The election of the Board of Directors will take place virtually this year via Helios, a secure online voting tool. Voting will be open leading up to and during our Spring General Membership Meeting on Wednesday, May 26th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., which is also taking place online.
In our 2021 board election, we may elect up to six (6) Directors — and need to elect a minimum of four (4) Directors to stay in compliance with our bylaws. Below, you may read about our nine (9) declared candidates for these board seats.
If you are unable to vote using our electronic voting tool, please email the Governance Committee at [email protected]. We will send you a ballot which you can print and drop off at the store. You may also choose to mail in your ballot to the Governance Committee at 2031 S Juniper St, Philadelphia, PA 19148. In order to be counted, all paper ballots need to be received by 8:30 pm on Wednesday, May 26th. Drop off or mail in ballots received after this deadline will not be counted in the election.
Who is eligible to vote for the Board of Directors?
According to Articles 1 and 4 in Section 2 of the bylaws, each member-owner household in good standing shall have only one vote on any single matter.
What does "good standing" mean?
Good standing means you've either invested your entire $300 member-owner equity already, or you're reliably making scheduled investments on a payment plan.
How do I know if I’m a member-owner in good standing?
How does the online voting process work?
Online voting will take place from Wednesday, May 12th to Wednesday, May 26th at 8:30 p.m. An email containing online voting instructions, as well as the User ID and Password needed to access the online ballot, will be sent to the primary contact of each member-owner household in good standing. If the primary contact of your household does not receive this email or you are unsure who is listed as your household's primary contact, you may contact us for assistance at [email protected]. Learn more about Helios, our online voting platform, and how it is designed to secure the privacy of your vote.
If there are multiple people in my member-owner household, do we each get a vote?
Nope. Only one vote per member-owner household. You can talk it over as a household and make selections that everyone agrees to, or just designate the primary member-owner to make the decision on everyone's behalf. Whatever works for you!
If you receive multiple votes from the same member-owner household, what will happen?
The only way the Co-op would receive multiple votes from one household is if a given household votes via Helios *and* mails in a ballot. Should this happen, the Governance Committee will only count the vote submitted via Helios, as there is no way for a Helios election administrator to know who voted for whom.
Meet the 2021 Nominees
Below are the names and statements of the candidates, presented alphabetically by last name.
Mita Banerjee (member-owner since 2017)
The South Philly Food Co-op is important to me because it encompasses a community of members who strive to bring fresh, local and sustainable food to our neighborhood. Also, it is important to me that it is owned and operated by the members, and I would like to contribute to make it a cozy neighborhood shop where neighbors can get environmentally health-conscious products at an affordable price.
I have been on the Board of the South Philly Co-op for the past two years, and this past year I have had the honor of being the Vice-President. I am extremely proud that this community owned store has opened up in December 2020 while I was on the Board!
I am an organizer by nature, enthusiastic and rooted in the community. I am a “doer” and never give up, given my analytic software Quality Assurance background.
As a Mom of two grown up girls, I have always liked to be involved with their activities. I participated for two years in a Cooperative nursery school run by Moms. Outside of being a Mom, I love bringing neighbors together by hosting Block parties and participating in neighborhood activities like planting trees in the Tree Tenders program.
I have a house in South Philly, and it is just a few blocks from the Co-op. With all this in mind I want to sustainably contribute to the evolving community of the South Philly Co-op.
Brendan Duffy (member since 2021)
I care about South Philly Food Co-op as it is an opportunity to bring together people in the community in a manner that promotes healthy nutrition and local producers. Furthermore, the Co-op allows the community to voice what they need in a more direct way than is available at a traditional grocery store.
I want to be on the Board of Directors because I want to get to know the community that I live in better. I moved into South Philly in 2020, and due to COVID-19, there haven’t been many ways to get to know my neighbors more than seeing them out on the street. South Philly Co-op is a community of about 1500 like-minded people that share similar values like sustainability and supporting the community.
I believe several of my lived experiences and perspectives that I would bring to the Board are valuable to the growth of South Philly Food Co-op. Professionally, I am a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) that works as an external auditor of large private and public companies. Beyond work, I have a passion for the values that embody South Philly Food Co-op. In school, I minored in Managing for Social Impact with a focus on Environmental and Economic Sustainability. After graduating, I had put my learning into action and helped my parents with their local CBD brand at our local farmer’s market in Drexel Hill, PA.
Zaire DuRant-Young (member-owner since 2020)
To me, South Philly is synonymous with community. Food is one of the many things that connects us, yet many neighbors lack access to quality, affordable, healthy food options.
For the first twelve years of my life, I lived in a food desert in inner city Baltimore. My family shopped for food every other week, and it was stressful. It required lots of planning, and we only bought processed, shelf-stable foods to eliminate waste. Local produce was not available or fresh enough to last. There was no time or money to explore new cuisines or products from local farms and businesses. Reflecting on my experience, I see how much it impacted my relationship with the food I eat, the nutrition it gives me, new flavors as a gateway to celebrating different cultures, and my overall sense of connection to my community, near and far.
I see parallels between the neighborhood I grew up in and some neighborhoods in South Philadelphia. I’ve experienced firsthand that access to quality, local foods, and products makes a big difference in not just health, but overall quality of life. As a member of the Board of Directors I would like to help others understand, appreciate, engage with, and invest in the Co-op as a driver of both individual and collective health, equity, and prosperity. As our health and food systems experience unprecedented stress, I believe community-driven organizations like the Co-op are imperative to building resilience for our future.
