Me’Lea Connelly

Student/Business Owner

The grocery and natural foods industries – both locally and nationally – face greater competition, however, it is important to remember that the natural foods industry is rooted in a legacy of cooperation and self help. I believe as we uplift these same principles our cooperative can become stronger and more resilient, continuing to hold the highest standards for local, natural and affordable food.

I have been a proud co-op member for close to a decade and a community member that benefits from the excellent work and reputation of Seward Community Cooperative. As my experience and commitment to the cooperative community has evolved, I have come to realize how unique and rare Seward is and how crucial it is that community members are present in supporting and contributing to its sustainability and growth.

I am currently entering my final year at Saint Mary’s University earning an MBA in cooperative and credit union management. I have contributed to establishing a community development financial cooperative over the last few years. I have worked in both executive leadership and director positions in local non-profits. During this time, I have learned that collaborative work is best accomplished with a team approach to overcoming challenges through exercising shared values. Collaborative work is consensus and democratically driven, best achieved with a spirit of cooperation rather than conflict.

After visiting the cooperative communities of Emilia Romania and Bologna Italy I was inspired by the commitment that country made to cooperatives and the benefits cooperatives contributed to Italy’s economic stability. I believe the contribution Seward makes in our communities can often be undervalued and overlooked, from workforce development to equitable local food systems and economic development in underserved communities. If I were elected I would work to achieve the cooperative’s goals with an emphasis on uplifting all we have and continue to offer to our community.

Seward’s commitment to approaching community health with a holistic approach has set a standard for cooperatives around the world. Dedication to the cooperative principles and values guide my vision for the co-op and have proven to be a trusted anchor and foundation.