CEO of NewAge® Industries/AdvantaPure®
Ken is the CEO of NewAge Industries, a plastic, rubber, tubing, hose manufacturer and a RFID tag solutions provider located in Southampton, Pennsylvania and providing service to customers across the country and around the world. A family-owned business that originated in 1954. Ken Baker joined the business in 1985, as the second generation of his family to carry on its successes of the family business. Since coming on board, Ken has taken NewAge Industries to new heights. The NewAge industries’ AdvantaPure division produces platinum-cured silicone tubing, single use systems and more with a mission to become the premiere company for high purity tubing and other fluid flowing products used in the Pharmaceutical, Biomedical, Biopharmaceutical, and Food and Beverages industries globally. Ken Baker has been recognized as a leader in business and NewAge Industries has been a finalist of “Top Small Company Workplace” 2 years running and the winner of the Warton Family Business of the year award. Committed to being a sustainable company, NewAge Industries has one of the largest solar arrays in Pennsylvania, being landfill free with an extensive recycling program. NewAge Industries was awarded the PennFuture Green Power award in 2011, being now 100% renewable energy company. NewAge is a certified B Corporation.
In 2006, Ken established the company’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and its employees now own 100% of the company. Ken is a founding member and Chairman of the Pennsylvania Center for Employee Ownership (PCEO), an organization designed to raise awareness and increase the number of employee-owned companies in Pennsylvania. Ken is also a founding board member of the EOeX. Ken is committed to the success of ESOPs, and he spends time speaking about ESOPs to other CEOs at local and national events.
Economics Correspondent, Washington Post
Abha is the economics correspondent at The Washington Post, where she writes about housing, jobs, inequality and workers’ issues. She was previously the Post’s retail reporter and won a Gerald Loeb Award for her coverage of essential workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. Abha is a graduate of Northwestern University.
Robert Beyster Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University and
Director of the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University.
Joseph Blasi is the J. Robert Beyster Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University and Director of the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University. The Institute is the world’s largest academic institute addressing all forms of capital shares for employees and citizens, including broad-based equity compensation plans, ESOPs, worker cooperatives, citizen dividend programs, profit sharing, and gain sharing. It sponsors empirical research, a competitive fellowship program, academic conferences, a Shares Laboratory, a curriculum library, and a policy analysis unit. Blasi is author of The Citizens Share (Yale University Press, 2014), Shared Capitalism at Work (NBER and University of Chicago Press, 2010), In the Company of Owners (2003, Basic Books), and The New Owners: Employee Ownership in Publicly-traded Companies (1990, HarperCollins), with colleagues, among other books and articles. He was Visiting Professor at Princeton University (2014-2015), Yale University (1997-1998), and a member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study. He is a faculty member in the School of Management and Labor Relations and is an economic sociologist with an Ed.D. from Harvard University.
President and CEO, The ESOP Association
From The ESOP Association’s national headquarters in Washington, DC, James Bonham serves as President and CEO, leading The Association and its 18 state and regional chapters throughout the nation. Bonham also serves as President of the Employee Ownership Foundation, whose mission is to educate and expand employee ownership throughout the United States.Bonham is a recognized expert in public policy, government advocacy, and executive leadership. He brings more than 25 years of experience as a high level government official, advisor, and business leader with expertise in the fields of taxes, labor, financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, and government contracting.
Before joining The Association, Bonham was Chairman for nearly eight years of the highly regarded Public Policy and Government Relations practice at Manatt, Phelps, & Phillips, LLP, a nationally recognized law and business consulting firm. In this role, Bonham led teams of lawyers, policy experts, and advocates representing clients as diverse as New York Life, The Recording Academy (Grammy’s), StarKist, and the American Land Title Association.During a decade of public service, Bonham held multiple senior staff positions, including Chief of Staff in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, where he was frequently cited in the media as one of the 50 most influential aides of either political party. His passion for shared capitalism springs from a family commitment to employee ownership: His grandfather had a personal and professional relationship with James Cash (J.C.) Penney, based partly on a shared business philosophy. One of their beliefs was granting a form of ownership to employees in the small mercantile businesses they ran. Bonham is proud to carry on today his family tradition of expanding employee ownership.
President and CEO, Windings, Inc.
Respected as a credible voice in Employee Ownership and as a decision maker adept at establishing governance boundaries. Heather earns a seat at the table wherever she serves. She is currently the President and CEO of Windings, Inc. and a member of the company’s Board of Directors. Heather joined Windings, Inc. in late 2015 as Chief Financial Officer and rapidly progressed to the President and CEO in 2016. In a short time, Heather continues to lead this 100% employee-owned (ESOP) company in New Ulm, Minnesota to a heightened sense of ownership, self-direction, and accountability. She is now spearheading major strategic shifts to growing market share through innovation and acquisitions.
Heather is a Fellow Chartered Certified Accountant (FCCA) and holds an MBA (International Finance) from Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, England. She has over twenty-five years of senior leadership experience and a proven track record of results driven leadership and effective team management. Heather currently serves on the boards of Ever-Green Energy of St. Paul, MN and Braun Intertec Corporation (100% ESOP in MN) and Loftness Equipment (100% ESOP in Hector MN). Heather recently completed her term as director with Second Harvest Heartland (MN) and the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce (MN). Heather continues to be very active in the ESOP community and with several business industry councils in Southern Minnesota.
