Prairie Food Co-op Community Grocery

Quinn Coulson

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"A marketer, communicator, food-lover and wellness enthusiast with a soft spot for community engagement and bringing locally- and sustainably-made products to her neighbors."

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Owner Number 1197
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Why are you interested in serving on the Prairie Food Board of Directors?
Ever since I got more involved with PFC shortly after becoming an owner, I've felt this intense loyalty and dedication to the food cooperative movement and opening our community-owned grocery store. I've built fast, lasting friendships with some of the most multi-talented, passionate and forward-thinking people I've ever met, and have been able to tap into my skills in new and exciting ways. That being said - I want more! I continue to take on more responsibilities with PFC, and serving on the Board seems like a natural next step in putting my heart and soul (and sweat and tears) into what I am certain is going to change our community for the better. I know I can bring a fresh perspective and new energy to help the rest of the team continue to carry the torch and get us over the finish line - and beyond!
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Employment: Please tell us about your past or present employment
I've spent the last eight years in the Marketing world, with my first two roles being in the B2C and B2B Software-as-a-Service industries, specifically at an independent Internet Service Provider in Chicago (Everywhere Wireless) and then at a publicly-traded web content management and eCommerce provider (Bridgeline Digital).
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At the former, I was in charge of all things marketing as an Associate Director of Marketing. As ADM, I reported directly to the EVP of Real Estate and Strategy. My duties included:
  • Website Management
  • Social Media Management
  • Corporate Event Planning
  • Design of Promotional Materials
  • Media Outreach
  • Public Relations
  • Advertorial Decision-Making
  • Fundraising
  • Management of Administrative Staff
  • Sales Support and Contract management
  • Leasing Staff Marketing On-boarding
  • Developing Creative, Tailor-Made Marketing Strategies for 200+ Client Portfolio

