Skip to content

GWI’s Just Transition: Part 2 – Becoming a Worker Self-Directed Nonprofit

By Matthew Stinchcomb

This is part two of a three part series.

In our last post, GWI shared a new framework for focusing our work on Just Transition in the Hudson Valley. In addition to new areas of programming, we are also making significant changes to our own structure, so that it it too embodies the values we are working to foster here. 

We are very pleased to share that GWI is becoming a Worker Self-Directed Nonprofit (WSDNP). This new (to us) model of distributed, democratic governance aligns us with the Just Transition principle calling for the democratization of our community, our wealth and, as in this case, our workplaces. 

In short, we are walking the walk.

In its most basic sense, a WSDNP is a shared/distributed leadership model. It was first developed by the Sustainable Economies Law Center, upon whose many helpful resources we have depended to draft our own set of policies and procedures. Using their work as a jumping off point, we have developed a set of agreements that govern how we share accountability, how we make decisions, and how we resolve conflict. Shifting away from hierarchical structures has been both exhilarating and challenging, as it has meant stepping away from the only system many of us have ever known, and into a new shared way of working together based on a deep and enthusiastic sense of trust.

For GWI, this means we will no longer have a single person serving as executive director. Instead, we like to think that the system and the practice are our executive director. We will share leadership, we will share accountability, all while celebrating the unique talents and capacities of each member of our team. 

In the weeks ahead we will be sharing a series of posts that explore this transition from a variety of team member perspectives. We also plan to capture our learnings in the form of a toolkit that will be available to anyone interested in learning more about WSDNP or exploring making this transition in your own workplace.

Tune in later this week for part three of this series- as Matt shares news of his own transition.

We launched this series of posts in September 2019 to share our journey of moving from a traditional hierarchical nonprofit to a worker self-directed nonprofit. Over the weeks and months, we have posted regularly, detailing important milestones and sharing our experiences. We envision this series to be a companion to the formal policies we will share at the end of our transition. We are on a journey – as a team, as individuals, and as a part of this community. We are hoping that by opening up this transition it might help others take the first steps towards sharing power in their workplaces.

This series combines more formal articles from the team about the organizational transition to a worker self-directed nonprofit, describing the steps we have taken, and “Notes from the Field” journal entries sharing our personal experiences. We hope you find it useful and inspiring! Let us know what it sparks for you.

Support GWI

These times call for collective action. Your gift is the solid ground that allows us to support and cultivate Good Work: that is, people and initiatives that are rejecting systems of oppression and extraction, and building regenerative economies and thriving communities.