Brenda Haines - President
Brenda Haines is co-founder/co-owner of Blue Door Consulting, an Oshkosh-based marketing consulting firm she started with a business partner in 2002. Through her consulting practice, she helps organizations of all sizes – from start-ups to national brands – grow and prosper. A country kid who grew up less than a mile from her grandparents’ farm in Western Wisconsin, Brenda remembers vividly childhood summers spent weeding her parents’ vegetable garden and picking wild berries in the woods. She is a passionate believer in the power of community ownership. She serves as Board Chair for Verve, A Credit Union – one of Wisconsin’s largest credit unions. She is a past president of the American Marketing Association – Northeast Wisconsin Chapter (another start-up!). And, she is a speech coach for the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh’s Youth of the Year. Brenda and her husband, Alex, are also members of the Willy Street Co-op in Madison.
Melissa Weyland - Secretary
Melissa grew up dairy farming with her parents and three siblings west of Neenah. From their start in 1990, the Weyland’s believed in farming in harmony with nature. By following biological farm practices, they focused on building soil health and fertility to nurture a robust, resilient farm ecosystem that wasn’t dependent on synthetic inputs to thrive. The Weyland’s have been Certified Organic since the year 2000. Today they milk 100 cows and operate around 1600 acres as a family.
Melissa also works off-farm at CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley, the nation’s largest farmer-owned organic co-op. She serves as a Regional Pool Manager where she works with over one-hundred organic and transitioning producers throughout eastern and north central Wisconsin. In her position, Melissa acts as a liaison between the cooperative and its members, serves as a regional ambassador, is responsible for member recruitment, oversees integrity and provides local support as a co-op and organic expert.
When not eating or cooking, Melissa enjoys gardening, reading, running, yoga and spending time with her cows. She is an advocate for clean eating, healthy lifestyles, and the local food movement.
“Now more than ever in my lifetime, we are seeing consumer and agriculture trends shifting rapidly, relatively in unison. I am excited and committed to fostering these changes as we move to a more secure and equitable food system from our seeds to our forks!”
Peter Westort – Treasurer
Peter retired as an accounting and tax professor from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2015. He earned a Ph.D. in Accounting from the University of Oregon, an MBA from the University of Southern Maine, and a bachelor’s degree from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. He is also a CPA and was a Fulbright Scholar in Alexandria, Egypt for the 2011-2012 academic year. He and his wife, Mary Ann, have lived in Oshkosh since 2003. They have both been active in AFS (American Field Service), the high school student exchange program for more than 20 years having hosted 13 international exchange students. Peter is a board member of AFS-USA as well as the treasurer of the local area team. He has also been very active in the VITA program, an IRS sponsored program, where UWO student and local volunteers coordinate with the Oshkosh Area United Way to provide free tax return preparation services for low and moderate income taxpayers. Peter also serves on the Allocations Committee of the Oshkosh Area United Way. Peter believes that the Oshkosh area should have healthy, affordable, and sustainable food options from providers who are responsive to community needs.
Elizabeth Redman had always wanted to return to her hometown of Oshkosh, and looks forward to helping downtown Oshkosh continue to grow and thrive. After receiving her undergraduate degree in Biological/Pre-Medical Illustration from Iowa State University, Redman fell in love with local food during her time abroad in over 25 countries. Redman earned her Masters Degree in Sustainable Food Systems from Montana State where she also ran her own catering and private chef business. In Santa Fe, NM Lizz helped start a cold pressed juice company and craft ice cream shop- each focusing on local sourcing and sustainable business practices. Lizz currently is the Culinary Manager of the Howard in downtown Oshkosh.
Kelly Matthews, the owner of A Place For You Early Childhood Consulting in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, joyfully explores engaged learning with people of all ages. Currently, Kelly sits on the boards of Wisconsin Family Child Care Association and The Registry. In addition to loving education, she is passionate about food and makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich. When not cooking, Kelly makes use of her local library, knits, plays lots of volleyball, and has been known to make paper from scratch. She earned her MA in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College and is exceptionally proud of this educational experience grounded in social justice and practical life.
Nicole grew up in the small town of Necedah, Wisconsin. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh where she received a degree in Accounting, with a minor in Economics. Nicole remained in Oshkosh after graduating; loving the larger city that still has a small town feel. She has a home downtown with her boyfriend, teenage daughter, and two dogs. Living there allows them to be walking distance to all that the downtown has to offer. Nicole is the Accounting Manager at Verve, also a member-owned cooperative. This is where she learned first-hand what it means to work under The 7 Cooperative Principles. In her free time, she has volunteered for the Oshkosh Humane Society and Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services. She loves taking bike rides on her cruiser, seeing live music, getting her kayak out for a paddle and spending time with her family. She also can’t wait to do her shopping at the Oshkosh Food Co-op!
Paul Van Auken
Paul has been a member of the Sociology and Environmental Studies faculty at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh since 2007, after completing a Ph.D. in sociology from UW-Madison. Prior to that he completed an M.A. in urban affairs & public policy and worked in the nonprofit sector doing community and economic development. He now teaches rural sociology (with a strong emphasis on the U.S. food system), sociology of the modern city, environment and society, social ecology (which has recently been team-taught with a film professor, with students making short documentaries on social ecological issues), and sociology senior seminar. He conducts research on issues related to neighborhood, community, land use, planning, sustainability, and teaching and learning and is highly engaged in local affairs. Square One, the grassroots organization he co-founded, launched both Views & Brews, a regular community conversation, and the Creating a Stronger Community Contest, which brings local people together to choose projects to receive seed money. The winners in the first two contests were both food related, the first being the Oshkosh Food Co-op group, which led to him joining the board of directors.
Sam earned her Ph.D. in Public Affairs from the University of Colorado – Denver and moved to the Fox Valley in 2017. She joined the faculty in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, where her scholarly interests focus on social equity, community resilience, program evaluation, and grant writing. Sam was especially inspired to move to the region as it provides greater opportunities to expand her urban farm. She grew up on a family farm in rural North Dakota and has reconnected with those roots over the past 10+ years. Along with her partner (who was raised on a dairy farm near St. Cloud, WI) Sam has found immense joy in planting a garden each spring, canning and filling her pantry every fall, throwing harvest parties, and brewing her own hard cider and beer. She has studied and personally experienced the emotional, physical, and social benefits of growing her own and supporting local food systems. Sam is looking forward to tapping her passions and professional skills to do so as a board member on a broader, community level.
Za is a member of the Geography and Environmental Studies faculty at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, where she teaches courses such as environmental conservation, environment and society, and economic geography. In her research, she studies how different people participate in biodiversity conservation policies and practices and is heading up a new project on sustainability in the Fox River Watershed. She is a member of the Community Economies Collective (communityeconomies.org), an international group of scholars working on envisioning and enacting ethical community economies. Before coming to Oshkosh, Za completed a three–year postdoctoral appointment at Harvard University and previously served in the Peace Corps in West Africa and Americorps in New Mexico. The Co-op is a business that is structured around ideas that she is deeply committed to: supporting and proliferating economic models and practices that empower people, build community, and are environmentally sustainable. Her dream for the Oshkosh Food Co-op is a thriving gathering place where people come to purchase food, to work, to meet friends, and where stepping through the doors makes you feel like you are part of a community.