Meet the 2015 Board Candidates
These are the candidates (in alphabetical order) who are running for five open board seats. Voting will take place in the store beginning March 16 and at the General Membership Meeting on April 16. 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 16 is the last day to renew or become a member and vote at the GMM.)
I have lived in the Northern Michigan area for 22 of my 28 years and resided in Traverse City for nearly five. I always perceived Traverse City as a beacon of creativity and culture while growing up. Now as an adult, I have found Oryana to be a radiant contribution to that beacon.
I have worked on farms, in co-ops, at farmers markets, small coffee roasters, all manner of restaurants, as a cashier, food vendor booths at festivals, as lead male counselor of a young writers camp and editing community college publications. The last year and a half has been spent as a part time dishwasher, produce stocker and now full-time refrigerated grocery stocker at Oryana.
I am passionate and enthusiastic about what cooperatives are capable of accomplishing in their communities and our culture. I believe serving on Oryana's board of directors is a unique experience that can broaden understanding of our local area and the cooperative efforts happening abroad.
As the first food co-op in the country to become Certified Organic (and one of, if not the, fastest growing), I feel we are in a unique position of leadership among cooperatives due to our involvement in such an essential part of life, food, that affords opportunities to our community members of all walks of life to aid in the improvement of not only our local area, but potentially our nation and world.
I want to see what is possible and help strive for it. I believe serving on the board is an opportunity to do that and hope you will give me the chance to do so.
Chelsea Bay Dennis (Incumbent)
I am a Traverse City native, born and raised. I moved away for university and to pursue dreams in California, and returned in 2007 to call this place home. I love it more every day- the community, the water, the farms, the progressive thinking, families, nature, arts, and the people that have chosen here and want to make it, and the rest of the world, better by the way we live now. I live in small old house downtown TC with my husband Aaron, and we love being able to walk or bike anywhere in town.
For the last 10 + years, my work has been offering branding, design, photography and creative consulting specifically for environmentally and socially responsible companies and organizations. This ranges from fair trade goods, to handmade clothing, good-for-the-world events, films, organic foods, locally-focused and small businesses, non-profits, sustainable agriculture, etc. I believe that design has the power to educate, raise awareness, and make change in the world. I am also a life coach because I believe we all can come alive in our every day, make a difference in the world, and life our purpose. I love inspiring others and being inspired myself.
I have served the last 2 years on the board of Oryana, which has been a rewarding, awesome and fulfilling experience. I have never seen an organization, board or business run with such respect, responsibility, organization, accountability and high functionality- what an honor it has been to be a small part of this as a member and board member. I would be honored to continue my service here for many reasons. It is where I shop on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis; it’s where I vote with my dollars for the “change I wish to see in the world”. Oryana is the center of our community; it supports local farmers, it offers families healthy choices, it’s a center for arts and music and events, it supports so many local causes, events and movements with its grants, sponsorships, and programs; it’s a place of learning and education about our own health and the health of the world. Oryana embodies all that I believe in and stand for.
Useful experience: I served on the On The Ground board for 6 years; I was on the Bioneers planning committee for 3 years; I am a member of Oryana food co-op, and work with many fair trade farming co-ops around the world; I lived in cooperative housing at U of M, Ann Arbor; I founded and run my own businesses; I help many small businesses get started through strategy and design; I am a Green America member.
Sean Burns (Incumbent)
Thirteen years ago I moved to Traverse City with my wife Lori and daughter Emma to open our downtown retail store, Green Island. As many who have chosen Traverse City as their new hometown, the decision for us was a piece of cake: the scenic beauty, the vibrant downtown, the progressive and dynamic community. For us, the icing on that cake was when we "discovered" Oryana.
What a thrill to step through the doors and find oneself surrounded by greatness. Literally: great organic and local produce; a great selection of healthy bulk and packaged products; a great knowledgeable and friendly staff; and perhaps most importantly, a great and open community of member-owners.
Because I valued so much what Oryana provided our community and what she stood for in our community, I decided to run for the Board of Directors as a way of giving back. I was fortunate to win a seat in 2007, and since then have had the privilege to serve on various Board committees, including the GM Search Committee and the Executive Committee as Board Secretary and Treasurer.
With the likely addition of a second Oryana store and the increasing competition in our region we will in the coming years be presented with both exciting and challenging times. It is for this reason that I have decided to run for re-election to the Board or Directors.
I am confident my experience serving on the board, along with my professional experience in strategic business development will continue to prove an asset to Oryana and her owners.
I am a member of Oryana and am interested in serving on the Board. I shop at Oryana regularly, believe strongly in your organization and mission, and believe I could apply my work experiences and skills gathered over a full career.
While I have lived in the Traverse City area since 1990, I was in Florida from the end of 2011 until early 2014, visiting with and assisting my parents in the last years of their lives. While I attended college in Florida and worked at Disney World when it first opened, my 2 daughters and many interests are here so I returned to this area.
