Cristina Santoro 2018

Candidate Questionnaire



Length of Co-op Ownership

8 Months

Education/Training, Employment/Position

Quinnipiac University, International Business; PMI-Certified Project Management Professional (PMP); Literacy Works! -Certified Adult Basic Education Tutor  

Self-Employed, Consultant


Why do you want to serve on the Board of Directors for the RPFC?

I am running for this seat to drive progress. Since becoming an owner in July 2017, I have been extremely involved in Events & Outreach for RPFC, working with the amazing team of committee volunteers to help the Co-Op realize our mission. I have deep respect and admiration for the work to create and grow the Co-Op thus far. We are now at a crossroads as an organization – we can continue doing the same things and maybe open a store in 4-7 years based on organic growth, or we can create new ways to embed ourselves in the local narrative, expand our owner base and open our doors to the community! We have reached the point that there is no more path to follow, to which I say, “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads,” – Doctor Emmet Brown.

My background in program development/deployment, marketing campaign management, events management and project management will help to complement the existing leadership traits on the current Board. We live in a strong, unique community, and I am thrilled to have the skillset, passion and commitment to serve and help create a space that celebrates our similar passions and diverse heritages.

What is your passion? How could we see that passion in action in your day-to-day life?

I am passionate about striving towards a zero-waste, chemical free home. I believe in clean eating, an active lifestyle and the power of the mind-body-spirit connection. I am a mindful person and believe that kindness makes things better: kindness within our communities, kindness towards our natural world and kindness to ourselves.

In general , if I am doing something, I am passionate about it. I lead an intentional life and make an effort to ensure that the things I choose to dedicate time to are improved as a result of my involvement and that my life is improved as a result of being involved. I also make sure humor is a part of every day – everything is easier when you can laugh about it.

The best way to see my passion in action? Message me about doing a project together! You can read my full bio and get to know me better on my website.

List some of the organizations, causes, initiatives, and groups of which you have been a part. How do you believe you involvement with these groups have prepared you to serve on the RPFC Board of Directors?

Since moving to Chicago 8 years ago, my volunteer work and charitable efforts have been focused on the following organizations:

· Adult Literacy Tutor through Mercy Housing

· General volunteer work through the Ready When the Time Comes program for the American Red Cross

· General volunteer work with Feed My Starving Children

· Consultation with Traffick Free

· Participation with Zero Waste Chicago

Since becoming an owner of the Rogers Park Food Cooperative:

· Co-lead role for the Stouts & Sprouts event at Sketchbook Brewing in Evanston, which generated 6 new owners and dozens of newsletter sign-ups

· Tabling at a Loyola Sustainable Food Fair

· Farmer Outreach & tabling at the Evanston Farmer’s Market

· Heavily involved on the Events Committee to bring the large-scale RPFC events to life:

· Annual Owner Meeting

· Fall Harvest growth event

In addition to this work, my passion to serve and nurture my local community has provided the motivation to make change happen faster, and I believe that the leadership team of the Co-Op can have that impact.

Describe an experience in which you worked on a team.

The most beneficial trait I bring to the team environment is accountability. If I commit to completing something, then I will put all of my effort and passion into delivering with grace and humor. I tend to naturally step in to a leadership role (in the “let’s roll up our sleeves and get this done” kind of way) and respectfully explore conflict rather than shy away from it (conflict managed appropriately leads to the BEST ideas!). As a team leader in my professional experiences, there is no task above or beneath me. Regardless of role on the team, it is important that everyone’s voice is heard, but that spirit of sharing also needs to be balanced with productivity. I think there is a big difference between compromising and collaboration. While the ability to compromise is very important, I tend to focus on collaborating to ensure that no one walks away from an experience feeling like they needed to sacrifice something for the greater good; all team members should be confident that the decisions made as a team truly represent what is in the best interest of the organization.

Briefly describe two or three possible ways you could handle the following situation. How you would ultimately act?

You've recently been elected to the RPFC Board. A close friend and local food producer privately asks you to help her business by having the Board publicly denounce the alleged unethical business practices of her closest competitor, whose products are already sold at RPFC. The business owner says she will deeply discount RPFC orders for her product for a year if you help her.

In my opinion, there is only one way to respond to this situation. I would explain that as my friend, she should already know that my ethical standards would not allow for me to even consider this request. Not only would it pose a conflict of interest and violate my agreement with the Co-Op as a sitting board member, but it would also require me to speak on behalf of my peers on the board and compromise productive business practices and the relationship with her competitor, who is also a valued member of our community. I would also notify her that I have an obligation to share her unethical request with the board in the interest of ensuring that any possibility of a future working relationship is considered with caution. My loyalties lie in always doing the right thing and I would seriously reconsider our personal relationship.

Could you share with us some ideas you may have for owner recruitment to the co-op?

I believe that our most effective outreach efforts lie within our collective network, and the next phase of outreach needs to be focused around personal introductions to the sub-communities that exist within our geographic range. I am extremely excited to help our current owner base realize their reach through some of the interactive experiences we have planned for the upcoming Annual Owner Meeting. RSVP if you are intrigued…

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us? Do you have any other experiences that you see as being related to the work of the Board?

My work with the co-op thus far has been productive and I believe we have an amazing team of creative, thoughtful and respectful volunteers and owners. I’d like to get to know as many of our owners as possible, so please reach out if you have any questions about me at all, or if you’re interested in starting a project together! If you are uncomfortable contacting me directly, please feel free to ask a committee member about my work and commitment to the co-op.

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