Project Equity co-founders receive Heinz Award for the Economy
Hilary Abell and Alison Lingane recognized for their roles in catalyzing employee ownership movement
We’re so excited to share the news that The Heinz Family Foundation has chosen our very own co-founders, Hilary Abell and Alison Lingane as recipients of the prestigious Heinz Award for the Economy. The Heinz Awards, administered by the Heinz Family Foundation, recognize individuals for their contributions in the areas of the Arts, the Economy and the Environment.
Alison and Hilary are honored for their leadership in the movement to create better jobs and a fairer economy by advancing employee ownership. A positive exit strategy for business owners and a proven approach for increasing employee engagement and wellbeing, employee ownership benefits workers by creating quality jobs and wealth-building opportunities, fostering professional growth, and reducing layoffs during economic downturns. Communities benefit from employee ownership through retention of legacy businesses, greater civic engagement on the part of workers, and increased dollars circulated into the local economy.
“Hilary and Alison have catalyzed a movement that is having transformative, multigenerational impact for workers, their families and their communities. By significantly increasing awareness and uptake of employee ownership, they are helping to create resilient companies where employees have agency, economic stability and the opportunity to build wealth by sharing in the profits generated by their hard work. In doing so, they reflect the vision of my late husband, Senator John Heinz, who advocated for an economy driven by enterprise, innovation and socially responsible business practices.”
Chairman, Heinz Family Foundation
Established by Teresa Heinz in 1993 to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Senator John Heinz, the Heinz Awards celebrate the accomplishments and spirit of the Senator by recognizing the extraordinary achievements of individuals in the areas of greatest importance to him. Award nominations are submitted by invited experts, who serve anonymously, and are reviewed by jurors appointed by the Heinz Family Foundation. The jurors make recommendations to the Board of Directors, which subsequently selects the Award recipients.
Past awards in the Economy category include William Bynum, founder and CEO of Hope Credit Union and Alfa Demmellash and Alexander Forrester, founders of Rising Tide Capital.
In the awards announcement, Alison and Hilary shared these sentiments:
“My life’s work has been about finding ways to scale access to opportunity, and at the core, this is what we founded Project Equity to do. With employee ownership, opportunity is built right into your job. Whether we talk about the decline of the middle class, stark disparities in pay levels and job quality by race, or the gap between wages and housing affordability, employee ownership can address all of these issues. It also preserves local jobs and businesses and helps them be more competitive, strengthening local economies,” said Alison.
Hilary shared “I’ve seen so many low-wage workers transform their lives when given the opportunity to share in business ownership through cooperatives, Employee Stock Ownership Plans and similar models. Our goal is to enable many many more workers across the United States to develop their leadership and build financial resiliency by co-owning the companies where they work. My current passion is to engage policymakers to fully embrace and foster broad-based employee ownership and cooperatives, given their well-proven benefits for workers, businesses and society.”
We hope that this well-deserved recognition will elevate employee ownership itself as well as the growing employee ownership movement. We are grateful to the Heinz Family Foundation for bringing this strategy to new circles of influence that can help its impact to grow exponentially.