2020 Board Candidate: Diane Curran

Occupation

Public interest environmental lawyer specializing in nuclear safety; community volunteer

Education

College and legal degrees; currently a practicing lawyer.

Community Involvement

Current Board President of TPSS Co-op; elected to Board in fall of 2017. Founding member of City Garden Co-op in Washington, D.C.; elder and active member of Takoma Park Presbyterian Church since 1985; former co-President of Spring Knolls Cooperative Nursery School; former member of City of Takoma Park Recycling Task Force; founding member of Bikes not Bombs and Institute for Transportation and Development Policy; former board member of Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

Why are you interested in serving on the Board?

I have greatly enjoyed my three years of service on the TPSS Co-op Board (including my two years as President, 2019-2020), and have worked very hard to provide strong leadership on important issues. I seek re-election in order to continue to work on those issues, including supporting our General Manager through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic; increasing the diversity of the Board and fulfilling our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion training; and participating in decisions related to the development of Takoma Junction and its impact on the Co-op.

Why are co-ops in general and TPSS Co-op in particular important to you?

Over the past several decades, I have seen the cooperative movement exert great leadership and set national trends in selling healthy food products that have now been adopted universally by commercial grocery stores. Yet, Co-ops still stand out from the crowd as leaders with a difference, by focusing on local producers, promoting a high level of workplace equity, and providing a high level of community service. TPSS is one of these important leaders. I am very proud that we offer a living wage to our staff members, and that we have put a high priority on their safety throughout the Covid-19 pandemic -- by going to 100% online shopping in March, before any other grocery store in the U.S. And in re-opening for in-store shopping, we have imposed careful protocols to keep both our staff and shoppers safe. Our Co-op offers a large range of locally sourced products. And we also provide a high level of community support, including serving as a hub for the critically important food distribution program sponsored by Small Things Matter. I am very proud to be a part of this business and community institution.

What volunteer or professional experiences have you had with other co-operatives or organizations that will help you strengthen the TPSS Co-op Board?

As a partner in my law firm for about 30 years, I participated in annual budgeting, drafting and administering policies for running the law office, supervision of employees, and contract and lease drafting and negotiations. As an environmental litigator, I have experience with writing, advocacy, and problem-solving. As a board member of several non-profit organizations, I have participated in every aspect of organizational oversight, including policy-making, budgeting, and fundraising. At my church, I co-chaired a $200,000 capital campaign for a new elevator, which included budgeting, fundraising, selecting contractor bids, and acting as church liaison to the building contractor.

What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

There is no doubt that during this horrific pandemic, the Co-op's "concerns for the community" and its role in "maintaining the sustainability of the community" have been very meaningful to me. In 2020, the Co-op actively demonstrated concern for our community in several important ways. First, the Co-op showed great care for the approximately 50 members of our community who are employed at our store, by establishing strong safety protocols during the pandemic, and by wise management and PPP loans that helped us avoid lay-offs. We have not had a single employee contract Covid-19. Second, the Co-op showed concern for the community members who shop at our store, by going to 100% online shopping at the most severe stage of the pandemic, and later making sure that the store re-opened safely. Several people have stopped me in the street to tell me that the Co-op is the store where they feel safest when they shop. I am very proud of that. Finally, the Co-op has shown its concern for the community by serving families who have been hit hard by the pandemic and need help with groceries. By supporting Small Things Matter, which uses the Co-op's facilities for its large volunteer food distribution program, we have provided needed support to more than 700 families in our community. I know those aspects of concern for our community will continue to be important as we move through the pandemic crisis, and I am glad we have laid this strong foundation.

Describe your experience with financial oversight, particularly of a business or organization's budget and financial performance.

For the past three years, I have participated in the Board's review of all financial reports, including reports from General Manager, independent auditor reports, and financial reviews submitted by independent analysts. I have participated in the review and approval of proposed budgets. And I have participated in the Board's ongoing review of the Co-op's financial health during the pandemic. Prior to my time on the Co-op board, I also participated in financial reviews and budgeting for my law firm, and for various nonprofit boards on which I served.

Why are diversity and equity important to you, and how do these principles show up in your life?

One of the reasons I chose to live in Takoma Park, long ago, was for its racial and cultural diversity. That diversity has enriched my life through friendships and working relationships in my job and community organizations. In recent years, in my church, I was lucky enough to participate in the establishment of a program of "Committed Racial Mindfulness" that deepened our individual and institutional understandings of racial bias and injustice and our commitment to work to end it. I am proud of the Black Lives Matter sign that hangs over the entrance to my church.

I am also very proud of the Co-op Board's recent public commitment to the principle that Black Lives Matter, and our commitment to participate in diversity, equity and inclusion training. And I am proud of the Board for committing to increasing the diversity of our Board representation. One of the reasons I am running for the Board is to help ensure that we undertake and continue that important work in 2021 and beyond.

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