The Power of Employee Ownership

October 17, 2017
Hosted by Thomas Rosenberg and Rani Langer Croager

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Guest Information

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Episode Description

This episode is hosted by Rani Langer Croager. Our guests are Hilary Abell and Alison Lingane, the co-founders of Project Equity, a nonprofit that supports businesses in their transition to worker-owned models. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. But as baby boomers retire, our local business landscape is poised to go through a dramatic shift. We will discuss how Project Equity keeps businesses local by helping them convert to employee ownership and how employee ownership builds community wealth.



Tuesday at 2 PM Pacific Time on VoiceAmerica Variety Channel

The purpose of this show is to accelerate the shift towards building an inclusive, just future by connecting people and ideas. Be inspired to become the change agent for your community. Our guests describe some of what’s happening across the country and around the world to improve community resilience and build a regenerative community.

Our topics range from money and what it is, the challenges and success of global resilient community efforts, models for bringing alternative health care to underserved and minority communities, suggestions for fostering greater community through social entrepreneurship, building leadership, to reflecting on the language we use and whether it is inclusive or exclusive. Envision is broadcast live every Tuesday at 2 PM Pacific Time on the VoiceAmerica Variety Channel.

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Thomas Rosenberg and Rani Langer Croager

Thomas Rosenberg and Rani Langer Croager

I am passionate about changing mindsets and behavior. Since 1994 my career has been focused on change leadership around environmental initiatives, facilitating change, and empowering others to lead change from within their organizations and communities. I have worked with private and public sector organizations in the US, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. Client organizations include Fortune Global 750 companies, local and national governments, and small and mid-sized firms.

I serve on the Advisory Board for SxSW Eco’s Startup Central. Previously, I served on the National Sustainability Committee for the Clean Tech Open, driving the creation of a new curriculum for participants. I also served on the Bay Area Biomimicry Leadership Team and as an Advisory Board Member for

I hold an MBA in Global Management from Thunderbird, an MS in Environmental Sciences from Johns Hopkins University, a BA in International Relations and Asian Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and I am currently pursuing certification as an Integral Coach through New Ventures West in San Francisco, California.

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Episode Directory

October 2017

  • 10/24/2017: Encore: Money: what it is, how to slow it down in your community and new technological innovations Listen Now
  • 10/17/2017: The Power of Employee Ownership Listen Now
  • 10/10/2017: Encore: The Art of Mentoring and Nature Connection Listen Now
  • 10/3/2017: Social Entrepreneurship Pt III Listen Now

September 2017

August 2017

Hilary Abell

Hilary Abell was “bit by the cooperative bug” when she was a worker-owner at Equal Exchange in the 1990s and forever changed by witnessing how Latin American farmers used coops to transform their communities. After a decade of internationally focused community empowerment work, Hilary has worked in coop development since 2003. As Executive Director of WAGES (since rebranded to Prospera), she led the organization through a period of major growth, resulting in a network of five worker-owned green cleaning businesses that created 100 healthy, dignified jobs for low-income women. Hilary co-founded Project Equity while writing Worker Cooperatives: Pathways to Scale and consulting for coop development initiatives and nonprofits. For her work with Project Equity, Hilary was awarded an Echoing Green Fellowship in 2014, and a 2016 Local Economy Fellowship. She has her B.A. from Princeton University and her MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio. View Guest page

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Mr. Ashanti Branch, M.Ed

Ashanti Branch was raised by a single mother on welfare in Oakland. After overcoming many obstacles, he went on to study engineering at California Polytechnic - San Luis Obispo. A Civil Engineer in his first career, Ashanti found his passion for teaching while tutoring struggling students. In 2004, as a first year teacher, Ashanti started The Ever Forward Club (EFC) to provide a support group for African American and Latino males, who were not achieving to the level of their potential. EFC has helped 100% of its members graduate high school. 93% have gone on to attend college. Mr. Branch has 19+ yrs mentoring youth, 10 as a math teacher educating inner city youth. He was awarded a Fulbright Exchange Fellowship to India, a Rotary Club Cultural Ambassadorial Fellowship to Mexico and a 2010 Teacher of the Year Award from the Alameda-Contra Costa County Math Educators. He is on a mission to change the way students interact with their education and the way schools interact with students. View Guest page

