Board Elections 2021: The Candidates

All candidates have provided written answers to a series of questions, which can be read by clicking on the names below. Responses were limited to 250 words. The candidates have also recorded video statements, which are also embedded below. When you're ready, don't forget to visit the online ballot to vote! NOTE: Voting will begin on April 1 at noon. (Login required.)

For their video statements, candidates were asked:

  1. Why do you want to be on the Weavers Way Board?
  2. What skills, knowledge, and experience do you have that would be an asset to the Board?
  3. What could Weavers Way look like in five years?
  4. Is there anything you want to say about yourself that would help members vote?

Cheryl Croxton

1. What is your current Weavers Way shopping frequency? Describe your involvement in Weavers Way committees, projects, and activities.

I’ve been a Weavers Way member for over 15 years. My family shops at the Co-op regularly. We enjoy the produce, local dairy and prepared foods options. I have not volunteered previously.

2. Describe your experience with financial oversight, particularly of a business or organization’s budget and financial performance.

For over 25 years, I held leadership roles with Fannie Mae, a large financial services firm that included the oversight of business partner creditworthiness. I assessed operational and financial performance, mitigated risk exposure and negotiated business terms. I managed sizable teams with budgetary responsibility. My experience also includes serving as corporate counsel and working in stakeholder management with public officials and business partners, among others.

3. What do you perceive to be the long- and short-term challenges facing Weavers Way, and how should we address them?

The stores are located in communities where consumers have numerous options. The cooperative structure generates loyalty, but this highly competitive environment also challenges customer retention and increased purchases. I would work to deepen insight into shopper motivation and support agile responses that build upon the dedicated membership.

I admire the commitment to community. However, blending profitability with community service may be challenging, particularly with a geographically dispersed and multifaceted stakeholder group (Co-op members, employees, vendors, community partners, etc.). I would bring groups together to increase our collective understanding of the complicated business and social impact issues Weavers Way leaders manage daily.

4. What volunteer or professional experiences have you had with other cooperatives or organizations that will help you strengthen the Weavers Way Board?

Community stabilization motivates me. Neighborhoods thrive when they have financially healthy grocery stores committed to them. I’ve served on business and community advisory boards. I serve in a large local public service organization. Earlier in my career, I worked in marketing at Procter & Gamble, and I was a Future Farmer of America, having graduated from Saul High School.

Kris Hart

1. What is your current Weavers Way shopping frequency? Describe your involvement in Weavers Way committees, projects, and activities.

I am a recent humble working member (23 shifts for over 46 hours since Nov. 12, 2020). I thoroughly enjoy working at the Ambler store - great employees, great customers/neighbors, great products, great atmosphere. It’s a great overall store. I love to sign up for shifts and engage with our clientele – and being on the ground, I learn a lot!

2. Describe your experience with financial oversight, particularly of a business or organization’s budget and financial performance.

I formerly owned a local grocery store (almost a bodega!) and sandwich shop in Washington, DC called Foggy Bottom Grocery (FoBoGro). As the owner, I did everything, including financials, profit and loss, inventory, staff hiring and training, product selection, vendor management, customer relations, business development, etc. I now enjoy bagging groceries, meeting and greeting members and carrying groceries to cars as much as I enjoyed the demands of running my store!

I am an educated and trained economist with a degree from George Washington University. I was raised in Blue Bell and happily live in Ambler.

3. What do you perceive to be the long- and short-term challenges facing Weavers Way, and how should we address them?

I would love to get more engaged and support Weavers Way. I want to help support the team, increase community and member engagement, study the numbers, build on innovation and prosper. This will lead to better growth and increase the return on our investment.

4. What volunteer or professional experiences have you had with other cooperatives or organizations that will help you strengthen the Weavers Way Board?

I work from home running two companies; my only other obligations are tending my beloved puppies and volunteering as a Wissahickon firefighter. While in D.C., I served as volunteer president of the Washington Circle Business Association for nine years and founded Round2Fight, an organization to help our homeless friends.

Jason Henschen

1. What is your current Weavers Way shopping frequency? Describe your involvement in Weavers Way committees, projects, and activities.

I have been a working member of Weavers Way since 2006, and served on the Co-op’s Environmental Committee from 2007-2010. Currently, my family and I can be found roaming the aisles one to two times a week. It’s an institution that I am continually inspired by and I would be honored to serve on its board.

2. Describe your experience with financial oversight, particularly of a business or organization’s budget and financial performance.

From 2012-2014, I oversaw the events division of a nonprofit multicultural center in Washington, DC. I returned to Philadelphia to manage the sales arm of High Point Cafe’s wholesale division. In both positions, I was responsible for managing the revenue streams, monitoring departmental budgets and projecting financial futures.

3. What do you perceive to be the long- and short-term challenges facing Weavers Way, and how should we address them?

The consumer world moves fast and is only picking up speed. Your favorite eco-friendly household cleaner once only found on the Co-op’s shelves can now be ordered as a subscription, with refill bottles sent to your doorstep at the press of a button. Keeping pace while maintaining our institutional integrity will prove our greatest challenge for the foreseeable future. Our current highest priority is ensuring the food security of both our members and non-member neighbors as we emerge from this devastating pandemic.

