National Business Alliance Names 36 Leaders Transforming Local Economies: Innovative Leaders Awarded BALLE Local Economy Fellowship

Thirty-six leaders representing innovative community and economic development solutions in 29 U.S. and Canadian cities have been selected to the Business Alliance for Local Living Economy’s (BALLE) fourth cohort of Local Economy Fellows.


Oakland, CA – Thirty-six leaders representing innovative community and economic development solutions in 29 U.S. and Canadian cities have been selected to the Business Alliance for Local Living Economy’s (BALLE)  fourth cohort of Local Economy Fellows.

These are leaders with fierce love for their communities – a love that they’re each putting to work in ways that bring equity, opportunity, capital, and support to small local businesses and the diverse populations in every community they serve.

“The leaders selected for this cohort represent the direction we believe we need to go as a nation and as a planet,” said BALLE Executive Director Michelle Long. “Each of the 2016 Fellows are working to bring more accountability, personal relationships, and compassion to business. Collectively we see in this group the seeds of an economic system that serves life, rather than the other way around.”

The BALLE Local Economy Fellowship is the only program of its kind in North America focused on advancing local economies. This immersive, 18-month program equips local economy innovators with leadership and capacity-building skills, a peer network of leaders and funders across North America, and a national platform illuminating their models for other communities. By building this network and offering a curriculum of transformative personal and professional development, BALLE aims to catalyze the emergence of an equitable new economy.

BALLE Local Economy Fellows are selected based on their vision, leadership, and their roles as strategic connectors of thousands of local businesses.

Given what we know about the power of small businesses in North America – they are proven to increase local civic engagement, create 60-90 percent of net new jobs in the U.S. and Canada, and represent about half of U.S. and Canadian GDP (about $9.5 trillion) – it is no exaggeration to say that BALLE Fellows and leaders like them are transforming the bedrock of our economy.

The 2016 cohort directly serves more than 52,400 local businesses. Four fellows working through regional governments or focused on leveraging public dollars and policy – a new focus area of the BALLE Fellowship program – impact an additional 471,200 businesses through their work.

Other focus areas of this cohort include leaders who are advancing entrepreneurship and opportunity in under-resourced communities and communities of color, advancing cooperative development and worker ownership, transitioning post-coal Appalachia, and bringing conversations about well-being, equity, and health to board rooms, funding models, and networks of small businesses.

“BALLE Local Economy Fellows aren’t waiting for big government or big business to step in and fix all that ails a dying system – instead they are working to change economies right where they are, starting with the tools and resources they have:  human capital, resourcefulness, and an entrepreneurial spirit,” said Shawn Escoffery, Director of the Strong Local Economies Program for the Surdna Foundation.

The BALLE Local Economy Fellowship is made possible in partnership with the Christiano Family Fund, Kalliopeia Foundation, Kendeda Fund, NoVo Foundation, One 4 All (a donor advised fund of Proteus Fund), Surdna Foundation, Swift Family Foundation, two anonymous donors, and many generous individual supporters.

 The 2016 BALLE Local Economy Fellows are:

Kali Akuno

Cooperation Jackson in Jackson, MS

Kali leads and incubates a network of worker cooperatives, a land trust, and housing co-ops fighting to create economic democracy and solidarity.

Amanda Ballantyne

Main Street Alliance in Seattle, WA

Amanda supports state business networks in driving policy around worker’s rights and place-based economic development.

Kristen Barker

Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative in Cincinnati, OH

Kristen is turning Cincinnati into an American epicenter for implementing the Mondragon union cooperative model.

