Meeting Minutes & Board Study Materials

2015 Monthly Meetings


Agenda: January 2015 Agenda
Minutes: January 2015 Approved Minutes

Board Study Topic: Annual Financial Review
Board Study Minutes: Available to members upon request
Board Study Materials: Available to members upon request

Meeting description:

The La Montanita Board of Directors welcomes comments from member-owners at our monthly board meeting. “Member Comments” is a standing item on the board meeting agenda, providing time for the board to review and emails received at and to hear from any member-owners who are present for the meeting.

The board delegates authority (but remains accountable for) most operational decisions to Terry Bowling, the co-op’s general manager who is also present for our meetings. This means that the board will not always address members’ comments directly but will ask the general manager to follow up on the issues in question, and to report back to the board as appropriate.

At our meeting on January 20, 2015, a co-op member-owner, who is also on staff at the Nob Hill store, shared with us his concern—part of which we were able to immediately do something about. He said that La Montanita could do more to manage organic waste and recycling. Specifically, he stated that leftovers from the dinner served at the monthly Board meeting are often offered to staff and then thrown out. The general manager reported that his leadership team is working on some improvements in managing waste at La Montanita’s various locations. Board members said that if the store could provide containers or Ziploc bags, we would do our best to take the leftovers to our homes after the meeting. It was a worthwhile discussion.

As he is scheduled to do at every monthly board meeting, the general manager presented his Monitoring Report, this one focused on his quarterly financial report. This was followed by an excellent presentation from Peter Chestnut and David Ritchey of the Finance Committee, who provided their annual financial review.


Agenda: February 2015 Agenda
Minutes: February 2015 Approved Minutes

Board Study Topic: Brainstorming and Mapping Out Future Study Hours
Board Study Minutes: February 2015 Board Study Minutes
Board Study Materials:

Meeting description:

On the third Tuesday of February, the La Montanita Board of Directors gathered as usual in the basement of Immanuel Presbyterian Church to share dinner, handle board business, and engage in our monthly board study hour.

Board business included a proposal related to the La Montanita Fund—a member funded micro-lending program designed to grow the local food system and strengthen the local economy, as stated on the co-op’s website. We approved the proposal, allowing the general manager to disperse returns to investors. At the meeting the general manager also provided a report on staff treatment and wages.

During the board study hour, the Board’s research assistant David Hurley asked us to envision a future five to 40 years down the road. What will agriculture look like in our region in several decades? What role will the co-op play? What types of discussions should we be having now in preparation? Through our discussion, we identified topics that we are interested in learning more about in the coming year as part of a long-term visioning process. Topics included, among others:

  • Water, drought, and the future of farming in New Mexico
  • Innovative distribution models that would increase access to healthy foods
  • Models for measuring the co-op’s impact on the local economy
  • Power, privilege, and equity in issues of health and food access

What do you think the La Montanita Board should be thinking and learning about as we envision the long-term future? Let us know at


Agenda: March 2015 Agenda
Minutes: March 2015 Approved Minutes

Board Study Topic: Chicken or Egg: Is La Montañita’s primary differentiator its product selection or its economic model?
Board Study Minutes: March 2015 Board Study Minutes
Board Study Materials:

Meeting description:

Our most recent board meeting was short and sweet—short because we moved quickly through the business items on the agenda, and sweet because of the delicious corned beef and chocolate cake the Co-op staff prepared for us in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day.

As usual, we met on the third Tuesday of the month in the basement of Immanuel Presbyterian Church. Board business included a proposal detailing plans for a photo booth at La Montañita’s annual Earth Fest, organized by the Board of Directors. At Earth Fest, La Montañita’s members and producers are invited to stop by the Board of Directors’ table to have their portrait taken, holding a sign that reflects what the co-op means to them.

This is a participatory art project for our Co-op member community, states the proposal, which was approved at the meeting. The project will engage members to be a part of the 25 year celebration of La Montanita’s Earth Day event as well as the Co-op’s upcoming 40th anniversary.

During the Board study hour, we discussed ideas in small groups and then as a large group, all pertaining to one large and future-focused question: Is La Montañita’s primary differentiator its product selection or its economic model? Several co-op members were present and participated in the discussions.


Agenda: April 2015 Agenda
Minutes: April 2015 Approved Minutes

Board Study Topic: Food for Change: The History of Co-ops
Board Study Minutes: April 2015 Board Study Minutes
Board Study Materials:

Meeting description:

It is a time of transition at La Montanita. Terry Bowling has given the Board of Directors notice that he will be leaving his role as General Manager (GM). At our most recent meeting, the evening of April 21, 2015, the Board approved a charter establishing a General Manager Search Committee, as well as a budget for the search process, and a list of qualifications the Board will look for in its next hire. The Board plans to hire an executive search agency to assist in locating qualified candidates for the GM position, and is in the process of interviewing possible firms.

