Employment and Jobs

Ownership on the March: Recent Progress in Supporting Employee Ownership

July 6, 2023  • Economic Opportunities Program & Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University

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Congress has taken important steps in the last couple of years to support the growth of employee ownership in the US. Bipartisan legislation such as the Main Street Employee Ownership Act and the WORK Act have recently passed and hold great potential for helping more businesses to become employee-owned through ESOPs and worker-owned cooperatives.

In this conversation, speakers discuss the implications of recent legislation and what more needs to be done to help more workers become owners. It features a panel discussion with James Bonham (President, The ESOP Association), Ken Baker (CEO, NewAge Industries), Ike Brannon (President, Capitol Policy Analytics; Senior Fellow, Jack Kemp Foundation), Haydee Caldero (Senior Vice President / Finance & Strategy, Crêpes à Latte), and moderator Eleanor Mueller (Economics Reporter, Politico).

The discussion was held on June 14, 2023, as part of the Employee Ownership Ideas Forum, co-hosted by the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program and the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University. This two-day convening brought together leading policymakers, practitioners, experts, and the media for a robust discussion on how we can grow employee ownership for the shared benefit of American workers and businesses. Learn more: https://www.aspeninstitute.org/events/employee-ownership-ideas-forum/


Video: Hear @JamesJBonham, @coachbuckethead, @HCDignitas, Ken Baker, and @eleanor_ mueller discuss recent progress in supporting #EmployeeOwnership.



Conversations from the Employee Ownership Ideas Forum



photo of James Bonham
James Bonham

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.



photo of Ken BakerKen Baker

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.



headshot of Ike BrannonIke Brannon

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.



Haydee Caldero

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.



photo of Eleanor Mueller - employee ownership moderatorEleanor Mueller (Moderator)

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.