Black Star Co-op Board of Director Elections

As the weather turns cooler in Austin, Member-Owners execute their right to vote for open positions on the Black Star Co-op board. The Board of Directors provide leadership and guidance that supports the Co-op’s mission, vision, and goals on behalf of the Member-Owners through personal responsibility and effective governance through well-written policies. Learn more about the candidates through their answers to the “Questions for the Candidate” section in their submitted candidacy application or by attending the Member’s Assembly on Sunday, October 27th from 12-2pm. Electronic vote casting begins October 1 and ends October 31 with in-person ballots available at the Member’s Assembly.  

Questions for the Candidate

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  1. Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?

The fiscal position of Black Star dimmed suddenly in first month of my joining the Board just under three years ago (I’m sure this was correlation and not causation).  Members arrived in droves to support the Co-op.  Without their support, Black Star would not be here.  It’s time for Black Star Co-op to put members first.  I look forward to representing them on the Board.

  • What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year?  Five years?

In the short term I would like to see improved efforts to engage current members and expansive efforts to increase the number of new members. I want to attend a Member’s Assembly meeting where there are no empty seats!  In five years, I’d like all the facilities issues completely resolved.

  • What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?

I am just finishing my first term on the Board which went from fiscal crisis to stability.  I hope to apply the skills I’ve learned to another three years on the Board.

  • Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.

Black Star Co-op already stands out from other local brewpubs.  Other breweries and brewpubs have fans; Black Star has member-owners.  Other brewpubs pay their staff the federal tipped minimum wage; Black Star pays a living wage.  Other brewpubs and breweries join and support people and organizations that promote local beer (that’s good, yes); Black Star does that AND advocates for policies ensuring a quality workplace locally and nationally.  Let’s be honest, we can drink award winning beer all over Austin, but no award winning beer tastes as righteous as Black Star’s.    

  • What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

Democratic member control.  Members have a voice at Black Star.  I want to hear those voices more clearly and more often over the next three years.

James Farris

  1. Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?

I believe strongly in the mission and vision for Black Star Co-op.  I have been a longtime patron of the Co-op and a member since 1997, when I attended my first members assembly.  I love the sense of community, both among members and staff and the way the Black Star acts on the seven co-op principles to be a positive part of the larger community.  I believe Black Star is something special in the Austin brewpub scene and would like to take a more active role in supporting and strengthening it.

  • What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year?  Five years?

I would like to see Black Star strengthen its financial position, while growing the awareness among existing and potential patrons of the unique qualities and features that set it apart within the brewpub scene in Austin.  I would like to see it continue to make strides in building a community around the co-op mission as well as high quality beer and food offerings that incorporate member input in the development and selection.

  • What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?

Passion for this place (I’m literally filling this application out while I sit at the bar).  I also have a broad set of skills and experience gained from my degrees in Math and Public Affairs and working in jobs doing data analysis, program evaluation, performance improvement, and policy development in state government. 

  • Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.

Community and customer involvement.  I think the key ingredient in what makes Black Star special to me is the spirit of involvement and cooperation that underpin its founding and business model.  I love to tell people about the living wage paid to staff, the way the folks who work here have direct input into how things are run, how members are more than just customers – they’re owners, and how all these things come together into celebration of work, quality, integrity, and beer.

  • What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

Democratic member control.  This principle, where members and staff have a stake in establishing the community and priorities is a key to what Black Star offers.  These days when you can go online and order anything from anywhere, or drop-in on snapshots of life from friends or celebrities and click to show your feels, this principle says you’re not just buying a commodity when you become a member or patronize the co-op, you’re participating in a community.  When you come to events or talk to staff you’re not emoting into the ether, you have voice in shaping this community.

Gabriel Prado

  • Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors of the Co-op?

As a true Austinite (born and raised), I’m very passionate about local businesses and the unique impression they leave on our beautiful, ever changing city.  The Black Star principles and symbiotic relationship with the local community are a great embodiment of what I believe Austin to be and should have more of.  I’ve been looking for an opportunity to join the board of a local business and pledge to use my time and background to further the mission and set Black Star as the shining example of the co-op model.

  • What goals would you like to see Black Star Co-op achieve in the next year?  Five years?

Short-term in the next year I’d like to see Black Star expand engagement with its local member owner community and start to execute on innovative new ideas to drive traffic and renewed interest in the Black Star mission.  In five years, I’d like to see Black Star expand its footprint with new strategic partnerships that generate value for all stakeholders and help carry the Black Star name like other well-known Austin breweries.

  • What qualities and past experience do you have for serving on the Black Star Co-op Board of Directors?

I’ve been curating a very diverse set of business skills over my career including sales, product management, pricing, and product marketing.  While those skills have been honed in the tech space, I am ready to apply the same critical thinking and strategy to a much more personal type of business.  Personally, I tend to take a lot of ownership in success and love to coach the others around me with best practices and lessons learned.

  • Name one way in which you’d like the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery to stand out from other local brewpubs.

I think there is a huge opportunity to make Black Star the “third place” for those who drink beer-just how coffee shops have become a third place for many.  I think this requires developing an understanding of what people need in that “third place” and what Black Star can do to facilitate and encourage it.  I see it as a third place for many, but it’s still subject to a lot of competition in the surrounding area.  Let’s understand our members and further develop that vision of the third-place.

  1. What is your favorite Co-operative Principle and why?

Democratic member control.  I believe this to be incredibly important as an exchange of diverse backgrounds and ideas that can all play on a level playing field.  I think the means to be able to have a voice is much more valuable than being able to pay more for a louder voice.  I also appreciate this principle because it isn’t always easy.  Members need to be engaged, informed, and have a personal interest in the voting outcomes-all of which are very hard to measure, making it a particularly interesting challenge!

Cast Your Vote HERE