4. What volunteer or professional experiences have you had with other cooperatives or organizations that will help you strengthen the Weavers Way Board?

My time with High Point Cafe allowed me to build extensive relationships with local food purveyors, co-ops and eateries. This experience, combined with my creative problem-solving strength and commitment to engaging diverse communities, would complement the talent of other members of the Weavers Way Board.

Toni Jelinek

1. What is your current Weavers Way shopping frequency? Describe your involvement in Weavers Way committees, projects, and activities.

I’m completing my first term as a Weavers Way Board member, serving as president since last June. I’ve learned a lot about the Co-op: the business, our philosophy, our mission and Ends. I value the benefit that the Co-op offers our communities. I love going into my home store in Ambler at least once a week and seeing people shopping for high-quality food.

2. Describe your experience with financial oversight, particularly of a business or organization’s budget and financial performance.

Like many Board members, I have a business background. Since the Co-op is a business, good business guidance from the Board is important. I’ve served on nonprofit boards for many years. I know how tight budgets are and how necessary it is to have directors who are committed to the success of the organization.

3. What do you perceive to be the long- and short-term challenges facing Weavers Way, and how should we address them?

Short-term: Recover from the business impact of the pandemic. Mandated customer caps and increased curbside and home delivery volume have affected our profitability. We’ve had to adjust to the closure of self-service bars, packaging prepared foods, and no Friday night $4 dinners in Ambler.

Long-term: Our customer base should be more diverse and inclusive. We can start to achieve that by adding vendors and products that reflect the diversity of our neighborhoods. We can also ensure that our employees have the knowledge and sensitivity to operate in an inclusive organization. Lastly, we need to improve our member and community outreach.

4. What volunteer or professional experiences have you had with other cooperatives or organizations that will help you strengthen the Weavers Way Board?

As Weavers Way Board secretary and now president, I’ve drawn heavily on my experience in other organizations. I’ve served on at least eight different nonprofit boards, including in leadership positions.

Stefanie Kitchner

1. What is your current Weavers Way shopping frequency? Describe your involvement in Weavers Way committees, projects, and activities.

Weavers Way is one of my favorite parts of living in Mt. Airy. I became a working member around the time the Chestnut Hill store opened. Though I lived out of the area for some years, I’m thrilled to be back and shopping at the Co-op again! I typically shop twice a week and buy most of my food here, including coffee, which I love grinding fresh each week.

2. Describe your experience with financial oversight, particularly of a business or organization’s budget and financial performance.

Throughout my career, I’ve overseen the financial decisions of the companies I’ve worked for or owned and have always taken an ethical approach to them. As the founder and previous owner of Ciao Bella Cakes, I built a successful custom bakery. Currently, I’m the chief business officer for a life safety company. I oversee the finances, including accounts receivable and accounts payable, cash flow, bookkeeping and long-term planning.

3. What do you perceive to be the long- and short-term challenges facing Weavers Way, and how should we address them?

I believe one of Weavers Way’s greatest challenges is and will be to balance growth while remaining focused on the local community. Other challenges include continuing to sell ethical products and presenting the Co-op as a small, independent, local store. Listening to the membership and surrounding communities and doing research on similar co-ops and businesses will keep the Co-op accountable and successful.

4. What volunteer or professional experiences have you had with other cooperatives or organizations that will help you strengthen the Weavers Way Board?

I’ve been a working member at the Co-op throughout my membership. I’m also a longtime volunteer at Graterford/Phoenix prison through the Prison Literacy Project, in addition to other volunteer and civic activities. I value community with a sense of responsibility to others. I believe my passion for serving others, along with my business experience, would make me a valuable Board member.

Chris Mallam

1. What is your current Weavers Way shopping frequency? Describe your involvement in Weavers Way committees, projects, and activities.

I like to plan ahead, so I only shop at Weavers Way one or two days a week.

I have been involved with the Co-op as an employee for over six years in our Wellness and Prepared Foods departments in Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy, as well as working with the Chestnut Hill Business Association to stay engaged with community events. I would be honored to have the opportunity to serve on the board.

2. Describe your experience with financial oversight, particularly of a business or organization’s budget and financial performance.

My business finance experience is based on what I have learned from working at the Co-op, primarily the opening and operations of our Next Door location.

3. What do you perceive to be the long- and short-term challenges facing Weavers Way, and how should we address them?

The grocery business is challenging on its own, and Weavers Way has been tackling these challenges for the past four decades. A few important challenges we face include maintaining member loyalty, refocusing on sustainability, and using technology to our advantage for an increased positive customer experience. How we approach and resolve them will require a unique and unified effort by all of us.

4. What volunteer or professional experiences have you had with other cooperatives or organizations that will help you strengthen the Weavers Way Board?

