Candidate Q&A

Our 2022 slate of nominees was asked a series of 6 questions so we could gain more insight on their viewpoints on topics relevant to the growth of our Co-op.

Question #1

Jamin Hübner:
I want to support alternative forms of business that empower local members of society. I also want to use my experience and insight to keep the positive momentum of the Breadroot going. I’ve always enjoyed the Breadroot and other coops in Rapid City and greatly value the positive work environment and unique products that they offer our community.

Laurie Hawes:
I have worked with electric, technology, telephone, and financial cooperatives since 2004. I strongly believe in the Seven Cooperative Principals of voluntary and open membership, democratic control, member economic participation, independence, education and cooperation among co-ops and concern for the community. Cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others. There is nothing better than that!

My husband and I had a small farm for ten years in Rural Virginia, so I know the importance of growing your own food and knowing where your food is coming from. Having lived in Rapid City for the past two years, every time I visit, I’m impressed with the people that work at Breadroot. Everyone is so pleasant and seems to enjoy what they do. I like the fact that I am purchasing food for my family and helping my community in the process. The food is fresh, and the store is well maintained. There is a “small town” feel to Breadroot.

Dowell Caselli-Smith:
I enjoy serving on the Board and I like being a team member providing historical perspective on policies, procedures, and key events to board and management when appropriate. As the only current Board member with more than two terms on the Board I provide some continuity and perspective. I love the co-op and want to see it become an even more exciting and meaningful place to work, shop, and serve.

Twyla Stanifer:
I have always believed in the Co-Op and the benefit it brings to the community. I believe in choosing healthy food and products as a way to support my family and also my community. After working at the Co-Op I have come to appreciate the hard work required to keep the Co-Op open and thriving and would like to be a part of the next level of responsibility to see that happen. I do 95% of my shopping at he Co-Op and look forward to seeing to continue to grow and impact the community.

Curt Voight:
My life has been one of an adventure with agriculture. My personal family has had their hands and feet on the homestead for 5 generations. I have a sense of the magnitude of what it takes to care for the Breadroot family.

Skylar McKeith:
I am passionate about eating healthy food, local food and fresh ingredients, while also supporting independent businesses. Eating well not only positively affects physical health, but also mental health and energy levels. I would love to play an integral role in supporting the community by pushing for fresh and healthy food. 


Question #2

Jamin Hübner:
Coops and firms all face some of the same challenges – long term financial stability, sound and progressive management, effective marketing, etc. They also face challenges unique to them as an individual project. From what I understand, the Breadroot is financially stable and has a wonderful staff, which makes everything easier; we simply have to keep that momentum going and also anticipate unexpected challenges that we may face based on larger social and economic variables. We also have to consider what we want to be and how we want to serve our community in 5-10 years from now.

Laurie Hawes:
I’m sure inflation and rising food prices are a huge issue for the Co-op. With so many people moving into the area, the Breadroot mission and why the co-op business model helps a community needs to be amplified. I believe we need to get all the Co-ops in Rapid City to work together. There is power in banding together.

Dowell Caselli-Smith:
Supporting and stabilizing the board, top management, and staff for a sustainable and growing co-op. Operating with the necessary annual and long-term budgets. Ensuring equitable pay and benefits for employees while keeping an eye on food cost. Developing a Business Plan informed by our projected growth and needs. Ensuring we maintain a fair and just process for holding management accountable while giving them the necessary freedom to do their job. Holding myself and the board accountable for operating a sustainable and exemplary food cooperative.

Twyla Stanifer:
The current region/country issues with supply and inflation challenges; which will affect the current working budget. Staffing challenges such as wage amounts, all around staff shortages, and retaining staff (because of current events not because of management). Lack of membership engagement.

Curt Voight:
As a board member my priority is the financial health of the member Co-op. The board is responsible to the members to provide a healthy product.

Skylar McKeith:
Continuing to provide affordable and high quality fresh produce to the residents of Rapid City and surrounding areas, while also supporting local farmers. It is imperative that healthy food is easily available. 


