Democracy Collaborative

The Democracy Collaborative is a national leader in equitable, inclusive and sustainable development through our Community Wealth Building Initiative. This initiative sustains a wide range of Advisory, Research and Field Building activities designed to transform the practice of community/economic development in the United States. Another important program is the Next System Project, ongoing intellectual work designed to connect Community Wealth Building to the larger context of systemic economic transformation. Our staff and associates are involved in a wide range of projects involving research, training, policy development, and community-focused work designed to promote an asset-based paradigm of economic development and increase support for transformative strategies among community stakeholders, anchor institutions, and key policymakers. As the premier innovator and leading national voice in the field of Community Wealth Building, we are known for our research and advisory services, as well as informing public policy, promoting new models and strategies, and establishing metrics to advance the field. Our goal is to change the prevailing paradigm of economic development – and of the economy as a whole – toward a new emphasis and system based on: Broadening ownership and stewardship over capital, Democracy at the workplace Stabilizing community and emphasizing locality, Equitable and inclusive growth, and Environmental, social, and institutional sustainability.

Collaborating members of Democracy Collaborative
John Duda – Communications Coordinator

John Duda started working for the Democracy Collaborative as Communications Coordinator in 2011.  He holds a B.A. in lingustics from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master's degree in Logic from the Universiteit van Amsterdam, and a PhD in Intellectual History from Johns Hopkins University, where his dissertation examined the genealogy of the idea of "self-organization" in politics and the sciences.  He is also a founding collective member at Red Emma's, a worker-owned cooperative bookstore and coffeehouse in Baltimore, and has worked extensively as a digital media activist supporting a variety of grassroots independent media projects.

Sarah McKinley – Research Associate

Sarah McKinley is a research associate for The Democracy Collaborative. She has a background in community development and has worked with a number of community groups, including the Greater Southwest Development Corporation, a Chicago-based community development corporation, and the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations. While earning her master degree in urban and regional planning at Cornell University, McKinley was a co-author of “A People’s Plan for New Orleans” a bottom-up community development plan for the 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina. In her spare time, McKinley, an avid food lover, is the Co-Chair of Slow Food DC, the local chapter of an international organization that promotes a good, clean, and fair food system.

Joe Guinan – Senior Fellow and Executive Director of the Next System Project

Joe Guinan is a Senior Fellow at The Democracy Collaborative and Executive Director of the Next System Project. Having first worked with Gar Alperovitz and The Democracy Collaborative ten years earlier, he returned in 2012 to help design, launch and implement the Collaborative’s work on alternative political-economic systems. A former journalist, he was previously a program director at the Aspen Institute and a fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and has served as a consultant to the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. With a decade of experience in international economics, trade policy, global agriculture, and food security, he has been a frequently cited expert on globalization and economic development in major news media, including the New York TimesFinancial TimesWall Street JournalNewsweek, BBC News, and Al-Jazeera. Born in England with dual Irish and British citizenship, he grew up in British labor movement circles and was educated at Balliol College, Oxford. He writes regularly for progressive outlets in the UK, including openDemocracy and the journal Renewal, and is a member of the editorial collective of New Left Project. 

Thomas Hanna – Senior Research Associate

Thomas M. Hanna is Senior Research Associate with The Democracy Collaborative. Hanna’s areas of expertise include public ownership, nationalization, privatization, and banking, among others. He has published articles in popular and academic journals including The NationTruthoutThe Neoprogressive, and The Good Society as well as providing research support for numerous articles that have appeared in such publications as The New York TimesAlternetDissentThe Review of Social EconomySolutions, and The Ecologist. Hanna assisted on the Collaborative’s contribution to a report for the United Nations 2012 Rio+20 Conference and worked closely with Gar Alperovitz on his recent book What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution.  He received his M.A. and B.A. degrees in History from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Cecilia Gingerich – Research Associate

Cecilia Gingerich joined The Democracy Collaborative as a Research Associate with the Next System Project in October 2014 having completed a Master’s degree in Politics from New York University in 2013. Her thesis argued that capitalism is, at a structural level, incompatible with ecological sustainability. She is an activist and organizer who has worked on a variety of social and economic justice campaigns. 

