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Jenny Keefe

(Board incumbent serving since 2018)

Social Work Director

Why do you want to be on the Outpost Natural Foods Board of Directors?

I ran for the Outpost Natural Foods Board of Directors in 2018 in hopes of influencing Outpost to expand its role in the Milwaukee committee to help heal children, families, and the community. Now, I am pursuing a second term on the board to build on the momentum that the board has established the last few years to do just that. As we continue to endure the COVID-19 pandemic, we have an opportunity to expand Outpost’s impact on our community, namely how it can contribute to reducing racial disparities with workforce development and access to healthy and affordable nutrition. The pandemic is magnifying how white supremacy culture impacts every institution that exists in our country. Now that I am president of the board, I often reflect on our board responsibilities and have been inspired by the cooperative way and look forward to using it as a guide in redefining our Global Ends (Outpost’s mission statement) to ensure that every owner, shopper, employee and partner truly feels that Outpost fosters a healthy, diverse and sustainable community. I hope to be re-elected in 2021 and serve a second term to continue leading the board in revising the Global Ends Statement and maintaining a connection to our cooperative values.

What professional skills do you bring to a Board position of a $50 million business?

My career has been focused in social work management which has required me to oversee multiple employees while developing and maintaining connections to many community partners. I have found that my experience on previous boards (National Association of Social Workers and Supervised Visitation Network) didn't prepare me well for being an Outpost board director given we use the cooperative governance model which is unlike how many boards operate. Instead, I rely on the innovation, relationship building and strategic management skills that I've developed in my career. These skills have been very useful in my role on the Outpost Board as we monitor the strength of the co-op and drive the strategic vision for the future. And, of course, I would continue to bring my passion and pride for the co-op since I just love Outpost so much!

Describe your prior involvement with community organizations and/or cooperatives.

Before I even knew what a 'social worker' meant, I’ve dedicated my work and personal life to social work. When I was young, I volunteered at homeless shelters, food banks and domestic violence shelters. During my formal social work career, I have worked with Habitat for Humanity, homeless shelters, AmeriCorps, youth shelters, birth to three, foster care and mental health services. Outside of my social work experience, I'm currently serving my first term on the Outpost Cooperative Board after shopping at Outpost for many years.

Describe areas in which you are culturally fluent with a diverse community.

I love living in Milwaukee because it is a culturally rich city. At the same time, I have been working with families of many different backgrounds within the Milwaukee community for over a decade and recognize that I am able to feel pride for the city in ways that many people don't have the privilege to feel because of how they may be treated here. In my role as a social worker, even in the administrative role that I'm in, I’ve come to learn that simply understanding a culture from a particular group of people does not give me enough insight into every family or person that I work with. Every family has their own individual culture. So, I try to approach new relationships with listening ears. Every person has their own story, so I am never too confident that I can understand and relate to people (and vice versa) without finding a shared experience.

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