BIO

© Headshots Photography 2011, Joanne SmithMarjorie Kelly is a Senior Fellow and Director of Special Projects with The Democracy Collaborative, a non-profit research organization founded in 2000, where she heads up a variety of consulting and research projects and serves as a member of the senior management team. Kelly is Project Director of The Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building, a three-year co-learning project where The Democracy Collaborative with funding by the Northwest Area Foundation is assisting five Native American organizations launch social enterprises and employee-owned companies. She is also an Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute, a 35- year old nonprofit research organization based in Boston, serves as a director of Salem Alliance for the Environment in Salem, Mass., and is on the Advisory Boards of Boston Public Bank Working Group, the Donella Meadows Institute, and the Croatan Institute in Durham, NC.

Kelly is author of the book, Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolutionreleased in 2012 by Berrett-Koehler. In it, she explores many experiments with new forms of ownership, which she calls generative: aimed at creating the conditions for life for many generations to come. Kelly reports from all over the world, visiting a community-owned wind facility in Massachusetts, a lobster cooperative in Maine, a multibillion-dollar employee-owned department-store chain in London, a foundation-owned pharmaceutical in Denmark, a farmer-owned dairy in Wisconsin, and other places where a hopeful new economy is being built. Along the way, she 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.

She specializes in ownership and financial design for the “mission-controlled enterprise,” a term she devised to define the companies – including many large corporations in both the U.S. and Europe – that maintain a primary focus on social mission, even when they might be publicly traded. Kelly was co-founder of Corporation 20/20, a multi-stakeholder initiative to envision and advocate enterprise and financial designs that integrate social, environmental, and financial aims. Over five years, this project brought together hundreds of thought leaders from business, finance, labor, government, law, and civil society for meetings, research, and two national conferences.

Kelly has led a variety of consulting and research projects in corporate social responsibility, rural development, and impact investing. She was a core consultant for the resource team of the Ford Foundation project WealthWorks. As part of that project, she co-authored the reports Keeping Wealth Local: Shared Ownership and Wealth Control for Rural Communities, and Impact Investing for Rural Wealth Creation: Investing for Financial Returns and Community Impact. Also as part of that project, Kelly worked with Emerging ChangeMakers of Mobile, Alabama, helping the group create a new rural impact investing fund and network, and assisting eight other projects in the Deep South and Appalachia explore stakeholder financing opportunities.

Kelly was co-founder and for 20 years president of Business Ethics magazine, known for its annual ranking of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens. She served as director or advisory board member for Willy Street Co-op, the Center for Corporate Governance and Accountability at George Washington University Law School, the Strategic Corporate Initiative, and other projects.

Her previous book, The Divine Right of Capitalwas named one Library Journal’s 10 Best Business Books of 2001. Kelly’s writings and op-eds have appeared in many publications, including Harvard Business ReviewNew England Law Review, Chief ExecutiveBoston GlobeYes! Magazine and San Francisco Chronicle.

Kelly holds a bachelor’s in English, cum laude, and a master’s in journalism from the University of Missouri, where she received the Penney-Missouri Award for most promising young magazine journalist. She has been inducted into the honorary portrait gallery of Americans Who Tell the Truth.

Testimonials
"Kelly is the foremost authority on ownership design."

— David Korten
BALLE Conference, 2012


“Kelly has a storytelling gift.”

— Frances Moore Lappé
author of Diet for a Small Planet