Describe your occupation and community involvement. I have been on the Faculty at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Public Health for 29 years. I teach in the Department of Health Policy and Management. I have served on the Carrboro Appearance Commission, was Mayor of Carrboro many years ago and have lived in Carrboro for almost 40 yrs.
Why do you want to serve on the Board of Directors? I want to help our community achieve the healthiest lifestyle possible. Nutrition, along with exercise, is the key to achieving this goal. WSM is the prototype of a new relationship we can have with food…a community-based, trusted source of information and food products that contribute to our health. My major wish is that WSM can become the one stop food shopping alternative for even more products.
What experience do you have with Weaver Street Market, cooperatives, or small community-minded businesses? I had a management consulting business many years ago in which I learned how tough conditions can be for small companies, but I have not had experience in a cooperative. However I have taught financial management a dozen times and can read a balance sheet and income statement. My experience with WSM consists of 20 years of consuming WSM products, sometimes twice a day.
What experience, skills, or perspective will you bring to the Board? For 29 years I have run a Master’s degree program that educates public health and healthcare managers. I have taught financial management and statistics. I have led workshops on leadership, communications, and reputation management. I am analytical; but one of my strengths is thinking ahead…which has helped us keep our degree program ranked highly over the years.
Include anything else about yourself that you may like others to know. For more details, see my LinkedIn account at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimporto. WSM is a unique institution with a holistic, if not holy, mission of selling quality food, offering a quality workplace for its employees, and providing a center for community sharing. WSM is THE model for our relationship with food in the 21st century. However, to achieve the cultural change that WSM suggests requires that it remain a viable financial entity. I would like to see WSM become a one-stop food shopping center for many more products. As a board director, I would see my role as helping define the strategy to get us closer to the food transformation that we need as a culture but in a financially responsible way. One approach is to encourage careful analysis of food purchase patterns and to profitably address needs of specialty markets where other food chains are not. Another interest I would have as a board member is to encourage innovation in food offerings, which can best be fostered by encouraging consumer input on new products…a form of crowdsourcing. In addition, by providing even more opportunities for employees to get specialized training and having them observe best practices around the country, the likelihood of remaining profitable increases. Finally, I would like to see WSM tap into the resources, research and student, available at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Public Health. I believe I can help make those connections. WSM is a community asset and as a cooperative it is one of the few types of organizations that is not part of the great economic concentration of power currently underway. I would be honored to work with WSM as a board member.