Learn more about the instructors of modules in the A Worker Cooperative Program: ​Establishing a Worker Cooperative for Business Succession Planning.

photo of Maru Bautista 
Maru Bautista 

Brightly Cooperatives

Instructor for: 
Using the Cooperative Advantage to Grow

Read Maru's Bio

Maru Bautista is an independent cooperative consultant. Formerly the Director of the Cooperative Development Program at the Center for Family Life, she supported the immigrant community of New York City start and run worker cooperatives in the domestic sector. Her most notable projects include: Brightly, a worker cooperative franchise for domestic workers, and upandgo.coop, an online booking platform for immigrant-led cooperatives. Maru is board chair of the Democracy at Work Institute (institute.coop), and for 6 years was a board member of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives (usworker.coop). Maru holds a Master of Arts in International Development from The New School, and was born and raised in Puebla, Mexico.

photo of Jennifer Bryant
Jennifer Bryant 

Program Manager for Community Wealth Building Initiatives​, Wacif

Instructor for: 
Capital for Worker Cooperatives and Other Employee-Owned Businesses

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Jennifer Bryant is the Program Manager for Community Wealth Building Initiatives at Wacif. In this role, she leads the Greater Washington Center for Employee Ownership (GWCEO). The mission of the GWCEO is to promote and support employee ownership throughout the District of Columbia and surrounding counties in Maryland and Northern Virginia to preserve legacy businesses, increase job quality, and build community wealth. Jennifer is committed to revitalizing and expanding employee ownership in the District. She is a founding steering committee member of Cooperation DC and a current member of the DC Cooperative Stakeholders Group. Prior to Wacif, she also worked for several years in the labor movement on the local and national level. She helped establish DC’s first Black Worker Center before moving to the International Labor Communications Association, a constituent organization of the AFL-CIO. Jennifer holds a BA from Howard University and a master’s degree from St. John’s University

photo of ChiFresh Kitchen staff Renee Taylor, Kimberly Britt, Edrinna Bryant, Daniel McWilliams, and Sarah Stadtfeld

Founding Members, ChiFresh Kitchen

Instructors for: 
Worker Cooperatives and African American Cooperative Economics:
Origin Stories

Read ChiFresh Kitchen's Bio

Renee Taylor, Kimberly Britt, Edrinna Bryant, Daniel McWilliams, and Sarah Stadtfeld are the founding members of ChiFresh Kitchen, a Chicago-based food service business serving daily meals to institutional clients, that are freshly cooked, rooted in the culture and traditions of the people being served, healthy, and delicious. ChiFresh is a women- and minority- owned business structured as a worker cooperative, where every worker has the opportunity to share in the governance and profits of the business. The founders launched the business in 2020 with a vision to prepare food from a place of love, create high-quality jobs for formerly incarcerated people, and inspire and serve their community. ChiFresh has steadily grown, securing multiple large contracts and buying their own building in late 2021.

photo of Vincent Green
Vincent Green 

Catering and Events Director, Taharka Brothers Ice Cream

Instructor for: 
Worker Cooperatives and African American Cooperative Economics:
Origin Stories

Read Vincent's Bio

Vinny Green is the catering and events director for Taharka Brothers Ice Cream, a worker-owned small batch Ice Cream business based in Baltimore, Maryland. In this role he runs the big pink Changemaker Mobile, serving great ice cream, providing great experiences, and inspiring the community through hard work. Born and raised in Baltimore, he graduated from ConneXions, a community-based arts school, in 2014.  Vinny sees worker ownership as a vehicle for “building a legacy for my own and creating change for others that look just like me.”

photo of Julian Hill
Julian Hill 

Lawyer and Graduate Clinical Teaching Fellow, Georgetown University Law Center

Instructor for: 
Developing Worker Cooperative Structures: Legal Considerations

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Julian Hill (they/he) is a lawyer, organizer, artist and Graduate Clinical Teaching Fellow in the Social Enterprise & Nonprofit Law Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center. As a Fellow, Julian supervises law school students in advising clients, co-teaches the seminar and supports with clinic administration. Prior to Georgetown, Julian was a Supervising Attorney with TakeRoot Justice (formerly the Community Development the Urban Justice Center), where he supported a team that advised clients in the formation and ongoing obligations of worker cooperatives. He transitioned to TakeRoot from a role as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, where he advised clients, primarily in Latin America, in a host of corporate and financial transactions. He earned his J.D. at Harvard Law School and his B.A. in philosophy from Northwestern University.


