Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination and congratulations to this year's candidates! Learn more about each candidate by reading their statements below. Owners will be able to vote beginning Saturday, March 25 through Sunday, April 9 online and in store.

All of our owners will have a chance to discuss candidate statements and ask questions at our Meet the Candidates Meeting on Saturday, March 25. 

Lewis Baum

Year joined: 2016

Mariposa is a principal anchor for Baltimore Avenue and thus for our community. Not only does it provide good food and employment, but it also serves as a thriving, hopeful example of an alternate structure, dedicated to serving not only the owners, but also considering customers, employees and the community at large.

In these times, it is important to preserve, strengthen and grow local alternatives. This is a strong reason why I’ve decided to run for election to the board. Foremost, the Coop needs to remain an economically sound business, otherwise longer-term goals will not be possible. To remain viable, a business must anticipate and respond to change, for example new customer needs, competition or supply channels. It is most important to stay “ahead of the curve” in planning for change and growth. Growth should be driven by an objective understanding of the existing environment, including especially the needs of current owners, other customers and those who have not yet been attracted. The organization must not shy away from necessary change, but change must be prudent and controlled to minimize risks to the ongoing business.

I believe I can contribute to this work. I’ve been a customer of Mariposa for several years and a working member since June 2016. I’m retired from working in information technology, financial software development and management, most recently as the head of Information Security, Risk and IT Audit for a large financial data center. I’ve lived in West Philadelphia three blocks away for over 30 years. I have been on the board of Cedar Park Neighbors and was treasurer for several years. I’m proud to have served with a diverse CPN executive committee that helped navigate some difficult times in our community.

Michaela Holmes

Year joined: 2014

I am immensely grateful for this nomination and, if elected, am enthusiastic to continue my work on the Board. After serving as Vice-Convener and Convener, I have gained valuable experience. We have a lot of work to celebrate over the past couple years both in the store and on the Board.

On the Board side, we have extended, and staggered, board terms; overhauled and simplified our Bylaws; written Board policies, for the first time, using Policy Governance; and hired a Transitional General Manager. Mariposa has grown at a furious pace over the last five years, and the Board has worked diligently to scale our systems to catch up. I am deeply dedicated to ensuring our recent initiatives take root.

2017 brings new hurdles and opportunities. We will be re-incorporating as a co-op (long story), working the kinks out of our newly established systems, incorporating more Board-Member committees to move our work forward sustainably, prominently incorporating FJAR (Food Justice and Anti-Racism) into the Board’s functions, and re-vamping our nominations process by intentionally cultivating talented, committed community members to serve on the Board.

My work at Mariposa has been tremendously rewarding and enriching for me. I have become more entrenched in this incredible community that supports the Co-op, and I am awed by the Staff’s dedication and thoughtfulness in creating a wonderful place to work, shop, and build community. The praxis of workplace democracy and community, learning and growing together, and using and building best practices in a community-owned cooperative is an adventure I want to be a part of. I am a proud member of Mariposa Food Co-op and am committed to its success. As a member of the Board there are three goals I would like to see the Co-op realize:

  • Clear policies that make serving on the Board more effective, sustainable and enjoyable.
  • A membership more representative of the diverse neighborhood in which the Co-op serves.
  • Graciously and kindly hold the co-op accountable towards our Ends Policies. 

Background (if you really want to read more about me):

I wasn’t born in a barn; I was born 30 feet away from the barn. I was raised on a farm in rural Oregon. Since then, I have lived in a number of different places – Seattle, Austin, San Diego, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and Langlois, Oregon. I have lived in West Philly for over three years now, and I am in the long process of renovating a row home in the neighborhood, where I live with my partner, Scott (a native Philadelphian), our dog, Lou, and our cat, Piper (also a native Philadelphian).

I work for the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA) as the Director of Cooperative Development where I work to grow the cooperative community and coordinate a leadership program called the Cooperative Leadership Institute targeted at cooperative area leaders. I have an M.S. in Organizational Change Management and am dedicated to supporting cooperative business models, which I believe are tools for social and economic change.

Morgan Robinson

Year joined: 2013

I joined Mariposa as a working member when I moved to Philadelphia in 2013. I wanted to participate in a food co-op because I believe cooperatives are an economic model that build community capacity; Mariposa can support growers/suppliers, workers, its owners, people who shop in the store, and the greater West Philly community so much more than a traditional grocery store. I have served two one-year terms on the board as Treasurer, and have also been a member of the finance committee for three years. In that time, we’ve drastically changed the Co-op’s governance structure and management, with an eye to creating systems that support staff organizing and self-management. This has been a challenging period for Mariposa and there’s much work to do to get to where we want to go. I want to continue to build, learn, and grow with the board over the next three years.

