Jillian Jason 2018

Candidate Questionnaire



Length Co-op Ownership

6 Months

Education/Training, Employment/Position

University of New Hampshire, English 

Pilotworks, Community Manager


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

I feel strongly that all people should have access to quality food and that it is incumbent upon the
community to ensure that access. I take seriously the opportunity to create strategy and vision for the
Rogers Park Food Co-op and am committed to cooperative values. I have the energy, time, and passion
for this undertaking.

I’m passionate about our food systems, from farm to grocery. While I’ve worked in agriculture (as a farm
manager) and grocery (scaling small brands into national chains), I haven’t had the chance to work
outside of a traditional system of practices established long ago. The RPFC board presents a unique
opportunity to take what I’ve learned through these work experiences within the existing food system and
help to build a food system of tomorrow.

And finally, as a gay woman I hope to represent my own small slice of our diverse population. I respect
the interest of the RPFC in fostering a board with many diverse voices, working toward building one
cooperative. I look forward to contributing my own unique set of skills to the board and to the RPFC
through my service. I’m seeking an opportunity to make my neighborhood, community, and city a better
place with the hope that those small contributions may make the world a better place.

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

Like most people, I’m passionate about food. I love a wonderful meal and I take grocery shopping to be a
transcendent experience. I love the spark and excitement of discovering a new food product, producer, or
purveyor. I want to lower the barriers of entry into all levels of food business so that more people can
experience joy through food.

In my day job I work in a shared commercial kitchen and food business incubator, helping food
entrepreneurs access programming, mentors, educational events, and support needed to be successful.
This work feels important in that my contributions can help an entrepreneur create something which has
the power to bring people together and spread excitement.

I’m also passionate about underrepresented demographics showing up and standing up for themselves.
I’m proud to have been a woman farm manager and I look forward to many more years of fostering other
women’s voices as part of our diverse food landscape.

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?


Describe an experience in which you worked on a team.

What did you offer the team? How did you compromise for the team's benefit?
In 2015 myself and a peer entered a contest for a $25,000 grant in order to study local foodsheds across
the United States. We won the grant and subsequently planned and executed an amazing year of

The only way we achieved this goal was through compromise and the democratic consideration of ideas.
A grant proposal is a long and arduous application process, filled with areas where two people will easily
find themselves disagreeing. We both had agricultural backgrounds and were taking the first fledgeling
steps toward urban careers in food systems. Understandably filled with big ideas, we discovered that our
areas of passion within food systems actually differed greatly. We took the approach of prioritizing just a
few areas of study (geographic, gastronomic, or process-oriented) each and creating a system for ranking
importance when moving through the application process.

Even though I could have studied ALL the things that were of interest to me had I been alone, I also very
likely wouldn’t have won the grant at all. The strength of our proposal rested upon its diverse and
expansive view of what constituted a foodshed. I let this experience guide me: We may have to
compromise, but we can always achieve so much more when we work together

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.

Given the situation, a board member could choose to bring her concerns to the board, but that would
create a situation where a body of people who are in place to create policy and vision are getting mired in
the day to day business dealings of the co-op. A board member could go directly to the General Manager
of the co-op, with the friend, and demand that she be heard and her requests honored. This, however,
would undermine the board’s goal of speaking with one voice, not to mention placing the General
Manager in a precarious position.

Instead, I would share with the friend that the board puts policy in place, creates guidelines for day to day
co-op management and, furthermore, must arrive at a democratic vote on those issues and then speak as
one. Given these aims, I simply am not in a position to fulfill the request.

I would advise her that if she wants to submit her product line (as well as pricing information) for category
review I can help her get in touch with the General Manager regarding when the next product review cycle
will be taking pace for her category. I would presumably like to add that I pride the co op on providing a
diverse and exciting product mix, but that the GM and the team working in the store wouldn't want to veer
into nepotism in favoring a personal connection so I hope that she can understand our aim to provide
products for sale to the public in a fair way.

Should she have information about unethical business practices of another co op vendor, I would like to
refer her to the appropriate channels for investigation. My hope would be, that as a board member, the
board can work together in creating policy that will provide for this channel and subsequent review to be
anonymous and ethical.

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

With my sales background in mind, I would first create an ideal target audience, being as specific as
possible: What appeals to our future owners? Is it the access to new and different food items? Is it the
idea that every dollar spent at local business is reinvested in the community? Is it that owners will have a
place where they can meet other members of their community and grow their roots here in Rogers Park?Is it simply the cost savings over time as owners receive some type of discount for shopping at the co-op?

Is it all of this, and more?

With a clear idea of what is important to a future owner, I would create a “pitch deck”, or simply some
talking points that may serve to spur a community member to join. I would share these often with board
members, special committee members, or anyone else involved in recruitment.

From there, I would seek opportunities to present to condo association meetings, parents at local schools,
Alderman meetings, groups in their workplaces...anywhere a group of potential owners might be
gathered. The most important part of this process will be creating “buy-in” at the organizational level (say,
from the board at a condo association) so that those who are considering ownership feel as though the
organization which they are already a part of is on board. This creates a familiarity and a sense of
connecting the dots in a community. If a potential owner sees his/her property manager inviting in the

RPFC to give a presentation at a meeting s/he may be more willing to hear about the benefits of

Should the co-op posses the funds, referral incentives are always a welcome addition to any recruiting

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?

As someone who has had the opportunity to become a homeowner in my 20s, I demonstrate fiscal
responsibility and do not take the collective funds of the co-op lightly. I possess the organization and
discretion to make informed and rational decisions about co-op funds. If elected, I look forward to working
cooperatively in all aspects of service, but above all, with those issues which help to raise up our local
economy and make a difference in the economic freedom and vibrancy of our community.

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