Owner #490 Lee Herman brings almost four decades of skills in information technology to Chicago Market, and we are so lucky to have him. Lee started coming to Chicago Market Board meetings nearly a year ago and quickly signed on as a fully engaged volunteer. Here are some of the reasons he's committed to building this community co-op:
Why did you start volunteering with Chicago Market?
I was looking for a way to help get Chicago Market off the ground but I'm not in a position to make the sustained commitment of being a Board member. I was attending a Board meeting when there was discussion of some web-related topic. It became clear there was some frustration at lack of progress in making some changes to the site, since the same people doing that work were on the Board and had other things that took priority. As a longtime IT professional, it looked like I could make a contribution.
What is your background, professionally?
Almost 40 years as an IT professional in operational, programming, system administration and leadership positions in a variety of companies and industries. Currently I'm a Senior Technical Architect and Consultant for SAS Institute, Inc., an industry-leading Big Data and Analytics software company.
What work have you done with the co-op so far?
I'm now the Chicago Market Webmaster, working to improve our website for a better user experience, make it easier to show more information and change it quickly to keep present and prospective owners informed and plugged in to the latest happenings.
You attend many of the monthly Board meetings. What's your sense of Chicago Market's progress so far?
It was an education to me to discover the complexity of starting a grocery co-op at this scale: a genuine alternative to other groceries with the scope and selection to be your primary shopping destination. As a former owner of a small leather shop, I already knew there was a lot to starting up a business. The Chicago Market Board has done an amazing job of pulling together all the financial, organizational, legal and business aspects needed to launch. Site selection has been the biggest challenge, to find the right combination of location and space, but there are dedicated efforts by the Site Team with Aldermen, developers and realtors and I know we'll get there.
What do you wish you could tell other people about Chicago Market?
When I lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico, I did 99% of our grocery shopping at Mountainview Market, a 40-year-old grocery co-op. While I love Chicago, one of the things I miss most is having a nearby co-op to shop at. People who have not shopped regularly at a co-op grocery literally don't know what they are missing. For anyone committed to healthy eating and improving the experience of living in Chicago, joining Chicago Market is an investment in your home city and your future health. It will be amazing! Join now to help make it become a reality!
What else would you like to add?
There are opportunities to help in many ways. Joining is the first way and payment plans are available to spread out the $250 ownership fee. Volunteers are always needed, whether for an ongoing role or just from time to time. Chicago Market is a community and the members are a great bunch of people to be around and work with. I feel like I'm at home with this group.
We love Lee, and all our terrific volunteers! And there are so many different ways to get involved - email us to learn more!