Owner Number 1519
Why are you interested in serving on the Prairie Food Board of Directors?
I am hardly an expert, but for me, Prairie Foods Co-op brings so many pieces together in one place, a place that supports a whole community’s healthier way of life. While I've gotten involved in many things over my life, this really aligns with my passion.
My journey toward understanding healthy land, healthy food, healthy people started many years ago when I met my dear friend Christina Pirello and read my first Wendell Berry book, The Gift of Good Land. I continued reading everything I could find, but it was working with people like Christina in her efforts to “save the world, one meal at a time” and the DeWalds who are building a sustainable community at Serosun Farms in Hampshire, that taught me about the big and small ways that every person can contribute to ensuring their own health and that of our soil, water, and overall environment.
Each day I have found new opportunities, both big and small, to create impact, from the basics of eating organic, composting, and recycling, to understanding where and how our products are produced and the impacts of those processes, to engaging at NIU’s Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability regarding food systems innovation, water resources, and environmental change.
Employment: Please tell us about your past or present employment
First Women's Bank - Co-Founder and Board Chair (Sept 2017 - Present) - launched the first new bank in IL in 13 years with a focus on growing the small business economy and elevating the role of women within it.
IC Catholic Prep - President (August 2016 - July 2017) - created a business office and structured the role of President for a co-ed Catholic high school. Launched the search committee to identify the permanent person.
Opportunity International - Advisor to the CEO (December 2015 - July 2016) - an organization that is working to create jobs as a way to end global poverty by providing small business loans, savings, insurance and training to more than 14 million people in the developing world. Assisted the CEO in transitioning the structure and strategy of the organization.
JPMorgan Chase (and predecessor organizations) (1987-2015) - held numerous leadership roles across risk management, operations, sales, finance and technology including Head of Investor Relations, Chief Financial Officer of Commercial Banking, Head of Midwest Middle Market and Chief Credit Officer Business Banking.
Volunteer: Membership/Affiliation/Leadership Past and Present:
Prairie Food Co-op - Member of the Board and CIP, Finance, GM Transition Committees (June 2022-Present) - creating a sustainable, member-owned, full-service grocery store in the heart of Lombard.
Gateway to Learning - Member of the Board and the Finance Committee (March 2022 - Present) - provides educational and job training programs for adults with intellectual changes and developmental disabilities.
Milaan Foundation - President of the Board (January 2016 - Present) - provides funding for educational and leadership programs for adolescent girls in India to use their voice to change longstanding cultural norms.
Northern Illinois University - President's Advisory Council (2021-Present) - group of alumni, community leaders and business executives that offer guidance to President Freeman as she directs the strategic direction of the school.
Dean's Advisory Council - Northern Illinois University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Board Member - Immaculate Conception Grade School
Board Member and member of Finance Committee - Maria High School
Board Member and Executive Committee - Goodman Theater
Board Member - All Chicago Making Homelessness History
Board Member and Chair Compensation Committee - United Way of Metropolitan Chicago
Which of the following areas do you have expertise?
What experience, education, and skills do you have that you feel will contribute to your effectiveness as a Prairie Food Director?
I have an BS in Technology from Northern Illinois University and an MBA in Finance & Accounting from University of Chicago. While I have never been involved in managing or leading an organization in the food industry, I have significant experience in managing teams and leading both for-profit and non-profit organizations toward a common goal. I am not a CPA, but have broad financial experience from my various roles at JPMorgan, as well as board and finance committee roles.
What are your personal goals for Prairie Food Co-op?
That PFC becomes a mainstay of Lombard, as well as the broader western suburbs, to help educate people on the tremendous benefits of sourcing local and eating healthy as a way to ensure a vibrant community.
What experience (if any) have you had with cooperatives, food or otherwise?
Other than shopping at co-ops, my experience exists through my last year on the Board.
It has been an incredible experience, one that I hope to continue.
I look forward to each of the next steps, like meeting the people that produce the food we will provide to our clients - it's a unique connection. I've been fascinated by the health implications of food and the concept of food as medicine. As residents of Illinois, we need to think more about where the food that we consume comes from, how it's grown, and what the impact of that process has on our environment.
Through personal experience, I am a firm believer that good food, in the right combinations, can address many of the growing health issues our country faces. We as consumers have to be the ones to force a change.