Question #3

Jamin Hübner:
The building vibe and staff are far more inviting. (Like, it even smells awesome…) The ownership and power structure are also distributed and therefore more just and fair than ordinary capitalist firms; members are more invested in the success and are more committed to the cooperative than otherwise. While some people don’t value that, many people do—and that group may continue to grow as the face of economic exploitation becomes more apparent throughout the American economy.

Laurie Hawes:
The big box stores may offer greater varieties and sometimes lower prices, the proceeds don’t always stay local. Breadroot is a community asset, so when people shop here, they not only support local businesses but they’re helping our local economy as well. Plus when our co-op succeeds, so do its members.

Dowell Caselli-Smith:
We have a broader selection of organic and natural foods at prices competitive with the organic offerings in bigger stores. We offer a much wider selection of local produce and products than any other store in the area. As a cooperative, we reinvest a higher proportion of our proceeds into the store and the community. We are not pushing a lot of fake food to increase profits. Our staff are more knowledgeable and more available to customers than in bigger stores. We are a fun friendly place to get the very best foods available in our area. Our ‘headquarters’ is here. This is our true home and not a branch. Local members’ finance and control this very viable business.

Twyla Stanifer:
A positive atmosphere, less stressful and chaotic — higher quality of fresh produce and wellness products, the ability to purchase products through special order to get a better price than even the big box stores — a super friendly and helpful staff! 

Curt Voight:
Breadroot is about relationships with those the Co-op serves expecting quality, that is best when there is a eye-eye hand-hand relationship with the producer of the product and the member consumer.

Skylar McKeith:
People should shop at the Co-op to support our local community. The Co-op provides a personal shopping experience, supporting local farmers with an extensive, focused selection of local, organic and natural produce.  The Co-op has an extensive selection of healthy products, from food to home and personal products, all in one place. Unlike big box stores, it does not take a long time to shop at the Co-op. 

Big box stores are usually owned by investors, whereas the Co-op is owned by its consumers, meaning the money spent at the co-op will stay within our community. Big box stores lack connection to the local community. The Co-op feels more like a family environment; your home. 

In addition, at the Co-op, consumers have the ability to have a voice in how it is run, which is not an option at big box stores. 


Question #4

Jamin Hübner:
I served as a Director of Institutional Effectiveness in higher ed for a number of years, which allowed me to evaluate the whole institution and see what moving parts were working well and which ones weren’t. I was responsible for co-writing the long-term strategic plan, co-budgeting, and accreditation, so ethical practice/compliance and long-term stability are important values for me—as well as social justice and equity. As an economics professor (for a while at Western Dakota Tech, now for University of the People), I also have insight in how to manage resources efficiently within firms. I also love teaching and training and making sure everyone is on the same page to avoid misunderstanding and also help mitigate anxiety. I’ve also authored articles about cooperatives and am currently writing a book on the advantages of cooperative economics over ordinary, extractive models. (I had an econ column in the Rapid City Journal for a year, and discussed the benefits of cooperatives.)

Laurie Hawes:
As a local business owner, I am passionate about supporting our community. Throughout my career I’ve worked with entrepreneurs and sought out services from small businesses. Nearly a decade ago I formed my own meeting planning business. I have been an active board member and board president on several boards and hope to bring that experience here to my new hometown. While I may not know all the answers, I am the type of individual that will reach out and engage with other members to strengthen the Co-op and help it succeed.

Dowell Caselli-Smith:
Since early childhood, experience growing plants and animals, keeping records and marketing products (my mother’s home-based bookkeeping business was a valuable resource). Also, developing and managing budgets for nonprofits, college departments, divisions, and total institutions as well as for many grant programs. As CEO of The Lakota Funds (2006-10) I oversaw development and implementation of complex budgets and board relations, as well as reviewing, revising and approving (or not) many small business plans and loan applications. Furthermore, as Oglala Lakota College VP for Instruction in the ‘90s we offered the first Organic Gardening college degree in America. And lessons and sections on cooperatives were included in my college courses for 30+ years. Other experiences include active participation in three different cooperative food buying clubs in Michigan, Nebraska, and Rapid City.

