Staff & Board


Melissa Hoover, Executive Director

Melissa Hoover is the founding Executive Director of the Democracy at Work Institute, the think-and-do-tank that expands worker cooperatives as a strategy to address economic and racial inequality. A leader in the worker ownership movement for over fifteen years, Melissa helped start and grow the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the national grassroots membership organization for worker-owned businesses. She was a cooperative business developer for many years with the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives in Oakland, doing business and capital planning for two startups, training cooperative members, and serving as CFO in the first year of each startup's operations. In 2018, Melissa was named an Executive Fellow of the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of The ICA Group/Local Enterprise Assistance Fund, The Working World, and Safe Passages of Oakland, and serves as a strategic advisor to foundations, investors, nonprofits, local governments and other organizations that want to incorporate worker ownership into their economic development and community wealth-building programs. Originally from Kansas City, Melissa attended Stanford University on a full scholarship, earning a BA in History with a research focus on immigrant women's role building cooperative movements in the U.S.

Email: mhoover [at]  |  Phone: (415) 379-9201 Ext. 1

Rebecca Bauen, Managing Director

Rebecca Bauen directs DAWI’s Communities of Practice program which includes fellowships, trainings, and our School for Democratic Management. She has long-standing experience in worker cooperative development and adult education.  As Executive Director of WAGES in Oakland, California from l999-2003, Rebecca directed the organization toward scaling green cleaning cooperatives.  Prior to this, she supported the start-up of an interpreting coop and led a workplace conversion project of a union cabinet making company in Washington State.  Working for the Northwest Cooperative Federation, she organized the first four years of the annual Western Worker Cooperative Conference, and taught courses on worker cooperatives and popular education at UC Berkeley and The Evergreen State College. She has published multiple articles and reports on community development and cooperatives for GEO, the ICA Group and Dollars & Sense. She is a member of the Cooperative Charitable Trust, participating in study trips of Mondragon, Emilia Romagna, Manitoba, and the Argentine recuperated factories. Rebecca holds a M.P.A. with a focus on regional economic development and environmental sustainability.  She is also a multi-media artist whose story-sculptures have been shown in exhibits throughout the west coast

Email: rbauen [at]  |  Phone: (415) 379-9201 Ext. 5

Vanessa Bransburg, Managing Director

Vanessa Bransburg oversees the Immigrant Cooperative Initiative among other projects. She was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and emigrated with her family to San Diego, CA in 1988. She received her B.A. from UCLA in Sociology and her M.A. in Social Work from Columbia University. She was the Director of Cooperative Development at the Center for Family Life (CFL) in Brooklyn, NY for 8 years. While at CFL she expanded the program's capacity by expanding the staff, support an ever-growing worker cooperative incubator program for immigrant and low-income residents, establishing the NYC Cooperative Development Initiative to support NGOs looking to become cooperative incubators, and was one of the founders of the NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives. She is currently lives in San Diego, CA with her family.

Email: vbransburg [at]  |  Phone: (415) 379-9201 Ext. 13

Shevanthi Daniel, Co-Director of the Cooperative Conversions program

Shevanthi (Shev) is passionate about the intersection of sustainable business and economic development. Her work spans over fifteen years in community and labor organizing, and strategic capacity building with nonprofit and small businesses. She previously served as Lead Manager of Worker Cooperative Initiative at Pinchot University - Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, and also helped develop a Cooperative Management Certificate program at Pinchot University.  Shevanthi has managed and implemented large-scale labor organizing and worker justice campaigns with SEIU1199 NW, and programs centered on civil rights and social justice leadership, in rural and urban centers across the country, as well as solidarity work in South Africa, Nicaragua and Ethiopia. Shevanthi is also a co-founder of the O’Dell Education Center, a nonviolence direct action and leadership academy in Washington State, owned and operated by the Institute for Community Leadership. She is also Executive Board member at the Center for Women in Democracy, strengthening women's capacity and leadership in public and private sector. Shevanthi has an MBA in Sustainable Business from Pinchot University and BA in History and Anthropology from University of Washington.

