NEC was founded in 2012 on the heels of the Great Recession, in response to growing national interest in solidarity economy practices, values, and strategies for systemic change. It began as a think tank, modeled after the New Economics Foundation in the UK, based on the framework of “new economics” popularized by leaders at what had previously been the E.F. Schumacher Society in Western Massachusetts.
Over the course of several years and multiple rounds of internal organizing by staff, board, and members, NEC has evolved as an organization. In 2016, we began to shift from being a largely white, upper class organization to one whose staff and board are majority people of color, and significantly more geographically and socioeconomically diverse. We started to understand ourselves as a post-capitalist project on the political left, and we shifted our external communication and internal strategies accordingly. That same year, we shifted our membership governance structure to be more democratic, with board elections, and a deeper integration of members into our programmatic work.
In 2018, we began to shift our internal staff structure and policies to be more in line with our external values, including transitioning from a traditional hierarchical non-profit to a four-person co-directorship. By 2020, NEC began transitioning into a worker self-directed nonprofit, a governance structure that melds aspects of worker cooperativism into the 501(c)(3) structure. As a worker self-directed nonprofit, NEC does not have an Executive Director. Our General Circle manages most high impact personnel, finance, and program-related decisions. It is made up of elected staff representatives and member-elected board representatives, both of whom serve terms. The Board of Directors is primarily member-elected, and is an avenue through which we remain accountable to our membership
We see ourselves as on a journey together with our members to continue the work of building a truly liberatory and impactful organization that puts into practice the values of the solidarity economy.