Don Kreis 

No institution in our community is a more potent force for good than the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society.  We are so fortunate to have such a major business enterprise in our midst that operates resolutely on a cooperative basis.  But the good does not come automatically.  It requires a vigilant and insightful Board.
I bring a unique combination of experience and fresh perspective to the Board.  I previously served on the Board for a decade, developing a working knowledge of how a consumer cooperative works.  I built up a pile of useful institutional memory. Then I left for a period of four years to focus on other things, including helping other co-ops with legal advice.  A year ago, I returned to the Board to find a much changed organization – new management, new ideas, new challenges.  It is inspiring to help build a resurgent culture for the Co-op based on transparency, accountability and kindness.
My day job involves fighting for the interests of residential utility customers in New Hampshire as the state’s Consumer Advocate.  So you could say that working on behalf of consumers is my natural place in the universe.  Plus, if reelected I would be the only attorney on the Board – and a legal perspective is often useful in Board deliberations.
When I was in college I served an internship with the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs and the boss said I was "the best thing to happen to consumers since canned 7-Up.” I let that go to my head for a few years.  Now, the longer I stay involved with the Co-op, the more humbled I am to work among such smart, dedicated and principled people.
I would be so honored to have an opportunity to serve a full three-year term alongside these fine folks, both Board and management alike.  I have much more to contribute, particularly on such things as helping the Co-op figure out how it can help members with their energy needs, improving our national cooperative organizations, and continuing to provide a great workplace for our employees.   The Co-op’s best years are directly ahead!

Candidate Questions

What is your vision for our Co-op? I dream of a Co-op that is the most trusted institution in the community -- because a consumer co-op, as the agent of its members, has the potential to be a powerful force for empowering and inspiring people.  It is OK to purchase goods and services from an investor-owned business, but it is so much better to buy them from an enterprise whose purpose is making your life better rather than extracting wealth from you.  I yearn for a co-op that is more transparent about merchandising, as this could be such a powerful rebuttal to the claim that the Co-op is too expensive.
What is our Co-op doing well, and what needs improvement? The grocery business has grown noticeably more competitive in recent years and yet the Co-op has held its own as it has installed a new, energetic management team and re-set its Board culture in the direction of transparency and collaboration.  No workplace is perfect, but the Co-op has made great leaps in recent years when it comes to becoming the kind of employer the members expect of a cooperative. But the Co-op can and should address the persistent view that it is too expensive.  The Co-op should also strive to make people think that it’s literally where they want to be -- a hangout, a destination, a source of inspiration, not just a place to buy stuff.  It seems like the public sphere is shrinking, which is not good for community spirit.  The Co-op could really help change that – I’ve seen it at co-ops in places like Minneapolis, Seattle, Northampton and Concord.
Do you feel anything is left "unfinished" that you'd like an opportunity to accomplish in a new term? Absolutely!  I am chairing the joint Board/Staff working group that is studying our relationship with National Cooperative Grocers -- this is essential work inasmuch as NCG is a key element of the Co-op's success, and we are just getting started.  In light of my day job in the world of utility regulation I've agreed to serve on the Energy Working Group -- that, too, is just getting started and the Co-op has the potential to play a pivotal role in transitioning itself and its community to a reliance on renewable, distributed energy resources as well as energy efficiency. I have been studying how retail grocers set their prices, and I am convinced we can find a way as cooperators to do this differently so that shoppers trust we are doing right by them even when our prices are not the lowest.  And I would like to help explore the feasibility and desirability of becoming a "solidarity” co-op that is half owned by consumers and half owned by employees.  Worker co-ops are the wave of the future in the cooperative sector! However, please be assured that I realize not every great idea can become reality.  My approach to working on all of these things is to do more listening than talking. Serving on the Board is a great way to learn.

 Nourish. Cultivate. Cooperate.

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