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Karla Durán-Palazuelos

Born in La Paz, Bolivia, Karla has a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Urbanism from Bolivia and a master’s degree in Historical Restoration and Rehabilitation from Spain. She has volunteered with many social and cultural non-profit organizations in Bolivia, Spain, France, India, and Puerto Rico. Ms. Duran is the co-creator of EcoTienda La Chiwinha, the first Fair Trade store in Puerto Rico, where she has lived since 2006. In addition to EcoTienda La Chiwinha she also works as a designer, artisan, and Yoga instructor. Recently she became a trustee for the Rio Piedras Development Trust. The Trust is tasked with rehabilitating the historical urban area where La Chiwinha is located. Together with Joel Franqui she supports initiatives to create a world based on a culture of peace. View Guest page

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April Fenall

Piikup was founded in 2015 by April Fenall, a Bay Area native by way of Richmond, CA.
Piikup is the one of the few logistics based businesses in Northern California to intentionally use their business model to empower the most marginalized people while strengthening communities starting with those in the East Bay and later across the nation.
She believes that the only way to "disrupt" the market is to empower the working poor.
Piikup received the Oakland Indie 2017 Social Change Maker award for its commitment to strengthening communities and service to uplifting the most vulnerable people with acts of human kindness. View Guest page

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Matt Gilbert

Matt Gilbert is Founder of the Mendocino Wool and Fiber Mill. He has been a sheepshearer since he was 13 and has trained and worked as a forester. A native of Mendocino County, he returned home determined to find ways to make things better. He founded the Mendocino Wool and Fiber Mill as a way of improving resource utilization in the region. View Guest page

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Franko Goehse

Franko Goehse is head of the Fumba Town Service Centre, which oversees all the services for the new town. Born in East Germany, Franko escaped, swimming the Danube River to freedom. He studied culinary arts in Leipzig and spent 24 years working and owning gourmet restaurants in Germany and South Africa, where he moved in 1996.
His passion for good food led him to organic farming, then to permaculture. Franko incorporates permaculture into everything he does. He built the now well-acclaimed Africa Amini Maasai Lodge in Ngabobo, Tanzania. He also helped build a hospitality management school for young girls in Moshi with his partner Bernadette Kirsch.
In 2015 Franko moved to Zanzibar after being offered the chance to help design an environmentally conscious urban development, Fumba Town. He also co-founded the Practical Permaculture Institute of Zanzibar with the support of Michael Nickels of Seven Raven Rotary Club on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. View Guest page

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Nick Gogerty

Nick has over 20 years of experience in financial services specializing in quantitative portfolio management, Blockchain, trading technology and innovation.
In 2016 he co-founded the open source science project ElectriCChain is a tool for monitoring global solar energy production and pollution in real time. It was designed with the goal to read data from the world’s 7 million solar energy generators to monitor the sky and post data to public and private blockchains.
In 2014 he created SolarCoin, a global solar energy incentive program using blockchain technology, and his book, "The Nature of Value, how to invest in the Adaptive economy”, was published.
He has served as a senior analyst for several NYC-based hedge funds and Starlab.
He holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the Univ. of Iowa, an MBA from Ecole de Ponts et Chaussees in France. He has held Series 3, 7, 63 & FSA licenses and the CAIA (Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst) designation. View Guest page

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Miles Gordon

Miles Gordon is the Food Systems Director for North Coast Opportunities (NCO), located in Mendocino and Lake Counties, California. After several years of growing organic melons in Potter Valley, CA and studying International Relations, Miles served as a bilingual high school and college teacher, teacher trainer, and human rights worker in Central America.
As a result of these experiences, Miles founded the Gardens Project of NCO to empower low-income, disenfranchised communities in California to grow food in community gardens through facilitated leadership development and self-management. The Gardens Project has developed over 45 gardens with more than 3000 individuals eating food from them. Miles facilitated the expansion of the project to develop and manage numerous Farm to School, Farmer’s Market, Farmer Development, Food Hub, and Nutrition programs.
He is co-founder of the Mendocino Food Policy Council and a member of the California Food Policy Council. View Guest page

