(board incumbent serving since 2015)
Why do you want to be on the Outpost Natural Foods Board of Directors?
I am running for what will be my third and final board term. If elected, I will spend the next three years applying what I've learned in my six years on the board. From 2018 to 2019 I was the Outpost Board President, and this year I am serving as Board Treasurer. If elected, my final three years will be spent perpetuating practices and procedures to help the Board govern a thriving cooperative. I’m also running because I want to serve Milwaukee, the city that I love and call home. Outpost Natural Foods is one of the few remaining consumer institutions unique to this area. Service to this cooperative means honoring Milwaukee’s collectivist heritage. Finally, I want to serve on the Board because I believe in the democratic process. Outpost owners vote with their dollars and make purchases with the greater good in mind. There aren’t many institutions left where we can still do that.
What professional skills do you bring to a Board position of a $50 million business?
My jobs after college involved warehousing, product distribution, purchasing and product development – so I have an appreciation for the discipline that it takes to run a profitable multi-outlet retail operation. I also understand the challenges faced by small Wisconsin farmers and food entrepreneurs. For thirteen years I was the Executive Director of the Fondy Food Center, a farm-to-table nonprofit that brought locally grown fruits and vegetables into a part of Milwaukee that is short on full-service grocery stores. I am also skilled at cross-cultural communications – a skill that the Outpost Board will need as it continues to diversify and build bridges across Milwaukee’s dividing lines.
Describe your prior involvement with community organizations and/or cooperatives
I’ve served on a variety of nonprofit boards and committees, most recently the Community Food Security Coalition, which was a North American partnership of 325 organizations that focused on social and economic justice, the environment, nutrition, sustainable agriculture, community development, labor, anti-poverty and anti-hunger initiatives. I was Board President from 2009 to 2011. Other board or committee memberships include the Fond du Lac/North Avenue Business Improvement District, the National Furniture Bank Association, SHARE Wisconsin, the Unitarian Universalist Association and Greater Milwaukee Sponsors (the precursor to Common Ground Milwaukee).
Describe areas in which you are culturally fluent with a diverse community.
I am a second-generation Korean American and I have been negotiating cultural and racial boundaries since the very beginning. I have experienced racial and cultural exclusion firsthand, and much of my professional career has been spent trying to convince people to see things from the perspective of the marginalized.
The Outpost Board has never been as diverse as it is now. The current nine-member board has three African Americans and three Asian Americans. But building a diverse board is more than just coloring by number – we need trust, listening skills and a capacity to understand, and this is where my cultural fluency will come in handy.