Joe Marks had been the board president at the startup Monadnock Food Co-op in Keene, NH for three years. Marks had been instrumental in leading the co-op from its founding to operational governance. He’s currently finishing his current board term with one year left, but not as an officer. His new role as an at-large board member is to act as a resource and mentor for the new board president, Kathy Burke. Transitioning their leadership at this point is a big step for the organization, yet the need to prepare future leaders is the work of all boards. Marks said he began the process two years ago when he knew he wanted to step down from the role of president.
Marks noted that some people have the leadership skills, but not necessarily the time to be president, or that some people are not comfortable in the role. “I had to acknowledge the transition, but also find a capable person,” he said. He looked for a person with a passion for the co-op’s mission, someone who had the self-confidence to listen and be a leader in the boardroom as well as the community, and who deeply understood the board’s decision-making process. Kathy Burke, who had served on the board for two years (and this past year as vice president) has ably stepped into that role. Burke said that during her VP year, Marks coached her on the role, including her in communications with the general manager, being part of the monthly CBLD consultant calls, and having her facilitate board meetings.
Burke said she feels prepared to be president, but she likes having Marks’ backing for the coming year. “I feel really supported in that way, and we also have a great board. I’ll be president, but overall we have very thoughtful and engaged board members.”