Email: sdaniel [at]  |  Phone: (415) 379-9201 Ext. 11

Joe MarraffinoCo-Director of the Cooperative Conversions program

Joe Marraffino is the Co-director of the Cooperative Conversions program at the Democracy at Work Institute.  Joe was the Finance Manager for the 12,000 member GreenStar Cooperative Market in Ithaca, New York.  Previously he was a worker-owner of Arizmendi Bakery in San Francisco and worked as a business developer for the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives to help launch two new worker-owned bakeries. Joe was a founding member of the of the New York Cooperative Network and the Democracy at Work Network.  He has a MA from the New College of California in Culture, Ecology, and Sustainable Community. 

Email: jmarraffino [at]  |  Phone: (415) 379-9201 Ext. 6

Anh-Thu Nguyen, Director of Special Projects

Anh-Thu Nguyen is Director of Special Projects for the Democracy at Work Institute, where she leads the incubation of a transparent, ethical, and cooperative-led value chain within the textile and fashion industries. She was most recently Director at We See Beauty Foundation, where she supported women-led, worker-owned initiatives. Born and raised in Tampa Bay, Florida to Vietnamese parents, Anh-Thu early on developed a wide array of interests that led her to study Classics and Government at Georgetown University and earn her JD at the University of Texas School of Law. Her work experience includes luxury/artisan branding and marketing, international humanitarian law, transitional justice, and dental laboratory technology.

Email: atnguyen [at]  |  Phone: (415) 379-9201 Ext. 16

Tim Palmer, Director of Research

As Research Director, Tim oversees foundational and strategic research to inform the field. Prior to joining the Democracy at Work Institute, he spent ten years conducting strategic, economic and policy research in the healthcare sector for the Service Employees International Union. He also has experience negotiating at the bargaining table with unionized employers and participating in organizing campaigns. He holds a Master’s degree in US labor history and was a volunteer activist in his graduate assistants’ union while working at the University of Florida.

Email: tpalmer [at]  |  Phone: (415) 379-9201 Ext. 4

Todd Leverette, Cooperative Conversions Program Manager

Todd Leverette is currently working as an Asst. Program Manager with the Democracy at Work Institute's Legacy Business Initiative Program, where he helps build worker-to-owner deal capacity.  Moreover, he supports worker ownership initiatives in Detroit, MI as a team member of C2BE. A 2013 graduate of Columbia Law School and Columbia Business School, Todd also has experience in corporate finance and residential real estate.

Email: tleverette [at]  |  Phone: (415) 379-9201 Ext. 7 

Leigh Brown, Program Associate

Leigh Brown is the backbone representative for the New York City Council-funded Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative, a liaison with key partners in city government and across the broader local network of business support providers. Leigh also provides broader programmatic, communications, and operations support for the Democracy at Work Institute. Prior to joining DAWI, Leigh worked on the inaugural Best for NYC campaign, which equips businesses to measure and improve their social and environmental impact. Leigh spent two years studying communications design at Pratt Institute before graduating from The New School with a BA in Environmental Studies. 

Email: lbrown [at]  |  Phone: (415) 379-9201 Ext. 2

Zen Trenholm, Local Initiatives Organizer

Zen Trenholm is the Local Initiatives Organizer with the Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI) building capacity, partnerships, and resources to scale employee ownership across the country. He currently supports the Legacy Business Initiative which focuses on preserving small businesses through conversions to employee ownership. Prior to DAWI he was an organizer for climate justice and a director at the California Student Sustainability Coalition. At UC Berkeley, he co-founded the Student Environmental Resource Center and after obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Cooperative Business Development, he returned to his alma mater to launch a course on cooperative entrepreneurship.

