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IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a member-owned co-op with 101 independent food co-op members nationwide, said yesterday that current c.e.o. Don McLemore will retire effective Dec. 30, and Robynn Shrader, who has served as the co-op's director of marketing and communications since September 2004, will succeed him on Jan 1, 2006.
"We believe Robynn is a strategic choice to lead our organization into the future," said NCGA board president C.E. Pugh in a statement. "She is familiar with all aspects of NCGA and is committed to our vision. She also knows our membership and is a respected leader in the natural foods industry. The board is confident that NCGA will excel under Robynn's leadership."
Since 2000, Shrader has been involved with NCGA in roles ranging from executive director to interim c.e.o. and director of marketing and communications since 2000. She developed the startup association, founded in 1999; expanded organizational capacity to grow and develop the national Cooperative Advantage Program, and supported the NCGA board's initiative to reorganize the cooperative grocers association network in 2003 and 2004.
"I'm humbled and excited by this opportunity," said Shrader. "I greatly appreciate Don's diligent work on behalf of the organization and its membership, and he'll continue to be an invaluable resource to NCGA. I look forward to serving our members and working towards our vision to ensure food co-ops are a powerful and unified driving force within the dynamic and growing natural food industry."
McLemore, who joined NCGA as its first c.e.o. in 2004, the first year of transition to the reorganized association, will continue working with the organization as a consultant on various projects.
"I am pleased with the progress made in a short time period, and...the foundation established for continued improvement in the coming years," noted McLemore. "I am especially proud of the staff's contributions and our members' support in our first full year of operation. NCGA has quickly positioned itself as a strong organization that will give voice to the nation's food cooperatives and provide leadership on their behalf."
NCGA's mission is to provide the vision, leadership, and systems to prominently position a virtual chain of food co-ops within the natural foods industry. NCGA members take part in the Cooperative Advantage Program, which provides coordinated ad support, temporary price reductions, demo support, consumer education, and a variety of marketing tools. Membership also includes participation in Common Cooperative Financial Statements, which offers an opportunity for collecting and analyzing data from co-ops across the country to identify best practices and benchmarks for enhanced operational performance.