Senior Program Officer, The Ford Foundation
Margot Brandenburg is a senior program officer on the Ford Foundation’s Mission Investments team, focused on building and strengthening the infrastructure of the impact investment market—with an eye to shaping the broader capital markets. She has spent two decades working at the intersection of philanthropy, capital markets, and social and environmental justice. Prior to joining Ford, Margot served as founder and CEO of MyStrongHome, a benefit corporation delivering resilience finance services to homeowners across the Southeast and Gulf Coast of the US. Before that, she helped design and lead the impact investing initiative at the Rockefeller Foundation. She co-authored the book The Power of Impact Investing with former RF president Judith Rodin. While at Rockefeller, she also focused on job creation and issues of economic security for low-wage workers.
Margot began her career in international microfinance and has worked with several community development finance institutions in the US. She serves on the boards of the Workers Lab, Brooklyn Cooperative Credit Union, and the Woodcock Foundation, and as an adviser to the National Domestic Workers Alliance as well as the National Energy Improvement Fund.
She received a master’s in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and holds an undergraduate degree from Stanford University.
President of Capitol Policy Analytics
Senior Fellow at the Jack Kemp Foundation
Ike Brannon is president of Capital Policy Analytics. He is a Washington, D.C.-based economist who writes frequently on public policy issues. Brannon is a senior fellow at the Jack Kemp Foundation. Brannon also leads the Savings and Retirement Foundation, the Sports Caucus and the Prosperity Caucus. Brannon previously worked as a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the George W. Bush Institute. He also directed economic policy for the American Action Forum. Brannon spent nearly a decade in government, serving as the chief economist for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chief economist for the Republican Policy Committee, senior adviser for tax policy at the U.S. Treasury, principal economic adviser for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on the Senate Finance Committee, chief economist for the Joint Economic Committee and senior economist for the Office of Management and Budget. Brannon was the chief economist for the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Brannon was also an associate professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. He has a Ph.D. in economics from Indiana University and a B.A. in math, Spanish, and economics from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.
Founding Partner of GRITT Business Coaching
Member of the Colorado Commission of the Office of Employee Ownership
Jennifer is a contract executive working on boards and as a strategic advisor focusing on change and brand. Jennifer has been involved in multiple industries including tech, construction, engineering with a primary focus on food and alcohol. Jennifer is a founding partner of GRITT Business Coaching and her work proves that business can be done differently – purpose-centered, mission-driven, and values-powered using tenants of inclusive capitalism to attain success. She is a Rutgers University Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing Executive Fellow and Commissioner and former Chair of the Colorado Commission of the Office of Employee Ownership in the Office of Economic Development. She holds a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, graduate studies in Enterprise Project Management, studies in behavioral economics and a Bachelor of Science in Community Health. She was a member of the New Belgium Brewing executive leadership team for over a decade as VP of Organizational Development, a turnaround CEO in the brewing industry, board member to PFS Brands, EEI, Brinkman Construction and served as Chairperson of the Board for GISinc. She was named person of the year in the bev-alc industry by Brewbound and a Signifier by Good Beer Hunting in 2022.
Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
Alex Brill is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies the impact of tax policy on the US economy as well as the fiscal, economic, and political consequences of tax, budget, health care, retirement security, and trade policies. He also works on health care reform, pharmaceutical spending and drug innovation, and unemployment insurance reform. Brill is the editor of Carbon Tax Policy: A Conservative Dialogue on Pro-Growth Opportunities (2017) and the coauthor, with Alan D. Viard, of The Real Tax Burden: More Than Dollars and Cents (2011). He has testified numerous times before Congress on tax policy, labor markets and unemployment insurance, Social Security reform, fiscal stimulus, the manufacturing sector, and biologic drug competition. Before joining AEI, Brill served as the policy director and chief economist of the House Ways and Means Committee. Previously, he served on the staff of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. He has also served on the staff of the President’s Fiscal Commission (Simpson-Bowles) and the Republican Platform Committee (2008). Brill has an MA in mathematical finance from Boston University and a BA in economics from Tufts University.
Senior Vice President and Quality Office Director for HDR.
Residing in the DC Metro area, Jerome interacts with company leadership and employees globally, working to ensure that HDR’s risk position is being effectively managed. In addition to being HDR’s Quality Office Director, Jerome serves on the HDR Foundation’s Board of Directors. The HDR Foundation is centered on helping the communities HDR calls home and focuses on Education, Healthy Communities, and Environmental Stewardship. As the former chair of the HDR San Diego Total Service Organization (TSO) committee, Jerome was responsible for listening to the customer, continuously improving business and recognizing team member efforts. He was instrumental in community outreach and bringing HDR into various community service activities. Before HDR, he worked in an R&D division of Daimler/Benz in San Diego. It was there he played an active role on a cutting-edge team in developing fuel-cell-powered vehicles. While there, he also engaged in design consulting at SpaceDev, a small commercial satellite development company.
Jerome is an advisory board member for the Stevens Institute of Technology Schaefer School of Engineering, is a national corporate council member for National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), and sits on the strategic planning committee for the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO). He has previously served on the California Polytechnic State University’s Dean’s Advisory Council and the University of California San Diego Industry Advisory Board for Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA). In addition, he has held several regional and national leadership positions in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Professionals. He is a two-time recipient of the NSBE National Leadership Award, NSBE Professional National Member of the Year, NSBE Professional Board Member of the Year and the San Diego Urban League Young Professional of the Year. A native of Northern California’s Central Valley, Jerome earned his Bachelor of Engineering in mechanical engineering with a concentration in manufacturing technologies at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. While a student, he served as the chapter president of the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi.