My working career since 1972 first involved the practice of public accounting (4+ years). I have also been in life insurance management (4 years), Community Mental Health (CMH) financial management (18 years), and Public Transportation (6+ years with our local BATA). My positions included Staff-Senior accountant, VP-Treasurer and member of the life insurance Board, Business Manager – Chief Financial Officer with the CMH’s, and Finance Director with BATA.
In addition to my work, I have served on 2 Planning Commissions (Elmwood Township in Leelanau County and the Leelanau County Planning Commission), the Leelanau County Human Services Board, and the BATA Board; I served as Board member and/or Chair of 2 of those. I have volunteered at the Suttons Bay Public Library, Goodwill Industries, and for 3+ years I taught Seamanship and Navigation aboard the Inland Seas Education Association (headquartered in Suttons Bay) “schoolship” Inland Seas.
I believe I could best serve the Oryana Board in the areas of budgeting, reporting, and forecasting. I enjoy, for instance, designing “what if” scenarios utilizing MS Excel, and I might be of assistance in the Board’s study and planning for the competition from the “Lucky’s” Market reported opening in 2016 at the Buffalo Ridge Center (new name for the Horizon Outlet Mall). I present, read, write and communicate well, and enjoy the interpersonal working atmosphere of a Board.
Maxwell Joseph Elliott
Times are changing. As we step into the future each and every one of us is faced with new socio-economic challenges. It is my firm belief that the best way to deal with any problem is to identify its cause and engineer solutions which are suitable to everyone. This is exactly what I intend to do if elected to Oryana’s Board of Directors.
I am a graduate of Northwest Michigan College and received an Associate in Science and Arts degree. As the title suggests, I prefer to take an integrated approach to learning, teaching and applying knowledge. This alignment has helped me to allocate experience in such fields as dietary studies, public relations and service. While working in Oryana’s kitchen, I sought to apply my efforts in an attempt to promote holistic health and sustainable communities while utilizing a democratic approach to market economics. Along the way I learned that hard work, clear communication and social responsibility are paramount to cooperative efforts.
I envision Traverse City as a union of tourism economics and thriving local culture. The natural beauty that we maintain is quite a rarity and I am honored to call it home. I have always wanted to serve as a steward of the land and a representative of its people. If I am elected, I intend to assist in preserving a community committed to the simple core tenets: life, love, learning and personal fulfillment. These ideals are far from a complete road map, but act as guiding principles for our culture as a whole. I sincerely believe that, with the right attitude, we will all grow together.
Thank you for allowing me to submit my nomination for membership on the Oryana board of directors.
My wife Chris and I love shopping and expanding our thoughts about food and health at Oryana. This fits well with our work and passion as a family physician and nurse in Big Rapids.
Chris and her six siblings were raised in Traverse City and her dad was the operating manager of Grand Traverse Title. She is a graduate of Traverse City St. Francis High School. We first met back in the 1980s, while she was working with Dr. Wigton in his family practice, and I was an intern at the Traverse City Osteopathic Hospital. After residency training in the Detroit area, we moved to Big Rapids and have raised our three children.
Recently, and sadly, our mom passed away. Along with our siblings, who live in Traverse City, we wanted to keep her home on Long Lake in our family. We have purchased it and have been working on its renovations.
We love our work in Big Rapids and the patients we have bonded with for over 25 years; myself, as a hospitalist with six doctor/PA’s at Spectrum Big Rapids and a busy Internal medicine office practice and Chris with our busy Pediatric office.
Why my interest? Throughout my career, I have been searching for ways to empower my patients, and at the same time, help them better manage and reverse their illnesses. Obviously, this led me to see lifestyle habits and specifically food choices as a key to better health.
For over the past twenty years, I have been engaged in meetings with people all over western Michigan learning and developing these concepts. Hundreds of health programs later, we have learned to have a great appreciation for the role of our food choices in providing successful health care.
Participating and learning from others as part of Oryana’s board of directors, would be a joy and help us to be involved in this wonderful community. Thank you for your consideration.
I am a mother of 2 inspirational children. I am a happy mild weather runner, walker and kayaker.
I have been an observer of the accomplishments and progress of Oryana for a number of years. With my family’s health and well being in mind I became a member a number of years ago as it is important to me to educate my children on how to make healthy choices and Oryana has provided an outlet for me to share this conviction with them.
Becoming a part of the Board of Directors at Oryana has been on my mind for some time. I would like to give back by sharing my talents with the Member-Owners, team and community of Oryana. I have been in the hospitality business for over 25 years at northern Michigan Ski and Golf Resorts. I have held positions that included food & beverage on a server level as well as managing a team of 45. I was a part of the meeting planning team and a national sales manager where I worked with executives from all walks of life.
Presently I am working for a Traverse City technology company and enjoying the challenge of a world that changes daily. I am a member of the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce and participate in the Chambers Ambassador Program.
My experiences, relationships and community involvement will play a meaningful role as Oryana looks to the future and the 2022 vision. I am willing to learn and work as a team member and eager to champion Member-Owner initiatives for the future!
