St. Paul – The Improve Group, a St. Paul-based evaluation firm, became a worker-owned cooperative over the summer, worker-owners announced today.
The Improve Group is an evaluation, research, and strategic planning consulting firm based in St. Paul. As a co-op, the organization’s 21 employees have the opportunity to own the company. Becoming a co-op continues The Improve Group’s work toward its long-time vision that mission-driven organizations will effectively develop more resilient, equitable, and thriving communities.
After 2 years of planning and preparation, the transition from sole ownership to a co-op became official on Aug. 10, 2023. Worker-owners purchased the business from Founder and CEO Leah Goldstein Moses. Most employees have decided to be worker-owners. Now:
- Worker-owners directly and entirely control IG.
- Worker-owners share in profits and elect and serve on the co-op Board of Directors.
- The board has strategic oversight of the organization.
- An experienced management team supports the organization, including the day-to-day responsibilities Leah held.
“IG has made employee ownership feel accessible and meaningful and enhanced my relationship with the company—now I not only apply my skills as a consultant, but I also contribute my ideas to major company decisions by serving as a part-owner.”
-Trinity Alexander, Worker-Owner and Associate Consultant
Co-ops and their clients benefit from stronger employee performance and retention while promoting equity through collective wealth-building. The Improve Group has for years fostered a sense of shared responsibility and leadership among employees. Becoming a co-op was the natural next step with Leah’s departure. Now, all staff will have the opportunity to be not only leaders but owners, supported by an experienced management team with decades of combined experience at IG.
The Improve Group worked closely with employee ownership experts at Nexus Community Partners and Project Equity to thoughtfully design the co-op to set it up for success. The organization is now partnering with St. Paul neighbor (and fellow co-op) Collectivity for coaching support as worker-owners guide the organization through its first year as a co-op.
“The team at Collectivity, which is also a worker-owned cooperative, is so excited about The Improve Group’s new status as a worker cooperative! Since our beginning 9 years ago, we’ve believed that the cooperative ownership structure is a fundamental way to restore some economic balance in our communities. It's an honor to be working alongside the IG team in their first year as a coop, and we look forward to learning more together!”
-Scott D. Cole, CEO and Co-Founder, Collectivity
Despite the significance of this ownership change, the organization has not changed how it works with clients, partners, and community members. The Improve Group is guided by the same values and persists on its path toward more equitable practices.
The Improve Group is excited and confident about its future. Staff have appreciated the well wishes of support from their community—including the heartfelt cheerleading from Leah, who will serve on the Board for the next few years as an adviser.
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 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.