Twyla Stanifer:
I have coached and consulted multiple organizations and boards through strategy and board development; learning a lot and growing myself professionally with each opportunity. There is a delicate balance required for board members especially with the layers of change that has taken place in the last 2 years, I believe I could be an asset in this area. My experience with customer service and staff development is also an asset for board planning.

Curt Voight:
Eye for excellence and high level of standards. Strong work ethic and leadership skills. Positive attitude even under pressure. Teamwork in developing others.

Skylar McKeith:
I am a lawyer and legal commentator specializing in corporate and family immigration, regularly featured on television, in print and on radio, including OK! Magazine, GB News and ITV.  I am also a volunteer lawyer for Project Ukraine, providing free legal advice to Ukrainian citizens and others fleeing Ukraine. In addition, I am a Trustee for the World Youth Organization, a charity that advances education for young people in all aspects of life. I was also a Speaker at the San Antonio Bar Association International Law Section Webinar online for Texas lawyers. 

I have been surrounded by a healthy lifestyle all my life. My parents own a health company in the UK and my mother is a nutritionist who has written 9 internationally best selling health books (and presented health tv shows). I live and breathe health. 

I would bring passion and dedication for health and community to the Breadroot Board of Directors. 


Question #5

Jamin Hübner:
Organizational effectiveness, strategic planning, direct democracy and distributed power, teaching and training, budgeting, logistics. (Enneagram 1w2 here; INTJ, if any of that means anything)

Laurie Hawes:
As I mentioned above, I would love for all the co-ops in the Rapid City area work together. When I moved here two years ago, I had to really search for the co-ops in my area. I would like to look at ways we can improve the marketing and make the information more easily accessible to new and existing residents alike. Co-ops are an important asset in our community.

Dowell Caselli-Smith:
I am interested in all aspects of the business and most particularly those issues related to sustainability of our co-op, our industry and of our region in the face of climate change.

Twyla Stanifer:
Supporting Co-Op management, staff development planning (not executing), member engagement, and community outreach.

Curt Voight:
Service to continue the growth of quality to the member owners of Breadroot.

Skylar McKeith:
Supporting local and small-scale agriculture and maintaining access to healthy, local, fresh produce. 


Question #6

Jamin Hübner:
If I’m thinking in my default builder/architect kind of way, I’d say making plans to expand and move inside one the large empty retail buildings in town, possibly consolidating with other similar cooperatives and launching a healthy restaurant (with a gorgeous outdoor patio of course!) similar to Flower Child in Phoenix or Pharm Table in San Antonio. Over 1,000 people move to this area every year, but Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s likely won’t come to Rapid because of difficult distribution challenges of living in the middle of nowhere. This is unmet demand a unique opportunity—not that we have to take it, but something to at least consider as Rapid City grows exponentially.

Whatever the case is, I think we should at least explore the possibilities that an exploding population in this area is going to have, or should have, on the Breadroot.

Laurie Hawes:
I am eager to join the board so I can learn about the long range plans for Breadroot. I certainly hope that as the population of Rapid City grows, the membership would also grow. And in turn, the resources Breadroot provides to our community will also expand.

Dowell Caselli-Smith:
I see Breadroot with at least double the membership and sales of today. I see us offering more products and more lines such as beer, wine and prepared foods–possibly a coffee shop and or an organic sit-down food service. Can these things be better accommodated by additions and modifications in the current location, additional locations, or in a new location? I would like us to find out what it would mean to expand our store in the current location which is near two high traffic arteries as well as the campus, vibrant downtown, and several new businesses and residential facilities being developed in the downtown corridor. Three large grocery stores have left this area in the last decade giving us a great opportunity to fill the gap. Bozeman is an excellent example of how growth can be accommodated in stages. With a solid estimate of what could be done and what it would cost to expand the current location, we would have a great baseline for comparing costs and benefits of other options.

Twyla Stanifer:
A bigger location and the “go-to” stop in Rapid for quality, healthy food options and wellness products; member special orders increased.

Curt Voight:
The board has a strategic plan. I would hope that my time on the board would have put that plan in place.

Skylar McKeith:
In 5 years I see Breadroot continuing to cultivate our local community and embracing access to healthy food. I would like to see healthy food being more accessible and affordable to all.