photo of Todd Leverette
Todd Leverette 

Principal, Apis & Heritage Capital Partners

Instructor for: 
Capital for Worker Cooperatives and Other Employee-Owned Businesses

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Todd Leverette is a principal at Apis & Heritage Capital Partners. He has dedicated his life to bringing the tools and best practices of big business to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). After working in finance at J.P. Morgan and in residential real estate, he began a career as an independent business consultant focused on providing value-added financial and operational engineering for SMEs throughout Detroit. He served as Program Manager with the Democracy at Work Institute's Legacy Business Initiative, supporting employee ownership as a means to preserve and build wealth in minority communities. Todd received his JD/MBA from Columbia University and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College.

photo of Jamila Medley
Jamila Medley 

Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance

Instructor for: 
Governance in Worker Cooperatives

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Jamila Medley is a passionate and knowledgeable advocate for growing the cooperative economy. She is the former executive director of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, where she worked with existing and startup co-ops to provide support for leadership development, cooperative economics education, navigating group dynamics, and creating adaptable systems to support group process and learning. She holds an MS degree in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania. Jamila previously worked at the American Association for Cancer Research where she supported professional development and inclusion for people of color and women with careers in cancer research. She was introduced to the co-op business model when she joined the staff of the Mariposa Food Co-op. She serves on the board of directors for Movement Alliance Project, All Together Now Pennsylvania, and Independence Public Media Foundation. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Jamila lives in Philadelphia’s Mount Airy neighborhood, and enjoys making her home a sanctuary. She says joy is an act of resistance.

photo Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard 

Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development, John Jay College at the City University of New York

Instructor for: 
Worker Cooperatives and African American Cooperative Economics: 
Origin Stories

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Jessica Gordon-Nembhard, Ph.D., is a political economist and Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development in the Department of Africana Studies at John Jay College, City University of NY; and author of Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice. She has numerous publications on cooperative economics, community economic development, credit unions, wealth inequality, community wealth, and Black political economy. She is a Faculty Fellow and Mentor with the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations; and an affiliate scholar with the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, University of Saskatchewan, Canada. In addition, she is a member of the Cooperative Economics Council of the National Cooperative Business Association/CLUSA, the International Co-operative Alliance Committee on Co-operative Research, the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund,  the Association of Cooperative Educators, the National Economic Association, and the Association for Social Economics. Jessica is the proud mother of Susan and Stephen, and the grandmother of Stephon, Hugo, Ismaél and Gisèle Nembhard.

photo of Ngozi Okaro
Ngozi Okaro

Founder, Custom Collaborative

Instructor for: 
Four Corner Posts of Democratic Management

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Ngozi Okaro advocates for a fashion industry that honors planet and people. Ngozi founded Custom Collaborative, to support immigrant & no/low-income women launching sustainable fashion businesses and careers. Custom Collaborative serves US designers who want to design and produce locally, fashion-industry workers, and consumers who want ethical fashion. Among other distinctions, Ngozi is a 2021 AARP Purpose Prize Fellow, 2021 Crain's Notable Woman in Business, 2020 “World-Changing Women in Conscious Business” winner, from Conscious Company Media and Kate Spade, 2019 NYC Fair Trade Coalition "Changemaker of the Year", and 2019 New York Women's Foundation "Spirit of Entrepreneurship” awardee. Ngozi completed the Center for Family Life Cooperative Development Program, is certified by NYU’s Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising, was a 2014 Environmental Leadership Program Fellow, and is a graduate of the Coro Leadership New York program. Ngozi is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and Morgan State University. She is licensed to practice law in Louisiana and New York. 

photo of Adria Powell
Adria Powell

President and CEO, Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA)

