Employee Ownership: Business Succession Strategy

Join the UW Center for Cooperatives and Wisconsin Center for Employee Ownership to learn how employee ownership can be used to retain or enhance businesses in your community. Hear from business developers with experience converting existing businesses to successful employee-owned enterprises.

This event is free, but registration is required.

Who Should Attend?

  • Community and economic development professionals
  • Business owners considering their succession plan
  • Small business development centers
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Local and regional policy makers

Register Now


8:45 – 9:15 a.m. Coffee and networking

9:15 – 9:25 a.m. Welcome & introductions

9:25 – 9:35 a.m. Business succession and the potential for business succession in the greater Milwaukee area

9:35 – 9:55 a.m. Employee ownership basics: worker cooperatives, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), and Employee Ownership Trusts (EOTs)

9:55 – 10:15 a.m. Key steps and critical factors in the co-op conversion process

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Q&A


Courtney Berner

Courtney Berner joined the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives in 2011 and served as a cooperative development specialist until assuming the role of executive director in January 2018. Courtney develops research, outreach, and education programs on cooperatives. In 2021, she launched the Cooperative Governance Research Initiative, the first national, cross-sector, mixed-methods study on the governance practices of U.S. cooperatives. Courtney also teaches a course on cooperatives at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and loves challenging students to think critically about why co-ops emerge, how they differ from other forms of enterprise, and how the model can be used to address current social and economic issues.

Prior to joining the Center, Courtney worked at the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based research institute devoted to global environmental concerns. Courtney holds an M.S. in agroecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.S. from Pacific Lutheran University.

Steve Storkin

Steve Storkan is the Executive Director of the Employee Ownership Expansion Network and board member of 7 State Centers for Employee Ownership across the country.  Steve has been involved in the employee ownership industry for over 25 years, most recently as the Director of ESOP Administration for Alerus Retirement and Benefits where he worked closely with businesses in the creation of an ESOP and the technical administration/compliance required in subsequent years. Steve spent 11 years as a member of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota-Dakotas Chapter of the ESOP Association where also served as Chapter President and VP of Government Relations.  Steve holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation from the University of Minnesota State Mankato.

Kristin Forde

Kristin arrived to the worker co-op world via taxi in 2004 as a Union Cab member. While working as a cab driver, she helped launch member education initiatives, participated in newly developed cooperative grievance procedures and conflict resolution systems, was a founding member of Madison Worker Cooperatives (MadWorC), served as Board president for one term, and participated in the planning of Madison’s first Cooperative Business Conference in 2012. She comes to UWCC after working for ten years in a non-profit agency providing and managing crisis childcare. She is a UW-Madison graduate with a degree from the School of Education. Additional life experiences Kristin brings forward include teaching in New Orleans and Madison public schools, community organizing with Industrial Areas Foundation, restorative justice in Wisconsin prisons with Prison Ministry Project, racial justice organizing with Families for Justice, and community theater performances and productions at Bartell Theater.

Other Information:
You may park in the guest parking lot and enter the building via the front entrance. You will need to provide your license plate number to the guard at the security desk. There will be signage leading to the conference room.