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Marjorie Kelly is Executive Vice President and a Senior Fellow with The Democracy Collaborative, and the author, with Ted Howard, of The Making of a Democratic Economy. Her previous book, Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution, released in 2012 by Berrett-Koehler, has won a Nautilus Book Award. Kelly previously was a Fellow at Tellus Institute, and cofounder/President of Business Ethics magazine. For five years she was a lead consultant on the Ford Foundation’s WealthWorks initiative.

Recent Publications

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The Making of a Democratic Economy (with Ted Howard)

The Making of a Democratic Economy is a clarion call for a movement ready to get serious about transforming our economic system. Illuminating the principles of a democratic economy through the stories of on-the-ground community wealth builders and their unlikely accomplices in the halls of institutional power, this book is a must read for everyone concerned with how we win the fight for an economy that’s equitable, not extractive.

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Mission-led employee-owned firms: The best of the best

Mission-led employee-owned firms embody a powerful model of enterprise design for a new era of environmental sustainability and social equity.

This report shares the story of this emerging model, embodied in 50-plus firms that are employee-owned B Corporations and benefit corporations, plus dozens more employee-owned firms with strong social and ecological missions. These companies include Recology, a $1.2 billion waste management company guided by its vision of “a world without waste”; well-known brands such as Eileen Fisher and King Arthur Flour; and social enterprises such as Cooperative Home Care Associates, a company that employs 2000 women of color, mostly Latina, to care for elders and people with disabilities in New York City.

These companies offer a distinct alternative to the publicly owned corporation, which was designed for an era of in which large sums of capital were needed to fuel carbon-based industrial enterprises. Now we face new challenges—catastrophic climate change and growing wealth inequality—that demand new solutions. Among those solutions are new models of ownership, or what we are calling next generation enterprise design. Read more…

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Strategies for Financing the Inclusive Economy

Designed as a guidebook, this report seeks to demystify the financing of broad-based enterprise, and to show how and where these kinds of enterprises may be well positioned for job-creating growth. It was written with the hope of increasing understanding and comfort levels regarding financing these enterprises among financial service providers, impact investors, foundations, local government, community development leaders, and others. This guidebook forms the third part of a three-volume series, Building the Inclusive Economy, which focuses on the power of broad-based ownership models.
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Broad-Based Ownership Models as Tools for Job Creation and Community Development

As cities wrestle with the growing challenge of wealth inequality, more and more leaders are looking to broad-based ownership models as tools to create jobs and build community wealth. These models are highly effective, with a positive impact for low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. This report looks at six such models—ESOPs, Worker Cooperatives, CDFIs, Social Enterprises, Municipal Ownership, and Emerging Hybrids—with examples of best practices, and explores how these models can be used in community economic development.
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Cities Building Community Wealth

In cities across the nation, a few enjoy rising affluence while many struggle to get by. This situation is created in part by the practices of traditional economic development. Current trends threaten to worsen, unless we can answer the design challenge before us. Can we create an economic system—beginning at the local level—that builds the wealth and prosperity of everyone? This groundbreaking report, co-authored by Marjorie Kelly and Sarah McKinley of the Democracy Collaborative, profiles growing movement of municipal governments and organizations uniting to change the paradigm of economic development, truly showing the way forward to build community wealth.
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A New Anchor Mission for a New Century

It was in 2005 that the highly regarded Monitor Institute report declared that the field of community foundations was “On the Brink of New Promise,” and in the decade since, there have been countless working groups and initiatives to introduce innovative approaches to the field. At the same time, largely beneath the radar, a small but growing group has begun pursuing the innovative path we explore here. Mostly in small steps—but sometimes in larger ways—they are adopting elements of what could emerge as a new anchor mission to deploy all resources to build community wealth. Read more…

Owning Our Future

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Winner of the 2013 Nautilus Silver Book Award

In her 2012 book, Kelly explores many experiments with new forms of ownership, which she calls generative: aimed at creating the conditions for life for many generations to come. To understand these emerging alternatives, Kelly reports from all over the world, and finds the five essential patterns of ownership design that make these models work. And she explores how they may hold the key to the deep transformation that our civilization needs. Read more…

The Economy: Under New Ownership

In the Spring 2013 issue of Yes! Magazine, Kelly defines how cooperatives are leading the way to empowered workers and healthy communities. Read more…

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The Architecture of Enterprise: Redesigning Ownership for a Great Transition

In Volume 22 of The Good Society, Kelly contributes a piece for a symposium on Alternative to Capitalism edited by, and with a lead article by Gar Alperovitz and Steve Dubb of the Democracy Collaborative. For a free version of substantially the same piece, click here. To purchase the Good Society piece, click here.

Spotlight

Events

  • Money Talk - Financial Literacy Conference
  • October 15, 2016, Roxbury Crossing, MA

    Marjorie Kelly joins John Barros (Director of Economic Development for Boston), Melvin Miller (Publisher Bay State Banner), and other experts to discuss building community wealth. Specifically, the panel will focus on concrete strategies for Black families to build wealth in Massachusetts.

  • Vermont Employee Ownership 2017 Conference
  • June 2, 2017, Burlington, VT

    Marjorie Kelly will keynote the annual conference held by the Vermont Employee Ownership Center. Check back soon for more details.

  • Intermountain West Funder Network 2016 Convening
  • April 27-29, 2016, Ft. Collins, CO

    Marjorie Kelly gave the keynote address at this convening hosted by the New Belguim Family Foundation and the Gates Family Foundation.

  • Workers to Owners 1-Day Seminar
  • April 11, 2016, Minneapolis, MN

    Marjorie Kelly gave the concluding remarks at this one-day event hosted by Workers to Owners "to move the needle forward on an exciting trend in sustainable economic development: converting existing businesses to worker ownership."

  • Cities Building Community Wealth
  • January 29, 2016, CUNY School of Law, New York, NY

    Marjorie Kelly gave the opening remarks at this event, co-hosted by The Democracy Collaborative and CUNY Law's Community and Economic Development Clinic and supported by the Surdna Foundation, which brought together key stakeholders to discuss emerging policy frameworks for creating more inclusive cities.

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    In the Media

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Upcoming events

Money Talk - Financial Literacy Conference

October 15, 2016, Roxbury Crossing, MA

Marjorie Kelly joins John Barros (Director of Economic Development for Boston), Melvin Miller (Publisher Bay State Banner), and other experts to discuss building community wealth. Specifically, the panel will focus on concrete strategies for Black families to build wealth in Massachusetts.

Vermont Employee Ownership 2017 Conference

June 2, 2017, Burlington, VT

Marjorie Kelly will keynote the annual conference held by the Vermont Employee Ownership Center. Check back soon for more details.

More Events ...