Why do you want to serve on the Board of Directors for the RPFC?
I have shopped at food coops for most of my adult life. I am committed to the healthy, local, and ethical food choices they provide, as well as the community networks that they help to form and strengthen. When I moved to Rogers Park two years ago, I was really excited to discover that a food coop was being organized here. I am now asking to join the Board because I have energy and skills to lend to the effort; and I feel that in order to honor my commitment to the cooperative grocery store model I ought to lend whatever support I can. My skills include grant writing, communications--including effective presentations of research-based findings and teaching presentations, social media, and public relations--and experience with fair trade, organic and sustainable foods in my capacities as an anthropological food researcher, gardener, and cook.
What is your passion? How could we see that passion in action in your day-to-day life?
I am passionate about growing, cooking, and eating food! I am also dedicated to a research agenda that includes work on organic consumer (food) coops, organic marketing coops that sell organic foods, and the farmers who produce for those coops. I do research on organic farming and cooperatives in Wisconsin; and on organic, fair trade coffee producers in Chiapas, Mexico who sell their coffee to roasters in the Midwest. I am just beginning a new project concerning community gardens and the relationship between community diversity, plant diversity, and pollinator (e.g. bees) diversity in Chicago. My co-investigators and I are interested in how gardening promotes human and environmental wellbeing in our urban communities.
List some of the organizations, causes, initiatives, and groups of which you have been a part. How do you believe you involvement with these groups have prepared you to serve on the RPFC Board of Directors?
I am Associate Professor of Anthropology at UIC, where I teach, carry out research, and serve as Director of Undergraduate studies. I work with student organizations, sustainability initiatives, and social justice initiatives on campus. I am involved with the Field Museum as an Adjunct Curator, and as a member of a team of researchers. I have experience with leadership, designing programs, and mentoring and teaching, and managing programs and personnel.
Describe an experience in which you worked on a team.
A great deal of my work is collaborative, including my current research, where I work with a team of four Investigators and a number of student research assistants. Our research was conceptualized, designed, and implemented by teamwork, incorporating the ideas and methods of researchers from ethnobotany, medicine, anthropology, and biology. That work has required continuous learning, compromise, and accommodation, and resulted in a much stronger project as a result. My general experience has been that teamwork is essential for a good outcome; and that it is much more rewarding than working alone.
Briefly describe two or three possible ways you could handle the following situation. How you would ultimately act?
You've recently been elected to the RPFC Board. A close friend and local food producer privately asks you to help her business by having the Board publicly denounce the alleged unethical business practices of her closest competitor, whose products are already sold at RPFC. The business owner says she will deeply discount RPFC orders for her product for a year if you help her.
That request is so clearly unethical it could not be honored even if it were true.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell us? Do you have any other experiences that you see as being related to the work of the Board?
I am a union representative for the UIC faculty union, where I Chair the Shared Governance Committee. Before I was a college professor I was a pastry chef; and I am pretty passionate about bicycles and gardening.