This year we have five candidates vying for four open seats on our Board of Directors. Voting will begin during our Annual Owners’ Meeting on Sunday, September 10th from 12:00pm – 2:00pm. Check-in will begin at 11:00am.
Lunch will be prepared and served by our own A la Carte staff with the help of Grassroots Co-op who will provide us with local pork and Sweden Creek with shiitakes for a vegetarian BBQ option. Owners are invited and encouraged to attend the Annual Owners’ Meeting, during which time the Board candidates will be available for questions from the ownership. Happy Cooperation!
Gretchen Brannon Candidate Statement
It is my pleasure to be considered for the Board of Directors candidacy. I was shopping just this past week when I heard the overhead announcement and I felt an urge to explore this position further, as I feel a strong sense of community when I shop at Ozark Natural Foods. I have always admired Ozark Natural Foods and their commitment to provide organic, non-GMO foods to the community while supporting local farmers.
I am a Family Nurse Practitioner at the University of Arkansas Pat Walker Health Center. In addition, I work per-diem in several of the local Emergency Departments. I graduated with a Master in Nursing Science in 2011, working in advanced practice for five years and have spent the previous fifteen years in the Emergency Department at Washington Regional Medical Center as a Registered Nurse.
Although I do not have any previous Board experience, I have attended several Board meetings in the medical community. I do have experience with professional meetings, including treasurer of Phi Mu Sorority, Vice-President of Sigma Theta Tau, and experience conducting meetings in the Emergency Department as an Assistant Director.
I would enjoy serving on ONF’s Board of Directors as I desire a sense of community. I completely support the Co-op’s mission to provide moderately priced, organic foods. I have been a customer since 1993 and remember my first shopping experience at the store on Dickson Street. I purchased an apple and a veggie sandwich. I was hooked and have enjoyed shopping at ONF ever since.
I envision the Co-op growing even larger with a stronger-than-ever owner base. One of the things I appreciate when I shop in ONF is knowing that the produce is all organic. I don’t have to check and make sure the produce is not just an overpriced, conventional version in a fancy store—an experience our largest competitor cannot offer. In 10 years, I envision even more sustainability with growing produce and recycling. I understand there are plans to expand the deli and A la Carte departments, which is an enticing shopping experience for some.
I look forward to serving on committees that would include growth in the community and ownership in a Co-op that provides wholesome foods for families at an affordable price.
Connor Corley Candidate Statement
My name is Connor Corley and I’m the Director of Operations for Eco-Bio LLC, an emerging veterinary health biotechnology company based in Northwest Arkansas. I’ve spent six of the last eight years living in Arkansas, both in acquiring a B.A. in Socio-Cultural Environmental Studies from Hendrix College in Conway, and living and working in Fayetteville. I worked in packaged grocery and the front end at Ozark Natural Foods for nine months in 2014-2015 and have been an owner since. Both through my degree and professional experience at the co-op I’ve developed and continued to pursue a passion for local and natural food networks. Additionally, in my position at Eco-Bio I am constantly working to bring in natural approaches in animal health to large and small producers around the world. These professional and academic experiences have prepared me well for success as a member of the ONF Board of Directors.
I believe that the co-op has the opportunity to use its unique resources in order to drive the growing food culture of Northwest Arkansas. In the next ten years I envision the co-op finding new unique ways to increase efficiency and capability for local producers, and to be more deeply embedded in the local food economy in more diverse ways. My specific interest in serving on the Board is driven by the vision that the timing is correct and the resources available to begin setting ourselves apart as an indispensable player in our local and regional food systems. I would also like to expand cooperation amongst industry partners, as well as increase the opportunities available to owners for providing input and assisting in growing the co-op.
The biggest contribution I hope to make to the co-op is to diversify and expand our ability to work with our ownership. We need to find new avenues for the Board and management to engage with owners and to draw them into playing a more active role in the future of Ozark Natural Foods.
I believe that the strongest skill I have to offer the co-op is my ability to communicate efficiently and effectively with all of the co-op’s stakeholders and current and potential partners. My willingness to listen will bolster existing relationships and open doors to new opportunities within our community. The often overlooked ability to listen and communicate ideas effectively is important in the pursuit of any goals the Board wishes to accomplish and will be a valuable asset as Ozark Natural Foods works towards the future.
Dr. Ben Ozanne Candidate Statement
I am Dr. Benjamin Ozanne, DC, currently the sole proprietor and provider of chiropractic care at Thrive Integrated Health in Fayetteville, AR. In May of 2007, I received my Bachelor of Business Management degree at the University of Texas, Austin. Four years later, in May 2011, I graduated from Parker University in Dallas, Texas with a Doctorate in Chiropractic Science. I have been a practicing Doctor of Chiropractic for more than six years and practicing for more than five years in Fayetteville. I have also served on the Board of Directors for the last three years and the last year as vice president.
I will bring years of experience in accounting, finance, and business management to the Board.