Instructor for: 
Using the Cooperative Advantage to Grow

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Adria Powell is the President and CEO of Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA), the largest employee-owned cooperative business in the country. CHCA is a 36-year-old Licensed Home Care Service Agency (LHCSA), dedicated to providing quality jobs to home care workers and quality long term care to New Yorkers who are aging, living with a disability or managing a chronic condition and want to remain in their homes and community. Adria leads her organization of 1700 home care workers and 100 administrative staff with the belief that investing in the home care workforce results in quality outcomes and higher consumer satisfaction. She currently serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors of PHI, Chair of the New York City Workforce Development Board and was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Democracy at Work Institute. Adria holds a BA in Psychology from Boston College and an MPA in Health Policy & Management from New York University.

photo of Dr. Leon Prieto 
Dr. Leon Prieto 

Associate Professor of Management, Clayton State University

Instructor for: 
Using the Cooperative Advantage to Grow

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Dr. Leon Prieto is an Associate Professor of Management at Clayton State University. He also serves as a Research Fellow at Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation - University of Cambridge. His research areas are in Management History, Critical Management Studies, Social Issues in Management and Management Education. He has published articles in respected journals such as Academy of Management Learning & Education, Journal of Business Ethics, Harvard Business Review, and MIT Sloan Review. His first book (coauthored with Dr. Simone Phipps) is entitled African American Management History: Insights on Gaining a Cooperative Advantage. His scholarship has received recognition from Thinkers50, the Academy of Management, and the United States Association for Small Business & Entrepreneurship. He holds a Ph.D. in Human Resource and Leadership Development from Louisiana State University, an ALM in Extension Studies, History from Harvard University, an MBA from Georgia Southern University, and a B.S in Management from Claflin University.


photo of Andrea Talley
Andrea Talley 

Co-owner, Mandela Grocery Cooperative

Instructor for: 
Worker Cooperatives and African American Cooperative Economics:
Origin Stories

Read Andrea's Bio

Andrea Talley is a health food advocate and small business operator. The proud entrepreneur, who graduated from Howard University, founded a smoothie and salad bar in San Francisco in 2012. She operated it for four years. Ultimately, the weight of sole proprietorship led to closing the business. But when one door closes, another opens. Andrea became a co-owner of Mandela Grocery Cooperative in 2017.  Now she promotes nutritional health to the West Oakland community and supports business growth and development in the food space along with her team of co-owners.

photo of Roodline Volcy 
Roodline Volcy 

Director of Peer Advancement, Seed Commons

Instructor for: 
What is a Worker Cooperative?

Read Roodline's Bio

Roodline Volcy is Director of Peer Advancement at Seed Commons. There, she leads onboarding and development of new and existing peer members and she designs systems for sustainable organizational growth rooted in equity. Roodline is the former Events and Trainings Manager and an instructor in the School for Democratic Management at Democracy at Work Institute. She led trainings both domestically and internationally in cooperative development and democratic management for worker owners, developers, and allies. Roodline also organized multiple worker cooperative national conferences, each varied in scope and sophistication. She is the former Board Chair of the Renaissance Community Cooperative and a current Board member of the North Carolina Employee Ownership Center.

photo of Tamah Yisrael Tamah Yisrael

Chief Solutions Officer of TMH Financial Services LLC, and Member, Resolve Financial Cooperative

Instructor for: 
Worker Cooperatives and African American Cooperative Economics:
Origin Stories

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Tamah Yisrael is Chief Solutions Officer of TMH Financial Services LLC and a member of Resolve Financial Cooperative. She established her firm in October 2018 to  provide business development, bookkeeping and management services to small  businesses, nonprofits, and social impact enterprises in the Greater New Orleans Area. She is also a partner of Yisrael Records Inc. an independent record label and producer of jazz and contemporary music. She served as President of the board of directors for  the New Orleans Food Coop and is currently a project officer of Cooperation New Orleans Loan Fund. Tamah has been  recognized by the Metro Birmingham Branch of the NAACP in its Annual Salute to Outstanding African American for her contributions to culture and youth of the community. She is a graduate of the Foundations for Louisiana’s TOGETHER Initiative LEAD Community Training Program, UNO’s Community Development Finance program, Cooperation Works’ Art & Science of Cooperative Development.