Senior Vice President / Finance & Strategy, Crêpes à Latte
In 2018, Haydee oversaw Crêpes à Latte’s transformation into a 100% employee-owned company. She is passionate about ensuring ESOPs can continue to create generational wealth for their workers and the local communities they serve. As SVP of Crêpes à Latte (CAL), the market leader in experiential hospitality, she oversees the alignment of the Company’s growth strategy with its essential resources: talent, capital, and physical. As part of the Executive leadership team, she has led efforts to identify new sources of revenue, achieve 80%+ annual client retention rates, and new market entry. The Company was awarded the Inc 5000 ranking as one of the fastest-growing companies in America from 2018 to 2020.
Before joining Crêpes à Latte, Haydee Caldero was a Principal and co-founder of Dignitas, which was sold to a $5B+ AUM financial services firm in 2017. At Dignitas, she advised a portfolio of 50+ business owners on enhancing the value of their Company. Her work included advising owners of fast-growth companies regarding succession planning, acquisitions and dispositions, corporate finance, and capital structure. She has served as an advisor to executives of closely held enterprises ranging from startups to companies with over $150 million in revenue throughout her career. Before forming Dignitas, she worked at Eastdil Secured, a real estate investment bank. There she advised high net worth individuals and financial institutions on the disposition and recapitalization of over $5.0 billion in trophy commercial real estate throughout the United States. Haydee graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School and her B.A. from Wesleyan University. She currently sits on the board of the National Center for Employee Ownership and is a Founding Member of Chief. As a Trustee for the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, a $3B pension fund, she served as a fiduciary of investment policy and fund allocation decisions. She has also served on the Board of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, North Branch Works, the Governor’s Board for the Steppenwolf Theatre Auxiliary Committee, and as the Treasurer of the Harvard Business School Club of Chicago.
The Honorable Ben Cardin
US Senator for the state of Maryland
Managing Director, ESOP Advisory Group Head,
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Regina Carls is Managing Director of the ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) Advisory Group. She is dedicated to helping bankers and their privately held clients evaluate the benefits of selling stock to an ESOP and therefore creating liquidity for the owners in the transaction. Regina was responsible for the initial development of the ESOP Advisory Group. She quickly became a liaison with all areas of the firm assisting in the analysis and structuring of complex ESOP financings. Regina has been with J.P. Morgan for 30 years. Prior to spearheading the ESOP Advisory Group, she was a division manager within Middle Market Banking. She has gained broad experience during her career within the firm. Regina received a Bachelor of Business degree in Finance from the University of Iowa and holds a Master of Business Administration from DePaul University. She is licensed by FINRA with a Series 24, Series 63 and Series 79. Regina is a recognized expert and frequent speaker in the ESOP Community. In 2014, Regina was appointed to the Advisory Committee of ESCA (Employee-Owned S Corporations of America). She is a member of the ESOP Association headquartered in Washington, D.C and serves on their Banking and Finance Committee. Additionally, Regina is an active member of the National Center for Employee Ownership and Ohio Employee Ownership Center.
Senior Manager of Policy and Programs, US Impact Investing Alliance
John is Senior Manager, Policy & Programs, at the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance. The Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to building the impact investing ecosystem by bridging market gaps and addressing shared challenges. At the Alliance, John helps to lead a range of program areas, including public policy advocacy, investor engagement and education, and the work of the Global Steering Group on Impact Investing. Prior to joining the Alliance in 2017, John was Associate Director for Social Innovation at the Council on Foundations, where he created impact investing programs to educate and train community, corporate and private. He has also worked with the Inter-American Development Bank, White House Business Council, U.S. State Department, and Morgan Stanley.
Vice President, The Aspen Institute;
Executive Director, Economic Opportunities Program
Maureen Conway serves as vice president at the Aspen Institute and as executive director of the Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program (EOP). EOP works to expand individuals’ opportunities to connect to quality work, start businesses, and build economic stability that provides the freedom to pursue opportunity. Link to Maureen’s full biography
Robynn J.A. Cox, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in the School of Public Policy, University of California-Riverside
Dr. Robynn Cox is an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside, NBER research economist, senior scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute, and faculty affiliate at the Presley Center for Crime & Justice. Her expertise is centered at the intersection of the criminal legal system (CLS) and inequality. She is concerned with understanding barriers faced by marginalized communities, with an emphasis on those disproportionately faced by the Black community, as well as the systemic/structural/institutional factors that have led to the social exclusion of marginalized groups. Specifically, her research has focused on understanding the social, economic, and health consequences of mass incarceration policies. Her work is centered on an aspect of the Black American experience – interaction with the criminal legal system – that is pervasive and has an impact on almost every facet of life for this community.
An interdisciplinary scholar, Cox’s research and publications include the topics of crime, housing, labor, aging, and health. She has published in various journals. Cox was selected as a Wawa Fellow and Kelso Fellow at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations’ Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing. Cox is a member of the advisory committee for the National Academy of Medicine’s Culture of Health Program (CoHP) and has previously served as an elected board member of the National Economic Association (NEA). Prior to her appointment at UC Riverside, Cox held faculty appointments at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the Economics Department at Spelman College. She was also a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Economics at Duke University. She earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in economics from Georgia State University, where she was awarded the Andrew Young Fellowship. Cox completed her undergraduate studies at Duke University, where she obtained her AB in economics and Spanish and Latin American studies.
