2019 Board Election Candidates

Welcome our candidates for the 2019 board elections! Voting will be open shortly - if you are a member of ACBA, your primary contact will be receiving a link to the online vote, or you can vote in-person at the upcoming General Meeting (details TBA).

Beth Beutel

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Beth’s Biography

Beth Beutel was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She briefly ran away from Texas to attend the University of Southern California where she earned a BA in English, with minors in Business Administration and German Literature. Her two favorite classes were advanced poetry writing and business law. After some post collegiate wandering, she moved to Austin in 2008, and was hired to work at Wheatsville Co-op within two months of arriving. She quickly became passionate about the cooperative difference by signing up new owners and befriending current and former Wheatsville directors. She joined Black Star in the fall of 2008 and put a paychecks worth of money into the investor share offering. In her free time, she can be found reading non-fiction books, enjoying Austin’s excellent library system, cuddling with her two large dogs, exploring the joys and challenges of owning a duplex with her husband, and pretending to garden.

Beth’s Candidate Statement

Hi Everyone! I’m Beth Beutel. You may recognize me from such cooperative experiences as shopping at Wheatsville where I’ve worked for 10 years, drinking at Black Star where I’ve served on the Board for 3 years, or attending ACBA happy hours and educational events, which I have attended often and enjoyed immensely.

I started working at Wheatsville in 2008, as a cashier; I applied to work at Wheatsville out of my passion for changing the food system. Learning about cooperatives gave me both hope and a methodology to use the power of self-organizing communities to solve the problems in the food system and beyond.

When I first started at Wheatsville, cashiers were responsible for signing up new owners, and I prided myself on being the person who signed up the most new owners per month. Getting familiar with short ways of explaining cooperatives generally and the particulars of Wheatsville membership led me to be promoted to Hospitality Clerk, who are now responsible for all ownership registrations.

In 2012, I became the Board Administrator for Wheatsville and had a front row seat to excellent governance during a time of huge growth for Wheatsville. The position has also afforded me the great learning experience of working directly for the Chief Executive Grocer (CEG) The role has also afforded me the opportunity to attend three CCMA consumer cooperative conferences in 2012, 2017, and 2018, where I’ve made connections with cooperators nationwide.

In 2015, I decided to run for the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors to take all the lessons I’d learned about governance to the next level by actually being a director myself. It has been quite a ride - I’ve led committees to rewrite the Bylaws and the Ends policies in collaboration and with the utmost transparency to the owners. After the board voted me in to be their President in 2017, I had a “back to basics” approach - ensuring that we dedicating time to ensuring all directors had a strong understanding of the policy governance system which they already used, utilizing techniques built into the system to hold the Workers Assembly accountable, and that we built strong alignment with each other and the workers. Now the WA and Board are better aligned and better at using the systems they had already implemented than they were when I started.

Donald Jackson

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Donald’s Biography

Donald Jackson-Spitzer is an economic development planner working in the Austin region. He is a member of three Austin-area cooperatives: Black Star Co-op, Wheatsville Co-op, and UFCU. He was a founding Board member of the ACBA and helped develop its initial strategic plan. Donald served on the Board of Directors of Black Star Co-op when it first opened doors, an experience he remembers with great affection. He also participated in the Cooperation Texas report Beyond Business as Usual, contributing analysis on the economic and social impact of cooperatives in the City of Austin. He is completing his second elected term on the Wheatsville Co-op Board. He looks forward to further opportunities to support cooperative development in Austin and Texas.

Donald’s Candidate Statement

I have worked within the Austin cooperative movement for most of the time I have lived in Austin. My experiences have been challenging, but deeply educational and ultimately edifying. Among successes I count serving on the Black Star Board of Directors during its opening, contributing economic analysis to the Cooperation Texas report Beyond Business as Usual, serving two terms on the Wheatsville Co-op Board, and serving two terms (including my current term) on and helping found the ACBA itself. From all of my experiences I have developed an appreciation for both the scale of challenges faced by cooperatives, and the tremendous positive impact of which they are capable.