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Christopher Kuntzsch

Christopher Kuntzsch is co-founder and co-director of Ecology of Leadership programs at the Regenerative Design Institute at Commonweal Garden. Christopher has devoted the majority of the last decade to providing guidance and leadership development pathways to individuals and organizations that wish to cultivate capacity to embody and effect the change they want to see in the world. Through personal coaching, consulting, and facilitation, he has helped hundreds of people to get in touch with their purpose, vision, and leadership potential through a synergy of generative inquiry, strategic planning, skill development, and engagement with the natural world. View Guest page

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Joel Franqui-Gil de Lamadrid

Born in Puerto Rico with professional studies in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Studies, Joel is the co-creator of EcoTienda La Chiwinha, a social business based on the values of economic solidarity and environmental responsibility. After almost a decade of traveling to many countries, he returned to Puerto Rico in 2001 to work on his passions: the environment and a more just society. Joel is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, former chair the the Puerto Rico Ornithological Society, and a leader of the local Social Solidarity Economy movement. Together with Karla he works for the sustainable development of the Puerto Rican archipelago. View Guest page

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Rani Langer-Croager

Rani Langer-Croager founded Uptima Business Bootcamp to address the challenges of traditional entrepreneurship programs in providing accessible education and mentorship to a diverse group of entrepreneurs. To develop the model for Uptima, Rani drew on over 15 years experience advising organizations on strategic and financial planning, capital raising, mergers and acquisitions. Prior to Uptima, Rani was a member of the founding executive team at Altius Education where she raised over $30 million of capital to fund development of the company’s educational ecosystem. Rani began her career as an investment banker and has led and participated in over 30 financing, merger, acquisition, and joint venture transactions, representing over $15 billion in value. She has extensive experience supporting very early stage entrepreneurs as an organizer, coach, and judge for numerous hackathons and startup challenges. Rani also serves on the advisory boards of Project Equity, 2.Oakland and Qeyno Labs. View Guest page

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Alison Lingane

Alison Lingane started her career in community-based work, designing and leading microenterprise programs for urban youth. Inspired to gain skills to bring programs to scale that create real opportunity for people, she left to get her MBA, and co-founded what is now the Global Social Venture Competition, the largest international business plan competition for double or triple bottom line businesses. Prior to launching Project Equity, Alison spent 15 years in executive roles at mission-driven businesses that are designed to have human impact at scale, including Benetech, GreatSchools, and InsideTrack. A serial ‘social entrepreneur,’ Alison co-founded Escuela Bilingüe Internacional, a thriving PreK-8th grade dual immersion school in Oakland in 2006 that now serves over 360 students. Alison has her B.A. from Harvard University and her MBA from the Haas School of Business, and she is a 2014 Echoing Green Fellow. View Guest page

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Linda MacElwee

Linda serves full-time as Navarro Watershed Coordinator, a position she has held since 2011. She joined MCRCD in 2005, and first served as the part-time Navarro Education and Outreach Coordinator. Linda specializes in California native plants and has designed and implemented numerous riparian re-vegetation projects. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona, and brings with her 25 years of experience in organic gardening and permaculture. Linda received training in USDA NRCS Conservation Planning and is currently enrolled in a three year Certified Educators program in Holistic Management. In line with her interest in assisting farmers and ranchers, she helped develop the Mendocino County Local Food Guide and is working with RCD partners to bring LandSmart™ conservation planning program to Mendocino County. View Guest page

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Patty Madigan

Patty serves as Conservation Programs Director for Mendocino County Resource Conservation District (MCRCD). She joined MCRCD in 2001, first serving as the Navarro Watershed Coordinator. She has been instrumental in securing more than four million dollars for MCRCD projects since 2009. A graduate of Humboldt State, with a master’s degree in environmental education, Patty brings to the mix ten years’ experience as a fisheries technician for private consulting firms, and five years as a director for an award-winning AmeriCorps program. In 2012, Patty collaborated with USDA NRCS to complete the Mendocino County Permit Coordination Program. Currently, Patty serves on the Mendocino County Fish & Game Commission and is a member of the Wood for Salmon Workgroup. View Guest page