President, Concerned Capital
Tomás has more than 15 years of economic development experience in low income communities of Southern California. He applies his finance, new market tax credits, and redevelopment skills to develop creative and innovative economic development solutions for private businesses. Prior to this role, Tomás worked as a Program Manager for the Whittier Redevelopment Agency and Vice President of Real Estate for Genesis LA Economic Growth Corp. In addition to CC, he teaches a class as a part time instructor for the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. Tomás also serves on the board of Common Future., the New Market Tax Credit Community Advisory Board for Dudley Ventures Community Investment and is a fellow in the Aspen Foundation’s Job Quality Fellowship.
Tomás has a master’s degree in Planning from the University of Southern California.
Dean at the School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University
Adrienne is Distinguished Professor of Labor Studies and Employment Relations at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in the USA. Her research focuses on labor-management partnerships, union organizing, and the impact of unionization on particular occupational groups including managerial workers, graduate student employees, and, most recently, informal workers. She’s the co-editor of the book Informal Workers and Collective Action: A Global Perspective and co-author along with Tom Kochan, Paul Adler and Robert McKersie of the book, Healing Together: The Kaiser Permanente Labor-Management Partnership, and author of numerous articles published in journals like Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Industrial Relations, Labor Studies Journal, and Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations. She is a former member of the NJ Public Employment Relations Commission, former President of the Rutgers chapter of AAUP-AFT, and Past President of the Labor and Employment Relations Association.
CEO, Project Equity
Evan began his career as the International Business Manager at an early leading technology start-up, Quarterdeck Corporation. Bitten by the start-up bug, he spent following years in leadership and consulting roles at a variety of early stage enterprise including Bid.com (Northcore Technologies), Mediaseek Technology and Planesia Corp. Guided by a shift in personal and professional priorities, Evan moved into the non-profit sector as Executive Director at YMCA Corporation of Los Angeles, leading the turnaround of an under-performing business unit. Driven by the value of social enterprises and the vision of a generative economy, Evan’s work with Project Equity creates strong collaborative partnerships across sectors. Evan is a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL (a proud supporter of Wildcat football!), and has certification from Stelter in Professional Fundraising Management. When not working he’s playing sports, walking his dogs or cooking a great meal from scratch.
Co-Founder, The Drivers Cooperative
Erik Forman is co-founder of The Drivers Cooperative, the first driver-owned rideshare platform cooperative in the United States, as well as People’s Choice Communications, the world’s first worker-owned internet service provider, launched by striking cable technicians. He is currently working with the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust on new, inclusive economic development strategies to address the housing crisis. Before turning toward cooperative development as a strategy for system change, Erik was active in the labor movement for over 15 years, leading groundbreaking unionization campaigns in the fast food industry and conducting organizing trainings and workshops across the world. Erik is pursuing a doctorate in cultural anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center. He was a 2022-23 Job Quality Fellow at the Aspen Institute.
Founder & CEO of Empowered Ventures
Chris founded Empowered Ventures, serves as president & CEO, and is a member of the board of directors. Chris has a diverse background in management, accounting and finance, business valuations, mergers and acquisitions, operations, people development, and strategy. In 2010, he proposed and led the acquisition of TVF (www.tvfinc.com) on behalf of the employees using an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), which enabled a successful ownership transition for the founder. After overseeing a decade of success as an employee-owned company, Chris and TVF launched Empowered Ventures (www.empowered.ventures) in 2020 to grow and diversify the ESOP through acquisition.
Inspired by TVF’s transformative employee ownership experience, Chris led Empowered Ventures to define its purpose which is to perpetually create life-changing financial and personal wellbeing outcomes for its employee owners. Chris resides near Burlington, Vermont, having relocated from his home state of Indiana in 2022. He is a graduate of Indiana University Bloomington’s Kelley School of Business with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. A former CPA, Chris started his career in public accounting in the nonprofit sector before joining TVF in 2005, where he served in various positions including chief financial officer, before serving as president from April 2010 through March 2021.
Richard B. Freeman
Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics, Harvard University
Richard holds the Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics, at Harvard University. He is a Research Associate at the NBER, and is currently serving as Faculty co-director of the Center for Labor and a Just Economy at the Harvard Law School. Professor Freeman is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science and the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). He is currently serving on the AAAS Initiative for Science and Technology. Freeman received the Mincer Lifetime Achievement Prize from the Society of Labor Economics in 2006. In 2007 he was awarded the IZA Prize in Labor Economics. In 2011 he was appointed Frances Perkins Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. In 2016 he received the Global Equity Organization (GEO) Judges Award, honoring exceptional contribution towards the promotion of of global employee share ownership. Also in 2016, he was named a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association; the award citation describes Richard as “an enormously innovative labor economist who has made pioneering contributions to virtually every aspect of the field.”
Professor Freeman’s research interests include the job market for scientists and engineers; the transformation of scientific ideas into innovations, Chinese and Korean labor markets; the effects of AI and robots on the job market; and forms of labor market representation and employee ownership.
