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Our fellows

Peter Gowan

Summer Resident Fellow
Peter Gowan graduated Trinity College, Dublin in 2016 with a dual-major BA in History and Political Science, and recently joined the Next System Project as a Summer Resident Fellow after completing the coursework on an MA in Political Communications from Dublin City University. This summer he will be researching "right to own" worker buyouts and contributing to the Next System Project's research on the political economy of decarbonization.
Peter's previous research focuses on political economy and alternative models of ownership.
Read more about Peter Gowan...

​​Valerie Holton, Ph.D, LCSW

Valerie Holton, PhD, LCSW joined the Division of Community Engagement in 2012 as the inaugural director of community-engaged research. In her role, she develops infrastructure to support VCU faculty, staff, students and community partners in developing innovative and effective partnerships that positively impact our students, faculty, staff and community partners. Read more about ​​Valerie Holton, Ph.D, LCSW...

Nishani Frazier


Dr. Nishani Frazier is Associate Professor of History at Miami University of Ohio. Prior to Miami University, she held positions as Associate Curator of African American History and Archives at Western Reserve Historical Society, Assistant to the Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Archives at the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, and personal assistant for Dr. John Hope Franklin, before and during his tenure as chair of President Bill Clinton’s advisory board on “One America”. She recently completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Norway. Read more about Nishani Frazier...

Ellen Brown


Ellen Brown is the founder of the Public Banking Institute and the author of a dozen books and hundreds of articles. She developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In the best-selling Web of Debt (2007, 2012), she turned those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust,” showing how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves and how we the people can get it back.

In The Public Bank Solution (2013) she traces the evolution of two banking models that have competed historically, public and private; and explores contemporary public banking systems globally. She has presented these ideas at scores of conferences in the US and abroad, including in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Canada, Iceland, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Croatia, Malaysia, Mexico and Venezuela. She ran for California State Treasurer in 2014 with the endorsement of the Green Party, garnering a record number of votes for a Green Party candidate. She can be heard biweekly on “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown” on PRN.FM.

Jenny Kassan


Democracy Collaborative Fellow Jenny Kassan has over two decades of experience as an entrepreneur and attorney. Jenny is the President of Community Ventures, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the economic and social development of communities. She also co-founded the Sustainable Economies Law Center, a nonprofit that provides legal information to support sustainable economies.

Read more about Jenny Kassan ...

Jules Peck


Jules Peck has a thirty year career working on sustainable development within and at the interfaces of the worlds of business, government and civil society. Jules is also Founder and Convener of the Real Economy Lab, a connector of change-makers in the next economy. Read more about Jules Peck...

Devin Case-Ruchala

Research Fellow

Devin Case-Ruchala has worn several hats in the cooperative sector over the last five years, most recently working with Shared Capital Cooperative, a national cooperative loan fund and community development financial institution (CDFI). Their interest in cooperative finance arose from their experience living and working in a housing cooperative while also pursuing a business degree in which they majored in public policy analysis and focused their studies on issues of finance and development. Read more about Devin Case-Ruchala...

Alex Heaton

Research Fellow

Alexander Heaton is a research consultant with over five years of experience conducting domestic and international research projects for government and non-government organizations alike. He spent the last year as a fellow with the United States Department of State, working with regional banks and local governments to implement pro-poor development programs across sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe. Prior to this he worked for the United States Census Bureau, where he was responsible for conducting outreach to thousands of businesses that had yet to report for the various community surveys.