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Amy B. Dean
President and Founder of ABD Ventures
Boundary breaker, change agent, entrepreneur, and activist. Amy Dean brings more than 20 years of experience building social change institutions and managing campaigns. Dean has worked across a wide array of industries in the non-profit, small business and public sectors to help regional and national organizations build more effective programs and infrastructure.
An innovative leader known for breaking down traditional boundaries to coalesce a wide range of interests, Dean understands the common barriers that can block effective social change. She has pioneered ground-breaking organizational models for social change organizing and institutional development.
Dean founded ABD Ventures to draw on that diverse experience and offer individuals and organizations the strategic tools necessary to become more effective and successful change agents. Whether your institution or initiative is well established or in its most nascent stage, ABD brings a wealth of direct experience and insight. She understands the unique challenges and opportunities that institutions and campaigns face in establishing and fulfilling a vision for the future.
A social entrepreneur, author and progressive activist, Amy B. Dean’s roots are in the American labor movement where she served for almost 20 years. Drawing on a wide array of successes in growing progressive social change organizations, Amy co-authored with David B. Reynolds, “A New, New Deal: How Regional Activism Will Reshape the American Labor Movement.”
A best seller for Cornell University Press, the book outlines a bold plan to revitalize American labor activism and build a sense of common purpose between labor and community organizations. Dean and Reynolds outline a concrete strategy for building power at the regional level and demonstrate how alliances organized at the regional level are the most effective tool to build a voice for working people in the workplace, community, and halls of government.
From 1993 – 2003, Dean served as President & CEO of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, the 15th largest regional labor federation in the country representing more 90 unions and 110,000 members. She was the youngest person and first woman to lead a major labor federation of the AFL-CIO.
Amy took the Silicon Valley based Labor Council, from a small operation with one a half staff people and a dynamic engine for social and economic change in the region. She established a non-profit, Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA), that allowed the union to build a region wide coalition that connected sound economic research with strong community organizing. Under Dean’s leadership, WPUSA’s milestone accomplishments included the nation’s first universal health care insurance for children regardless of immigration status; the enactment of San Jose’s first Living Wage ordinance governing public contracts; Preservation and extension of mass transit options for working families and the development of one of the nation’s first proposed Community Benefits ordinances, which ties the expenditure of public funds and public subsidies to measurable community benefits.
After building the San Jose organization, Amy was then tapped by the AFL-CIO to take that successful experience and reproduce it across the country leading an initiative for the AFL-CIO that resulted in greater strength, coordination and common definition of program across councils.
In 2005, Amy brought her successful model for social change to the broader non-profit world, founding Building Partnerships USA, a national organization dedicated to increasing civic and political participation to strengthen democracy and advance social and economic justice at the regional level. Through projects like the Community Leadership Institute, BPUSA works to proliferate best practices in social change organizations by facilitating networking and leadership development through peer-mentoring and provides technical assistance to regionally based organizations that seek to combine research, policy analysis, organizing and advocacy.
Amy was also sought after as a leader for progressive and non-profit institutions, serving on numerous boards and becoming a catalyst for growing successful institutions such as the Jewish Funds for Justice where as co-chair, she helped grow the $2 million organization into a nearly $8 million operation with a $35 million community lending fund. She has also applied her successful model to small businesses including manufacturers, community banks and newspapers helping them drive business, build strategic business relationships and manage and develop staff.
A prolific writer, lecturer and advocate for developing the next generation of leadership, Amy has taught frequently as adjunct faculty for San Francisco State University, San Jose State and University of Illinois. Amy has also served on California’s Community Colleges Board of Governors, the key policy-making body for the state community college system. She was an appointed member of the California’ Secretary of Commerce’s Economic Strategy Panel and a member of the Speaker’s Commission on State & Local Finance.
Amy now resides in Chicago raising two beautiful children, continuing her prolific volunteer work in advocacy and Jewish communities and running a successful private consulting practice serving as an organizational development adviser for social change organizations. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for Temple Sholom, the Development committee for Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School and is the Board Co-chair of Jewish Funds for Justice.
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