Email: ztrenholm [at]  |  Phone: (415) 379-9201 Ext. 12

Roodline Volcy, Contracts Program Manager

Roodline Volcy was born in Haiti and emigrated to Naples, Florida to join her family as a young child. She attended Salem College in North Carolina where she studied International Relations and Race & Ethnicity Studies. She has traveled to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Haiti working as a translator for speakers of English, Haitian Kreyol and Spanish. Professionally, she has held positions at the Center for Creative Leadership and the American Institute of CPAs where she managed both on-site events as well as national ones. Roodline enjoys working with everyone from event attendees to keynote speakers and site representatives to ensure that the conference experience runs efficiently and comfortably. Within her own community she is a member of the Renaissance Cooperative Community in Greensboro, NC.  When it opens in 2016, the store will be the first of its kind--a full-service grocery in what was once a food desert. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and walking with her dog Watson, a 2-year-old German Shepherd/Akita mix.

Email: rvolcy [at]  |  Phone: (415) 379-9201 Ext. 15

Amy Solis, Administrative and Programs Coordinator

Amy Solis is the Administrative and Programs Coordinator at Democracy at Work Institute. She immigrated from Ecuador to the United States with her family in the early 1990s. She has roots as a community organizer and activist within marginalized communities in Southern California. She studied Fine Art and Women Gender and Sexuality Studies at California State University Long Beach. Prior to joining DAWI as Communities of Practice program support in 2015, she co-directed the Long Beach Cooperative Empowerment Project, organizing self-directed learning groups and cooperative education campaigns. Amy is also a core member of the USA Cooperative Youth Council where she is part of the education committee and continues to be an active member of Long Beach Gender. Resistance. Revolution. Radical Liberation (GRRRL) Collective, a feminist/social justice collective that influences personal, social, and cultural transformation that reaches and serves up to 900 marginalized community members from the Los Angeles area each year. 

Email: asolis [at]  |  Phone: (415) 379-9201 Ext. 14

Annie Danger, Finance Manager

In her work as the Finance Manager at the Democracy at Work Institute, Annie Danger acts as the beating heart of financial responsibility for the organization. Annie works closely with all DAWI staff to help create a transparent, collaborative understanding of our finances and how best to utilize them for the maximum benefit of cooperatives. Born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico to an engineer and a science teacher, Annie showed an early knack for organizational thinking. She was trained in bookkeeping on the job at Modern Times Collective Bookstore in San Francisco beginning in 2006 and has been an independent bookkeeper for a variety of social justice organizations since, using her bookkeeping skills and teaching abilities to support these organizations in developing long-term financial literacy and stability.

Email: finance [at] 



Elizabeth Arredondo

Elizabeth Arredondo is from Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico where she studied marketing. She is a worker-owner at TeamWorks Cooperatives in San Jose, California. She has been working with TeamWorks for seven years and joined the management team in 2015; spending 80% of her time in leadership and administrative roles and 20% of her time doing cleaning. She also consults with the TeamWorks Development Institute’s first co-op client, “Green Broom Brigade.” Elizabeth is an apprentice with the Democracy at Work Network, joining their one-year co-op developer program.

Maru Bautista

Maru Bautista is the Co-Director of Cooperative Development at the Center for Family Life (CFL). Born and raised in Puebla, Mexico, she emigrated to the United States to pursue a M.A. in International Affairs, with a concentration in Development from The New School. Prior to joining CFL, she spent time in rural Colombia working on development projects that supported local communities’ economic empowerment. She has a deep commitment to increasing access and equity for low income immigrant communities and communities of color. For the past two years she has been developing worker cooperatives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and supporting community based organizations around NYC to begin incubating worker cooperatives. In 2015, she was a DAWI Worker Cooperative Developer Fellow, and joined the Board of Directors of the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFED).

