Monday, March 12, 2012

Candidates: Board of Directors

West Michigan Co-op's Board of Director's annual meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 13, at 6:30 p.m. at Media Rare (1111 Godfrey SW). All members and producers are encouraged to attend.
At the meeting, a vote will be held to fill several open positions on the board. The candidates running for these positions were asked to submit a statement about themselves so that the voters can get to know them a little better. Below are those candidate statements.


Charissa Huang
Dear Co-op Community:
I am so excited about the prospect of serving this community as a member of your Board. The Co-op is one of those rare venues in our community where people from very diverse walks of life come together for a good, common purpose. That’s the great thing about food – it brings people together.
By day, I am an attorney with Smith, Haughey, Rice & Roegge in Grand Rapids where I represent individuals, businesses, and government agencies in construction and land disputes, employment issues, and immigration matters. Formerly, I served as a mediator in the courts where I mediated conflicts among opposing parties in landlord/tenant, commercial, and auto accident disputes, helping people to achieve practical solutions through interest based negotiation.
On a personal note, I was raised in West Michigan. In 1979, my parents immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan, where my paternal grandfather, great grandfather, and great great grandfather, etc. were farmers. Of course, the produce they farmed was quite a bit different (e.g. mangos, guavas, papayas) from the produce grown here in West Michigan, but the goals and values were one in the same. I am a bona fide foodie. My favorite vegetables are pea shoots, and my favorite meal is sloppy joes. I have a fondness of strong cheeses.
As a member of the Board, I would utilize my skills in advocacy and conflict resolution to help the Co-op to achieve its goals for growth and development, while facilitating open and productive dialogue among board members, producers, and consumers. I believe in supporting and developing sustainable solutions that support local businesses and respect the environment. I believe in feeding people healthy and ethically produced food. Whether or not I am elected to the Board, I look forward to serving my community in a way that positively influences our local economy and environment.
Thank you very much for your consideration!

Janet Tlapek
My education and experience is in accounting. I am a sole- practitioner certified public accountant with accounting experience over different industries and an emphasis in activity- based- costing.

Although I still do accounting, in January of 2011 I opened Facility Kitchens, which is a commercial rental kitchen serving West Michigan local food producers, (located in Lowell, Michigan www.facilitykitchens.com ). It was Facility Kitchens that sparked by interest in local food. (Or was it my interest in local food that sparked me to open Facility Kitchens? I am not sure.)

Facility Kitchens is part of the circle that makes up the local food market. We serve people who prepare, produce, and package food for sell. Facility Kitchens has provided a volunteer each month on pick up nights. We do not sell food so we are free to help the co-op on pick up nights. We have enjoyed this great connection into the local food community. So many people at so many different levels come together to make local food available and volunteering helps us be part of it.

I researched the co-op and its committees. My first impulse is to work with the producer committee.
However, I am open. There must be nearly unlimited things needed to bring together the West Michigan Co-op and I would like to help this next year as part of the board of directors.

Thank you so much for your consideration.


Caryn Rasch
"I joined the West Michigan Co-Op about two years ago, and I have volunteered at most pick-up nights ever since. That has been so much fun that I decided to join the Membership Committee a few months ago. Now I send the shopping and pick-up reminder emails. I look forward to seeing what else I can do with the Co-op by serving on the board.  

My first job was at the 28th Street Farmer’s Market selling produce. I’ve enjoyed going to farmer’s markets ever since and like knowing where my food comes from. Now, for almost six years, I have worked for Kent County in the Bureau of Equalization. I am an appraiser for commercial and industrial properties. Before that I was a residential appraiser for about ten years.

Thank you for considering me for the West Michigan Co-Op Board. "

 Caryn Rasch
Bureau of Equalization
Appraisal Division


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