Oryana Natural Foods Market
Oryana Natural Foods Market
260 East Tenth Street | Traverse City, MI 49684 | (231) 947-0191

Monday - Saturday 7:30am-9:00pm | Sunday 9:00am-7:00pm

Board Candidates

Meet the 2014 Board Candidates

This year Oryana has 11 candidates running for five open board seats. Voting will take place in the store beginning March 19 and at the General Membership Meeting on April 17. Please take time to get to know the candidates and also make sure your membership is current so you can vote.

(Note: You must have been a member for 30 days before being eligible to vote, as per the Oryana bylaws. March 18 is the last day to renew or become a member and vote at the GMM.)

Bryan Black

As a lifelong gardener, I moved from Texas to the more diverse climate of Michigan, the life-long home of my wife Karla, to fulfill our dream of starting our own farm.  Having embraced sustainable organic methods for over 30 years, the transition to a larger-scale farm was smooth and gratifying. We sell our vegetables, flowers and herbs at various local farmers’ markets, and have developed a wonderful following of folks pursuing healthy lifestyles, and foodies seeking unusual, interesting, and nutritious ingredients.

Before moving to the Lake Ann area, Karla had shared her love of the Oryana concept, where she has been a member for over 23 years and rightly so. The first time I walked into Oryana, I was immediately struck by how similar it was to the original Whole Foods store in Austin Texas, where I was not only a devoted customer, but a vendor as well. The smells, the friendly and helpful staff, the healthy products, and the Café made me feel right at home.
With a wealth of experience in sales, retail management, Information Systems and IT security, I have much to offer to the Oryana community.  Current community participation includes an endeavor to revitalize and rejuvenate Traverse City’s Sierra Club branch, chairing monthly meetings and acting as interim president. I’m currently involved with NMEAC and the new Frack Awareness Coalition, after unwittingly being thrust into the limelight after having exposed toxic oilfield brining on Benzie County roads.

As the co-owner of Platte River Gardens, I look forward to working with the Board, crafting future policy with local farmers and vendors, and working toward a shared, sustainable future.

Kaitlyn Burns (Incumbent)

Hello! I am a Traverse City native. I am a mother, artist, athlete, and a cooperator. I am inspired by this wonderful place we call home and the incredible community that we are a part of. I want to be a part of something bigger than myself and make a true impact on the world — one of the many reasons I love being an Oryana member-owner.
First drawn to Oryana because of the high-quality food offerings, she opened my eyes to the social, economical, and environmental benefits of a cooperative. I was inspired to run for the Board of Directors in 2012 because I was (and still very much am!) passionate about the interconnectivity of healthy food, the environment, and social well-being.

Two years later, I am still just as geeked about the co-op. Serving on the board has opened my eyes to the many different ways that Oryana strengthens our community and local economy by making more happy, healthy people! From good food to sustainable business practices, from the community grant program to the incredible staff members; it’s been amazing be a part of the co-op’s continuous growth. In my first term I have had the privilege to serve on several committees, including Board Education and Membership Engagement, and look forward to continuing to serve as a member representative for current and future generations of Oryana cooperators.

Looking ahead, Oryana has an exciting and challenging journey as we work together to achieve the vision “Oryana Imagined: 2022.” I am fully committed to helping achieve this vision on behalf of Oryana member-owners, continuing Oryana to enhance and strengthen the community through an expanded-reach of The Ends Policies.   
Along with two years of experience serving on the Oryana Board, my educational background weaves together art, business, and human-centered design. Currently I am the Communications Manager at SEEDS with prior work experience as the Marketing Manager at a large business in town. I am confident that my educational, work, and life experiences will continue to be an asset as an Oryana member representative. Thank you for your consideration!

Christina Carson 

Quite some time ago, I decided that I wanted at least a portion of my life to be devoted to building a better food system both for my own community and for communities throughout the nation. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in building healthier relationships with food on many levels. Growing veggies on small and prosperous farms, working in the food service industry, teaching young people to cook real food, teaching about the joys good food shared with others can bring to our lives, and more! That said, I’m always looking for new ways to get involved – hence my interest in becoming an Oryana board member.

