Marjorie Kelly is the Senior Fellow and Executive Vice President of The Democracy Collaborative (TDC) a non-profit research organization founded in 2000. TDC is a research and development lab for a democratic economy. She is cofounder of Fifty by Fifty, a network initiative to catalyze 50 million employee owners by 2050, for which she has led research on “Next Generation Enterprise Design.” For her research on the role of capital in taking employee ownership to scale, she was named the Robert J. Beyster Research Fellow by Rutgers University. Her other work at TDC has included working with community foundations on place-based impact investing, and leading The Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building, a five-year project working with Native American organizations to build wealth in Indigenous communities.
Previously Kelly was a Fellow at the Tellus Institute, a 40-year old nonprofit research organization based in Boston, where she co-founded Corporation 20/20, a multi-stakeholder initiative to envision and advocate enterprise and financial designs that integrate social, environmental, and financial aims. She has advised private businesses on ownership and capital design for social mission. She served as a member of the resource team of the Ford Foundation project WealthWorks, working for wealth creation in rural communities.
Kelly is author of the forthcoming book, The Making of a Democratic Economy: Building Prosperity for the Many, Not Just the Few (July 2019, Berrett-Koehler Publishers). She also authored Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution (2012). Her first book, The Divine Right of Capital, was named one Library Journal’s 10 Best Business Books of 2001.
She was co-founder and for 20 years president of Business Ethics magazine, known for its annual ranking of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens and Social Investing Awards. Advisory boards have included Boston Public Bank Working Group, the Center for Corporate Governance and Accountability at George Washington University Law School, the Strategic Corporate Initiative, CUNY School of Law's Community Economic Development Clinic, Donella Meadows Institute, Emerging ChangeMakers Network, and other projects.
Kelly's writings and op-eds have appeared in many publications, including Fast Company, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Harvard Business Review, New England Law Review, Chief Executive, Boston Globe, Yes! Magazine and San Francisco Chronicle. She 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.
How can impact investors, family foundations, and financial institutions strategically leverage their investments toward solutions that help stem and reverse rising economic inequality? This new report from The Democracy Collaborative explores ways in which impact investors can help build an inclusive economy by accelerating the growth of broad-based ownership models—worker cooperatives, social enterprises, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), hybrid enterprises, and municipal enterprise.
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? Read more about Cities Building Community Wealth...
A New Anchor Mission for a New Century: Community foundations deploying all resources to build community wealth
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 about A New Anchor Mission for a New Century: Community foundations deploying all resources to build community wealth...
As long as businesses are set up to focus exclusively on maximizing financial income for the few, our economy will be locked into endless growth and widening inequality. But now people across the world are experimenting with new forms of ownership, which Kelly calls generative: aimed at creating the conditions for all of life to thrive for many generations to come. These designs may hold the key to the deep transformation our civilization needs.
To understand these emerging alternatives, Kelly reports from across the globe, 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.
Guest Essay in The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision, by Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014).
“What kind of economy is consistent with living inside a living being?” This was a question posed to us under a leafy canopy, deep in the woods of southern England, not far from Schumacher College where I’d come as a teacher. I stood listening with a group of students as resident ecologist Stephan Harding posed what for me would become a pivotal question – the only question there is, really, as we negotiate the turn from the industrial age into an entirely new age of civilization.
Resources do not represent community wealth unless communities own and control them. This handbook looks at various kinds of shared ownership, including cooperatives, employee ownership, community land trusts, municipal ownership, local and tribal ownership, mission-controlled ownership, and community covenants and easements. Each section looks at strengths, weaknesses, the range of applications, expertise required, and sources of assistance.
- YES! Magazine
As small-business owners retire, their employees may lose their jobs. New legislation, though, encourages that retiring small-business owners sell to their employees in the form of ESOPs or cooperatives. As Marjorie Kelly, Executive Vice-President and Senior Fellow at the Democracy Collaborative points out, many business owners would prefer to ensure that their employees remain secure.
- YES! Magazine
Marjorie Kelly is interviewed about the Fifty by Fifty Network, with the goal of reaching 50 million employee-owners by 2050. The aim of this Network is to expand democracy into the workplace in a way that will transform the economy.
- Fast Company
Having stockholders can offer confusing incentives for business owners with a mission–but not if those stockholders are employees who believe in the mission, too.
Drawing on the work done in the Learning/Action Lab for Community Wealth Building, Stephanie Gutierrez explores how a systemic approach to inclusive local economic development needs a process of active translation to resonate with the traditional values at the core of Native communities.