The greatest strengths I may bring to the ACBA Board come from being able to apply these experiences alongside my formal training as an economic development planner and analyst. I have strong familiarity with economic and growth trends relevant to cooperative businesses and housing. I have strong experience in developing strategic economic plans, as well as developing more specific plans related to housing demand and industry-specific growth projections. I have a good working knowledge of policies and growth strategies of cooperatives nationally and internationally. I can offer basic consulting and analytic services to member co-ops, as well as general awareness of regional and national programs relevant to cooperative entities.

If I am re-elected to the ACBA Board as a Wheatsville delegate, I would also focus on general promotion and education around cooperative model, especially in relation to small business conversions and housing development. I believe our local and national economy suffer deeply from structural problems of inequity and destructive privilege. Cooperatives are powerful tools to address these problems, and I am happy to work diligently to help support cooperative development and prosperity.

USFWC

by Benjamin Bradley

The 2018 Worker Cooperative National Conference brought together over 450 attendees from all over the United States and beyond. ACBA board members Annelies Lottmann and Benjamin Bradley were in attendance, sharing news of members coops in Austin, and networking with regional groups from other cities. Several enthusiastic cooperators took home Cooperative Principles Posters, which will now also be found among the collection of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. Conference keynotes explored the future of work in a rapidly shifting world, and inspired action towards economic and racial justice. Workshops included a range of topics of interest to worker cooperatives both forming and established, including financial literacy, social skills and peer coaching, funding, and governance. Look for news of the next national conference in 2020 at https://conference.coop.

Interview with Board member Carol Fraser

by Donald Jackson

Tell us about your experience with co-ops.
In 2013, I started working for a worker cooperative - a farm near Montreal called Ferme Tourne-sol. Though I didn’t join the cooperative (I was hired as a temporary, seasonal worker), I got a first hand look at how they run their day-to-day operations and their business as a whole. I was impressed not only by their farming techniques - top-notch - but by their efficiency, and how much fun they had. They inspired me to open my own market garden a few years later, but more than that, they reminded me that owning and operating a business with your friends can be just as rewarding as it is challenging, and the best part is no boss!

Why do you think co-ops are important?
I think co-ops are important because they respond to community needs. When it comes down to it, “normal” for-profit corporations are responding to the needs of a small amount of people (the Board, the CEO, the shareholders), whose primary goal is to make more profit for themselves, at any expense. The primary goal of a co-op is to provide a service for a community of people, usually in a small place (a neighborhood, a city, or a region). This can be the simple goal of providing decent work, affordable housing, or good food, for example. This is somehow a pretty radical idea in our society, but it seems to me that businesses like co-ops are only going to become more necessary in the future. We need to start looking out for each other more, and thinking less selfishly, in everything we do. That definitely includes economically.

How are co-ops related to your studies and work?
Co-ops are very much related to my work as an urban planner and sustainable design scholar. I see co-ops as great models for sharing resources and generating economic activity in a way that’s more fair to the underserved and more conscious of environmental impact. This is because of what I said earlier; since co-ops are concerned with what they produce and for whom, not just the profits that are generated, the whole outlook of co-ops is just different and has different long-term implications for society. Through my work, which right now is focused on the relationship between co-ops and sustainability, I hope I can raise awareness about co-ops and the potential they represent for our society.

What are a few things the readers probably wouldn't expect about you? 
One of my favorite activities is baking my own sourdough bread. I also make a really mean apple pie. Really, I love to bake, and share with family and friends.

I’m an extrovert and I love being with people, but one of my favorite ways to re-charge is to go on solo, week long bike tours in the countryside. There is truly nothing better to clear your mind.

In college in Montreal, I majored in German and East Asian Studies, so I speak German, Japanese, and French. Ja!

What's your favorite baby animal?
My favorite baby animal is probably a baby owl. They are the cutest!

If you imagined a newspaper headline about the Texas co-op movement 20 years from now, what would it be?

In 20  years, the headline will be: “From housing, to food, to manufacturing: co-ops drive the Texas economy, earning the Lone-Star state a new nickname, ‘Basque region of the Americas’” 

Board election candidate deadline extended to Oct. 2nd!

The Austin Cooperative Business Association is seeking candidates for the board of directors! If you love coops and want to help them grow and thrive in Austin, consider applying! The deadline for candidates to apply has been extended to Tuesday, October 2nd. For more info see our Election Information Packet: https://drive.google.com/file/d/196mqInrCxzRTLG1cYFOvoytXDIgqo4qC/view