A Generous Thank You

February 16, 2024
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By Calvin Dame, Board member

In late August, the Co-op received the disappointing news that our respected and able General Manager, Lee Bradford, was departing. The Board of Directors of the Co-op is charged with the hiring and oversight of the General Manager, so aided by Emilee Hobbs, the Co-op’s Director of People and Culture, the Board of Directors embarked on a five-month nationwide search involving hundreds of applicants.  

At the conclusion, the Board was pleased to offer the position to Anthony Santorelli, our then Chief Financial Officer, and is pleased that he accepted.

So, my first thank you is extended to my fellow Board members, who, in addition to our usual schedule, invested hours and hours in the process: in training, reading resumes of the top candidates, Zoom meetings, interviews, and deliberation.

Per the Bylaws, the Board of Directors is also entrusted with “assuring that the purpose and principles of the Co-op are properly carried out.” In this case, in plain language, we needed to assure that the Co-op continued to operate during the search for a new General Manager.

One option was to hire an Interim General Manager, and we gave this some thought. Our hesitation came from this: the Co-op was already running well with our competent staff and capable managers. We wanted to provide for leadership without creating more disruption.

For our leadership arrangement, the Board invited the Core Management Team, those who report directly to the General Manager, into a shared structure. The Core Team comprised of Meg Sellarole, Store Manager; Emilee Hobbs, Director of People and Culture; Erik Hansen, Director of Operations; Elias Abdul Sater, Food Services Director; Amy Crawford, Marketing and Community Relations Manager; Sarah Brennan, Board Administrator and Sustainability Coordinator; and Anthony Santorelli, then Chief Financial Officer, were invited to work together, carrying the responsibilities generally fulfilled by the General Manager. The Core Team met regularly with Board President Jerelyn Wilson and other Board members for status updates and oversight, in much the same way that the Board President and the General Manager usually meet.

This is an unusual interim arrangement for a co-op of our size and complexity, but it reflected the Board’s respect for the competence of our leadership team and the health of the whole Co-op workforce.  

And I believe we can report this as a success. The Core Team stepped up and guided the Co-op through two major holidays and our busiest months. No disasters, no wheels fell off, the doors were open, and we have continued to provide a positive shopping experience for shareholders and all shoppers!  

So, a generous thank you to Meg, Emilee, Erik, Elias, Amy, Sarah, and Anthony! We appreciate your time, your commitment, your care, and your good will over the last five months. Thank you! 

Learn more about Anthony here!