Aaron Dawson, Treasurer

For four years, Aaron Dawson has held the elected position of Board Member for Equal Exchange, a Fair Trade Massachusetts worker co-op with over 150 employees, 125 co-op members and almost a 30 year history of growth, Fair Trade and democratic practice. He also held the elected position of Worker Owner Coordinator for Equal Exchange for two years. Additionally, he has served on the Board of the US Federation of Worker Co-ops for four years and completed his Masters in Management, Co-operatives and Credit Unions at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada. Aaron has been at Equal Exchange for thirteen years, where he is a Customer Service Manager. Involvement in worker co-ops runs in Aaron's family. His father, Steven Dawson, is a co-founder of the ICA Group, an employee ownership consulting firm and helped to set up Cooperative Home Care Associates in New York City.

Molly Hemstreet, President

Molly Hemstreet is a native of Morganton, North Carolina where she continues to work and raise her family.  After attending Duke University as a Benjamin N Duke Scholar, she returned home to teach in the public school system.  She then worked for the Center for Participatory Change, organizing economic development initiatives across rural Western NC in a response to the need for fair livelihoods.  In 2008, she founded Opportunity Threads - currently the largest, US based worker-owned, cut and sew facility.  She co-founded the Carolina Textile District in 2013, a strategic value chain supporting the resurgence of textiles across the Carolinas.  She loves being with her family and when she has time she likes to play the fiddle.

Adria Powell

As Executive Vice President at Cooperative Home Care Associates, Adria Powell supervises the Vice Presidents of the cooperative's three divisions: Operations, Clinical Services, and Finance. She works closely with these teams to ensure that the organization maintains the best quality of services possible, by maintaining a deep investment in the development of the direct-care workforce.  By guiding CHCA's ongoing strategic planning and compliance efforts , she helps to ensure that the company is positioned to seize opportunities and meet challenges that arise in providing home health care services in a highly dynamic environment. In her essential work within CHCA's leadership, Adria seeks to maximize positive impacts for CHCA home care workers and the elders and individuals living with disabilities. Notably, as a recognition of CHCA's achievements in these areas, the company earned B Lab's "Best for the World" status in 2014 for the second year in a row. CHCA received a certification score high enough to be ranked in the top ten percent of the 987 assessed Certified B Corporations.

Adria joined Cooperative Home Care Associates as a Coordinator in 1993 and has since fulfilled progressively higher levels of responsibility.  During that time, she has helped CHCA to grow from a small cooperative to one that employs more than 2,110 staff.  In 1993, she earned her Baccalaureate Degree in Psychology from Boston College. In 2000, she earned her Masters of Public Administration (Health Policy & Management) from New York University.

Pancho Argüelles

 Pancho Argüelles was born in Mexico City and has lived in the U.S. since 1997. For more than thirty years he has worked on human rights issues in Mexico, Central America, and the United States: as a rural teacher in Chiapas, supporting Guatemalan refugees, co-founding Universidad Campesina in Nicaragua, and with rural cooperatives in Central Mexico. In Houston, he co-founded Fe y Justicia Worker Center, a community organization for low-wage immigrant workers and currently serves in its board. Pancho served on the board of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights where he co-authored the popular education curriculum, BRIDGE: Building a Race and Immigration Dialogue on the Global Economy. He lives in Houston, TX, where he is on his fifth year serving as the pro-bono executive director of Living Hope Wheelchair Association, a community-based organization of migrants with spinal cord injuries. Through PazyPuente LLC he provides training and consulting services to social and racial justice organizations across the country. 

Ana Martina Rivas

Ana Martina is the Membership Director of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. Born and raised in Mexico City, her work with community media took her to California and Arizona where she collaborated with different independent media outlets. Once she moved to Philadelphia, she served as the Technical Director of the Prometheus Radio Project supporting communities and organizations across the country in their efforts to access community owned media. From 2011 to 2014 Ana Martina helped organize the Spanish Speaker Network Gathering at the Allied Media Conference celebrated in Detroit. In 2014 Ana was invited to join the Rhizomatica project where she helped install mobile phone networks owned by autonomous indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico. Early spring 2016, she moved back to Philadelphia where she lives now with her partner and 21 month old toddler. Back in her community now, she is working towards the creation of a bilingual media tech coop Radicante Media.