Chad Hooper (member-owner since 2018)
As our Board President, I cannot overstate how humbling it was to lead our Board through our Grand Opening after our friends and neighbors spent years working toward this goal. Our co-op creates economic opportunity and jobs in South Philly for our neighbors, and I look forward to seeing how we continue to grow. I’m proud of our product selection and how we showcase local/regional items while not competing with other markets in our neighborhood.
I want to lead our Board through our co-op’s first operating year. While it was an incredible accomplishment to open during a pandemic, there’s more to do! If reelected, I will lead us through our first financial audit, create our charitable foundation, help raise wages, and ensure stability. I would be among the longest serving Board members and could share my knowledge with new directors. I could complete the work I started fostering our governing culture to empower our GM to lead us to success.
I led our Board through completion of construction, closeout of our capital campaign, and our Grand Opening. I bring experience as a forensic accountant and former Federal official. I consult other nonprofit boards on internal controls and process development. These experiences helped me create our new bylaws and our Board’s committees. I facilitated our SNAP application, making our co-op accessible to all regardless of how they pay. I recruited more than a quarter of our current Board and will ensure our Board continues to represent our member-owners effectively.
Eliza Kinsey (member since 2015)
The Co-op is important to me because I believe in healthy food access for all and the power of communities to promote their own health and equity. In addition to making fresh, local food available in our neighborhood, I think the Co-op model provides opportunities for broad community engagement and explicit food justice initiatives not possible with traditional corporate grocery stores. Professionally, I am a public health researcher with a focus on food insecurity and health equity. I bring many years of experience working in the food system, including as a farmer, a food co-op produce department employee, and a farmers’ market manager. During my first term as a Board Member for the Co-op, my skills in grant writing, program evaluation and food justice initiatives have been valuable assets for the Co-op. I have been honored to be part of opening the doors of the store to the community and am excited to serve another term on the Board of Directors. I live in South Philadelphia with my husband and young son and we love shopping at the Co-op, where we have been proud member-owners since 2015.
Jenn Ladd (member-owner since 2020)
Jenn Ladd bought a house in South Philly in 2019 and a member of the co-op since 2020. She believes in the co-op's power to build community, provide high-quality food and products to everyone in the neighborhood, and support local and ethical makers and suppliers. Jenn is a journalist who has covered food and drink for most of her career, including her current role as a food reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer. She's had the privilege to ask experts, business owners, and workers all sorts of questions and to tell their stories in return. As an editor, she's spent years managing deadlines, freelancers and staffers, and production processes. She hopes to bring these skills — asking questions, synthesizing information, working through problems — to bear as a member of the co-op's board. She also looks forward to learning more about the people behind it.
Christina Pirello (member-owner since 2021)
As a 35 year vegan, healthy eating activist, TCM expert and nutritionist, my entire career has been dedicated to helping people make the best choices for their wellness. Access to healthy food, support of local farmers and producers and education is paramount to my work. I have taught healthy cooking all over the world; I now host the Emmy Award winning cooking show, "Christina Cooks". The South Philly Food Co-op is important to our neighborhood for so many reasons, even beyond access to healthy food options. I would love to be a part of the decision-making of how it becomes an essential entity in the neighborhood. I would love to be of service to the co-op, its members and the community.
Sharon Ulak (member since 2020)
I joined SPFC to invest in my neighborhood, connect with my neighbors, and to continue supporting the local economy and food justice initiatives in my community. I am seeking candidacy as an SPFC board member because I want to see the co-op continue to grow and further represent the local community and its values.
After moving to Philly in 2010 to attend Temple Law School, I instantly fell in love with the city and made it my home. Throughout my legal career, my dedication to public service has been unwavering. I have worked exclusively as a lawyer in local government, first for the City, and now for the School District. Both roles have allowed me to help the City grow, improve, and serve its community.
I have also been heavily involved with City Fit Girls, an all-levels fitness community focused on making fitness and nutrition accessible and equitable to all people. For three years, I co-led group runs, and helped it grow into one of the biggest, most inclusive fitness groups in Philadelphia.
My professional and personal experiences have taught me how to set a positive tone and listen while supporting community development. I also believe my problem-solving and negotiation skills would be an asset for the Board as it advances the Co-Op’s growth and values. If given the opportunity, I will bring these experiences to the SPFC Board as it continues to support the growth of the store and the SPFC community.
Jeff Waxman (member-owner since 2021)
I moved to Queen Village from Queens, NY shortly before the SPFC opened for business. Me and my partner, Katherine, joined as member/owners in short order.
For fifteen years, I've worked in sales, marketing, and publicity on behalf of book publishers, bookstores, nonprofits, and magazines. I've also done some moonlighting in a variety of food gigs: slinging egg sandwiches, fancy cheese, and smoked fish at delicatessens in Chicago and Brooklyn; hosting a literary dinner series in New York; and publicizing a much-loved cookbook bookstore.
In the recent past, I served as a core member of the Jackson Heights Farmspot CSA, co-founded the Open Borders Books Collective and The Bookstore at the End of the World in NYC, and I completed the coursework for a Queens Botanical Garden’s Master Composter certificate. I'm also an accredited (if unpracticed) grader of maple syrup, a certified Citizen Tree Pruner, and I've got a bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric, to round out my more dubious credentials.
I am interested, always, in the many ways that communities come together by choice, whether it's over books, food, or some other wonderful thing. I'm also dedicated to making the Co-op an institution that not only sustains its members, but the community at large. We are collectively living through a massively destructive crisis and every crisis offers a thousand opportunities to rebuild the world into something more kind, more livable, and more equitable than it has been. I don't want to miss any opportunity this time.