Kristin Alexander 2019

Candidate Questionnaire

 

Kristin Alexander

Why do you want to serve on the Board of Directors for the RPFC?

First of all, I am passionate about healthy eating and about bringing quality, ethically grown food to our community. I love RPFC’s mission to have the coop be representative of the diverse population it serves and it’s goal to bring people together at a time when our country is so divided.

I also love Rogers Park and south Evanston and am committed to improving the quality of life for it’s residents and I believe strongly that having a locally owned food co-op will accomplish this. I am at point in my life where I have the time and energy to become actively involved in a movement that I am excited about.

What is your passion? How could we see that passion in action in your day-to-day life?

I believe strongly that being part of a community provides a sense of belonging and social connectedness, which then leads to improved mental health and well being. I am naturally drawn to people, to hearing their story and to connecting them to others, which I do daily both personally and professionally. This is one reason why I love working at Heartland Health
Center, because it allows me the opportunity to run groups that do just this. So many people in the city, especially those with mental health issues, lead isolated lives and we offer a safe place for them to feel welcomed and valued. I believe the co-op can also provide this for the community members.

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?

Heartland Health Center, Chicago
Evanston Hospital, Evanston
Illinois Masonic Hospital Emergency Room, Chicago
C4, Chicago
iSellMyPlace Real Estate Company, Owner and Broker
Cradle to Career Initiative, Evanston
Washington School basketball and football coach, Evanston
Washington School Garden, Evanston
The Talking Farm, Evanston/Skokie
Boys and Girls Club, Chicago
Jane Adams Community Center, Chicago
Peterson Garden Project, Chicago

I am a connector and get people involved in issues and projects that I am passionate about. I am able to see the big picture and then bring others with the skills, talent and knowledge to work together for a common goal. In many of these positions, I was faced with challenges and limited resources to find solutions. It required resourcefulness, creative problem solving,
collaboration and engaging of community members to be successful.

I also intimately know the communities RPFC hopes to serve through years of service. I am a behavioral health consultant at Heartland Health Center’s clinic on Devon. In this position, I work with patients 1:1 to help them improve their physical and mental health. I also lead a knitting and gardening group and partner with other Rogers Park-area organizations. In this role, I
also worked closely with in a childhood obesity study that focused on Rogers Park and Evanston.

Describe an experience in which you worked on a team.

I was one of the co-founders of the Washington School garden in Evanston. In this role, I worked with a small group of equally committed volunteers who shared my passion to educate our children about where their food comes from and the importance of healthy eating.

I was one of the co-leaders and my role was to support the teachers and volunteers and to create a sense of vision and excitement around what we were doing. When we started the project I knew nothing about growing food, but was able to engage parents and community members who were willing to offer their guidance, skills and talents. My role was to make the volunteers and school staff feel valued, to listen to their recommendations and ideas and to show ongoing appreciation for their contributions. Our garden became a model for future school gardens in Evanston and we happily shared our successes and challenges.

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.

It would not be ethical to do what this person is asking plus I feel it is an operations issue. If I were faced with this situation, I would talk with my friend, allow them to feel heard and supported but at the same time I would make it very clear this is not a board issue and would direct them to the appropriate staff member. If after learning more about the allegations the staff member decides to bring it to the Board, it may be necessary to recuse myself from the discussion and vote on this issue because of my personal relationship with the food producer.

Could you share with us some ideas you may have for owner recruitment to the co-op?

To start, I would ask current members to share their excitement about the co-op by encouraging others to join via school and neighborhood list serves. It’s free advertisement and an easy way to reach a large group of people. I also think it would be helpful to reach out to other organizations in the area who share in the Co-op’s passion, such as the Talking Farm in Evanston/
Skokie, to see how we can collaborate and to also ask them to tell their volunteers and donators about the Co-op.

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