I have called Traverse City home for almost two and a half years now, and am still constantly impressed and inspired by the community here that is working to builder a stronger, healthier food system for those in our own town and beyond. I work with a start-up business (FarmRaiser) striving to reinvent the school fundraising industry by coordinating sales that focus on local, healthy products produced in the community of each school we work with. This work has connected me to the countless small businesses that make this region a haven for local products, nearly all of which are found at Oryana.
Food Co-ops have been a staple for much of my life. From childhood dreams of fruit leather while carefully moving forward on the creaky wooden floors of the old Grain Train building in Petoskey to the great sense of community I feel every time I enter the doors of Oryana. I find joy in the concept of a store owned by its customers and inspiration in having the ability to make changes to the place where I shop. Most of all, I find comfort in trusting those who work to bring me my food. I want to join the Oryana Board of Directors to become a more integral part of this beautiful function.

Jim Dagwell (Incumbent)

In 1994, my wife Laura and I moved to Traverse City and purchased Traverse Tax & Accounting, a local practice founded in 1973.  Since arriving in Northern Michigan, I have embraced activities that contribute to the protection of the natural beauty that surrounds us, helping to shape growth in a smart, reasonable manner.  
Oryana, plays a significant role in ensuring that this growth is healthy…Not just healthy for its members, but healthy for all of our citizens in our region.  I am honored to share my time and skills, giving back to the community through Oryana board service, in this my 5th year of serving on the board. I am currently Oryana’s Board Treasurer and sit on the Board Executive Committee.  

I bring to the board 34 years of experience in business operations, marketing, and business development.  Along with my service on Oryana’s board, I serve on the Board of Directors for Honor Bank.  Accountant by day, I am a drummer by night in my band ‘Dagtopia’.

Your board is working hard, partnering with General Manager Steve Nance to fully investigate and gauge the feasibility of creating a new store.  In the event that it is decided to create an additional location, Steve will be tasked to ensure that the integrity of quality and the sense of ‘place’ that exists at our current location remains true, while creating physical store and employee infrastructure that enhances the ‘Oryana Experience’.  Through the format of Policy Governance, the board will assist our GM on the path to achieving the successful creation and integration of the new location, in the event it is decided to expand.  I have the financial background, personal experience, and desire to continue to be a valuable resource to ensure that Oyrana’s financial endeavors remain successful ventures.
My intention is to ensure that Oryana remains financially healthy, so that it thrives, proving itself a major asset to our community well into the next century. I seek your vote.  See you at the GMM in April!

Hillary Gessner

Hi! I’m Hilary Gessner and I live in Traverse City with my husband, John, and Newfie puppy, Murphy. We moved here 3 years ago because we loved the offerings – outdoor recreation, community support, and the water. What I didn’t know about Traverse City when we moved here was the rich agriculture and strong support of local business.
I have not always been a conscious consumer. It’s not because I didn’t care, it’s because I never asked the questions. But since I have, it’s been an eye-opening and empowering experience and Oryana has played a large role in this. When I first started shopping at Oryana, I was a bit intimidated. As I spent more time browsing the aisles, I came to appreciate so many elements of the store. It’s comforting to know that every product is scrutinized and carefully considered before being put on the shelf.

Oryana is a unique asset to Traverse City and it’s something that we need to appreciate, foster, and continually improve. I will approach my role as a board member with the same diligence that I take into work every day as the Business Development Manager of Brownwood Farms. I will work tirelessly to continue to give our community a resource that I have come to know, love, and depend on.

Erica Heller (Incumbent)

I moved to Traverse City four years ago for a job in water quality management and assessment.  Fortunately, my degree in natural resource management brought me to the most beautiful and engaging community that I’ve known!  Recently, I went back to my life’s passion as a body worker, practicing massage therapy and oncology massage at Munson. Helping people on a physical, mental and spiritual level on a daily basis is deeply fulfilling to me.  I also love to spend time in nature with my lovely husband, dog Walter, and new baby in my belly!  I appreciate living in a community that values keeping money local, knowing where its food comes from, and caring how it’s grown.  Oryana provides not only a wonderful selection of local and organic food, but also an inviting atmosphere to connect with friends and community members who care about these same values. This warm atmosphere and the wonderful staff inspired me to give back by joining the Board in 2012.  

