The School for Democratic Management was formed to help new managers of converting cooperatives understand what they need to know that is different from conventional management, and managers of new and established worker cooperatives develop and boost their management skills.


Our School is unique in the field of management training. Our instructors are current or former managers of successful employee owned companies, who speak from their lived experience: the good, bad and ugly. Who knows more than the people who have lived, worked and thrived as democratic managers? We work closely with these managers to identify key lessons to highlight and takeaways to share. Course content is practically oriented to be short, intensive, and to offer tools to put into practice. 

Courses are structured around four requirements of a democratic workplace:
Financial return - Members participate in the rewards of the successful business
Information sharing - Sharing management level information is critical to effective participation
Organizational citizenship - Members are ‘citizens’ of their business and participate in governing it
Human development - Democracy requires continuous capacity development 

We call it democratic management to emphasize the unique mandate of a democratic workplace, rather than merely the prerogative of management to encourage participation. This mandate carries with it certain responsibilities and requirements (see above). Democratic management does not imply, however, that all decisions are made by everyone.  Rather, it assumes a single manager or management team committed to teaching what they know and sharing power thereby building a culture of ownership.


The School’s structure and content draws from the research and practice of experts in the field:

Advisors in the launch of the School include: Rob Brown, Cooperative Development Institute; Aaron Dawson, Equal Exchange; Molly Hemstreet, Opportunity Threads; Karla Reyes, Dreamco Marketing & Consulting; and Ginny Vanderslice, Praxis Consulting Group.

Our mandate to educate workers for democracy comes from the late Frank Adams, author of Putting Democracy to Work.  This school draws inspiration, too, from the Work People’s College of the early 20th century, which was formed by workers to teach workers how to manage their own companies.