Executive Vice President, The Aspen Institute
Elliot is the executive vice president at the Aspen Institute responsible for its Policy Programs, its Public Programs and its relations with its International Partners. The Institute’s Policy Programs focus on both domestic and international issues. They foster candid dialogue among leaders and policy experts of diverse views, advocate new policy, host leadership fellowships, and work for impact in communities, nationally, and globally. The Institute’s public programs – including the Aspen Ideas Festival, The Aspen Security Forum, Aspen Ideas Health, Aspen Ideas: Climate, CityLab, and many smaller programs across the country and world – open the Institute’s doors to a broader audience and further both its educational goals and its promotion of ideas to lead to action. The Institute has International Partners based in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Romania, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine. Gerson also administers the US Rhodes Scholarships. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, a US Supreme Court clerk, practiced law in government and privately, held executive positions in state and federal government and on a presidential campaign, and was president of start-ups in healthcare and education, and of two leading national insurance and health-care companies. He has served on many non-profit boards, especially in the arts.
Founder, Partner at Mosaic Capital
Bill currently sits on the Board of Directors of Express Medical Transporters, ETAK Systems, and Linxx Global Solutions.
Prior to founding Mosaic Capital, Bill was Head of Corporate Credit for Deerfield Capital Management and Managing Director with Babson Capital Management. Bill is a graduate of The Citadel where he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army. Mosaic Capital provides mezzanine debt and equity to middle market companies with greater than $10 million in revenues for change of control transactions. We recognize that a family-owned business is more than a means of wealth creation. It’s the manifestation of optimism, determination and a willingness to take risks – key values worthy of passing on to the next generation of family, management and employees.
Economic Development Specialist, Veteran Business Development Officer
Washington Metropolitan Area District Office
U.S. Small Business Administration
Senior Fellow at the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, and Founder and Co-Executive Director, Democracy at Work Institute
Melissa is the founder and Co-Executive Director of the Democracy at Work Institute, which expands worker ownership as a strategy for people locked out of good jobs and business ownership. Under Melissa’s leadership, DAWI helped incubate the $58 million Legacy Fund, and partners with A&H Capital to provide organizational development consulting and impact metrics support to employee-owned portfolio companies. Melissa is an Executive Fellow of the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, and she advises nonprofits, investors, foundations and policymakers on effective interventions to support employee ownership as a tool for racial and social equity. Melissa helped start and grow the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the national grassroots membership organization for worker-owned businesses; she got her start as a cooperative business developer in the Bay Area, helping launch and grow several successful cooperative businesses. She holds a B.A. in History from Stanford University.
The Honorable Chrissy Houlahan
US Congresswoman for the State of Pennsylvania
Vice President, Inclusive Solutions, Prudential Financial
Sarah S. Keh is a vice president of Inclusive Solutions at Prudential Financial. In her current role, she leads strategic philanthropy and partnerships to help advance the company’s purpose and commitment to inclusive economic growth. She oversees philanthropic grants, business integration partnerships, and employee community engagement programs to expand work and wealth opportunities for financially vulnerable populations, build inclusive and equitable communities, advance racial equity and justice, and support disaster response and recovery efforts. Sarah currently serves on the board of JerseyCAN, the Devils Youth Foundation, and on the investment committee of PGIM Real Estate’s Impact Value Partners. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wellesley College and a master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Felice B. Klein
Assistant Professor of Management, Boise State University
Felice is an Assistant Professor of Management at Boise State University. Previously, she was a faculty member at Michigan State University and received her Ph.D. from Cornell University. Broadly speaking, her research focuses on compensation and inequality in the workplace. In her current research, she studies the role of gender on differences in compensation and leadership and is particularly interested in the individual and organizational efforts that help reduce inequities in the workplace. Klein’s research has appeared in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, and Industrial Relations, and has been covered by several media outlets such as Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, and Boise State Public Radio. Her popular press writing has appeared in The Conversation, Fast Company, BBC News, Yahoo News, and Salon. Her work has received numerous awards, including being named a finalist for the 2022 Scholarly Achievement Award and receiving the 2019 Best Convention Paper Award, both from Academy of Management’s HR Division. She also received the 2013 Emerging Scholar Award in Employee Participation and Ownership from the HR Division of AOM, the Foundation for Enterprise Development, the Employee Ownership Foundation, and the Equity Administration, Inc.
Editor, American Affairs
Julius is the founder and editor of American Affairs, a quarterly policy journal. Previously, he was an investment analyst at multiple alternative asset managers. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and other publications.
Distinguished Professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University
Douglas is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (Cambridge, MA), and a Research Fellow at the IZA Institute for the Study of Labor (Bonn, Germany). Dr. Kruse served as Senior Economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers in 2013-2014. He received an M.A. in Economics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University. His research has focused on the employment and earnings effects of disability, and the causes, consequences, and implications of employee ownership and profit sharing.
Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts-Amherst;
Co-Director of the University of Massachusetts Center for Employment Equity
Fidan is a Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Co-Director of the University of Massachusetts Center for Employment Equity. She has published extensively on a variety of topics including broad-based employee share ownership and democratic workplace practices, gender and race diversity at U.S. workplaces, and the impacts of U.S. Civil Rights legislation and anti-discrimination regulation. She is a former Women and Public Policy Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Wertheim Fellow at Harvard Law School. She has won numerous awards for her research including a Beyster Fellowship on Democratic Workplaces, and an Early Career Research Award from the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. She has been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, and the Arnold Foundation, among other sources. Professor Kurtulus received her A.B. from the University of Chicago, graduating with high honors in economics. She obtained her Ph.D. in economics from Cornell University.
