I’m sharing this letter to the editor I wrote to the Valley News this week. I repeat it here in its entirety. I encourage you to read it and reach out to me if you’d like to talk more. I’d love to hear from you anytime.
I’m writing in response to Sunday’s Valley News story [Discrimination in Store? 5/22/2022]. I appreciate the opportunity to share my view on the notice of a complaint of discrimination.
As the Hanover Co-op’s new General Manager, I’d like to take a moment to speak to you. With respect to the issues raised in the recent story, my general practice is, and will be, to refrain from public discussion of specific employee matters for a variety of reasons, including my wish to respect the privacy of our employees to the greatest extent I am able. What I can and must speak to is the future I see for our cooperative.
Creating an equitable community that is inclusive, fair, and just has been a deep, foundational ethic of mine for as long as I can remember. It is one of the key values I bring to my role as general manager, and it is work that will be a defining part of my tenure in the job.
Back in 2015 to 2017, as I earned my Masters in Cooperative Management, I centered my studies on how cooperatives support employees, members, and the greater community. That passion carries over to the people-centered approach I bring to my new role.
It pained me to read of Doren Hall’s description of the deplorable comments he has heard throughout his life. He and I are long-time colleagues. I support his right, as I do for any employee, to question if fairness has been applied properly.
Building on the work of the general managers who came before me means continuing to create a more equitable community. It is my primary focus. Our conversations in the community over the last few days have only accelerated my desire to engage in this work. I’m stepping into this new role with eyes wide open. I hear the concern in the community, I see the conversations sparked by this, and I recognize the importance of this dialogue. The work I envision ahead of all of us is engaging in these challenging conversations. The work is not new, and it is never done.
This work is also difficult, but I believe we have the obligation to each other, to our community, and to our future to carry on the efforts of those before us. And this is only the beginning of our conversations. I invite our community to join me. I don’t believe we are ever divided. We are one community. We need to support each other’s journey and recognize that we all have work to do. I’m showing up ready to listen and ready to do this work.
The first concrete expectation I can give you today is that over the next few weeks, I will work to create spaces for our community where I can listen and learn to inform our next steps. Please be on the lookout and consider attending one of these community dialogue opportunities.
Until then, I want to end with appreciation and honor for the continued hard work of our employees. They are showing up every day to work for our community, and I’m showing up every day to work for them.