Our Mission

The mission of the Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center (RMEOC) is to build a more just and sustainable economy through employee ownership.

We believe that a just economy is one that works for everyone, that is built upon inclusive and sustainable systems, and that provides equitable opportunity to build wealth.  Our current economy benefits too few, at the expense of too many.  But employee ownership is a powerful tool to change that.

Since RMEOC’s foundation in 2012, we see growing evidence of success every day as we help more and more businesses become employee owned, creating wealth for working people, helping to close race and gender wealth gaps, and building more sustainable, resilient, and profitable businesses that provide long-term benefit to our communities.

Why Employee-Owned Business?

  • Reduces growing wealth inequality: Business ownership is among the most concentrated forms of wealth in the U.S. and the richest 10% of Americans own 71% of total household wealth in the U.S., according to the World Inequality Database (2022). Expanding employee ownership could quadruple the share of wealth held by the bottom 50 percent of Americans.
  • Build a resilient economy: an employee-owned business is resilient during an economic crisis.
  • Create more job opportunities for marginalized communities: Employee-owned businesses provide better job opportunities for marginalized communities.

Benefits of Employee Ownership

Benefits for the Company

  • 8.5% Higher profit margins of EO companies
  • 5% faster annual growth for sales and employment
  • Higher success rate for co-ops than traditional firms
  • 90% of worker cooperatives stay in business after 5 yrs compared to 20% of conventional firms
  • Tax benefits

Benefits for Employees

  • 92% of employee owners have a higher median household wealth
  • 33% higher median income from overall wages at all wage levels
  • Greater access to financial benefits
  • Better working conditions
  • Reduced risks of job loss

Benefits for the Selling Owners

  • Creating a succession plan
  • Preserving the legacy of the company
  • Tax benefits
  • Rewarding and retaining employees
  • Creating a more resilient company

Benefits for the Economy

  • Worker co-ops keep wealth in the local economy
  • Healing the wealth gap
  • Fighting inequality
  • Boosting employment
  • Build wealth and higher standard of living
  • Benefits for disadvantaged communities

Types of Employee-Owned Business

ESOP

  • An employee retirement plan
  • Set up an ESOP Trust
  • Best for a large and profitable business

Worker Cooperatives

  • A worker-owned business
  • One person, one vote
  • Democratic & transparent

Employee-owned Trust (EOT)

  • Trust-owned business
  • Flexible employee benefit plans
  • Perpetual. It can’t be sold by other entities.

Minsun Ji (Ph.D.)

Executive Director

About Minsun


Minsun Ji (Ph.D.) is a labor-community organizer, activist scholar and popular educator. She has long experience in non-profit management and employee ownership efforts.

Minsun was a graduate program director of the Center for New Directions in Politics and Public Policy in the Political Science Department at the University of Colorado Denver where she created graduate program tracks in the social economy and community-labor organizing to grow leaders of social economy-labor organizing in Colorado. Minsun organized immigrant janitors, immigrant day laborers and domestic workers and she was the founder and the executive director of Denver’s first worker center, El Centro Humanitario para los Trabajadores (Humanitarian Center for Workers).

She served as a research fellow at the Institute for Cooperative Digital Economy at the New School of Social Science, and a J. Robert Beyster Employee Ownership Fellow at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University. She was also a Colorado Governor’s Commissioner on Employee Ownership (FY 2019-2020) and has been actively engaged in labor-cooperative issues as an Executive Committee Member at the Union-Coop Council of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC). Currently, she is also engaged in building worker-owned platform cooperatives in different cities in the U.S. and other countries, in connection with the worker-owned Drivers Cooperative in New York.

minsun@rmeoc.org

303-250-5920

Ashley Ortiz

Technical Assistance Director

About Ashley


Ashley Ortiz is the Statewide Technical Assistance Director with Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center, with a background of more than 15 years in entrepreneurial business support and a passion for social justice and an equitable economy. Her previous work includes cooperative business development with the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives in the Bay Area and work as a baker-owner at Arizmendi Bakery in San Rafael. Ashley co-founded the L.A. Co-op Lab, where she now serves as an Advisory Board Member, and she has taught classes about labor/power dynamics and worker-owned cooperatives. In 2019 she was selected for the inaugural cohort of start.coop’s business accelerator program designed to empower entrepreneurs to build transformative, scalable, cooperatively-owned businesses. Ashley earned her bachelors degree in Psychology at the University of Colorado and holds an M.A. in Urban Sustainability focused on social and economic justice from Antioch University.

