Alison, MaryBeth and I went to a Cooperative Board Leadership Development (CBLD) session on Saturday in Mt. Airy. We are committed to learning more about what it means to be successful directors on YOUR board.
Michael Healy, an independent consultant from the CDS Consulting Co-op, spent all day with a group of 25 board members from six local co-ops to teach us about Cooperative principles and values, legal duties, policy governance and balance sheets!
Not only was the facilitator and content excellent, but it was great to spend time with other co-ops and bounce ideas around. There were some people from start up co-ops like us (Doylestown, Kensington) and other established co-ops (Weaver's Way, Mariposa, Swarthmore).
The most important thing I learned on Saturday that I'd like to share with you is fiduciary responsibility. I thought (along with many others) that fiduciary responsibility was a complicated finance term. Turns out that it's much simpler - it means to be entrusted to make a decision on someone else's behalf. As your Board of Directors, we know that you have invested your hard earned money into the co-op and we have a responsibility to act in your best interest. That's something that's not lost on me (us) and we thank you.
Through this learning process, something that really impresses me about the cooperative principles is that cooperatives help other cooperatives. Weaver's Way has been an invaluable resource to the South Philly Food Co-op and they are always willing to lend a helping hand. This Board Leadership program is an example of that, WW sponsored all three of us to attend for free. My hope is that one day the South Philly Food Co-op will have a budget large enough to be able to give back to other start-up co-ops. There are approximately 300 start-ups that we are aware are and if we are successful, co-ops could double in our communities - how exciting!