The General Manager job is unique among Co-op employees as it is the only position hired by the Board of Directors. While the Board is accountable for La Montanita in its entirety, we delegate operational decisions to the GM. The GM plays a key role in reporting to the Board on decisions and maintaining close communication with the Board president. As usual, Terry Bowling was present at April’s Board meeting and—as outlined in our policies—provided his monthly report, this time focused on quarterly financial conditions.

At the same meeting, we said goodbye to long-time Board member and former Board president Martha Whitman, who has resigned her position on the Board in order to serve La Montanita in a different capacity. As we often do, we ate cake, commended Martha for the level-headed leadership she brought to her tenure on the Board, and presented her with a card.

Change is indeed the name of the game right now and, as always, we welcome comments from staff and member-owners at our monthly Board meeting, and in between at


Agenda: May 2015 Agenda
Minutes: May 2015 Approved Minutes

Board Study Topic: Member Engagement
Board Study Minutes: May 2015 Board Study Minutes
Board Study Materials:

Meeting description:

Transition continues at La Montañita and on the Board of Directors. Our most recent Board meeting, on May 19, 2015, was General Manager (GM) Terry Bowling’s last. Robert Tero, La Montañita’s operations director, will serve as interim general manager, while the Board undertakes our search for a new GM.

Meanwhile, the Board briefly faced three vacancies in our own ranks. In April, we bid farewell to Board Vice President Martha Whitman, and in May, we did the same for two more Board members: Leah Roco and Jeff Ethan Au Green, who are both leaving New Mexico. These changes in GM and Board membership can feel unsettling but also engender possibility and excitement. During our executive session in May, we appointed two new Board members: Tammy Parker and James Esqueda. One vacancy remains.

Despite the shifts in personnel, the Board plunged forward as usual with business and study, as we do at every monthly meeting. The business portion of the meeting included a vote to approve some new policies related to the Board’s role in overseeing La Montañita’s finances. The GM also provided his monthly report, this time focused on staff treatment. He praised the co-op’s staff, saying how important all of the staff are to taking care of our customers and members. During the study hour, we discussed ideas for creatively engaging the co-op’s members. Many had new ideas and energy, sparked partly by the assigned readings we completed ahead of time.

During this time of transition, we are very interested in what you think. We welcome comments from staff and member-owners at our monthly Board meeting, and in between at


Agenda: June 2015 Agenda
Minutes: June 2015 Approved Minutes

Board Study Topic: Strategic Visioning
Board Study Minutes: June 2015 Board Study Minutes
Board Study Materials:

Meeting description:

The June Board meeting was our first since the transition in general manager (GM). Robert Tero was present in his new role as interim general manager. Two newly appointed Board members were also present: Tammy Parker and James Esqueda. Beyond these changes, business proceeded as usual.

The Board approved its annual budget as well as a proposal outlining the process for electing Board members this November. Nominations for candidates will be open July 20, 2015 – August 20, 2015. Applications and other materials will be available at the information desks at all stores. After the proposals were discussed and approved, Bob Tero presented reports on La Montañita’s finances and its “active and engaged volunteer base.”

The Board study hour provided a framework for thinking about strategic visioning, a process that should engage Board, staff, and member-owners in learning and thinking about who we as La Montañita are going to be in the future. Art Sherwood, a consultant to the Board, led a discussion on the value of an intentional strategic visioning process. Indeed, he said, undertaking this process may be essential to La Montañita’s survival. Art suggested that as we look down the road into the future, “if we only think of ourselves as natural and organic grocers, we’re going to find ourselves in a very crowded room, and we probably won’t be well-positioned to compete if that is the only thing we do.”

Now is an opportune time to take a good look at the changing context of food access, drought, buying trends, and more, and ask ourselves what this shifting landscape means for our cooperative. We’d like to know what you think. We welcome comments from staff and member-owners at our monthly Board meeting, and in between at


Agenda:  July 2015 Agenda
Minutes: Will be posted following approval

Board Study Topic: Innovative Distribution Models
Board Study Minutes: Will be posted following approval
Board Study Materials:

Meeting description:

The July Board meeting included all the usual components: discussion and approval of minutes and proposals, a report from Interim General Manager Bob Tero, a few agenda items related to Board functioning, and an engaging Board study hour on future possibilities and unknowns as they relate to food distribution.

In preparation for the Board meeting, directors read the minutes from the last Member Engagement Committee meeting and a related proposal, which detailed plans that may be of interest to staff, as well as member-owners. The Board will be hosting a series of “co-op cafés” this fall. At each café, the Board will facilitate a sequence of structured and dynamic roundtable discussions. Participants will be asked to envision our collective future: How can the co-op meet community needs in the coming decade? In exchange for their thoughts, participants will be served a light summer supper and entered into a drawing for a gift!

The first café is scheduled for August 19, 6:30 pm. A second café will take place in September, and a third will be a feature of October’s annual meeting event for members. This series of cafés is the Board’s call to members and staff to engage in the strategic visioning process we are all undertaking together. We do not know what the future holds, but we do know the natural food marketplace is growing crowded. It is time to envision what La Montanita might look like five, ten, and twenty years down the road.

As always, we welcome comments from staff and member-owners at our monthly Board meetings, and in between at

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