ashley@rmeoc.org

415-405-5196

Erika Iacono

Researcher

About Erika


Erika is a researcher at Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center, where she has a chance to apply her passion for social justice, human rights, and labor rights.
Erika earned her summa cum laude BA in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Colorado, Denver, where she cultivated her dedication to and advocacy for a fairer and more equitable society. She hopes to support workers and communities and advance the cause of employee ownership through her research skills.

erika@rmeoc.org

Marion Champoux-Pellegrin

Rural Employee Ownership Director

About Marion


Marion Champoux-Pellegrin brings a decade of experience rallying unusual allies toward improving the world of work. Her passion for building an economy that benefits everyone led her to engage in research, safety and profit-sharing advocacy, corporate community programming, and promoting more human management practices. Most recently, she led multi-stakeholder consultations and collaborative planning sessions, facilitating the implementation of decentralized decision-making and better management practices in Canadian unions, associations, municipalities, counties, and community organizations. Before that, Marion supported Burmese small businesses in improving working conditions through an ESG investment fund and accompanied a dental health startup in building its employee and community relations, as well as scaling its operations. She also built and led the community engagement and worker relations department for a large manufacturer in Bangladesh whose programs included community health care, worker education, wage advocacy, health and safety.

marion@rmeoc.org

Matias Francisco

Outreach Coordinator

About Matias


My name is Matias Francisco.  I live in Alamosa, CO in the San Luis Valley.  I am from the Highlands of Guatemala and speak 2 languages (Spanish & English), 2 dialects (Mayan-Qan’jobal & Akateko).  I am a COOP Outreach Coordinator with the hopes to organize and bring more just and sustainable COOP opportunities to our rural region.  I enjoy working with different walks of life, helping the underserved communities and am a great community connector.  Things I love to do in my spare time are go on long walks with my family, yard work, work on old cars and volunteer at the homeless shelter with my family.

matias@rmeoc.org

Christopher Arnold

President (Chair)

About Christopher


Christopher believes in cultivating business as a force for good in the world. Having spent the first 17 years of his career working for large corporations, he has first-hand experience with the damaging effects of profit-centered business mindsets. Today, as founder of BRiiO Advisors, Christopher provides sensible leadership and business practices to leaders who care about the success of their team, their community, AND their business.

Jackie Benson

Treasurer

About Jackie


Jackie has two decades of experience counseling entrepreneurs, companies, and investors about corporate transactions and contracts, including organization, mergers and acquisitions, state and federal securities law, private equity, venture capital, financing, restructurings, and other corporate compliance issues and commercial agreements.  She has drafted and negotiated complex agreements, advised boards of directors of both public and private companies and prepared private placement documentation for growing companies. Jackie has represented companies before the SEC and PCAOB and has experience with federal securities litigation.  Jackie has also run two businesses, so she is able to bring this practical business experience to the table when advising clients.

jbenson@shermanhoward.com

Abdi Buni

About Abdi


Abdi is a transportation entrepreneur. Since 2010, he has founded three employee-owned taxi companies: Union Taxi Cooperative in Denver with 262 driver owners; Union Taxi in Portland, OR; and Green Taxi Cooperative in Denver with 800 driver-owners. Abdi currently owns and manages Denver ABC Shuttle.

Ruben Medina

About Ruben


Ruben was the co-founder of the Huerfano County Ambulance Service in his town of Walsenburg, Colorado. He brings a spirit of servant leadership to RMEOC as he as worked as an EMT-1, a firefighter, and a search and rescue professional. Ruben also worked for the YMCA of Denver for 20 years in a variety of capacities. In addition to serving on many boards and committees, Ruben currently works for the Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities as the Project Manager of the Northwest Aurora/ Montbello Community Engagement. He also has his own consulting company on community engagement and currently works with an NGO out of Nairobi, Kenya. Ruben is a fellow of the ABCD Institute out of DePaul University in Chicago.

Larry Dunn

About Larry


Starting his career as a cubicle coder for ANR Freight Systems and the Colorado Department of Human Services, Larry has been an enthusiast of the cooperative nature of open source software for the last 15 years. He was recognized by the Denver Democrats for building and maintaining their website and automating meeting registration. Larry currently works as a freelance software developer.

Sophie Mariam

About Sophie


Sophie holds a Master’s in Policy from the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, where she developed a broad range of research experience analyzing and advocating for labor policy innovations. She grew her commitment to amplifying worker voices while working in the federal policy space, at the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, and while completing her dissertation for the U.S. Department of Education. In her current role as a labor analyst with CFI, Sophie collaborates with partners and labor organizations across the state to research and advance policies for a fair, equitable tax code and an economy that works for all Coloradans.

