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Employment and Jobs

New Frontiers in Employee Ownership Finance


Financing employee ownership conversions has been a long-standing challenge to growth. But new funds and investors from across the financial sector are coming on board. And many more opportunities appear on the horizon as institutional investors are beginning to explore how to get involved. This panel of finance experts will highlight some emerging finance models and the opportunities and challenges of financing the growth of employee ownership in the decade to come.


Amy Brakeman

Co-Founder, Unlock Ownership Fund

Amy Brakeman is committed to the transfer of wealth and decision-making power to historically underinvested people and communities through the strategic deployment of financial resources. Amy co-founded Unlock Ownership as a multi-donor fund making catalytic investments in early-stage initiatives. Its goal is to accelerate the development of equitable asset ownership. Amy holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard Business School, and resides in Cambridge MA. 

Phil Reeves

Founding Partner, Apis & Heritage Capital Partners

Philip Reeves is a founding partner at Apis & Heritage Capital Partners, a private credit fund that preserves legacies for founders, delivers impact and returns for investors, and builds wealth for workers of color using employee ownership. Based in Washington DC, Philip oversees all aspects of the firm’s activities and is a permanent member of the investment committee. Philip is responsible for the firm’s investment process and leads debt capital raises. He also brings more than a decade of experience scaling small businesses to A&H’s portfolio companies.

Prior to founding A&H, Philip spent the majority of his career working with small businesses in private, public and nonprofit roles. He led business and corporate development at a growing government contractor and also managed an accelerator program for 1863 Ventures, which focuses on helping minority and women owned businesses grow and succeed. Philip has also worked in government, acting as Manager of Small Business Technology and Innovation for the Government of the District of Columbia.

Philip began his career at Lehman Brothers in the private equity division. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College and is deeply committed to using the power of business to bring positive change.

Zoe Schlag

Cofounder and Managing Partner, Common Trust,
Executive Fellow, Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing

Zoe is a co-founder and managing partner at Common Trust and has spent her career as an entrepreneur and investor. Prior to Common Trust, Zoe served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Eric Schmidt’s family office, where she designed and led their shared ownership investing. Before that, she was a managing director at Techstars, a global venture capital financing platform investing in about 500 startups annually with a combined portfolio market cap of $63.3 billion. Zoe led Techstars’ first impact fund and accelerator program, investing in 74 companies. Before Techstars, Zoe founded and served as CEO of UnLtd USA, an impact investment fellowship program, in which she led the effort to join forces with Techstars in 2017 to launch Techstars Impact.

 Zoe began her career in international development, working with ex-guerrilla fighters on an organic coffee farm in Guatemala, and later with child laborers and their families in rural Argentina, before transitioning into impact investing in India. Over Zoe’s career, she has worked with mission-driven founders and investors from seed through growth and exit. Zoe is an Aspen Ideas scholar at the Aspen Institute, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Tufts University.v

Jim Sorenson

Founder, Sorenson Impact Group

(Bio forthcoming)


Melissa Hoover

Senior Fellow, Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing,
Special Projects Director, Democracy at Work Institute

Melissa Hoover is a senior fellow at the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, where she studies emerging forms of employee ownership intended to address inequality. She is also the director of special projects at Democracy at Work Institute, working closely with DAWI partner Apis & Heritage’s Legacy Fund. A leader in employee ownership for nearly twenty years, Melissa was the founding executive director of Democracy at Work Institute for ten years, growing it from the ground up. Prior to that, she was the first executive director of the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives and a worker cooperative developer with the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives. 

She serves as a strategic advisor to organizations of all types that want to incorporate worker ownership into their economic development and community wealth-building programs, and she currently sits on the board of directors of The ICA Group, Fund for Jobs Worth Owning, and Safe Passages of Oakland.

Event information
Wed Apr 10, 2024