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About MassCEO

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The Massachusetts Center for Employee Ownership (MassCEO) provides training, education, and direct assistance to grow and sustain a strong network of employee-owned businesses in the Commonwealth.

We provide succession planning assistance to business owners, helping them consider whether a transition to employee ownership could help them meet their goals.

We strengthen existing employee-owned companies by providing technical assistance, education, and training.

We partner with municipalities, service providers, and community organizations to increase awareness, integrating employee ownership into economic, business, and workforce development initiatives.

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Who We Are


MassCEO is administered by the ICA Group, a leading expert on worker ownership and the oldest national organization dedicated to the development of employee-owned companies. Our work is supported by the Commonwealth through the Massachusetts Office of Business Development.

Insiyah Bergeron

Senior Cooperative Developer

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ibergeron@icagroup.org


(she, her, hers)

What do you do at ICA?

I work with businesses in Massachusetts that are interested in transitioning to employee ownership.

What is a worker-owned business that inspires you?

In graduate school, I had the amazing opportunity to work with CERO, a composting cooperative in Boston. Our design team of CERO staff and MIT students worked together for six months. We surveyed potential customers to learn about their waste management needs, tested community engagement strategies, and designed marketing materials to promote the co-op. This hands-on experience allowed me to see the power of employee ownership and shared decision-making in action. I was and am inspired by CERO’s mission to divert food waste and create good jobs for Boston residents. This experience led me to start composting in my own home, a practice I’ve proudly maintained over the years.

What helps you maintain work-life balance?

My husband and I recently started rock climbing. We’re both super amateurs but it’s been fun to learn a new skill together and experience incremental progress.

Where is your current home base?

I work out of ICA’s Northampton office.

Favorite TED talk?

“The happy secret to better work” by Shawn Achor. This talk inspired me to start journaling four years ago, in an attempt to keep track of the good things that happen every day. I start a new journal every year, and one of my favorite activities is going through my old journals and seeing how life has progressed, and reviewing all that I have to be grateful for.

What is your favorite podcast about leadership?

I love “By the Book,” hosted by two awesome ladies, Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer, who live by a different self help book every episode and report back on their experience. This podcast has helped me discover many cool tips and tricks about keeping the everyday joyful and organized.


Allison Curtis

Senior Social Enterprise Consultant

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acurtis@icagroup.org


(she, her, hers)

What do you do at ICA?

I help businesses that are interested in converting to cooperative ownership better understand the process as it relates to their goals, financials, and structure.

What is a worker-owned business that inspires you?

I’m a big fan of the CERO Cooperative, a composting and food diversion company in Boston. They used a Direct Public Offering (DPO) to finance their business through community support. I love this model because it allows community members to invest in the success of a business they care about, providing opportunities for both the business and the community to build wealth and power.

What helps you maintain work-life balance?

I love to spend time outdoors hiking, swimming, and biking (when Massachusetts weather allows). I’m also an amateur potter and I spend many afternoons throwing on the wheel after work.

Where is your current home base?

Northampton

Favorite TED talk?

Hannah Gadsby’s “Three ideas. Three contradictions. Or not.” She sort of flips comedy on its head, and has an incredible way of talking about vulnerability that I find really inspirational.

What is your favorite book about leadership?

Many of my personal models for leadership come from novels, rather than books that specifically lay out leadership strategies. I find the characters in Octavia Butler’s novels to be particularly inspiring– Lauren from Parable of the Sower is probably my favorite example.


David Hammer

Executive Director

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dhammer@icagroup.org


(he, him, his)

What do you do at ICA?

On my best days, I am a coach, guide, and thought partner. I am responsible for much of our sales and development work, and I play a role in various coalitions and partnerships across the country. I also help to shape ICA’s long-term goals.

What is a worker-owned business that inspires you?

Lately I’ve been particularly inspired by the home care cooperatives we work with. For instance, Home Care Associates of Philadelphia has taken a major business challenge – recruitment and retention in a sector with a major workforce shortage and low wages that are largely dictated by public payment rates – and doubled down on ownership as a way to build meaningful connections with workers. In a sector with turnover approaching 80%, HCA is seeing more and more workers joining the cooperative as members.

What helps you maintain work-life balance?

A good day for me will involve time in the garden. Digging in the dirt is incredibly relaxing and I love that my mistakes often take a whole season to be truly understood. I also enjoy playing board and card games with my children, especially now that they are old enough to give me a run for my money.

Where is your current home base?

I am based out of Northampton, a place I lived for a number of years when I went to UMass Amherst as an undergrad and grad student.

Favorite TED talk?