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Bernadette Padua-Kirsch

Bernadette Padua-Kirsch is Landscaping Manager for Fumba Town Development (FTD) and Managing Director of the Practical Permaculture Institute of Zanzibar. She grew up in the Philippines and studied Agriculture at the Univ of the Philippines.
Living in South America for 12 years, she found her passion for cooking. This led to a culinary degree in Germany where she established a catering business and cooking school near Lake Konstanz. In 2013 she visited Africa, planning only to stay 3 months. Nearly 4 years later she’s still there. In 2015 Bernadette started a school in Moshi, Tanzania for poor young women to study hospitality management. During this time she was introduced to permaculture after meeting Franko. Franko then implemented permaculture at the school for girls.
Bernadette moved to Zanzibar in 2015 where she is responsible for implementing permaculture in the design, installation and maintenance of green spaces in Fumba Town Development. View Guest page

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Rachel Rosen

Rachel Rosen is a seasoned facilitator, leadership coach, Racial Justice and LGBTQ advocate, and the Founder of S.P.A.R.K. For Humanity, the interactive card game that builds community and is a vehicle for meaningful conversations. All S.P.A.R.K. offerings sit at the nexus of Rachel’s personal and professional passions, and she is on a mission to bring more empathy to the world, one conversation at a time. With a Masters from Stanford, and extensive training in leadership, coaching, team and organizational development, S.P.A.R.K. experiences are grounded in theory and practice. Rachel facilitates inclusive team-building workshops and offers leadership development coaching opportunities that support individuals and teams to unleash their potential to ignite inclusive cultures, collaborate, and lead with intentionality--all in service of building a better future for the next generation. View Guest page

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Karianna Rosenberg

Karianna’s purpose is to connect more people to nature, their own inner wilderness and healing through the power of story, and foster a community that cares about and lives in harmony with the earth. She has been nurturing this seed of societal awakening for over 20 years as an outdoor educator, multicultural specialist, bilingual storyteller and transformational mentor and healer.
As co-founder of Two Coyotes Wilderness School, she has designed curriculum for homeschool, inner city school, and summer camp programs over the past decade. An active member of the global Art of Mentoring (AOM) movement, she serves as core staff at AOM courses in the Northeast USA and is a facilitator for’s weekly global Village Talk program. She is a master bilingual storyteller and a member of Northeast Storytelling, CT Storytelling Center, and the Healing Story Alliance.
Karianna holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology and an MA in Teaching Spanish and English as second languages. View Guest page

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Katia Sol, Ph.D.

Katia Sol, Ph.D. is passionate about helping individuals cultivate the personal shifts that in turn enable them to transform their lives, their communities, and the world. Katia has spent the last 20 years facilitating educational, international development, and leadership programs in more than 30 countries and with several First Nations around the world. She is a Co-Director for the Ecology of Leadership, and the Principal and Founder of Sol Transformations, through which she offers private coaching, counseling and consulting, and offers retreats and customized workshops. View Guest page

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Lisa Spicka

As CEO of Maracujá Solutions, Lisa Spicka uses her diverse background to help clients identify practical sustainability-based solutions which reduce supply chain risk, create supplier loyalty, improve brand reputation, and increase product quality. Lisa has worked extensively in the US & Latin America since 1997 in the organic agriculture, food and dairy industry. She has held operations, project, procurement, and sustainability leadership roles for organizations ranging from non-profits to multi-billion dollar brands. In her roles, Lisa has led domestic and global initiatives that focus on supply chain integrity, food safety, organic certification, & sustainability management. She also currently guides organic food companies to improve sustainability strategies and results through work at the Sustainable Food Trade Association. She holds a Spanish degree from the Univ. of Neb. Lincoln, and graduated cum laude from Thunderbird School of Global Management, with an MBA. View Guest page

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Marco Vangelisti

Marco worked in finance for 25 years, the last 6 of them in the investment management industry. He is a founding member of Slow Money and in the leadership team of the Slow Money Northern California network. He is a 100% impact investor and shares his experience doing direct Slow Money investments with communities and individuals around the country to help them increase their capacity for local investing through workshops, webinars, lectures and one-on-one mentoring. Marco developed Essential Knowledge for Transition – a curriculum for engaged citizens to understand the money and banking system, the economic system and the financial system and how we need to transform them. He speaks nationally as guest lecturer and author. View Guest page

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