The founding members of Ownership Appalachia are:
Thomas Beckett has for most of his career worked as an attorney serving the needs of small and startup businesses. His clients range from software and technology ventures to agricultural enterprises. He views small business as a fundamentally creative activity by people seeking to control their own economic circumstances. Beckett co-founded Meet the Geeks, Inc., a nonprofit that fosters the economic and professional development of the information technology industry in Western North Carolina. He has significant experience working with agriculture enterprises in the region, including cooperatives, quasi-cooperatives and nonprofits as well as working farmers. He served five years on the board of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. He has taught Business Law at Warren Wilson College and is certified to the FastTrac TechVenture program, the Kauffman Foundation’s entrepreneurial training curriculum. He lectures regularly on small business legal issues. Mr. Beckett will complete the Cooperative Developer certification program of CooperationWorks! by the end of 2011. He is active in the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives and presented at the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy in July, 2011. He also serves on the coordinating committee of the Southern Grassroots Economies Project, a nascent organization aimed at economic recovery in the South through development of cooperatives, community-based enterprises and other mutual sharing economies. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University and earned his law degree and later an MBA at the University of North Carolina.
Frank T. Adams, a veteran developer of worker cooperatives who has worked in North Carolina and other parts of the country since the 1970s. Mr. Adams is the lead author of PUTTING DEMOCRACY TO WORK: A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR STARTING AND MANAGING WORKER-OWNED BUSINESSES, still the principal source of guidance for worker co-ops (and soon to be available in a third edition). A former Executive Director of the Highlander Research Education Foundation, Mr. Adams has also worked with the Industrial Cooperative Association (now ICA Group) and the Southern Appalachian Center for Cooperative Ownership. He was instrumental in the formation of Self Help Credit Union, CooperationWorks! and the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives. Over the course of his career Mr. Adams has provided guidance to numerous cooperatives and consulted on ESOP formation and worker buyouts. He was graduated from Goddard College, earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from the Antioch-Putney Graduate School of Education, and holds a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Education from Goddard University.