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When I moved to Bridgeline Digital, I was initially hired to assist with the planning, implementation and evaluation of a new lead generation campaign and brand marketing strategy. After six months, I was promoted to Marketing Coordinator. In October 2018, I was promoted once again to Marketing Manager, reporting directly to the EVP of Product and Marketing and overseeing two employees.
  • Website Management & SEO: Management of company website since rebrand in October of 2017, including overseeing a phased SEO project that utilized several departments outside of marketing. Efforts yielded a 27% increase in new users from organic search, a 36% increase in pages per session, a 51% increase in average session duration and an 11% decrease in bounce rate.
  • Content Creation & Content Marketing: Management of company blog and resource library, which included the creation and management of content calendars, blog post authorship, copy and content editing of contractor-created materials, and overseeing the design and development of resource pages by other departments.
  • Email Marketing: Planned, implemented and managed sales and marketing email campaigns on Autopilot and Hubspot platforms, including the creation of over 200 unique emails and a long-term lead nurturing strategy.
  • Social Media Management: Management of company Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts, yielding a 104% increase in referral traffic from LinkedIn and a 100% increase in referral traffic from Facebook.
  • M&A Strategic Planning and Transitional Execution: Participated in organizational planning summit with executive leadership team to plan and implement the corporate strategy following two acquisitions.
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Currently, I am a Director of Marketing for Guaranteed Rate, a retail mortgage lender. My role oversees the content strategy and marketing activity related to the recruitment of VPs of Mortgage Lending (Loan Officers), VPs of Market Growth (Loan Officer Recruiters), operations personnel and IT personnel, as well as content creation for our Agent Advantage platform, across all GR companies and brands.
  • Managed a team of three VPO/NHM specialists as they onboarded new VPs of Mortgage Lending and Market Growth
  • Work with SVPs and VPs of Mortgage Lending and Market Growth to develop custom, hyper-local recruiting campaigns, and developed the first departmental content calendars for recruit- and agent-facing content
  • Work with marketing team leads, SVPs/EVPs and C-suite to plan and implement large-scale, corporate-driven integrated marketing campaigns for recruitment/acquisition/referral partner channels
  • Oversee multi-channel marketing projects from conception to execution, including those utilizing the social media, paid media, PR, print/direct mail and email mediums - Support the EVP of Marketing in the creation of presentation materials that serve as department-wide marketing updates to Sales leadership and the C-suite, as well as host one-to-one calls with recruits to discuss how our Marketing platform supports their business
  • Provide regular enablement training to hiring managers to go over new marketing content and campaigns, as well as cover best practices for communicating the marketing value proposition and platform benefits for potential new hires
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I also briefly served as a part-time interim Director of Communication for Villa Park School District 45 from August of 2021 until January 2022, during which time I assisted with parent and community updates about events at the schools, COVID mitigation and update communications, as well as social media content creation. Additionally, I spent about two years coaching high school girls and women over the age of 50 in the sport of rowing for North Suburban Crew, based in Skokie, Illinois.
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Prior to my marketing career, I held a variety of customer service and retail positions, including those at: a concessions company that served a professional baseball team on Long Island in NY, Whole Foods in Evanston's specialty cheese and wine department, and several UPS Stores throughout Evanston and northern Chicago.
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Volunteer: Membership/Affiliation/Leadership Past and Present:
Shortly after becoming a PFC owner, I started helping with the CIP during Phase One to compile and send communications via email newsletter. That quickly evolved into helping manage the content calendar, and working with three other volunteers to regularly create and post social media content. I also serve on the Ownership & Outreach committee, which has allowed me to attend Farmer's Markets and other events on behalf of PFC, as well as assist with planning proprietary events in order to bolster our community awareness efforts in the hopes of gaining more ownership and support. I recently also hosted a Spring Into Wellness workshop on meditation and mindfulness, and would love to do more in the future!
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At Guaranteed Rate, I am a mentor for the Guaranteed Rate Organization of Women Employee Resource Group, as well as a co-chair for the Leadership, Equality and Development Employee Resource Group's recruiting and outreach committee. I also am currently in a small committee that meets with the District 45 Superintendent to go over issues of safety and creating a more progressive environment in our schools and serve as a Precinct Committeeperson for District 62.
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Which of the following areas do you have expertise? 
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What experience, education, and skills do you have that you feel will contribute to your effectiveness as a Prairie Food Director?
With my journalism, communications and marketing background, I feel that I have a lot to bring to the Board as a Prairie Food Director. Journalism school taught me how to be a deadline-follower, as well as how to prioritize efficiently and quickly learn new skills through research and getting my hands dirty. This, I feel, has translated really well into learning about the food co-op world, and managing the various volunteer roles I jumped right into pretty much as soon as I could.
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The roles I've held in the last eight years have also helped me hone my project management skills, as I've seen dozens of marketing campaigns from ideation all the way through to execution and implementation. This includes managing expectations for stakeholders, keeping track of multiple timelines in tandem with one another and being responsible for high-visibility deliverables across many audiences and mediums. I manage a team as well as work closely with creatives from other teams in my department, as a large part of my current role requires taking the ideas of executive leadership and bringing them to life in a manner that is efficient and effective. I am the only person in the department to have built out a year-long content calendar that we've followed incredibly closely for the last two years, and am told that we're the most efficient and high-volume team the creatives have worked with.
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With this role comes a great deal of experience with brand awareness and employer/recruitment marketing, and I work closely with leadership from all departments within our 11,000-person company to attract new talent. I also gained some similar skills during my time as a coach, as we only had three high school girls on the team when I first joined and by the time I left we had close to thirty. This means that I know how to build teams that retain well and grow in a natural trajectory, as well as put the "best foot forward" to continue organic growth that is sustained and scalable.
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My presentation and public speaking skills would also contribute to my effectiveness, as I'm very comfortable with speaking in both small and large group settings, creating and presenting slide decks and representing brands in a manner that is professional and polished. I'm very personable, and know how to be present and hold attention from my experience both in my current role and as a rowing coach and mentor. I'm also skilled at creating and nurturing new relationships, as my experience and education both taught me how to build rapport.
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I feel that all of this will directly and positively impact my effectiveness as a Prairie Food Director, especially in the coming years as we hire a GM and other staff, finalize plans for our store, and get across the finish line to opening our doors.
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What are your personal goals for Prairie Food Co-op?
It is my goal for PFC to be a source of pride and education for our community - for those who own work, and shop there to feel the impact of the food cooperative model and be its biggest advocates. I aim to help PFC grow more popular with millennials and younger couples/families, as well as see it used as a platform for community environmental, sustainability and wellness education for all demographics. This is only the beginning of a HUGE step in the right direction for our community and DuPage County at-large!
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What experience (if any) have you had with cooperatives, food or otherwise?
Only what I've stated above as my current experience with PFC.

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