A Warm Welcome to our New CEO!

  in Blog

Oryana is pleased to announce the hire of our next CEO, Sarah Christensen. Sarah will succeed Steve Nance, who is retiring after 14+ years leading our cooperative. 

Since 2003, Sarah has held a similar position as the CEO of the Green Tree Co-op Market in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, where she was responsible for overall organizational management including business planning, human resources, and financial management, as well as marketing and community outreach. 

“Sarah’s authentic leadership experience and value in community connection make her a perfect fit for this role,” said Steve. “Oryana has grown and evolved so much since being founded 50 years ago. Sarah’s energy and vision make her the ideal person to expand on our mission of caring for our staff, owners and community.” 

This year marks Oryana’s 50th anniversary. In 1973, a small group of visionary volunteers created a buying club to obtain fresh food at fair prices. Today, their efforts have evolved into a $35 million, two-store cooperative business serving the greater Grand Traverse Region and its 11,000+ member-owners. Oryana is governed by a nine-member board elected by the owners who hire and oversee the work of the General Manager.

“I am honored and excited to be the new CEO at Oryana,” Sarah said. “I believe strongly in the mission, values, and impacts of cooperatives and I look forward to continuing that work in Traverse City!”

“We heard from many interesting and qualified applicants for this special job,” said Colleen Valko, Oryana Board President. “However, Sarah was our Board’s unanimous choice! We see in her both an ability to build on Steve’s successful leadership, but to also explore and develop new opportunities for our beloved co-op.”

Oryana is one of only seven co-ops in the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) network to remain profitable each year since 2006. This distinction is especially impressive, given Oryana’s dedication to a Sustainable Wage program and providing world-class insurance and benefits.

“Oryana’s success is not just about groceries; it’s about community, sustainability, and shared values,” Christensen said. “They are not only a highly regarded co-op in Michigan, but nationwide.  It’s a privilege to be chosen to lead this cooperative into its next chapter.”

Oryana will host a Meet and Greet to welcome Sarah and say goodbye to Steve at both stores in January. Steve’s only wish for his send-off celebration is that there be ice cream! 

“I’m looking forward to being a part of such an amazing team, getting to know other business folks in the Traverse City area, and being so close to Lake Michigan,” Sarah said. She will assume leadership of Oryana in January 2024.