Steve Dubb – Research Director

Steve Dubb is Director of Special Projects & Senior Advisor to the President of The Democracy Collaborative and has been with the Collaborative since 2004. In addition to his research and project-based consulting work, Steve directs the staff at the Washington, DC office of the Collaborative and regularly represents the Collaborative at public events and conferences. At the Collaborative, Steve has a wide body of written work, including Building Wealth, The New Asset-Based Approach to Solving Social and Economic Problems and The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads. Steve has also been engaged in a wide range of project-based work. This includes working with Ted Howard in 2007 on the initial strategic planning that help lead to the development of the Evergreen Cooperatives initiative in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, Steve has participated in writing a number of feasibility studies that seek to identify ways that area anchor institutions can leverage their purchasing strength to help create community-owned businesses and/or better support existing businesses in low-income neighborhoods. Steve is also part of the Collaborative’s Learning/Action Lab team that is partnering with the Northwest Area Foundation and Native American organizations in four cities to develop employee-owned businesses and social enterprises in Indian Country, both in urban areas and on reservation land. Prior to his work at the Collaborative, Steve worked in various positions involving cooperatives and social justice work. From 1989 to 1998 he was a co-manager of the Groundwork Books Collective in San Diego, California, which operated a small textbook and bookstore business (sales of nearly $1 million a year). From 1999 to 2000, Steve worked as a researcher in the International Office of the Organizing Department of the United Steelworkers. From 2000 to 2003, Steve was Executive Director of the North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO), a U.S. and Canadian nonprofit association that provides education and technical assistance to university and community-based housing and retail cooperatives. 

David Zuckerman – Senior Research Associate

David Zuckerman joined The Democracy Collaborative as a research associate in 2012. Zuckerman is the author ofHospitals Building Healthier Communities: Embracing the Anchor Mission. As a researcher, his work primarily focuses on community economic development strategies that build wealth in low-income communities, with a specific focus on how hospitals and health systems can better support their surrounding communities. Zuckerman has also assisted with multiple feasibility studies of anchor-led economic development projects. He currently serves on the Board of Representatives for the Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-op. He received both his Master of Public Policy and B.A. degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Katie Parker – Junior Fellow

Katie Parker joined The Democracy Collaborative as a junior fellow in December of 2014. Katie has a BA in environmental studies from Brown University, where she focused on the political economy of food systems and natural-resource based industries. Prior to moving to DC, she worked for a community-based conservation non-profit in the Swan Valley of Montana. She is experienced in local food procurement, working as the purchasing coordinator of the Brown Market Shares Program, and on numerous farms and gardens. She is really excited about the intersections between economic and environmental justice, and is looking forward to learning more about community wealth building as she works on, the blog, and newsletter. 

Violeta Duncan – Community Development Associate

Violeta Duncan began working as a community development associate for The Democracy Collaborative in May of 2014. She received her master's degree in urban planning from Columbia University, concentrating on participatory planning and local procurement practices in Kenya. Duncan writes the monthly newsletter and maintains the blog, in addition to supporting feasibility studies and other community wealth building research. She enjoys listening, playing, and dancing to music and spends her free time volunteering at the National Building Museum, Casey Trees, and WPFW 89.3.

Keane Bhatt – Community Development Asssociate

Keane Bhatt is the Community Development Associate at the Democracy Collaborative. He is an experienced activist and organizer, having worked both in the U.S. and in Latin America on a variety of campaigns and projects related to community development and social justice. His analysis and opinions have appeared in a range of outlets, including The Nation, NPR, St. Petersburg Times, the Providence Journal, CNN En Español, Pacifica Radio, and Truthout.


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