The Industrial Commons is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit rebuilding a diverse working class based on locally-rooted wealth.
The concept of a geographical "commons" dates back centuries to a time when shared land in a village or town was not owned by anyone but was a benefit for everyone in the community. We apply this to industry because we believe there is an opportunity to improve jobs, livelihoods and communities by creating workspaces that allow for shared benefits, knowledge and decision making.
Molly is a native of Morganton, NC where she continues to work and raise her family. After attending Duke University she returned home to teach in the public school system. She then worked for the Center for Participatory Change organizing economic development initiatives across rural Western NC in a response to the need for fair livelihoods. In 2008 she founded Opportunity Threads, currently the largest, US based worker-owned, cut and sew facility. She also co-founded the Carolina Textile District in 2013, a strategic value chain supporting the resurgence of textiles across the Carolinas. In 2015 she co-founded The Industrial Commons to support industrial workers and worker-owned conversions across her region. Molly serves on the national board of the Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI). She loves being with her family and, when she has time, she likes to play the fiddle.
Sara is the project manager at Burke Development Inc. and the co-director of the Carolina Textile District. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and worked in marketing and public relations before returning to her hometown of Morganton, NC, to plant roots and start a family. She has worked in economic and community development for five years, focusing much of this time on place-based initiatives that grow local wealth. She enjoys being out in the woods, camping or hiking, and spending time with her husband, dogs and two kids.
Franzi has been an independent business owner in Asheville, North Carolina for 15 years and is a co-owner of Hip Replacements clothing store. She is the founder and director of the Asheville Grown Business Alliance and the Love Asheville, Go Local Campaign that promotes the independent spirit of Asheville through design, community networking and public events. Under her leadership, Asheville’s alliance has the participation of over 430 local businesses and has created a remarkable level of community-wide awareness and engagement in support of the local economy. Through her work, nationally, with Project Equity and locally with us, she's helping businesses transition ownership to the employees and increase democracy in the workplace. She loves gardening and long, slow jogs in the mountains.
Beth is the associate director for Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, an 8-county land trust based in Morganton. Her broad experience ranges from accounting and fundraising to marketing and economic development. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Beth earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. In 2007 she traded the beach for the foothills and loves living in Morganton with her husband, Corey and their two children. Beth was raised on a 303-acre Century Farm in Poolesville, Maryland, and is devoted to recycling, composting and seeing our natural world preserved.
Isaac is the Office & Finance Administrator at Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina Inc. and has been bookkeeping for small businesses in the area for the past three years. He is a graduate of Michigan Technological University and Appalachian State University, and previously worked in STEM education before returning to his hometown of Morganton to be with family. He has also dedicated himself to the betterment of the community as the president of the Morganton Humanist Alliance, a non-profit secular community action and support group. In his spare time he enjoys playing music, hiking/camping, board games, craft beer, and spending time with this girlfriend and daughter.
Aaron Dawson has 15 years of experience as a worker owner at Equal Exchange, a Fair Trade Massachusetts company specializing in the sourcing and distribution of coffee, tea and chocolate. For ten of those years, Aaron held the role of Customer Service Manager, overseeing a team of 12. He has many years of experience participating in and facilitating worker committees and developing ideas, policies and practices that create a positive and supportive work environment. In addition, he was elected to serve on Equal Exchange’s Board of Directors for six years and was Chair of the Board for one of those years. Aaron holds a Masters from St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada. He served on the Board of the US Federation of Worker Co-ops for four years and currently is Board Treasurer for the Democracy at Work Institute.