If elected, I hope to work to foster greater engagement among Mariposa’s owners in the work of the board. I’d like more of our consumer owners to be engaged and participate in decision-making. I’d also like to see us address the tension between the desire for our work to be anti-racist/against systems of oppression, and the fact that we play a role in the gentrification of Baltimore Avenue. I’d like the Mariposa community to be educated and aware of these issues as the store continues to grow, and I’d like us to envision and prioritize growth that enriches the lives of black folks in this neighborhood.

More about me:

I live a few blocks from the Co-op with two lovely roommates and my charming dog, Skipper. I’m a database programmer and I’m excited to be starting a new position at a worker-owned technology co-op in early March. If I’m not behind a computer screen you will find me making art (despite a lack of skill), hiking/camping, or agitating for global socialism.

Nancy Geryk

Year Joined: 2012

A core belief of mine is that we need to set roots down where we live,  explore the neighborhood, and do our best to make a contribution.  Mariposa has exceeded expectations since expanding five years ago.  There is a strong market in this neighborhood for high quality sustainable food at a reasonable cost.  There is great potential to develop new programs that will provide healthy low cost food to working people and those on the margins.  I dream about developing a garden that could provide summer  activities for youth as well as low cost food for our neighbors.  I would love to see Mariposa develop a cooking school and sell take out food.  We could tap into already existing resources to make this possible.  Programs like these develop so much social capital in the neighborhood.  They can be a great source of good will and interconnectedness.  Am I dreaming or are these kinds of projects possible?  I would like the opportunity to find out.

I have been in charge of the garden at 47th & Spruce for the past 15 years.  We are currently engaged  in a project with the Community Design Collaborative to upgrade the garden, tennis courts and  bus stop in that area.  I  have been an active member of UCGreen for 20 years and have planted many trees in this neighborhood.  I was on the board of the Southwest Germantown  Federal Credit Union for  over 10 years.  I worked as a pediatric nurse practitioner for 21 years.   Working in health care you meet people from all walks of life and learn to appreciate the struggles and issues of others.

As a member of the board I would do my best to continue working for social justice in this neighborhood.

Gabbie Nirenburg

Year Joined: 2006

When I moved to Philadelphia in 2006, I was thrilled to find Mariposa. I had been actively involved in Oberlin College’s Student Cooperative Association (OSCA), and felt welcome in a place that followed the same consensus system and food justice models that I’d been a part of for years. West Philadelphia has been my home ever since, and I have watched the co-op grow from a tiny, members-only store )that felt too exclusive) into a large, welcoming space that’s become a much larger presence in the neighborhood. I’ve been involved off and on throughout the years – starting as a cashier in the old store, then helping the expansion committee in later years – and I would welcome the opportunity to commit myself more fully to Mariposa’s continued growth. 

I’d like to think that my experience with cooperative models is stronger than the average bear’s. During my time with OSCA, I held various leadership roles. It was my responsibility to facilitate discussion with impartiality, following the Quaker-based consensus model. I helped orient new members, guided elections for other co-op positions, and generally served as a knowledgeable representative of the co-op and OSCA as a whole. Not only was this extraordinarily fulfilling for me, but it will serve as a great jumping off point to transition into Board duties. 

Beyond cooperative-specific knowledge, I have broad experience that has prepared me to serve on Mariposa’s Board. Currently, I work in Development at International House Philadelphia – I’m responsible for building and strengthening relationships in the community, assessing by-laws, and handling a variety of financial and legal documents specific to non-profits. In a past life, I worked in direct legal aid services, so I have a solid understanding of the needs of disabled and low income individuals, and the ways in which both workplaces and retail spaces can better accommodate them. Earlier still, I focused my academic research on pressing community issues such as urban food deserts, obesity, increased costs of healthy foods, and studying the relationship between food disparities and socio-cultural or racial divides.

I am a staunch proponent of the Rochdale Principles of cooperative retail organization. This foundation of modern cooperatives ensures that all individuals, regardless of race, creed, religion, gender, political affiliation, etc. are welcome. These principles give members a sense of responsibility and pride in their work that a typical retail establishment cannot provide. If elected to the Board, I would like to help make these principles more transparent to the public, and to work with other Board members and member-owners both to enhance the internal democratic process, and to strengthen Mariposa’s mission of inclusivity. 