Co-Founder, Apis & Heritage Capital Partners
Todd is Co-Founder of Apis & Heritage Capital Partners, an impact-focused private equity firm that looks to address the nation’s racial wealth gap by using the power of employee ownership. Prior to co-founding Apis & Heritage, Todd was the Program Manager of Legacy Business Initiatives at the Democracy At Work Institute, a national nonprofit that leverages employee ownership models as tools for racial and social equity. Todd is also a former Wall Streeter, start-up co-founder, and independent business consultant who has dedicated his life and career to leveraging the tools and best practices of big business to empower communities of color. He received his JD/MBA from Columbia University and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College.
Shareholder, Stevens & Lee SES ESOP Strategies,
Project Director for the Rutgers-Kellogg Project at the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing
Sean-Tamba Matthew is a shareholder of the law firm Stevens & Lee and also works with its affiliated business, SES ESOP Strategies. He advises companies, business owners, boards of directors, and employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) trustees on transactional, corporate governance, and formation matters related to the design and implementation of ESOPs. Sean is a frequent guest speaker on a range of ESOP-related issues.
Sean is also a Kellogg Fellow at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations. There he coordinates the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing’s W.K. Kellogg Foundation program, which helps minority and female business owners and their advisors learn about employee ownership transitions. In addition, Sean is a member of the board of directors of Empowered Ventures, an ESOP-owned holding company headquartered in Indiana, an advisory board member of Talley Management Group, an employee-owned company based in New Jersey, and a member of the executive committee of The ESOP Association’s Public Policy Council. Sean was named among the 2021 Greater Philadelphia Region’s “40 Under 40” honorees by the Philadelphia Business Journal. He received his J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania.
Business and Innovation Reporter, NBC News
J.J. is a business and innovation reporter at NBC News where he focuses on socio-economic disparities and the ways in which business and money affect the day-to-day lives of Americans. Prior to joining NBC, he was a personal finance reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he reported on inflation and was a writer for the Young Money column. A graduate of Tuskegee University, J.J. previously covered topics including business, tech and marginalized communities for Inc., Fast Company and Entrepreneur as part of multiple ASME-award winning teams. He is a 2019 Best in Business honoree for the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing.
Executive Director, Ownership Works
Anna-Lisa Miller joined Ownership Works in August 2021 and serves as its founding Executive Director. She is responsible for the organization’s strategy, key partnerships, growth, and overall impact. Anna-Lisa’s career reflects a longstanding commitment to expanding shared ownership, advancing racial equity, and driving systemic change within business, government, and social structures. As an experienced nonprofit leader, she has a proven track record of developing organizations, programs, and partnerships that create social returns for stakeholders and communities. Previously, Anna-Lisa served as the Development Director at Project Equity, a peer organization that helps local businesses and communities discover the power of employee ownership.
Prior to this role, Anna-Lisa served as Chief Operating Officer of The Kohala Center, a Hawaii-based sustainable development organization, where she led teams to success across a diverse portfolio of programs spanning shared ownership to watershed restoration. In that role, she also served on the Executive Committee of the Hawaii Lieutenant Governor’s Farm to School Program, for which she received recognition from the Hawaii State Senate. Anna-Lisa began her career as a corporate attorney at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. She practiced law for five years in New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. in the areas of corporate and public finance. In 2014, she transitioned to the nonprofit sector to pursue her passion for expanding economic opportunity.
The Honorable Blake Moore
US Congressman for the State of Utah
A native of Ogden, Blake is a proactive problem solver committed to representing each and every constituent of Utah’s First District. He is dedicated to reflecting Utah’s values in Congress and finding solutions to the challenges facing the district and the state. Advocating for inclusive, pro-growth, and aspirational principles, Blake is amplifying Northern Utah’s voice on a national level to ensure Utahns receive the service and representation they deserve. Blake currently serves as the first-ever Utah Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, where he sits on the Healthcare, Social Security, and Work and Welfare subcommittees. He also serves on the House Budget Committee to push for policies to reverse our national debt crisis and advocate for Utah’s defense community. His passion for helping organizations manage the change process drives his ambition to overcome partisan gridlock, improve federal agencies, and smartly streamline the nation’s bureaucracy. Blake continues to represent Hill Air Force Base as co-chair of the Armed Forces and Depot caucuses.
Before being elected to Congress, Blake worked for small businesses and in the foreign service, experiences that now guide his work on domestic and foreign policy. Blake obtained a Master’s in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. He is married to Jane Boyer, his amazing, humorous, and very candid wife, who encourages him to take risks and pursue big things. Blake and Jane have four awesome and active boys who keep them on their toes!
Founder and Executive Director of Ownership America,
Assistant Director for Policy Analysis, Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, Rutgers University
Jack Moriarty is the Assistant Director for Policy Analysis, Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, Rutgers University. He is also the Founder and Executive Director of Ownership America, a think tank building the next generation ownership society. Ownership America is creating a movement for broad participation in ownership through policy development and organizing coalitions of grassroots advocates and across the country. Prior to Ownership America, Jack held a number of strategy and operations roles at early-stage healthcare delivery and technology companies. Jack received his MBA from the Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management where he was a Roy H. Park Leadership Fellow and named a 2020 “MBA to Watch” by Poets & Quants. Jack is the Policy Institute Analysis Fellow at the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing and was named to the Massachusetts Baby Bonds Task Force by Treasurer Deb Goldberg in 2022. He holds a BA and MA in Political Science from Boston University and is an AmeriCorps alumnus.