“Will automation take away our jobs?” by David Autor. When we let middle skill jobs die, we create a chasm between bad jobs and good jobs that can’t be bridged. Autor’s work is one of the few places where this issue is being addressed, and his analysis has had a significant influence on ICA’s approach to our employee ownership conversion work.

What is your favorite book about leadership?

Building trusting relationships is really what leadership is really about and Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen is a great guide for giving feedback and having effective and engaging conversations. I also appreciate one of the central ideas in Building Long-Term Value: Developing a High-Performance Ownership Culture by Virginia J. Vanderslice and Alexander P. Moss – effective leaders treat information as a common resource for everyone to share, not a commodity that is only shared on a need-to-know basis.


Jennie Msall

Program Director – Business Conversions

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jmsall@icagroup.org


(she, her, hers)

What do you do at ICA?

I provide education, training, and technical assistance to business owners and workers who are transitioning their businesses to worker-owned cooperatives.

What is a worker-owned business that inspires you?

I’m inspired by Healthy Planet Cleaning Co-op because they helped organize a coalition of labor organizations to push forward state legislation in Rhode Island that creates a statutory vehicle for the creation of worker cooperatives. They are now the first worker cooperative in the state and their workers enjoy just working conditions within an industry where workers are typically treated poorly.

What helps you maintain work-life balance?

I love to go swimming, take long bike rides, and cook.

Where is your current home base?

I work from my apartment on the West Side of Providence. I spend a lot of my day on conference calls with my coworkers and talking with clients, so I get a lot of time with people even though I work alone.

Favorite TED talk?

I love Kim Scott’s “Radical Candor” management philosophy, which is all about building a workplace culture where coworkers have the relationships, tools, and systems to give and receive constructive feedback.

What is your favorite book about leadership?

Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading because it gives concrete tips on how to build a thriving workplace culture that treats all employees as business leaders.


Dara Nussbaum-Vazquez

Vice President

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dara@icagroup.org


(she, her, hers)

What do you do at ICA?

I lead ICA’s New Ownership Opportunities work to cement employee ownership into the standard economic and business development toolkit, including with our partners in local and state government. I also help build new collaborative models to support and resource broad-based employee ownership at scale.

What is a worker-owned business that inspires you?

I had the opportunity to visit the Mondragon cooperatives with leaders from the Bronx and NYC as an inspiration for our own regional economic development initiative in the Bronx. Mondragon’s scale (over 70,000 employees and $16 billion in revenues), diversity of companies (industrial, distribution, retail, finance, and knowledge), and resilience (survived previous economic downtowns with fewer layoffs by re-absorbing workers in other firms) shows what is possible for cooperatives when they are organized as a network with their own support institutions.

What helps you maintain work-life balance?

I discovered what I’ve come to think of as “dirt therapy” when I spontaneously decided to rip up a small patch of grass last summer and planted a garden in its place. This started what I suspect will be a life-long gardening practice, and a great source of personal calm, connection to the land, and joy!

Where is your current home base?

I work primarily in Massachusetts and NYC.

What is your favorite book about leadership?

I recently re-read Leading from the Emergent Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies by Otto Sharmer and Katrin Kaufer. It is based on a social technology called Theory U which is all about shifting individual and collective awareness in order to source and co-create new (in this case, economic) systems that respond to the needs of the whole and serve our wellbeing.


Shavon Prophet

Outreach Manager

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sprophet@icagroup.org


(she, her, hers)

What do you do at ICA?

I work with child care providers in four states to create shared service cooperatives and new employee-owned child care centers.

What is a worker-owned business that inspires you?

Eileen Fischer is a B Corps and ESOP company that has really moved socially and environmentally conscious business practices to the forefront of management discourse. I admire them for setting a high bar for companies at all scales to do good.

What helps you maintain work-life balance?

I always balance out my office time with outside time — taking walks is a must!

Where is your current home base?

My home base is in Northampton. I travel a lot with our child care team and am developing a deep love for Philadelphia and Detroit!

Favorite TED talk?

“Creative problem-solving in the face of extreme limits” by Navi Radjou, which examines frugal innovations in developing countries that are flipping traditional R&D on its head!

What is your favorite book about leadership?

Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Annie McKee, and Richard Boyatzis. There is increasing hard evidence supporting the importance of soft skills, including empathy and understanding, in business performance.

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Contact Us

Support our work to grow and sustain a strong network of employee-owned businesses in the Commonwealth.

MassCEO is administered by the ICA Group, a leading expert on worker ownership and the oldest national organization dedicated to the development of employee-owned companies.

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