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Mini-cast 262: Celebrating Project Equity's 10th Anniversary

The EsOp Mini-cast: Celebrating Project Equity on its 10th Anniversary

Bret Keisling celebrates Project Equity's 10th Anniversary. On April 1, 2014, Hilary Abell and Alison Lingane began working part-time with a goal of scaling employee ownership.  In its first year, they created a feasibility study for different strategies to grow EO, created a worker coop academy pilot project with partners based out of Oakland, and articulated its initial organizational mission and values. Included in the Mini-cast is an excerpt from 2020 in which Alison Lingane briefly shares Project Equity's origin story.

Today Project Equity operates primarily as a virtual organization of thirty team members. They have led the way with national partner collaborations, educated approximately 15,000 people about EO, and support 30-40 companies each year with technical assistance for their EO transition journeys. Congratulations and thank you to Project Equity's present and past team members. We have no doubt the best is yet to come.

... or watch the video below.


Related Episodes

Hilary Abell's previous podcast episodes: 

Alison Lingane's previous podcast episodes: 

Current CEO Evan Edward's previous podcast episodes:

Project Equity Looks Back at the first 10 years in their own words, here.

Mini-cast 262 Transcript

[00:00:00] Bret Keisling: Welcome to the EsOp Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling, and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. I want to take a few minutes today to congratulate and celebrate Project Equity on recently reaching its 10th anniversary.

[00:00:27] Bret Keisling: On April 1st, 2014, Project Equity co-founders Hilary Abell and Alison Lingane began working part time. In its first year, they conducted their own feasibility study looking for different strategies to scale employee ownership, they created a Workers Coop Academy pilot project with partners in Oakland, California, and began articulating the organizational mission and values.

[00:00:51] Fast forward to today, and Project Equity has 30 team members in what is primarily a virtual organization. They've worked with local and national partners throughout the United States, they've educated 15,000 people about employee ownership over the past 10 years, and they provide technical assistance to 30 to 40 companies annually in various parts of their EO transition journey.

[00:01:15] Alison Lingane appeared on Episode 112 of our primary EO ESOP podcast, and Hilary Abell appeared the next week on Episode 113. They've each been back a couple of times since. Evan Edwards became CEO of Project Equity in 2022, and I'm so grateful that he's appeared on several episodes as well. If you check out the show notes for this episode, we'll include links to the various episodes they've appeared on. Or if you go to and enter "Project Equity" in the search bar, you'll find the episodes they've appeared on as well as times I've talked about Project Equity on my own.

[00:01:52] Regular listeners of the podcast know that I love a good origin story, and on Episode 112, Alison Lingane shared Project Equity's. Here's an excerpt from 2020. I hope you'll enjoy Project Equity's origin story.


[00:02:05] Bret Keisling: In my previous Mini-cast, I did a profile of Project Equity and talked about you and your co-founder, Hilary Abell. And wanted to have you come on and just talk about how you got to where you are and where you're going with Project Equity.

[00:02:21] But Alison, you have a fascinating story that I read in one of your bios online. You got a college degree, ended up getting an MBA, but your path seems to be a realization that opportunities that were open to you were not necessarily open to other people.

[00:02:38] Am I, kind of in short and sweet, summing up your journey a little bit?

[00:02:43] Alison Lingane: Yeah. Yeah. And then you know, it's, it's really interesting because I often describe sort of how I ended up in the employee ownership space as really stumbling into it. You know, which kind of frames up for me why Project Equity exists and the challenge that I think we have in the employee ownership space.

[00:03:01] But I stumbled into it in my, a good ways into my career when a colleague introduced me to Hilary Abell, my co-founder at Project Equity. And, you know, I had been in the business world for about 20 years. It was the first that I had heard about this approach to organizing a business called employee ownership.

[00:03:19] As you mentioned, after getting my MBA at UC Berkeley, which has a, had a very vibrant community of MBA students really focused on and interested in responsible business. But there was no mention of employee ownership. And following getting my MBA, I worked for about 15 years in mission-driven companies, and again, never heard about employee ownership.

[00:03:41] And so, once I started to learn about it after meeting Hilary, for me, it just really clicked. Because this is a business model in which business decisions are made through the lens of what's good for the employee, and so by extension, their families, their communities. It's a business model that has both financial and professional opportunities for employees built right into its DNA.

[00:04:05] You know, a business model that creates quality jobs, jobs with a financial safety net. And so, you know, at the end of the day, it's not surprising, given all of this, that employee-owned businesses also outperform their competitors, are more efficient, are themselves more resilient, and are ultimately stronger companies.

[00:04:21] And, you know, so this all sounds terrific, but why doesn't anybody know about it? That's ultimately the big question that landed for me after I got my head into, you know, what employee ownership is. Why don't more people to know about it because it really seems like the best kept secret in the business world? And, you know, my question is, well, what's holding it back?


[00:04:40] Bret Keisling: So, congratulations to everyone at Project Equity. Hilary Abell and Alison Lingane, who had the vision and acted on it, to current CEO, Evan Edwards, and to all of their team members, past and present, who've done such an incredible job supporting and growing employee ownership in all its forms. I celebrate you. I thank you. And I appreciate you all.

[00:05:03] With that, we'll wrap up this episode of the Mini-cast.

[00:05:05] Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


[00:05:09] Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you! You can find us on Facebook at EO Podcast Network and on Twitter [X] @EsOpPodcast. This podcast has been produced by Bret Keisling for the EO Podcast Network. Original music composed by Max Keisling. Branding and marketing by BitsyPlus Design. And I'm Bitsy McCann.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Descript, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The EsOp Podcast, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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