Yurixhi Toro Rivera

About Yurixhi


Yurixhi was born and raised in Greeley Colorado. She graduated from Colorado State University in 2021 earning a bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies and minor in legal studies. Her hobbies are spending time with loved ones, being in nature, boxing, fashion, and self-improvement. As a child, she observed her family members navigate the complex immigration system and always questioned the structures in place that affected our communities. The passion for empowering our communities inspired her academic and career trajectory. She believes it is essential to understand the way particular structures leave a lasting impact and to promote fair and equitable rights for underrepresented communities. She was Fuerza Latina’s community organizer in developing strategies that build power for immigrant community members in Fort Collins, and currently she is a physical health equity coordinator with Adelante Community.

Yousif Yousif

About Yousif


Originally from Sudan, Yousif earned his Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Bahri, Khartoum, where he served as a Researcher, Social Work Lecturer, and Director of the Field Training Department. Yousif’s life goal is to be a productive person who is useful to society by identifying negative phenomena and applying social service theories. After learning about the Drivers Cooperative-CO, Yousif became a leader of change through his active and inspirational support for the coop. As a driver and EO Fellow, Yousif is in charge of outreach strategies focusing on Arabic-speaking communities. Yousif dreams of reuniting his family by bringing his wife and daughter to the U.S. soon.

Trish Unverferth

About Trish


Equipped with a B.S. in Computer Science and two decades of building custom web applications in the corporate and marketing worlds, there’s nothing Trish can’t do. In the past, she successfully ran her own business teaching elementary kids game design and Scratch programming. Cancer tried to defeat her, but she won and went on to develop a passion for servant leadership with the Scouts BSA, where she served as an assistant scoutmaster and active board member. After a few years of learning about the gig economy and driving for Uber and Lyft part-time, Trish specializes in working with diverse communities and non-profits to build the TDC-CO.

Danny Gonzales-Hyde

About Danny


I am a second-year student at Regis University from Denver. So far in my academic career, I am undecided on a major but am leaning towards a double major in history and communications with a minor in Spanish. Last year, I interned at CIRCLE, a non-profit organization that facilitates connections between inclusive and responsive communities. What drew me to join RMEOC was my experience driving for a food delivery service only to realize the exploitative practices that are used by these rideshare companies. Having just recently joined the rideshare cooperative, I hope to continue spreading the word by publishing a monthly newsletter and reaching out to drivers. In addition to this, I spend my free time playing guitar, going out with friends, and working out.

Megan Monroe

About Megan


I am a senior in the nursing program at Regis University and help with driver outreach in the community. I believe in the importance of unions and worker power, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on healthcare workers. While driving for a food delivery service during the pandemic, I realized the exploitative practices of these companies and want to help change this through worker-owned cooperatives. I am also involved in queer activism on and off the Regis University campus. In my (limited) free time, I like to embroider, do yoga, read thrillers and fantasy books, and watch Bojack Horseman.

Hans Gebauer

About Hans


Originally from the Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota, I study Political Economy, Peace and Justice, and Math at Regis University. I am actively engaged in research, driver-organizing, grant writing, and social media projects for the Divers Cooperative, Colorado.
I am passionate about building a more just digital landscape by challenging the power of big tech over our democracy, everyday consumers, and workers. One day, I hope to make lasting change by dismantling tech monopolies as a policymaker, lawyer, or community organizer. On campus, I am an active member of the Debate team and regularly judge tournaments on the high school circuit. I also work at the University’s Center for Service Learning as the co-director of their Engaged Scholar-Activist program. In my free time, I enjoy exploring new recipes, reading nonfiction, and binge-watching the same show several times.

Dick Peterson, Founder Headshot

Dick Peterson, Founder

About Dick


Dick Peterson spent most of his career as a real estate broker. During this time, he started three employee-owned companies, including Re/Max of Cherry Creek.  In 2009 Dick realized the need for an organization that supported the creation of employee-owned companies so he — with the help of Bill Kirton and Larry Dunn — founded the Rocky Mountain Employee Ownership Center.  The rest is current history.

Bill Kirton Headshot

Bill Kirton, Founder

About Bill


Bill Kirton is a retired Methodist minister with more than 40-years of experience in community-based, organizational development, including non-profits. He is an experienced writer and communicator. Bill’s interest in and involvement with local schools, local government and local business organizations have played a major role in his professional and service activities,