Economics Reporter, Politico
Eleanor is a reporter covering Congress for POLITICO’s economic policy teams. A graduate of the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill School of Journalism and Department of Government & Politics, Eleanor first joined POLITICO as a digital producer and copy editor. Before that, she reported out of newsrooms across Washington, including those of WJLA, CNN, McClatchy and USA TODAY. As an undergrad, she covered local and university politics for independent student newspaperThe Diamondback, as well as state politics for nonprofit student news organization Capital News Service. Eleanor is originally from the Seattle area, where she got her start as a high school student reporting for The Kirkland Reporter.
Assistant Secretary for Policy, US Department of Labor
Rajesh D. Nayak is the Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy (OASP) at the United States Department of Labor. Raj previously served in a range of senior roles at the Department during the Obama-Biden Administration, including as the Secretary’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, and Senior Counsel to the Solicitor. Outside of government, Raj has worked in nonprofit organizations both as an attorney and a senior leader, as a Fellow at the Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, and a consultant. He earned an undergraduate degree in public policy from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Yale.
Administrator, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, US Department of Agriculture
Prior to joining USDA Rural Development, Karama Neal served as president of Southern Bancorp Community Partners, a nonprofit community development loan fund and financial development organization promoting economic mobility in rural Arkansas and Mississippi. She spent twelve years at Southern and led their small business, consumer and other development lending, consumer and savings focused public policy work, and a variety of financial development services to help low and moderate wealth families and communities build wealth.
In 2013, Dr. Neal started a statewide grassroots organization promoting passage of the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act in Arkansas which was passed in 2015. This work was inspired by her family’s ownership of rural heirs’ property in the state. Before joining Southern, she had a career in the biosciences and worked for a period in biofuels informatics with a focus on feedstocks and balancing food and fuel priorities. For six years, Dr. Neal served on the board of the Little Rock Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. After completing her undergraduate degree in biology at Swarthmore College, Dr. Neal later earned a doctorate in genetics from Emory University and a master’s in bioethics and health policy from Loyola University Chicago. She also completed executive education in impact investing at the University of Oxford Said School of Business.
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, University of Missouri Kansas City
Erik K. Olsen Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Economics and Chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Missouri Kansas City and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University. He has published widely and made contributions in several fields of economics. Currently he is engaged in research on the effect of broad-based or cooperative employee ownership and participatory management on employee behavior, firm structure, performance, and survival. Other active areas of research include the creation and growth dynamics of employee owned and operated firms. Professor Olsen holds a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and teaches microeconomics, mathematical economics, and political economy at University of Missouri Kansas City.
Business Systems Analyst Manager & Employee-Owner, Web Industries, Inc.
Veronica is Web Industries’ Business Systems Analyst Manager, headquartered in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Throughout her near 19-year tenure at Web, Veronica has served in many different roles, but always, and most importantly, as an engaged employee-owner. In her current role, she supports process and system improvements throughout the organization via technical analysis and facilitation of fellow employee-owner teams. Veronica is a passionate ambassador of employee ownership and Web’s values. She is driven to improve and grow the business through collaboratively working with others to enhance the employee-ownership experience and the overall effort to build shared wealth. Veronica has served on several employee ownership teams within Web Industries, participated in many employee-ownership conferences, and previously served on the board of directors at the National Center for Employee Ownership.
Professor of Finance, Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina;
Associate Dean of the PhD Program and the Research Director, The Kenan Institute.
Paige is a professor of finance at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. She is also the Associate Dean of the PhD Program and the Research Director of the Kenan Institute. Her research agenda is concentrated at the juncture of finance and labor economics. She is interested in how decisions studied in finance impact employee stakeholders – specifically how those effects are reflected in firm performance and, hence, corporate finance decisions. Her work has been published in the American Economic Review, Journal of Finance, Review of Financial Studies and Journal of Financial Economics. She received her PhD and MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and her BA from Dartmouth College.
The Honorable Dean Phillips
US Congressman for the State of Minnesota
Robyn is a Managing Director at Infinite Equity, specializing in global equity compensation consulting for multinational employers. She has over 20 years of experience advising companies on all aspects of their equity compensation programs, including plan design and implementation, employee communications strategies, and administration efficiencies and optimization. Prior to joining Infinite Equity, Robyn held various leadership positions with Computershare, the Global Equity Organization (GEO), the National Association of Stock Plan Professionals (NASPP), and several San Diego based technology companies.
Robyn is an active board member for the Certified Equity Professional Institute, a frequent speaker on equity compensation topics, and co-author of the book, “If I’d Only Known That.” Robyn has a Bachelor of Arts in English from San Diego State University, a Paralegal Certificate (with honors) from the ABA Paralegal Program at the University of San Diego, and is a Fellow of Global Equity (FGE) and a Certified Equity Professional (CEP). She is based in San Diego.
Stephen R. Smith
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer AMSTED Industries Incorporated
Stephen is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at AMSTED Industries. Mr. Smith joined AMSTED in 2005 as president of Amsted Rail, became general counsel in 2007, was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer in 2017, and added the role of Chairman of the Board in 2018. Prior to joining AMSTED, from 1999 to 2005 Mr. Smith was general counsel and president of the shared services operations
in North America of GKN plc, a FTSE-traded UK diversified engineering company; and from 1991 to 1999 was vice president, secretary and general counsel of The Interlake Corporation, an NYSE-traded diversified manufacturing company.
