Jessica Bonanno is the Democracy Collaborative’s Director of Strategy Development & Operations, working out of the Cleveland office. In addition to her role with internal organizational development, she serves as a consultant and project lead in TDC’s advisory practice, and she also provides business development support to the Evergreen Cooperatives.
Jessica's primary areas of expertise include impact investing, organizational design, and business development, with a special emphasis on start-ups, social ventures, and small to medium sized enterprises. Her early career was spent as a micro-entrepreneur, teacher, and the leader of multiple mission-driven community organizations. After becoming aware of cooperative business ownership models and the broader social enterprise movement, she returned to earn her M.B.A. at The University of Notre Dame, as an M.B.A. Fellow and Forte Foundation Fellow. During this time, Jessica concentrated in investments and social business models and served as an Associate in an early-stage investment office, an Equity Analyst for the university’s endowment, and a Consultant to several domestic and international impact organizations, including Catholic Relief Services, The Irish Angels, and The Valley Alliance for Worker Cooperatives.
Rochester’s Market Driven Community Cooperatives Corporation: A Feasibility Analysis & Implementation Plan
The City of Rochester's Office of Innovation, under the leadership of Mayor Lovely Warren, has been coordinating a project to develop worker-owned cooperative businesses as part of a comprehensive wealth building strategy for Rochester, New York.
In 2015 the City engaged The Democracy Collaborative, a group with extensive expertise from similar work in Cleveland Ohio in connection with the Evergreen Cooperatives and the Greater University Circle Initiative. The Democracy Collaborative completed a study in February 2016 that documented incredible potential for the project, a high degree of community support including local Anchor Institution buy-in, as well as several potential business niches for future worker-owned businesses. The report also includes an implementation plan to move the project forward in two additional phases, the first of which was approved to proceed by the Rochester City Council on March 22nd, 2016.
- Democrat & Chronicle
After working for over a year with City officials behind the scenes on a plan to build community wealth in Rochester, members of the Democracy Collaborative Jessica Bonnano and Vie Duncan have shown the Rochester mayor and other leaders in economic development there that supporting worker cooperatives is a strategy that could uplift the city.
Our newest report, Healthcare Small Business Gap Analysis, prepared in partnership with New Orleans based DMM & Associates on behalf of the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), outlines procurement practices and supply chain needs of New Orleans healthcare institutions and the capacity local business to fulfill those needs. The report provides recommendations on how to leverage New Orleans’ hospitals’ $1.5 billion in procurement spending to promote greater local procurement and economic inclusion in a city where only 48 percent of African American adult males are in the formal labor force. This report is based on interviews with nearly 50 representatives from area hospitals, additional anchor buyers, technical assistance organizations, small businesses, and other public stakeholders.