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Northside Planning Council - NPC

Revitalizing the Northside Planning Council

By Nikki Sanders & Terrie Anderson

The Northside Planning Council (NPC) has recently undergone significant changes in order to stabilize it financially and strengthen its role as a representative voice for the Northside.

We’ve heard time and again that the NPC lost touch with the community when we changed from a representative coalition structure to a smaller, more traditional board of directors. In 2013, we opened the Food Enterprise and Economic Development (FEED) Kitchens, an exciting new economic development engine for food businesses on the Northside and beyond. Operating a new brick-and-mortar social enterprise was a whole new function and the learning curve further diminished our ability to focus on neighborhoods and community capacity-building work.

We began 2015 in a tough financial situation and found ourselves without the resources to continue paying our Executive Director. For the last six months, we have been relying on volunteer board members, and only one full-time employee and two part-time employees to do all the work of NPC, FEED Kitchens and Northside News.

Our attempts at helping to support FEED were simply not enough, and fundraising shortfalls were jeopardizing NPC, FEED, and the Northside News. More was needed. More volunteers, a different skill set, more dedicated time, a new energy and a deeper experience base to help FEED reach sustainability so that NPC could once again thrive. Our organization had accomplished the amazing goal of getting FEED Kitchens built, but the task of supporting it to the point of self-sufficiency is the next critical step for NPC’s future.

Eight new members joined the board of directors of the Northside Planning Council this summer, and many of the former board members stepped down. A few people who worked on the incubator kitchen concept over the years were eager to jump back in and work on this next stage of development, and some other folks who’d watched it grow were interested in helping guide the Kitchen into Year 3.

Newly elected board members and officers include

• Lisa Wiese, Vice Chair

• Jill Jokela, Treasurer

• Lauri Lee, Secretary

• Terrie Anderson

• Chris Brockel

• Fatou Ceesay

• Dave Meyer

• Martee Mikalson

They joined Chair Nikki Sanders and board member Walt Stewart to form a 10-person strong board with the goal of stabilizing FEED and helping NPC return to its former strength as a truly representative coalition organization of Northside neighborhoods, nonprofits, businesses, churches, schools and other community groups. Having been without an Executive Director since January, NPC voted to appoint Abha Thakkar, Northside News Editor, as Interim Executive Director (at five to twenty hours per week, as funds allow).

We have created a new FEED Operations Committee, whose sole focus will be on the success of FEED. The goal is to increase outreach to build up the user base at a faster pace, bringing revenue in to meet all expenses. Part of making this plan work was a commitment by board members and other volunteers to help with the day-to-day operation of the Kitchens.

NPC will be convening several Community Action Teams (CATs) that will be open to any interested community member or institutional partner. These will focus on the following areas: Community Capacity-Building, North Star Awards 2015, FEED Marketing & Outreach, FEED Volunteer Development and FEED Business Incubation. In line with the legacy of NPC and the Northside News, we hope to integrate FEED into the life of the Northside and leverage its potential as a training ground for both grassroots leaders and new businesses.

We want the community to know what’s going on and to feel a deep sense of connection with NPC once again. Stay up-to-date with NPC meeting agendas, action items and weekly progress through our new blog on

NPC’s mission is to improve the quality of life for all members of the Northside community and to enhance opportunities for businesses. With a strong board of directors, focused committees and action teams, and an interim executive director who has strong ties to the community and a long history with NPC as a neighborhood organizer, the changes happening at NPC are sure to make that mission viable.

If you would like to discuss the future of NPC or get involved with this work, please contact any board or staff member. We can be reached at (608) 230-1221 or

Northside Planning Council

The mission of the Northside Planning Council is to improve the quality of life and foster equity on the Northside through community organizing and economic development.

Our Major Initiatives

Northside Economic Development Coalition

Northside Economic Development Coalition