Lesley Reznicek has been elected president of the Co-operative Group’s council.
The council, established in August as part of the governance reform, is the representative body of members within the society and its 100 elected members has the power to hold the board to account.
Ms Reznicek, from Gargrave, near Skipton, North Yorkshire, was a member of the Group’s north regional board.
In her statement upon election to the society’s old area committee structure, Ms Reznicek described retailing as her passion and said her upbringing was centred on co-operative values. She wrote: “I opened a current account with the Co-operative Bank at 18 and in my first job worked for Co-operative Retail Services. I am a member of the Co-operative Party.”
She has also worked for the employee-owned John Lewis as an assistant general manager for Waitrose. She said this gave her a wide-ranging selling experience, and that she worked with store managers on a “fair and effective way to implement change”.
Three vice-presidents have also been elected to the new council: Robin Stewart, from Giffnock, Glasgow; Tricia Davies, from Thatcham, Berkshire; and Jenny de Villiers, from East Leake, Nottinghamshire.
Following her election, Ms Reznicek said: “My family have been involved in co-operative democracy for over 100 years. It is, therefore, a real privilege that fellow councillors have shown great faith in a relative newcomer and elected me as the first president of the council.
“The council represents a new chapter in the development of co-operative democracy. It is an opportunity for both the business and the council to work together to ensure that our members are at the heart of everything that we do. The co-operative values and principles make us different to our competitors and they should be evident in all our decisions.”
All posts in the council will be held for an interim term until the full elections happen in 2015. If the president/vice-presidents are elected to the council, then they will be eligible to stand for a two-year term for those roles.