Good Earth Foods Board Election!

Meet Your Board Candidates

We asked the 2020 Board Candidates to list their occupation and education, and to write a short statement to owners highlighting: Why do you believe owners should choose you to represent them? In what areas should the Board be putting its attention in the next five years? What else, if anything, would you like to share with the Ownership?

Bob Johnsonvote nowThroughout my career I have focused on connections across different community sectors and constituencies, to grow the business that I represented, while bringing value to other organizations and individuals. When I think about the Good Earth Food Co-op, I see possibilities for collaborations that could expand the reach of the Co-op, through an enhanced focus on others around food, sustainability, education, and community development. Beyond being a grocery store, the Co-op can be seen as a trusted organization and place, where people are comfortable, secure, and certain..A place where they belong. For me, the Co-op has been of tremendous value to the community, and yet has even greater potential.

I would love to be a part of an effort to keep things moving forward so as to have the cooperative model, and the GEFC in particular, become an even greater part of the fabric of the region through increased membership, expanded offerings, and creative community involvement. Thank you for your consideration of my candidacy for a board position.

Michelle Johnson


Michelle Johnsonvote now
My name is Michelle Johnson, and I am seeking your vote for board membership. I work for a Chicago-based consulting firm and have spent nearly 20 years advising boards of directors across the country on governance, leadership strategy, organizational design, executive search and related matters within mission-based, non-profit organizations. I have previously served on the Board of the Central MN Sustainability Project, an organization I continue to support as a donor, and I have been a member-owner of GEFC for many years. I bring business experience, a practical, solution-oriented mindset and a commitment to results. I'm a big believer in the importance of providing access to local, sustainable and ethically-produced food, and the principles of co-ops are perfectly aligned with my personal values.

I live near SCSU with my husband and two children, aged 17 and 22. My youngest and I are vegetarians, my husband is a pescatarian, and our oldest is a proud meat eater! I have been serving as an appointed member of the board since earlier this year and would be honored to continue contributing my time and expertise as an elected member, with your support. I am committed to the GEFC and will do whatever I can to support its long-term viability and success. Thank you!

James Ringwaldvote now

I am passionate about regenerative agriculture (Gabe Brown) and believe that our purchase decisions can affect change in the greater food system. These factors originally led me to become a member at our Co-op, but the principles and the people keep me coming back.

My experiences as a Certified Public Accountant at Bergan KDV, where I work in business valuation, tax, and estate planning, and on the boards or committees of nonprofits, including CommunityGiving, St. Cloud Granite Rotary, Salem Foundation, and Friends of the Gardens (Munsinger Clemens) Advisory Council, have prepared me well for this role in our Co-op. I intend to bring these experiences and other knowledge to the Board and grow personally along the way.

Mischelle Belnkush


Mischelle BlenkushVote now
Hello! My name is Mischelle Blenkush, and I am running for a position on the board of directors for the Good Earth Food Cooperative. I have a master’s degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences from St. Cloud State University and have been working as a Speech-Language Pathologist for 27 years. I have worked in the school setting, as the director of a private clinic and am currently working in the outpatient department of a hospital. I have lived on a hobby farm in central Minnesota, in the middle of farm country, for the past 30 years. I understand how hard farmers work to put food on our tables and have been as diligent as I can be about shopping locally and supporting small businesses and local farmers. I also believe that we need to consider our global impact on the environment, and I seek to purchase3 organic and fair- trade items when possible. Sustainability is a huge topic now, and I believe our Co-op has the ability to help us live healthier lives as well as help us to protect and respect our environment.

I have been shopping at the GEFC for a number of years now, and 3 years ago became involved in volunteering my time to the Co-op. I began my volunteer journey by joining the Member Engagement Committee. I furthered my volunteer status by becoming a part of a fantastic team of volunteers at the 2019 burger cookout. I have also been a co-presenter at many cooking classes at GEFC, and have participated in cooking contests sponsored by the Co-op. The more I volunteer and create friendships, the more I realize how important a food cooperative is to our community. I have been serving as an appointed board member since September of 2019 but am now asking for your vote so that I can continue to serve you and the best interest of our wonderful Co-op!

Tom Leithervote now

I am a St. Cloud native and mostly retired nephrologist at CentraCare. With this application and potential election to the GEFC board, I hope to support the mission of the co-op, this essential asset in our community. I have a professional and personal interest in the intersection of food, nutrition, health and clinical practice. I would bring board experience from CentraCare (18 years CCH and CCC BOD, former chair CentraCare Clinic BOD) as well as previous board director of Central Minnesota Sustainability Project. I have served in many leadership roles for the health system including founding and 33 years acting as medical director and department chair of the CentraCare Kidney Program. I would hope to utilize the skills I have learned, including problem-solving, strategic planning, and consensus building, to advance the mission of the co-op.

Although I have no cooperative or retail food experience. I would do my best to be a productive and engaged board member. Thank you for your consideration. Full curriculum vitae available on request.