Exploring Employee Ownership: Why Business Owners Choose it and what it Could Offer Your Company


In honor of Employee Ownership month, the ASBN Transforming Business Ownership working group is pleased to present this special panel. Speakers will include leaders of employee-owned businesses who can share different perspectives on the value of employee ownership and how it contributes to their company’s success, whether through employee engagement and retention, succession planning and ownership transitions, or just another way to express the company’s commitment to sustainability. Panelists will address different scenarios through which businesses can transition to employee ownership.

Moderator: Derek Peebles | ASBN Director of Inclusive Economy





Tommy Smith leads the economic impact strategy for Kaiser Permanente’s procurement spend. Tommy helps KP leverage its buying power to support economic development as a means of improving community health. Tommy serves as the main contact point with business units in developing strategies and programs to promote local impact purchasing and capacity building for businesses in KP’s supply chain and in KP’s communities. Tommy holds a BA in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is a veteran of the United States Navy’s Submarine Service. Prior to his role with Impact Spending, Tommy conducted policy analysis and program evaluation in civic engagement, economic development, education, supplier diversity and workforce training. He is a husband and father of two who in his scant free time enjoys reading, hiking, and camping.

Kevin is the co-founder of Technicians For Sustainability, a solar design build firm, since 2003. He guided the company to a worker cooperative transition in 2017, and has continued to serve as CEO. Kevin has been advocating for adoption of renewable energy in Southern Arizona for over two decades. Through his engagement with sustainability, he has worked to increase access to and trust in solar energy while structuring the company at the intersection of idealism and practicality.

Rachel Battles is the General Manager and a Founding Member of Happy Earth Cleaning Co-op, Minneapolis’s first worker-owned cleaning company! She played an active role in Happy Earth’s transition from an LLC to a worker cooperative. Through the process, she leveled up from being just a cleaning employee to being a business owner, and successfully managed the co-op through the turbulence of a global pandemic. She is super pumped to share her experiences and knowledge of the co-op realm with other folks who are curious about employee ownership! Her passion for helping people and making the world a more loving, equitable, and peaceful place is what drives her to make Happy Earth the best workplace it can be.

There will be an opportunity to join each of the panelists in break out rooms with Employee Ownership experts: 

And Transforming Business Ownership Project Members 

  • Babbie Jacobs | Dave O’Leary | Derek Peebles | Eric Leenson 


In Depth Conversations with Employee Ownership Experts Follow-Up meeting – October 28th | 1:00 – 2:00pm ET

Featuring Corey Rosen (NCEO), Hilary Abell (Project Equity), Jack Moriarity (Ownership America), Karen Kahn (The Democracy Collaborative), Kristen Barker (Co-op Cincy), Matt Kruetz (Firebrand Artisan Breads), Ra Criscitiello (SEIU-UHW West )


These events are co-sponsored by EO Equals, a campaign that aims to expand the employee ownership movement. Employee ownership helps more small businesses thrive, empowers workers with higher quality jobs, and builds more equitable communities. Visit employeeownershipequals.org/ for more information.