My first term as a Board member showed me the real power of the co-op business model.  Through monthly meetings, strategic retreats, and classes in Policy Governance, I’ve learned the intricacies of running a successful cooperative grocery.  But above all, being on the board has taught me how crucial individual connections are to Oryana: connections between farmer, grocery and consumer; between manager, associate and shopper; connections from shopper to shopper, and finally connections from shopper/owner to their local economy.   Growing Oryana as a “trailhead” for these connections is assurance that they will continue to thrive in our community.  I cannot think of a better way to serve my community than to continue my work as a Board member at Oryana.

I am dedicated to continuing my role as a board member in carrying out Oryana’s Vision 2022.  I would happily serve as a board member for another term, helping lead with enthusiasm, strategic planning, visioning, and big picture questioning with our community’s best interest at heart.  I want the new addition to our family to join a connected community with access to local, sustainable, and organic food; I’m proud to say that I’m doing my part to keep that a reality.

Chuck Mueller

I received my Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan in 1977. I worked as an Infant Mental Health Specialist, a Child and Family Therapist and most recently retired as a school social worker for TBAISD. I have been an active member of the Campbell Fund, which is part of the Grand Traverse Regional Foundation. The Campbell fund distributes grant money to non-profit organizations, to help meet the basic needs to local community members.
Family is most important to my wife and I.  My wife Linda and I love spending time with our family and granddaughters! Our son lives in Traverse City and started his business MacUpdate when he was 16 years old. Our daughter, who recently moved to Traverse City taught Spanish to students at the Durham School for the Arts in Durham NC. Linda’s family has two active cherry farms in Leelanau County. Linda recently retired from the Traverse City Public Schools as an Elementary School Teacher.
I appreciate our beautiful environment. I am renewed each time I practice yoga and go for walks with my wife, friends, and neighbors.  Kayaking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are experiences that keep me in touch with our natural resources all four seasons.

Our family has lived in Northern Michigan since 1977. I have been a member of Oryana since 1989.  Linda and I appreciate our local farmers, artists, musicians and small businesses. We enjoy volunteering on a weekly basis at the State Theatre.

I am interested in becoming a board member for Oryana because I think that Oryana is one of the best Food Cooperatives! Oryana has high quality food, friendly and helpful staff and an important focus on wellness, education, local farmers and community.

 My problem solving and conflict resolution skills and experience working, relating and communicating with people, will be an asset to the board. I will make a commitment to use my time and talents to help Oryana maintain its high standards and continue to be responsive to the needs of the staff and community.


Ken Quitugua

Aanii anishna (hello fellow members) I humbly request to be reinstated for another term on the board of directors. I have served the Oryana community for two terms; that’s four years of working with some of the best fellow board members and a visionary GM Steve Nance, and a great member and non member based Oryana community. Since I’ve been on the board I’ve donated my stipend to those in need of a little help, as in buying a warm meal for those in need or putting gas in an employee’s car so they could make it home. Although they may be small, it’s shadowed after the ideas  that our great co-op strives for. So I hope to be reconsidered for another term.




Laura Scredon

My  name is Laura Scredon, and I just moved to Traverse City, MI on November 1, 2013 from Bend, Oregon. My first stop when I got to town was the Oryana Natural Foods Market to sign up as a member. Since joining the co-op, I have been a happy and satisfied customer. I would love to take this opportunity to get more involved in my new community and share my skill set with the co-op by becoming a member of the board of directors.

