Executive Director for the US Federation of Workers Cooperatives

US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, Guilded, Anti Oppression Resource and Training Alliance (AORTA)

Esteban Kelly is the Executive Director for the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) and the founder and President of the freelancer-owned platform cooperative, Guilded. Esteban is also a worker-owner and co-founder of  AORTA (Anti-Oppression Resource & Training Alliance), a worker co-op  that builds capacity for social justice projects through intersectional training and consulting. In his 25 years of organizing, he has been a compassionate leader and visionary strategist who inspires organizers  by drawing on science fiction, social theory, and collective liberation.  

Esteban infuses creative forces into solidarity economy, food sovereignty, and cooperative movements,  coalescing these sectors in his efforts to expand economic democracy– chiefly by using the cooperative  business model for community ownership and workers’ control. Esteban was a co-founder and first board President of the cross-sector Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA) and has served on numerous boards including the Democracy At Work Institute, the US Solidarity Economy Network, and the Cooperative Development Foundation. In 2011 Esteban was inducted into NASCO‘s Cooperative Hall of Fame in recognition of his decade of leadership on their board and as their Director of Education & Training. He previously worked at the New Economy Coalition and also served as a mayoral appointee and briefly co-chair of the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council. For eight years he was a manager leading food justice education and organizational development as a worker-owner at Mariposa Food Co-op, while the grocery store was still managed by a staff collective. Esteban currently serves on the boards of NCBA–CLUSA, the Cooperative Innovation Lab, Policy Advocates for Sustainable Economies, and the international worker co-op association known as CICOPA. 

His leadership in abolitionist frameworks of transformative justice stem from his 15 years of organizing with the Philly Stands Up collective, partially documented in his contribution to anthologies like “Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement” (for which he also co-narrates the audiobook) and the “Creative Interventions Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Stop Interpersonal Violence.” His writing additionally appears in the Summer 2022 issue of NonProfit Quarterly, and in the books “Revolting New York: How 400 Years of Riot, Rebellion, Uprising, and Revolution Shaped a City,” “When to Talk and When to Fight: The Strategic Choice Between Dialogue and Resistance,” and “Beyond Racial Capitalism: Cooperatives in the African Diaspora.” 

After many years as a PhD student of Marxist Geographers at the CUNY Graduate Center, Esteban exited academia (A.B.D), with a Masters in Anthropology. In addition to being a Margaret Burroughs Fellow, Esteban is a Ford Global Fellow, a Beyster Executive Fellow in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, and a Futures 4 Good Fellow in the Equitable Enterprise Initiative at the Institute for the Future. He is a member of the Climate + Community Project and now serves on the CCP advisory board. Esteban is also an advisor to the multi-stakeholder musician’s co-op Ampled, the Platform Co-ops Consortium, Making Worlds Bookstore Cooperative, and the Movement for Black Lives.


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