I’ve been on the Board of Directors of the ICA Group (previously called the Industrial Cooperative Association) for many years. Founded 35 years ago, ICA was the first national organization focused on the development and support of worker-owned cooperatives in the United States.
Last January, our executive director, Newell Lessell departed for greener pastures and we began an extensive national search for a new person to lead it. I thought we’d be inudated with qualified applicants. But it turned out that few applicants possessed both the business acumen and the vision for a new economy that ICA needed.
The good news is that talented person with skills and vision was right in our midst. David Hammer, one of ICA’s Senior Business Consultants was selected by the board as the non-profit’s new executive director.
“David brings both practical skills and great passion for ICA’s mission that will provide the kind of leadership we need to make a real difference in workers lives,” said ICA board member Gerardo Espinoza who is also executive director of the Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF) a community loan fund affiliated with ICA. “David has the business analysis skills required to develop successful businesses and a deep understanding of the challenges social ventures face.”
Hammer has spent his career working for organizations dedicated to changing workers lives for the better. As an ICA Senior Business Consultant for the last five years, he oversaw the business planning, feasibility, and market study work ICA performed for social ventures. He was the lead author of a study for the National Cooperative Grocers Association that measured the social and economic impact of food cooperatives, and led the research on the strategic analysis of numerous programs for NCB Capital Impact, including the Green House Initiative and the Village to Village Network.
From 2005 to 2008 he served as Assistant Director of Research of 1199SEIU, a 300,000 member health care union with members in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington DC. Previously Mr. Hammer conducted research for UNITE in New York City and the United Steelworkers of America in Pittsburgh. Hammer earned a Masters of Science from the Labor Relations and Research Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Bachelor’s degree in History from UMass, Amherst.
“ICA has a rich history of providing top quality business support to a sector with enormous potential – but which too often lacks the market-based analysis necessary to make a venture succeed,” Hammer said. “I am honored to continue that legacy and will work to promote the development of – or conversion to – employee-owned firms that bring employee ownership to scale.”
As you can see, David’s business expertise and background with the labor movement make him well placed to promote worker ownership strategies with groups seeking to spawn a ‘new economy’ including many unions and community groups.
About the ICA Group
Founded in 1978, The ICA Group is a national not-for-profit whose mission is to expand economic opportunity and self-determination by supporting initiatives that empower workers, build community assets and root capital locally. ICA provides a full range of business consulting services including strategic analysis and technical assistance to help our clients create economic opportunities for disadvantaged populations. ICA seeks to develop, convert and sustain alternative business structures including cooperatives, social enterprises and conventionally structured businesses with an employee focus. The ICA Group also manages the Alternative Staffing Alliance, a peer network of workforce development organizations that use a temporary staffing business platform coupled with supportive services to help people with obstacles to employment enter and advance in the workforce.