The Center for Workplace Democracy is directed and operated by:
Dennis Kelleher, Executive Director
Dennis has spent most of his life in Chicago with the exception of brief periods in Iowa City, Iowa, San Jose, California and rural Northwestern Illinois. He graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He liked Iowa City so much that he stuck around for three more years to earn Law Degree and a Master’s Degree in finance.
Dennis began practicing law in the areas of municipal finance and commercial real estate. His work included time with the City of Chicago as Deputy City Treasurer and finally as Managing Deputy Commissioner for Department of Water Management. While at the Treasurers Office, Dennis developed public education programs to address predatory lending and increase adult financial literacy. After leaving the City he practiced law in rural Illinois and began work on rebelcapitalist.com to provide information on personal finance and our economy. Plans for the website include redevelopment into a worker cooperative internet media company.
Mark Fick, Board President
Mark Fick is the Senior Loan / Program Officer with the Chicago Community Loan Fund where he is responsible for bringing financing to affordable housing, cooperatives and social enterprise development throughout the greater Chicagoland area. Previously Mark worked as the Associate Director of the Chicago Mutual Housing Network and as Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator with the Statewide Housing Action Coalition (now Housing Action Illinois). He is a graduate of the Urban Developers Program at the University of Illinois - Chicago.
Mark's work with grassroots community economic development began in Wisconsin while spending time with small business cooperatives, developing local currencies and learning the basics of community organizing. Mark also serves on the credit committee of the Northside Community Federal Credit Union and as board treasurer of NASCO Development Services, a consultancy for development of affordable, student housing cooperatives in the United States and Canada.
Erica Swinney, Board Treasurer
Erica Swinney has worked for the Manufacturing Renaissance (MR) since 2008 as the Director of Career & Community Programs serving Austin Polytechnical Academy, an innovative Chicago Public High School on Chicago's Westside. Erica works closely with Austin Polytech students on a variety of leadership programs related to careers, entrepreneurship, economic & community development; including starting a student-owned manufacturing business in 2012 and co- leading a trip with 9 students to Mondragon in Spain in 2009. Before joining MR, Erica worked for over 5 years in the Environmental Justice Movement as a bi-lingual community organizer, grassroots leadership trainer, and program manager for several organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and California’s San Joaquin Valley. Prior to that, she completed her MA in Ecology at San Francisco State University and worked on habitat restoration projects around the SF Bay Area. Erica served 2 years in Peace Corps Paraguay and 18 months in Americorps after completing her BA in Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. Erica was born and raised on the Westside of Chicago and is a product of Chicago Public Schools.
Sequane Lawrence, Board Member
G. Sequane Lawrence is the co-founder of Prim Lawrence Group a community economic development and real estate finance consulting firm founded in 1992. G. Sequane Lawrence is a community economic development, workforce development, and youth development practitioner.
Sequane is a Chicago Community Trust 2011 Fellow. His fellowship is concerned with the efficacy of worker owner cooperatives as an entrepreneurial and workforce development model for low income people. Sequane has traveled to Mondragon, Spain to study first-hand the historic Mondragon Cooperatives Corporation and Cleveland, Ohio to observe the ground breaking Evergreen Cooperatives.
Sequane is currently Director of the Fathers, Families, Healthy Communities (FFHC) Demonstration Project. FFHC focuses on issues that impact non-custodial fathers and their children through out Illinois. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois- Circle Campus. Sequane was formerly the Director of the Elliott Donnelley Youth Center (EDYC) in Chicago’s Bronzeville community.
Sequane's positions also include the City of Chicago Mayor's Office of Workforce Development as the Director of the Kulick Quantum Opportunities Program (QOP), a national mentoring/employment demonstration project funded by the U.S. Department of Labor for out-of-school youth between the ages of 16-24. He is the founder and president of the Center for Strategic Investment in Youth and Families, a best practice research and action-centered community development institution. Sequane holds a Masters of Science degree in Community Economic Development from New Hampshire University in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Sandra Morales-Mirque, Board Member
Sandra is a Research Associate with the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois Chicago. She is interested in the areas of economic advancement for women and people of color, Latinos in the informal economy, and immigration issues. Her previous work experience includes: domestic violence, day labor, and immigrant issues. Sandra has been involved in work on human rights and gender violence in Guatemala (her native country). She currently serves in the board of directors of Centro Romero. She has a bachelor’s degree in Arts from Northeastern, and a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy from UIC. She also has a certificate on Administration of Non-for Profit Organizations from Roosevelt University, and the equivalent of an associate degree in Social Work from Rafael Landivar-Guatemala.
Kathleen Duffy, Board Member
In 2005, Kath Duffy founded the organizing efforts of the Dill Pickle Food Co-op in Chicago. Kath served as the co-op’s first President of the Board, and retired from the board in 2012 in order to pursue a broader path of co-op development and advocacy. Kath currently advocates for quality, affordable health care for all as the Communications Director for the Illinois Campaign for Better Health Care. She has conducted presentations for the US Commission on Civil Rights about the role of co-ops in meeting food distribution needs in Chicago, given talks about co-ops for local organizations and universities. She is also a newly minted columnist for the Brine, the quarterly newsletter of the Dill Pickle Food Co-op, and focuses on educating Dill Pickle members on the broader co-operative movement by linking the achievements of the Dill Pickle to co-op activity happening worldwide.