For more than two decades, The Improve Group has evolved to meet the needs of staff, our clients, and the communities that serve to benefit from evaluation. Today, we’re excited to announce we have become a worker-owned co-operative. After 2 years of planning, our transition became official on Thursday, August 10.
Founder Leah Goldstein Moses stepped down as CEO last fall. As she said in her announcement, IG strives for a culture where we share leadership, trust one another, and promote equity. To continue on this path of shared decision-making and leadership, IG will not replace Leah with another CEO. Instead, all staff will have the opportunity to be leaders, supported by an experienced management team with decades of combined experience at IG. Further, becoming a worker-owned co-op means staff are not only leaders, but owners. Worker-owners have purchased the business from Leah and will directly and entirely control IG. They will share in profits and elect and serve on the co-op Board of Directors. This board and the management team will replace the CEO function.
We are fortunate that Leah built IG to be a place that reflects not only her vision but also encourages every employee to infuse their perspective into the organization. Becoming a co-op aligns our business and leadership structure with these long-held values. While we have done a lot of planning for how this transition affects IG’s internal operations, we are not changing how we work with clients or do evaluation. Our work is guided by the same values and we remain on our path toward more equitable practices. The main difference you might notice is that your project lead or team member is also an owner!
A majority of staff have opted to be worker-owners. We will continue to be staff-driven by listening to all staff to understand what they want to see from The Improve Group. We are excited and confident about The Improve Group’s future. In recent years, Leah deliberately built skills and shared knowledge to facilitate a smooth transition. We will aim to be reflective and apply what we learn as we go - we are evaluators, after all!
A team of IG employees has been working for nearly 2 years with Project Equity and Nexus Community Partners to plan the transition and design the co-op. In planning this transition, we dug into the difference between management and ownership. Long-time Improve Group managers will step into day-to-day roles from which Leah is stepping away. They will report to our new board, which is made up of worker-owners. In addition to Leah, who will hold a seat on the board for the co-op’s first several years, Board members include:
- Business Operations Manager Jessica Schuetz, who plays an invaluable behind-the-scenes role to The Improve Group’s work, managing all things finance. She has been with IG for 11 years.
- Senior Marketing Associate Dan Goldstein, who has been with The Improve Group since 2013. As Senior Marketing Associate, he focuses on communicating our work and growing external relationships with IG.
- Director of Consulting Stacy Rassel, who will serve as board Treasurer. Stacy has been at The Improve Group since 2010. As a Director of Consulting, she lends her many years of evaluation expertise to advise colleagues on complex, equity-focused evaluations.
- Managing Consultant Courtney Clingan, who has been with The Improve Group since 2013. Courtney leads teams in conducting community-responsive evaluation.
- Senior Consultant Nick Stilp, who brings to evaluation his extensive facilitation skills and attention to how all involved in an evaluation can benefit most. He has been with IG since 2017.
- Director of Consulting Sara S. McGarraugh, who will serve as the first board President. Sara supported IG’s transition to a co-op, experience she will share with the board. Sara has been at IG since 2012, in which time she has led several complex, community-centric evaluations. As a Director of Consulting, Sara works to broaden and deepen IG’s work with partners.
The management team is made of:
- Becky Stewart, who maintains the quality of The Improve Group’s practice and integrates new practices and innovation, drawing on her 18 years at IG.
- Maria Moeller, who oversees the marketing and operations of the organization. Maria has been at The Improve Group for 8 years.
- Marsha Base, who ensures that The Improve Group’s people thrive by supporting individual growth and development and leading organizational practices that further our culture and work environments.
- Stacy Rassel.
- Sara S. McGarraugh.
We anticipate this change to be mostly behind-the-scenes, and that our work with partners and clients will not feel any different. Thank you for supporting The Improve Group and following along on this journey. Stay tuned for updates and look out for opportunities to learn more and celebrate with us over the next few months.
Come learn more and celebrate with us!
Have questions and want to learn more about how we’ll operate as a co-op? Come to a virtual town hall on Wednesday, September 13 at 1:00 pm to learn more. Register to attend the town hall here!
Want to celebrate with us? Come to our in-person open house on Wednesday, September 27 from 11:30 am - 1:30 pm. RSVP for the open house celebration here!
We hope you’ll join us at both!
With gratitude for Leah and excitement for what is to come,
-The Improve Group Co-operative worker-owner Board members Jessica, Dan, Stacy, Courtney, Nick, and Sara