The most unique skills that I can share when serving on the ONF Board of Directors are training and education in healthy living, including a certification in Advanced Nutrition. Since moving to Fayetteville, my commitment to furthering the mission of ONF is evidenced by the time I have given volunteering at the Co-op hosting workshops, shopping tours, and providing free health screenings. It is my desire to continue to serve and make a greater impact at the Co-op through serving on the Board of Directors.
From my perspective, the Co-op is a pillar of healthy living in NWA and a leader in providing excellent organic food choices, important health education, and personal empowerment. The Co-op will continue to help lead the way in changing healthcare policy in NWA, thus, as a member of the Board of Directors, I will work toward promoting healthcare system changes for the good of all NWA citizens as well as promoting and enhancing the values and ideals of ONF.
Elizabeth Quinn Candidate Statement
I am the director of e-commerce for Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, a sustainable livestock cooperative made of up small-scale farms in Arkansas. In this capacity, I oversee direct-to-consumer sales. I’m also responsible for marketing, public relations, brand management, and customer service. Previously, I developed curriculum for and taught courses in the English departments of the University of Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas Community College.
I’ve never served on a Board, but I have participated in and presented to Board meetings held by the Board of the cooperative for which I am employed.
Working for a business owned and operated by a Board of Directors, I am familiar with the function and structure of an organization very similar to that of ONF. Additionally, my employment for a natural foods company has provided me with training in issues concerning this industry. I’m knowledgeable about market trends and am competent in financial analysis and in developing and implementing sales, marketing, and business development strategies.
My experience in customer service—both in my current role with Grass Roots and as a teacher in higher education—has made me skilled at managing relationships, which I believe would serve the owners of ONF well, as I would be an accessible, attentive representative for their interests. And because of my formal education in both art and language, I can contribute communications expertise.
When I first moved to Fayetteville, I became an owner of ONF because of a long-held interest in food systems and their role in environmental sustainability and stewardship. At the time I joined, I was a broke graduate student. The $20 annual fee and paying the extra price for organic, local groceries was quite a stretch. But I did it because I believe shopping with your conscience is critical. Now that I have professional experience that can benefit the owners of the co-op and the business itself, I’d like the opportunity to be able to serve this community.
I believe ONF should expand its digital presence and incorporate more tech-based services and revenue streams. The natural foods industry is booming, as is interest in business transparency. Cooperative economics empowers the consumer and challenges businesses to be ethical and forthcoming, both of which fit with current and future retail market trends. To meet consumer demand and improve access to healthful foods and products, ONF should have an online storefront. Partnered with a delivery service, this platform would grow ONF’s customer base and sales with minimum additional overhead. Given my natural foods retail and e-commerce experience, I can be useful in helping the co-op expand into the digital retail space and in implementing tech-based services. I’d like to see more owner engagement. Making the owners feel more connected to the business would improve their loyalty, both fiscally and philanthropically. We’ve all seen how the current contentious political climate has aroused an activist spirit in citizens in every demographic across this country. This is an opportune time to appeal to people’s sense of duty and responsibility, to educate them about what makes the cooperative model unique and rewarding, and to develop a deeper sense of community, both within the Co-op itself and with regard to the Co-op’s position in Northwest Arkansas. A digital presence would be a new way to incorporate interesting programming, unique services, and topical education, all of which would improve owner retention and acquisition, generate new revenue, and allow the Co-op to serve as a steward of its municipal environment.
James Selvey Candidate Statement
I currently work for the City of Springdale at the administration building as a Building Maintenance Tech. I maintain landscapes outside and facilities inside the administration building. I have previously served on the Executive Board of Directors for the Springdale Community Garden in Springdale. I am an active Arkansas Master Gardener who is passionate about organic produce and sustainable farming/gardening practices. I would love to hold gardening classes at ONF to educate and inspire people to grow food.
I believe my experience as a member of the Springdale Community Garden Board of Directors will benefit the owners and guests at ONF. As an SCG Board member, I had the pleasure of working alongside other Board members allocating and preparing garden plots, setting guidelines for garden use, garden tool use and maintenance, and also setting guidelines for handling disputes between garden members. I left the Board to start a farmers’ market in downtown Springdale with my wife called the Mill St. Market, which we subsequently turned over to our site manager after my wife became ill and could no longer run the market with me. Starting the farmers’ market gave me valuable experience in organizational management, marketing, and civic cooperation.
I wish to serve on the Board of Directors at ONF to help take ONF into the future with a sustainable and visionary mindset. I also wish to serve to further promote the cooperative business model, which I believe will be the business model of the future because of its sustainability and community engagement. My vision for the co-op for the next 10 years includes, but is not limited to, possibly seeing ONF expand beyond Fayetteville (maybe Bentonville), and to also take our education to the next level by providing gardening classes and maybe coupling them with cooking classes. As far as improvements go, I would echo the need for expansion. I truly believe that ONF could reach more people if the co-op went out into communities like Bentonville or Rogers. These places are a bit of a drive for people to come to ONF. But if ONF went to them, I believe ONF could be a co-op for the Ozarks.