Marjorie Kelly is a Senior Fellow and Director of Consultancy Services at The Democracy Collaborative, a research, consulting, and training organization that led development of the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio, and is a national leader in spreading a new paradigm of community development. This new paradigm, Community Wealth Building, is aimed at broadening ownership, stabilizing communities, and creating inclusive and sustainable economies.
A Sampling of Kelly’s projects
Kelly is Project Director of this project, which is a year-long collaboration, spearheaded by The Democracy Collaborative and supported by the Northwest Area Foundation, designed to help Native American communities better engage in comprehensive community economic development. Working with six organizations in Minnesota, South Dakota, Oregon and Washington, this intensive training, advisory, education, and business development program empowers participants to build and retain wealth by developing effective strategies that foster ownership of enterprise, increase access to local assets, and create and anchor jobs locally. Participants engage in one-on-one tailored coaching sessions; online webinars to examine a specific innovation in-depth; two-day group workshops and training sessions, with the opportunity to engage with experts as well as peers; and high-impact site visits to centers of community wealth building activity.
For many years, Kelly was a member of the Resource Team of consultants assisting with this Ford Foundation project, which aimed to articulate and test a new systems approach to rural economic development, as part of the foundation’s Expanding Livelihoods for Poor Households work. Kelly co-authored two reports, “Keeping Wealth Local: Shared Ownership and Wealth Control for Rural Communities,” looking at alternative ownership models at use in rural areas; and “Impact Investing for Rural Wealth Creation.” She worked with Emerging ChangeMakers Network of Alabama to launch a new community investing fund. And she worked with other grantee projects within the initiative to assess how best they can attract investments.
Press Release, Oct. 2, 2012. The Emerging ChangeMakers Network (“ECN”) announced the launch of a rural wealth creation initiative to create a community loan fund targeted to Alabama’s historically underserved Black Belt. This is a project with which Marjorie Kelly worked for many years, and where she continues in an advisory capacity.
This multi-stakeholder initiative aims to envision and advocate new enterprise designs that incorporate social, ecological, and financial aims at their core. Kelly co-founded it in 2004 with Tellus colleague Allen White, former co-founder of the Global Reporting Initiative. Corporation 20/20 has involved hundreds of leaders from business, law, labor, government, and civil society, who have met through in-person gatherings and on-line dialogues. The project in 2007 and 2009 held a Summit on the Future of the Corporation, at Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall. Kelly and White co-authored the Summit report “Corporate Design” and co-edited the “Paper Series on Corporate Design.” View a video of the 2007 Summit.
Redefining Finance: Workshop Proceedings, August 9, 2012. The proceedings from a workshop Corporation 20/20 co-hosted in San Francisco on Redesigning Finance. The reading material from the event (slide presentations and background articles) are also available on the Corporation 20/20 website.
Ownership and financial design for social mission
With attorney Jenny Kassan, president of Cutting Edge Capital, Kelly worked with a variety of private businesses to design ownership structures, social enterprise hybrids, governance designs, and stakeholder finance approaches that help keep social mission healthy and thriving over the long term. She also led workshops on ownership design. One particular focus was the “mission-controlled corporation,” a term Kelly uses to describe foundation-owned, trust-owned, and family-controlled models that employ design elements (such as super-voting shares, or bicameral governance structures) to keep control in mission-oriented hands even when ownership is widely held.
Worker equity practices at the 100 largest U.S. companies in food and agriculture
Kelly was director of this research project, undertaken for the Rockefeller Foundation. Report was released to the public in October 2012. See press release or download the Executive Summary or full report.
The slides from Tellus Institute and Sustainalytics’ webinar presentation on November 13, 2012 are available here.
Boards and committees
Kelly is on the advisory board for the Sustainable Business Academy in Boston, aimed at bridging the gap between business people, academics and social innovators working to promote a new economy. She is also a director of Salem Alliance for the Environment in Salem, MA, where she lives. Kelly previously was president of the board of the William Street Grocery Cooperative, in Madison, WI, and was director of a nonprofit real estate developer in Minneapolis. She has served on advisory boards for the Center for Corporate Governance and Accountability at George Washington University Law School, the Strategic Corporate Initiative, and the Newsweek listing of “Greenest Big Companies in America.”