October Employee Ownership and Resilience Event



Employee Ownership and Resilience

NCEOC hosted an event in October in celebration of employee ownership month. The goal was to raise awareness about NCEOC and spotlight employee-owned companies that showed resilience in the face of COVID. 

We are building a movement around employee ownership as an opportunity to create quality jobs, protect businesses, and provide benefits to business owners. Our event centered around conversations from employee-owned companies who display leadership in this movement.

Panel of Speakers from employee-owned companies included PODER Emma, Opportunity Threads, Salem Distributing, and Valdese Weavers.


Christy Almond is Vice President of Product Development and Marketing for Valdese Weavers, a 100% employee-owned ESOP textile designer and manufacturer located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC. She develops brand and product strategies, while overseeing the marketing and communications for the company’s residential and contract markets.

Mirian Porras is a Cooperative Developer and Loan officer for Poder Emma, a tight-knit community in Asheville, NC. Mirian moved to the Emma Community 11 years ago, and is a dedicated community organizer, mother and cooperativista! Mirian believes in collectivity as a way to achieve a just economy.  She strongly advocates for mobile homes as dignified and affordable housing.

Gale Marett is the CFO for Salem Fabrication Technologies Group, a wholesale distributor in Winston Salem, NC. Salem formed its ESOP in 2000 and is 100% employee-owned. Gale has been with Salem since 1995 and coaches the employee-owners in the Accounting, IT and HR departments of the company. She has serves as President of the Carolinas Chapter of the ESOP Association.

Mike Willard is the CEO of Salem Fabrication Technologies Group. He has been with the company since 1999, just before they initially formed the ESOP. He has consistently served the ESOP community, for 3 years on the ESOP Association Board of Directors and as a past President of the Carolinas Chapter of the ESOP Association.

Walter Vicente is an employee-owner at Opportunity Threads, a worker-owned textile company in western NC. Walter formerly worked for non-employee-owned companies and has experienced the benefits of being a worker-owner, from better benefits to greater participation in the company.

Todd Leverette promotes and catalyzes employee ownership as a wealth building tool for black and brown workers.  Through his work as Program Manager at the Democracy at Work Institute and Co-Principal of A&H Capital Partners, Todd looks to activate impact and institutional investment in time-tested employee ownership models that provide workers of color with pathways to wealth accumulation, communities with stability and resilience, and investors with attractive risk-adjusted returns.

Andre Pettigrew is currently the Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development for the City of Durham, North Carolina. He has more than 15 years of experience developing and managing complex, multifaceted organizations. His work in Durham supports legacy businesses of color and a robust small business ecosystem.

Merald Holloway is the Board Chair for NCEOC, serving on our Fundraising Committee and connecting our work to other community organizations. As a member of the Durham business community for over 20 years, he serves with the Greater Durham Black Chamber of Commerce and as a partner for the Community Purchasing Alliance, a cooperative that supports community institutions in their purchasing services. He is the founder of NC 100, a non-profit focused on fostering economic prosperity and youth workforce development in historically African American communities.

Anne-Claire Broughton is Founder and Interim Executive Director of NCEOC. She is also Principal of Broughton Consulting, LLC, a firm which helps organizations engage employees at all levels for business success through open book management, employee ownership, and healthy organizational cultures. Broughton is active with efforts to educate retiring business owners and their advisors about the possibility of employee ownership as an exit strategy, and she is a contract open book management coach with The Great Game of Business.

NCEOC Partners