Heather Hoecker

Physician Assistant

As a physician assistant providing psychiatric care, I see people in crisis as a result of structural inequities, and unmet basic needs. The best counter-example I can find is Seward. The co-op has long been my refuge, connecting me to the land, season, and a community that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable. As a director on the board I will work to include more of us in this mission, setting an example for other institutions.

I have spent my career serving marginalized populations. After graduating from Carleton College I worked in psychiatry research at the University of Minnesota, and volunteered at a home utilizing a harm-reduction model to serve chronically homeless men struggling with alcohol use. During graduate school at Emory University, I was a director on the board of a nonprofit, HealthSTAT, where I organized a team of professionals delivering care to people living on the street. I recruited volunteers and met with people living in homeless communities to hear their needs. I represented their interests on the board and worked with stakeholders in the community to connect them to resources. These experiences taught me to relate to people with different backgrounds than my own. The skills I honed will serve me well on the Seward board—allowing me to listen to owners, and members of the larger community, to understand how the co-op is meeting their needs what might allow more people to be included.

I also have an interest in the food system. I was raised on a hobby farm near Rochester where we grew the produce we ate, and spent a summer in my twenties working on a goat dairy in Houston, MN. I have volunteered packing boxes for a local CSA and, in college, took a food systems course where we visited a slaughterhouse, seed farm, large-scale poultry farm and used geographical software to trace the course, and carbon footprint, of foods from our local grocery. These experiences fortify my belief in Seward’s promotion of environmentally sustainable and economically equitable products, and I will continue to champion those ends.