By Kelly Barth, Board Vice President
As the co-op prepares to open a new store in Kansas City, Kansas, your board of directors recognized the immediate need to seek representation from within the KCK community. To that end, we voted at our April meeting to increase the amount of board seats from seven to nine, and to begin recruiting two new members to fill those seats. Today, we are excited to introduce you to our two new board members, Victor Aguilar and Rachel Jefferson.
Originally from Southwest Kansas, KU alum Victor and his wife, Rosie, met in Lawrence, where they both were loyal co-op shoppers. They now live in Kansas City, Kansas.
An eleven-year employee of Kansas City Kansas Public Schools, he was recently hired as the principal of Silver City Elementary. In this position, Victor plans to increase parental and community partnerships and create a nurturing and safe school environment dedicated to achieve excellence.
He is excited to welcome the The Merc Co+op to KCK and wants act as a liaison between the store and the KCK community, doing his part to ensure its transition and success. Victor said, “I hope to see The Merc make an immediate impact in eliminating a food desert in Eastern Wyandotte County, helping our community develop healthy eating habits, and providing delicious and healthy food to our community!”
Rachel Jefferson is the Executive Director of the Historic Northeast-Midtown Association (HNMA). Previously, Jefferson served as Outreach Director and Administrative Assistant at a local safety-net clinic. She currently serves on the Boys and Girls Club of Wyandotte County Advisory Board, the Kansas City, Kansas Farmer’s Market Advisory Board, and the Kansas City, Kansas Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. She also served on the National Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Review Committee and the Regional Prevention Center’s Connect the Dottes Community Coalition. Additionally, Rachel is a both a certified Healthy Homes Trainer and Community Health Worker.
As one of The Merc Co+op’s newest board members, she wants to help ensure that “the board doesn’t fall into the pitfall of thinking that all of KCK’s food insecurity issues will be solved by the simple installation of the store,” but that our work will require intense and ongoing community involvement. When asked why she wants to serve on the co-op’s Board of Directors, she said, “I appreciate the opportunity to advance my own education about the cooperative model and policy governance and look forward to passing what I learn on to the residents of Kansas City, Kansas.” In the coming days, she hopes to see the KCK community see the tangible benefits associated with the co-op model. She also looks forward to the store increasing the wealth of this low-wealth community both through employing residents and providing increased opportunities for local women and minority growers to sell their produce. In addition, she hopes the co-op contributes to the ongoing community efforts to catalyze equitable development in KCK.
You’re invited to run for the board!
We would like to take this opportunity to invite owners to run for two open seats on the Merc Co+op Board in the upcoming election cycle. Please join us for dinner at our Monday, July 1 meeting from 6-7 pm in the co-op classroom to learn more about participating on the board. Information about the election and candidate application packets can be found here.