I believe my knowledge of the grocery industry and my passion for what we do at Weavers Way will bring more support and empathy to our Board of Directors.

Gail McFadden-Roberts

1. What is your current Weavers Way shopping frequency? Describe your involvement in Weavers Way committees, projects, and activities.

During the pandemic, I’ve been shopping once a week; before COVID, we shopped at the Co-op three to four times a week. Our young adult sons enjoy the prepared foods. A Co-op run after church on Sundays for good church behavior treats is a tradition with my twin nephews.

There is a gap in my co-op involvement. Before I returned to graduate school, I did cooperator hours and served briefly on the Finance Committee.

2. Describe your experience with financial oversight, particularly of a business or organization’s budget and financial performance.

I am a trustee at my church, and financial oversight is a key responsibility of that position. Monitoring sufficiency of income to cover the expenses of the overall ministry is something we monitor and manage. My experience with financial oversight includes working with the board of trustees to devise strategies and solutions to financial challenges that may arise.

3. What do you perceive to be the long- and short-term challenges facing Weavers Way, and how should we address them?

I perceive two challenges for the Co-op: managing income and operating expenses and achieving financial stability during and post-COVID. Highlighting what distinguishes the Co-op from other grocery stores should be part of the strategy to increase income and achieve financial stability. Finding a way to soar with the Co-op’s strengths is a way to address the challenges.

4. What volunteer or professional experiences have you had with other cooperatives or organizations that will help you strengthen the Weavers Way Board?

My volunteer and professional experiences as a civil servant include human resources and labor relations (my staff were union members); strategic planning and goal setting in my roles as division chief, senior advisor/special assistant, urban planner and a member of the Ivy Legacy Foundation board. I have knowledge of organizational development through a completed doctoral program in organizational leadership.

Gerald Moore

1. What is your current Weavers Way shopping frequency? Describe your involvement in Weavers Way committees, projects, and activities.

I am a Chestnut Hill Prepared Foods employee, a weekly shopper of the Co-op and a member of the Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. Weavers Way Board members are at-large, representing all of the membership.

2. Describe your experience with financial oversight, particularly of a business or organization’s budget and financial performance.

I am a former retail/food service manager with 10 years experience. As a manager, I was accountable for daily store operations, profit and loss, performance management and finances.

3. What do you perceive to be the long- and short-term challenges facing Weavers Way, and how should we address them?

The most pressing opportunity facing our Co-op is pandemic hazard pay. As an employee, I know that hazard pay has been essential to survival. It is the right thing to do, but an additional $40,000 each month is unsustainable. No state or federal mandate requires essential businesses to provide hazard pay, which creates an unequal business-scape. Considering that there is no plan to transition vaccinations to Group 1B (essential workers), the Co-op could be carrying this financial burden for some time.

4. What volunteer or professional experiences have you had with other cooperatives or organizations that will help you strengthen the Weavers Way Board?

My volunteer experiences include Parkland Fire Company, St. John’s Hospice, Love Your Park, and teaching cooking, life skills and mediation at a men’s transitional living facility. Currently, I am training to become a volunteer crisis operator.

While at Starbucks, I identified our store as a sales outlier. I worked with regional leadership and the Hotel Marriott to create a labor model that would allow us to forecast and employ staff in response to the varied business of a location situated in the largest convention space outside of the Philadelphia Convention Center. We grew sales from $25,000 a week to between $35,000-$65,000 per week.

Esther Wyss-Flamm

1. What is your current Weavers Way shopping frequency? Describe your involvement in Weavers Way committees, projects, and activities.

I am honored to currently serve as vice president of the Weavers Way Board and am running for a second term. As a board liaison on the Co-op’s Wellness Team and the Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, I have helped organize numerous meetings (in-person and virtual!) with the Board, staff, our amazing members and neighboring communities.

The Co-op continues to be our family’s most frequent shopping destination, even now (fewer trips, larger basket size!).

2. Describe your experience with financial oversight, particularly of a business or organization’s budget and financial performance.

As Board member, I’ve been steeped in the financial oversight of the organization and have connected with Co-op management as needed, especially given the shifting sands we’ve experienced during the pandemic. My related experience includes professional work as program development advisor with UNICEF, teaching business school and managing the finances of my business.

3. What do you perceive to be the long- and short-term challenges facing Weavers Way, and how should we address them?

Our current most pressing challenge is supporting Co-op management efforts to keep the organization financially steady during COVID. When we emerge from these trying times, the challenges will shift to ensuring a living wage for all Weavers Way employees and addressing DEI, food justice and climate change issues, along with member engagement.

4. What volunteer or professional experiences have you had with other cooperatives or organizations that will help you strengthen the Weavers Way Board?

I have loved bringing my skills in leadership training, strategic planning, group process management and mindfulness to the Board and believe they are important assets, along with my experience in community action (Peace Corps, environmental and social-justice activism); teaching and training in organization development, and owning a wellness business. I also chaired the University of California, Berkeley Village Residents Association, which was committed to meeting the needs of over 800 economically and culturally diverse families.