I am a Certified Holistic Health Coach, and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I own and operate a health coaching practice along with a green beauty and holistic health inspired blog (www.beautyandhealthcoach.com). I officially embarked on this career path over two years ago, but I have had a passion for holistic health my entire life. My previous professional experience includes professional selling and internet marketing. I earned my Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Georgia in 2007. I’ve worked for L’Oreal’s Professional Products Division and Ossur Orthopedics as a territory sales manager. I’ve also worked with privately owned companies to promote their brand and implement internet marketing strategies to increase business. While these experiences have enriched my life, they have also inspired me to change direction and lead an organic and holistic lifestyle that makes health, the environment, and the sustainability of our planet a priority.

I believe that all the parts of our life including career, relationships, and physical activity play into our overall health to the same degree as the nourishment of our food. Community and education are our best hope for changing the Standard American Diet (SAD) to an organic, whole food diet. That is why it is so important to me to become a part of the Co-Op Board and Oryana community to share the knowledge that I have to help others lead a healthy lifestyle and to help the co-op thrive. Please consider me for this position, and let me know if you have any questions or require additional information.

Holly Jo Sparks

I have been a co-op member and leader for over 20 years, and think my energy, enthusiasm and experience would make a worthwhile contribution to the Oryana Board of Directors. I joined my first food co-op as a college student in Ann Arbor, and have since belonged to food co-ops in Isla Vista and Davis, CA; Cambridge, MA; and Carrboro, NC. I am a dedicated supporter of cooperatives as a model for economic and ecological sustainability.

A Traverse City native, I am eager to help build a strong community-based economy that emphasizes local reliance for food, finance, housing and healthcare. I want to serve on the board of directors in order to put my passion for cooperatives and involvement within the national cooperative movement toward good work in our shared community.
In 2011, I co-founded Collective Seeds Consulting Co-op, through which I advise cooperatives and nonprofits in financial management, fundraising and grant writing, organizational development and real estate acquisition and renovation. I also started Creekside Cottages in Interlochen, a small seasonal and monthly rental property, which houses Northern Michigan’s only hostel.

Prior to this, I studied housing, community and economic development at UNC Chapel Hill and at MIT, from which I hold a degree in City Planning. As a researcher for The Democracy Collaborative, I interviewed representatives across the country from local food co-ops, farmers and other businesses that partnered with regional hospitals and educational institutions to build healthy, thriving local economies. If elected, I will explore our options for expanding community partnerships and opportunities for Oryana to advance its mission, particularly as it relates to the Principle Six (P6) Cooperative Trade Movement.

Organizations with which I’v recently been involved include: Bay Bucks, Circle of Blue, and Great Lakes Alliance of Cooperatives. Personal interests include: yoga, feng shui, trivia, bonfires, wine and travel.

Amy Tennis (Incumbent)

What motivates me most to remain on the Board is the need in our community for the things that only Oryana offers.  Because of Oryana, our community has a trusted partner that pays forward the investment of our members by living and breathing the Ends policies.  I want to help ensure the sustainability of this cooperative marvel that takes such good care of us and provides an important distribution channel for our local farmers and artisans.  I’m so grateful for this experience.

As a long-time human resources professional, skills I have gained in the areas of collaboration, compromise and leadership have been very helpful as Board President.  I also run an organic farm (30 acres of hops, cherries, apples and grapes) in Omena with my husband Brian, so I feel comfortable reviewing the monitoring reports, whether they are about company financials or employee engagement.  If honored with another term, this will be my 7th year on the Board.  Our Board work benefits greatly from the bench strength of experienced members.

One of the greatest benefits of co-op membership is that cooperatives exemplify democratic ideals in their purest form.  Members have a say in all major decisions and purchasing power is pooled for the benefit of the members, rather than for the purpose of making a profit for somebody else.

Here is what I would tell people they are missing if they are not members of the co-op:
Non-members who shop at Oryana still support our Ends, but their voice is silent, they are forgoing some fantastic discount opportunities and they will never benefit from member patronage rebates or the fellowship that is a part of being plugged into this wonderful network of passionate people.


The Next Board Meeting

The next meeting is the General Membership Meeting on Thursday, April 17, at 5 p.m.

Location: T.C. Central High School



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