked as the Coordinator for the Safe Routes to School program. Here my job was to encourage walking and biking to school. A key goal of the program is to help students increase their fitness and well-being, which research (cont.) shows can improve learning and test scores. With the guidance of the Director, we grew our small program in Moscow to be nationally known and emulated by others across the country. This job allowed me to stretch my skills of creativity, time management, and interpersonal communication as I worked hard to build bridges between leaders in Moscow.

Last year I moved to Spain with my family for 14 months. The experience abroad and visiting different countries reinforced my appreciation for different cultures. I am excited to be home again and eager to continue serving in our community.

(2.) Wherever I live, I seek healthy food for myself and my family, which I believe is an important foundation for individuals, families, and communities. I am increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability, environmental health, equity, and community. I’m glad to know these important issues are a focus at the Co-op. I would be honored to work on the Board and with the greater Co-op community to help continue the success of this unique grocery store on the Palouse. I look forward to this learning opportunity and hope I can be helpful where needed.


Cheyne Mayer

(1.) Food co-ops have been a central part of my life since my childhood. I grew up munching on organic produce and other goodies from the Olympia Food Co-op, and, because my dad worked there, I was even allowed to volunteer from a young age and taught how to stock grocery, chill, and bulk items. From the get-go, co-ops meant good food, friendly folks, and a place to learn. As I grew older, I also came to recognize and value them as places of community, integrity, and collaboration. I am grateful to have had such a positive force in my formative years.

In college, I worked for three years growing organic fruits and veggies on my college’s vegetable farm. It was through that work that my passion for good food deepened and expanded into a love of farming. I interned with a community garden and volunteered internationally through the WWOOF program with rural farmers in Catalunya, Spain. Through these experiences, I gained a great appreciation for the work that goes into growing deeply nourishing produce, and became passionate about promoting such food and improving access to it.

During college I was also active in student governance. I got to debate proposals with students who held very different viewpoints from my own and developed a keen ability for active listening. Over the years, I became adept at finding common ground, and multiple times amendments that I proposed made the difference in passing new policies.

I moved to the Palouse shortly after college with my fiancée for her graduate program at WSU, and immediately became a member and applied to work at the Co-op. I started in the bakery and later became a cashier, only leaving to serve with Americorps locally last October. During that time, I gained a wealth of first-hand experience of what it currently is like working at the Co-op on a day-to-day basis, and I would be pleased to bring that level of understanding to the Board.

(2.) After so many years of co-ops being central in my life, I am excited by the opportunity to play a part in safeguarding our co-op’s future. I resonate strongly with the values cooperatives strive to embody, and would be honored to bring my agricultural and governance experience to the Board and to help guide the Co-op towards the best version of itself it can be.


David Sutherland

(1.) I was raised on a farm in Eastern Oregon which undoubtedly contributed to my choice of agriculture as a field of study in college. Some years after graduating I was employed as an agronomist for a farmers’ cooperative. As the years went by I couldn’t help noticing the negative effects the commercial fertilizers and chemicals were having on the environment. It became increasingly difficult to be involved in that kind of farming as I became more passionate about what I saw happening, to the point that I decided to completely change my career direction. Today I still love agriculture, but a truly sustainable local agriculture that works with the environment, not against it. Now our family organically gardens on our place near Moscow and how we think about food and the environment has dramatically changed. 

Through my work in the farmers’ cooperative process and my subsequent shift in career, I have had the opportunity to work with many different people, groups, and teams. As an agronomist I attended the farmers’ co-op Board of Directors meetings, often briefing them on new ideas and proposals. I became familiar with the co-op model in that setting. I have owned and operated my own business and co-started “Palouse Grown Market,” a local online farmers market. Inclusion and teamwork are an important part of my everyday work environment. I believe that these experiences plus my interpersonal skills will help me be an effective Director.

(2.) The Moscow Food Co-op is an integral part of the community. Many of the things I love about our community have either been started by or through the support of the Co-op. Everywhere I travel, I check where the food co-ops are along the way and go out of my way to stop there. I’m ecstatic when I find that there is a co-op on my route of travel or at my destination. Of all the co-ops I’ve traveled to, our Moscow Food Co-op is my favorite. I can’t imagine Moscow without the Co-op. Indeed, I feel that the strength of our Co-op is crucial to the quality and strength of our community. I would like to add my passion for and knowledge of the environment, natural foods, and truly sustainable agriculture to the Board of Directors for furtherance of our Co-op’s mission.


Laurene Sorensen

(1.) Co-ops have been part of my life since I was 18. At my college’s housing and dining co-op, I got to supervise new cooks and plan menus and events. I learned to listen and respond to feedback, and gained interpersonal skills that I use in my professional life and as a Board member of our Co-op. My volunteer service to our Co-op started in 2003, when I moved to Moscow. I have been appointed to the Board twice and elected once (to my current term). Last year I was Treasurer, and this year I am President. The passion owners bring to our Co-op inspires me.

Another source of experience is my law practice. Some of my favorite projects involve representing new and growing companies. I use this skill to spot legal issues before they grow into problems. 

However, my most valuable experience has come through service on the Board itself. I have faith in the policy governance process. I rely on its principles to guide my decisions as a Board member and officer.

(2.)There are many reasons why I would like to keep serving on the Board:

a. Stability. This is an exciting time for the Co-op, and I want to help it keep it on course. Right now, we are growing in a sustainable, agile way. I want to keep applying what I have learned since joining the Board.

b. Teamwork. I am part of a great team. Our Board members are committed to getting things done the correct way. Melinda and Willow are a joy to work with.

c. Education. Board members have many educational opportunities including facilitated retreats, attendance at conferences and workshops, and the “Study and Engagement” session of each meeting. Some of what I’ve learned is co-op specific, but I have also learned life and business lessons.

d. Gratitude. When I was new in town, the Co-op and its staff welcomed me. Volunteering and shopping there helped me make new friends, and its healthy food got me through the bar exam. Our Co-op is a precious community resource, and I want to use my time and talents to help it thrive.

For news related to the 2016 Board Election, please read here.