He began his professional career in 1982 at the Chicago law firm of Hopkins & Sutter (since merged into Foley & Lardner), where he was a corporate partner and chairman of the corporate transactions group. Mr. Smith earned an A.B. degree in political science from Wheaton College (Illinois) with highest honor, and his J.D. degree from The University of Chicago Law School. Mr. Smith served as Board Chair of the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago from 2017 to 2021, and as Board Chair of
Employee-Owned S Corporations of America (ESCA) from 2014 to 2017. He is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago
and Commercial Club of Chicago. He is a past member of the Wheaton College Board of Visitors and the Visiting Committee of The University of Chicago Law School. Mr. Smith is a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Chicago. He previously served on the Board of Elders at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville, Illinois, where he chaired the Finance Committee. He lives in Chicago with his wife Linda. They have three adult children and two grandchildren.
Executive Director, Employee Ownership Expansion Network
Steve is the Executive Director of the Employee Ownership Expansion Network and board member of 7 State Centers for Employee Ownership across the country. Steve has been involved in the employee ownership industry for over 25 years, most recently as the Director of ESOP Administration for Alerus Retirement and Benefits where he worked closely with businesses in the creation of an ESOP and the technical administration/compliance required in subsequent years. Steve spent 11 years as a member of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota-Dakotas Chapter of the ESOP Association where also served as Chapter President and VP of Government Relations. Steve holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation from the University of Minnesota State Mankato.
The Honorable Chris Van Hollen
U.S. Senator for the state of Maryland
Elected to the United States Senate by the people of Maryland in November 2016, Chris Van Hollen is committed to fighting every day to ensure that our state and our country live up to their full promise of equal rights, equal justice, and equal opportunity. Sen. Van Hollen believes that every child deserves the opportunity to pursue their dreams and benefit from a quality education and that anyone willing to work hard should be able to find a good job. That’s why his top priorities include creating more and better jobs, strengthening small businesses, and increasing educational and job training opportunities for individuals of all ages and in every community.
Sen. Van Hollen started his time in public service as a member of the Maryland State Legislature, where he became known as a tenacious advocate for everyday Marylanders and someone who was unafraid to take on powerful special interests on behalf of working people. In 2002, he was elected to represent Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. In the House of Representatives, he served as a member of the Democratic leadership and was elected by his colleagues to be the Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee and protect vital interests like Social Security and Medicare.
A tireless fighter for the people of Maryland, Sen. Van Hollen has also become known for working hard to find commonsense solutions to difficult national issues. In January 2015, he released a comprehensive plan to address the problem of growing inequality in America and provide a blueprint for building an economy that works for everyone, a goal that he will continue to fight for in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Van Hollen is proud to have worked successfully with members of both parties to pass bipartisan legislation whenever possible on issues of common concern, including expanding medical research, protecting the Chesapeake Bay, fighting childhood cancer, and passing the ABLE Act to assist families with children with disabilities.
Sen. Van Hollen is a graduate of Swarthmore College, the John F. Kennedy School of Public Policy at Harvard University, and Georgetown University Law Center, where he attended night school. He and his wife, Katherine Wilkens, are the proud parents of three children, Anna, Nicholas, and Alexander.
Associate Professor of Accounting, The L. Mahlon Harrell Faculty Fellow Virginia Tech
Dr. Vance’s research examines the design and effects of executive and broad-based compensation plans. His recent papers address the role of proxy advisory firms in the design of executive compensation, how managers weight on-the-job performance vs. initial assessments of ability in making promotion decisions, and how employees respond to equity compensation plans, among other topics. Marshall’s research has been published in elite accounting and management journals, including Journal of Accounting Research, Management Science, and Journal of International Business Studies.
Marshall’s research has been recognized with multiple awards through the American Accounting Association, including twice receiving the Best Paper award at the Management Section Midyear Meeting. He has been awarded several competitive grants and fellowships to support his research, and Dr. Vance is a senior fellow of the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Marshall taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Southern California, and the Wharton School, where he received his PhD.
Jeanne K. Wardford
Program Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Jeanne Wardford is a program officer for Family Economic Security at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. In this role as a member of the Family Economic Security team, Wardford is responsible for advancing employment equity and business enterprise development focused policies, practices, strategies, and opportunities for effecting positive systemic change within communities aimed at creating conditions in which children can develop, learn, and grow. She works closely with staff to ensure integration and coordination of efforts.
Jeanne has dedicated her life to working for the betterment of individuals both in the public and private sector. Over the last two decades, she has held several positions of progressive leadership in both the public and private sector. Her interest has always been working to develop young people and the communities in which they live. Throughout her career, she has been recognized for her ability to get to the root of the problem and recommend fair, equitable, and oftentimes innovative solutions to age-old problems. She is known for her vigorous policy work and advocacy for children and families.
Prior to joining the foundation in 2015, Jeanne was director for national partnerships at NeighborWorks America in Washington DC. In this role, she built strategic collaborations with public and private investors and secured resources for the implementation of a national asset development program, which included financial education, literacy, coaching, and community development strategy. She has also worked in community development, fund development, and evaluation consulting for TaylarMade Consulting, Inc., where she worked with public, private, and academic sectors and their funding partners. Jeanne’s leadership in support of education, racial equity, and economic development is reflected not only in her day-to-day activities, but also in her membership on a variety of boards, including the Detroit Public Library Foundation; the Center for Community Progress; Warrior Women, a project of the Michigan Women’s Foundation; the National Women’s Business Council; Bowie State University Dean’s Advisory Council; and FAMU School of Allied Health Advisory Board.