Chris Miller (Incumbent)
Serving on the board the past two years has an incredible experience. It is exciting to be part of such an energizing and growing co-op that serves its community. As an employee of Oryana for nearly five years, I hope to use my current role as Front End Assistant Manager to bring my knowledge and experience to the board of directors. I have enjoyed chatting with members in the store and at local events while listening to their needs and suggestions and communicating them to the board. Being a director requires commitment, experience, contributions, and a willingness to learn. The knowledge that I have gained while serving on the board has helped me be a better leader and communicator and I hope to continue to serve you, our member-owners, for many years to come.
If elected to Oryana's board of directors I will do my personal best to help Oryana keep true to its mission: "To provide high quality food produced in ecologically sound ways at fair value to member-owners and the community and enhancing the community through the practice of cooperative economics and education about the relationship between food to health."
I have dedicated 35 years of my life working as a social worker to help children and families. I started my career working in a rural northern Michigan community as an infant mental health worker helping high-risk babies and their parents. I also worked for Child and Family Services and TBAISD. I recently retired as a school social worker but continue to be active in consulting, supporting and advocating for youth and families. I have a special interest in supporting families with special needs children.
I feel that my professional experience being part of a multi-disciplinary team has provided me the skills to interact and work with people with diverse backgrounds.
I have been an active member of the Campbell Fund, which is part of the Grand Traverse Regional Foundation. My wife, Linda and I volunteer at the State Theatre, National Writers Series and the Opera House. This year I serve as a council member for Immanuel Lutheran Church's Children's Christian ministry.
Our family has lived in Northern Michigan since 1977. Linda and I have been members of Oryana since 1989. We are lucky to have our two adult children (J and Rebecca) living in Traverse City with their spouses (Lauren and Todd) and two adorable granddaughters, Ana and Nettie.
Rebecca Teahen (Incumbent)
It is hard to believe that, if elected, this could be my fifth term on the Oryana Board of Directors, and I couldn’t be more pleased. My experience as an Oryana board member has offered opportunities for much learning, personal, and professional growth, while working toward a vision I believe in.
Professionally, I am proud to serve another community organization as Executive Director for the NMC Foundation. Personally, my husband and I have two wonderful children, two big dogs, and are in the process of restoring a farm house in Northport. We are eager to begin an organic farm and to connect with Oryana and our community through that venture in the future. Oryana has always been a part of my life as I have sought out sources for environmentally and vegetarian friendly products!
During my time as a board member, Oryana has continued to thrive and I am proud to be one small part of that. I look forward to continuing my role on the board and to exploring more ways Oryana can connect and lead as we work to achieve our Ends and nurture a community of “healthy happy people!”
I often boast that this board is one of the best I’ve had the opportunity to work with. We have taken time to invest in each other and in efforts to develop the board as a whole. We work together to ensure that we, as directors, are well informed and strongly positioned to meet the needs of the co-op now and into the future. As we consider a second location, this work is ever more important.
Oryana has become ever more a part of our life. Our newborn son has already made many a shopping trip to the co-op and our four-year old (she’ll be 5 by the General Membership Meeting) daughter has been shopping there since week one and can easily navigate her way around the store, always greeting the familiar and friendly staff. She refers to Oryana as “our store” – if only she knew how right she is!
I write to introduce myself and ask for the honor of your trust to serve on the Board of Directors. This is an exciting time for us as we grow the business, expand our reach, and bring high quality, conscious food to new people. I would be humbled to contribute in a unique and meaningful way to this adventure.
I say unique because I am a pharmaceutical sales rep and a holistic health coach. I advocate for patients to benefit from life-changing medicines for my profession, and encourage clients to benefit from healing foods and lifestyle changes for my passion. I find a synergy between these two seemingly disparate ideas that helps real people every day. My pharma career requires business acumen, strategic planning and organization, critical thinking, and negotiation. My health coaching requires relationship building, leadership and facilitation, empathy and passion, and an intrepid spirit. These qualities, along with my background managing small businesses and teaching both adults and children can meaningfully contribute to the Board.
So that is what I do. This is who I am: I am pretty honest, and try to be tactful. I have not-so-secret crushes on nerds. I want to save the world with love and food, but I can’t do little things like close cupboard doors. I am fairly smart; smart enough to know that there are plenty of people smarter than me, but smart enough to know how to use a semi-colon. I am a wildly delighted wife, a sweetly wicked step-mother, and a wide-eyed thrilled and terrified mother of an infant. I am a grateful daughter, a bossy big sister, and a kooky auntie. I am a seriously silly friend, a reliably mysterious co-worker, and a patiently pushy salesperson. I love food. And coffee. And dancing, and bees, and The Princess Bride, and lazy mornings, and bacon, and magazines, and shiny things.
I want to be an Oryana Board member. I love who we are and what we do and am eager to be deeply invested in that. Please allow me to do this for us. Thank you.