Why I Ran for the Board: Part I


As we approach the election season for Co-op Board of Representatives, read about why the current Board members decided to run:

Elizabeth Teuwen- Elected 2020

I wanted to become a Board member as a way to say thank you to the Co-op, my family’s off-site pantry, a reliable source of healthy and sustainable groceries, and a supportive member of the community. I liked the idea of becoming part of an organization that operated according to clear guiding principles and recall the difficulty in picking “my favorite” principle when it came time to fill out the candidate questionnaire.

Ultimately, I settled on “Concern for the Community” because of the way this principle transforms the TPSS Co-op from simple neighborhood grocery store into an organization that strengthens and supports our local food system. As a chef who has experienced the difficulties of working in the food industry, I valued the steps the Co-op took to strengthen its own internal community by supporting unionized workers and improving employee benefits. And I benefited directly from the generosity of the Co-op in its partnerships with nonprofits I have been involved with.

In the first eight months of my Board term, I have seen this concern for our community repeatedly reaffirmed.  I am proud of the way the Co-op has prioritized the safety of its staff and customers during the pandemic. I am grateful for the support the Co-op has lent to organizations providing food assistance to our neighbors experiencing food insecurity. As a Board member, I now have the opportunity to give back to a neighborhood institution that truly cares about our community.

Kathy Tsantiris- Elected 2019

I moved to the DC side of Takoma a few years ago, after living close to DuPont Circle. After a couple of years of doing most of my grocery shopping at a combination of very small markets and major chain grocery stores in busy parts of the city, the Co-op felt like an amazing change of pace. I immediately decided to sign up as a member. It’s rare to see a grocery store where a large quantity of the produce doesn’t even have a branded label – just a sign indicating that the produce is from Mike Tabor (and I look forward to his gold rush apples all year). I also love being able to bring containers in to shop in the bulk section, where there is a selection that allows me to get most of the staples for my house without the added waste.

I guess it might seem weird to say that I decided to run for the board because of the barrels of Mike Tabor’s produce and the bulk section. But with a background in environmental policy amidst a growing climate crisis, I try to make conscious choices about my own consumption and support local food systems. The Co-op is a place where I truly feel I can do that, and I was excited at the opportunity to learn more and give back. My first board meeting was January of 2020, so I don’t think I could have anticipated what my time on the board would be like. But I am so glad that I decided to run. I have learned so much, and the Co-op has given me a strong sense of community that has become more important than ever.

Adam Frank- Elected 2016

My name is Adam Frank and I have lived in Takoma Park since about 1993. The Co-op was a big part of what drew me to the Takoma Park area, and we (me and my spouse) became members as soon as we moved here. At that time, TPSS still had a volunteer program, and we worked a couple nights a week stocking juices. We really enjoyed our time there, got to know the employees and shoppers and it really was one of the highlights of our week. As we came to know more about the Co-op and met more people who were members, we hear more about the Board and what it does.  Finally, just a couple years after we joined, I was approached to run for the Board and became a Board member in 2016 (I think that was my first year on the Board, but I could be mistaken there). After serving on the Board for several years, I recently (about 7 years ago now) rejoined the Board again.

Initially, what drew me to run and serve on the Board was both my general support of Co-ops and my desire to help the Co-op to which I belonged.  Even before joining TPSS, we had belonged to other Co-ops and saw the benefits of the Co-op way – both for the store, for the shoppers, for the members and for the society. Co-ops tend to become “the” place to meet people, gather and talk (a little harder to do during these times of Covid, but hopefully we can get back to that sometime soon). I also felt like I had something to give to the Co-op – my experiences and my skills, such as my skills with accounting (I have my own business). It was really that desire to help the store continue operating and continue being that “town center” that drove me to serve a second time. Sure, I could have left it to someone else, but I think everyone has something unique to give and share, and that’s what being on the Board is all about – listening and using your skills and experience to help determine the overall direction of the store.  While there have been tough times serving on the Board, overall, it has been such a rewarding experience and something I can always look back on and say – you know, I really helped the Co-op keep going and flourish.