Hal Bowling
LAUNCH in Chattanooga, TN
Hal is a collaborative alliance builder connecting traditional business and economic development circles with tools to empower entrepreneurs in marginalized communities and address racial and economic injustice.
Derrick Braziel
MORTAR in Cincinnati, OH
Derrick is cultivating entrepreneurship – with a focus on the Black community – in a city historically ranked as one of the worst in the nation for African American economic opportunity.
Anthony Chang
Kitchen Table Advisors in San Francisco, CA
Anthony helps sustainable farms become sustainable businesses and fosters cross-sector collaboration with corporations, banks, CDFIs, and value-add food companies to fuel this work.
Jenice Contreras
Northeast Ohio Hispanic Business Center in Cleveland, OH
Jenice helps the Latino community create viable businesses and focuses on redeveloping neighborhoods in ways that ensure economic opportunity for existing residents.
Chrystel Cornelius
First Nations Oweesta Corporation in Longmont, CO
Chrystel is empowering Native American communities, using a CDFI model to build wealth and economic independence among tribal communities across the U.S.
Andrew Crosson
Rural Support Partners in Asheville, NC
Andrew is helping to weave collective impact networks across Appalachia to strengthen and support local community anchors and move sustainable economic development efforts to scale.
Tomas Duran
Concerned Capital in Los Angeles, CA
Tomas has developed a new paradigm for succession planning in small manufacturing businesses to maintain local jobs and build opportunity in Los Angeles’ blue collar communities.
Rodney Foxworth
Invested Impact in Baltimore, MD
Rodney is driving equitable economic development in Baltimore by leveraging philanthropic capital to identify, fund, and empower under-represented entrepreneurs.
William Generett, Jr.
Urban Innovation21 in Pittsburgh, PA
Bill connects entrepreneurs in under-resourced Pittsburg communities to that city’s growing technology and innovation economy.
Debra-Ellen Glickstein
City of New York Office of Financial Empowerment, New York, NY
Debra-Ellen leverages public assets to build wealth and ownership in low-income New York neighborhoods through the nation’s first city office aimed at empowering people to build assets and utilize financial resources.
Emily Kawano
Wellspring Cooperative Corporation in Springfield, MA
Emily builds economic democracy, currently by developing a network of worker co-ops alongside local anchor institutions to create jobs and wealth in under-invested neighborhoods.
Jessica King
ASSETS Lancaster in Lancaster, PA
Jessica fosters social equity and sustainability by supporting under-represented entrepreneurs in building triple-bottom-line businesses.
Brendan Martin
The Working World in New York, NY
Brendan leads business development and financing to help workers purchase factories for worker-owned enterprises, using a ground-breaking model combining non-extractive finance with tailored business support.
Chanchanit Martorell
Thai Community Development Center in Los Angeles, CA
Chancee is transforming economic development and social and economic mobility for Los Angeles’ Thai and ethnic communities through cultural tourism, entrepreneurship training, affordable housing, and much more.
Rankin MacSween
New Dawn Enterprises in Sydney, NS
Rankin drives community self-reliance in Nova Scotia’s poorest region, raising capital for and supporting social enterprises – including affordable housing and an occupational college – that both serve and employ residents.
Yorman Nunez
MIT Community Innovators Lab in New York, NY
Yorman is driving cooperative development in the Bronx, using ownership as a means to address the root causes of intergenerational poverty.
Harold Pettigrew
Washington Area Community Investment Fund in Washington, DC
Harold empowers under-served communities and addresses financial security for small businesses by providing technical assistance and access to capital.
Ines Polonius
Communities Unlimited in Fayetteville, AR
Ines leverages her organization’s CDFI to build entrepreneurial ecosystems among local leaders and move rural and under-resourced communities across seven southern states toward prosperity.
Stephanie Rearick
Mutual Aid Networks in Madison, WI
Stephanie brings her background in time bank development to building a new community model for leveraging peoples’ purpose, resources, and interest in mutual aid to better their community.
Yanique Redwood
Consumer Health Foundation in Washington, DC
Yanique brings together funders from across the Washington, D.C., region to leverage resources and expertise to advance health equity, community wealth, and more, especially among low-income communities of color.
Eric Rodriguez
Latino Union of Chicago in Chicago, IL
Eric leads efforts to organize and develop leadership in Chicago’s day laborer and domestic worker sectors, developing tools to improve social, economic, and labor conditions for immigrant and American-born workers.
Julie Rusk
City of Santa Monica Community & Cultural Services in Santa Monica, CA
Julie and Santa Monica are leading the way in developing and utilizing a local well-being index to define, measure, and improve local community, place, learning, health, and economic opportunity.
Ada Smith
Appalshop in Whitesburg, KY
Ada leverages arts, media, local businesses, workforce development, and more to cultivate economic transition in post-coal Appalachia.
Nathaniel Smith
Partnership for Southern Equity in Atlanta, GA
Nathaniel fosters an ecosystem of funders, anchor institutions, government, and others to shift perceptions and policy toward a more equitable economy for vulnerable communities of color.
Shanelle Smith
Cuyahoga County Department of Sustainability in Cleveland, OH
Shanelle leads energy efficiency efforts in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County by attracting investment, creating jobs, offering business support, and creating career paths in clean energy for communities of color.
Lucas Stewart
Manitoba Green Retrofit in Winnipeg, MB
Lucas supports Manitobans who struggle finding jobs – especially people of Aboriginal descent and women in trades – through workforce development, social enterprise support, and investing in infrastructure for community development projects.
Matthew Stinchcomb in New York, NY
Matt infuses the principles of well-being and compassion into business through a new entrepreneur training program, which aims to catalyze thriving, place-based, regenerative economies.
Eric Strickland
Riley Area Development Corporation in Indianapolis, IN
Eric leads development, construction, and operation of mixed-use properties that provide affordable housing and business incubation and serve as catalysts for further local investment.
Tonya Surman
Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto, ON
Tonya leads one of Canada’s most successful accelerator programs, equipping entrepreneurs with the tools to amplify their social impact.
Stephanie Tyree
West Virginia Community Development Hub in Charleston, WV
Stephanie helps communities across the state lead their own sustainable community development projects by providing tools and training to remove barriers, access decision-makers, and develop leaders.
Ana Urzua
Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities in Santa Ana, CA
Ana leverages collaboration and an intergenerational approach to improve health, wellness, and more in Santa Ana’s immigrant, low-income Latino community.
Elandria Williams
Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, TN
Elandria drives cooperative development and leverages the convening power of her organization to manifest transformative ideas and leadership around education, youth, and the economy.

High resolution headshots are available from BALLE upon request.
Longer bios can be found at