Local, state, and county government workforce and community development agencies are perpetually concerned with how to save and create local jobs. There is ample evidence that employee ownership is one of the best and most enduring means to accomplish these ends. Yet, few of them are aware of the benefits to communities, selling owners and employees of the various forms of employee ownership. Deborah Olson has been teaching, writing, organizing and practicing law in this distinctive sector since 1981.
From 1997 -2007, Olson was the founder and Executive Director of the Capital Ownership Group (COG) at Kent State University, http://www.capitalownership.org. COG was a global, online policy and conference center which organized national and international policy conferences funded by the Ford Foundation, the German Marshall Fund of the US and the European Union Fund (among others). It ran 20 global online discussion groups, and published numerous papers on how broad ownership could be used by communities to counter the negative impacts of globalization. Olson directed COG’s Alfred P. Sloan Foundation‑funded Fair Exchange Project. She authored “Fair Exchange: Providing citizens with equity managed by a community trust in return for government subsidies or tax breaks to businesses”, 15 Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, No. 2 (Spring 2006). COG held a conference discussing this paper at George Washington University Law School in 2007.
- Employee/board of director members and ESOP trustees their duties through the Ohio Employee Owned Network, the Worker Ownership Institute and the University of Wisconsin School for Workers.
- Labor union representatives how to recognize companies that may be good candidates for employee ownership and how to negotiate for worker ownership.
- Irish labor, co-op, and economic development leaders about ESOPs and making legislative proposals, upon the invitation of the Irish Government and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
- Labor law, plant closing alternatives, and employee ownership at Wayne State University (WSU) Law School, the WSU labor studies program, the University of Michigan Institute of Labor & Industrial Relations, the AFL-CIO George Meany Center for Labor Studies, Cornell University, University of Indiana, New York University, Bentley College, University of Wisconsin School for Workers, and to unions, attorneys and employee owners.
- Olson provided employee ownership pre-feasibility studies for the states of Michigan, Ohio and Maryland.
- Deb Olson served as executive director of JointCities Development Corp. and the Center for Community-Based Enterprise. During her position, she also created articles, bylaws for and made successful IRS (501)(c)(3) applications for them. Olson was also the founding executive director of the Wisconsin Committee on Occupational Safety and Health and the Michigan Employee Ownership Center.
- She advised the employees on the privatization of Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority.
Olson Professional Associations
AV rating from Martindale Hubbell since 1997; Participant, Corporation 2020 (policy working group); Member, AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee; Leadership Detroit XVII, Detroit Chamber of Commerce; Michigan Bar Tax, Labor & Corporation Sections Member. Bar Admissions: Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Arkansas. Past Affiliations: Board Chair, National Center for Employee Ownership; Board of Directors, European Federation of Employed Shareholders; Board of Trustees, Michigan Housing Trust Fund; Vice-Chair, Michigan Chapter of the ESOP Association
The Community Economy Group is building a Network of Community Enterprises led by Deborah Olson.
The mission of the Community Economy Group (The Group) is to create a successful Metro Detroit-based, business group built on values of cooperation, commitment to community and sustainability, utilizing Metro Detroit’s unique resources while cognizant of the area’s challenges. The Group’s work is an ongoing effort to teach and adapt proven models of cooperative economic and social practices, to help consolidate and accelerate Detroit’s transformation to a sustainable and inclusive local economy. The Group includes three principal entities, with different, but related functions:
- The Center for Community Based Enterprise (C2BE) – a non-profit education and technical assistance center promoting community wealth building
- IngenuityUS, L3C (IUS) – a Community Innovation Broker and Business Developer incubating businesses that employ Detroiters with limited formal education in jobs that provide them a living wage; and providing resources to local inventors
- Groban Olson & Associates (GOA) – a law firm that specializes in creating and advising employee owned companies and cooperatives.