In the last decade, I’ve seen how vital Mariposa’s role is in the community. The Co-op is uniquely positioned to combat many of the systemic problems that lead to the development of food deserts, and while it’s been very successful in recent years, I believe there’s more that can be done to make healthy food more accessible and affordable to everybody. We’re facing some seriously uncertain times. Acting locally, establishing a sense of community and acceptance, and generally being excellent to each other is at the foundation of effective change. Our country might be operating like a capitalist enterprise right now, but that doesn’t mean we have to follow suit. In fact, as strong as Mariposa has become in the neighborhood and the city as a whole, we have the responsibility to model thoughtful democratic principles, to continue assisting other local businesses, to broaden our offerings to the community, and to expand and engage our membership to make a greater impact.

Clayton Ruley

Year Joined: 2015

I joined Mariposa two years ago. I had seen the progress of the co-op over the years to the point of have a market on Baltimore avenue. I also felt like as a lifelong member of the community that it was important that I became a member and worked to get involved. While I had no experience work with a co-op in the past I was interested in learning about the concept and working with this one to benefit the community in a way that made sustainable change. I had a great teacher that taught me about the food desert concept and while we are a lot better off in this area I know that price point is just a tough to overcome as no places to purchase food. This is something I still see happening with many store that are said to possess better quality foods and Mariposa continues to be in that boat. This is something I hope to change slowly but surely in my time with Mariposa.

I have served as a at large board of delegates member the past two years and have been proud of the progress we have helped to implement at the co-op. We have worked as a collaborative, not afraid to make tough decisions and gotten things done. I've learned a good amount about co-ops, in general, and our co-op.  I will continue to learn and give my input with a unique perspective of being someone who is from here and will always bring what's best for overall access to the table.

I think Mariposa has to give incentive to those who typically wouldn't access the store to start coming to the store. I think having the recent lower priced sale items is a start but we need to do more. I'd like to be part of that solution. I would like to see the co-op become more of an "us" co-op and less of a "them" co-op! We can do more to be in the community, be more of a voice and do more outreach.

Mariposa is important to me because it has the potential to provide access to higher quality foods to a neighborhood without the commercial feel. Mariposa can truly be for the people by the people but we have to work on it being for all people not some.

I've attended all board and membership meetings when my work hasn't prevented me from doing so and I think they've been a lot better since my first one! I don't necessarily like opposition without a solution attached. It doesn't have to be my choice of a solution but a solution nonetheless. I feel like the recent meetings I've attended have been much more solution oriented. I feel like one of the reasons the meeting have run so well is the diligence and detail we as a board have shown in what's being presented. We have strived to make things easy to see, transparent and I think we can continue to do that as we try to implement more positive change. I certainly do my best to keep myself abreast of all meeting minutes even when I'm physically unable to attend and have in the past been willing to attend via phone or skype even while on vacation. I'm willing to make extra time to get things done if needed. The accomplishments I'm proud of is the bylaw changes we got approved, the filling of the GM position and the transition we are making to policy governance. I hope to see those actions play out more if allowed to.

I work in social services as an administrator but do it with social worker's perspective. I love my job and working to make things better for individuals and groups. I'm a strong believer in empowerment, advocacy and social justice. The time spent with the co-op is another example of wanting to be involved with those in another way. I think I can help more in the next two years with the better understanding gained through my first two years. I want to get more involved with Food Justice Anti-Racism through FJAR of which I've attended several meetings during the last two years. It's certainly needed in today's U.S.A.
Lastly,  I also am a recently elected board member at Reconstruction, Inc., an organization working to improve the lives of people affected by the prison industrial complex whether it's in the past, present or the foreseeable future.

Liz Gross

Year Joined: 1981

I joined Mariposa in 1981. I have been on staff for five years! And on the board for two years.
Mariposa is one of the largest employers on Baltimore Avenue. We provide goods and good service to all of our neighbors. This can turning shopping into an opportunity to demonstrate values, build relationships, and contribute to the community. We are a business that thinks about people - the staff, owners, shoppers, neighbors. I want to be a part of guiding Mariposa in the name of the member-owners, the staff, and the community at large helping us to prioritize our values.

My first two year on the board have been filled with growth for the board and for me personally. I still have more growth potential in this position. I believe that continuing on the board will take good advantage of what I have learned thus far, making it possible for me to be even more productive.

Jody Mailer

Year Joined: 2016

I wanted to be the staff representative to the Board because I care deeply about my fellow co-workers and I felt like I have the communication and listening skills necessary to work as a liaison between the board and staff needs and feelings. Even though being on a board of delegates and using policy governance to make decisions is a new experience for me I am very excited about the opportunity and passionate about the work we have done so far and look forward to the future.

*Please note, Jody has been nominated by the staff to serve as the Staff Delegate. The Staff Delegate needs to be confirmed by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of owners.