Who ABD Is | ABD Ventures

Who ABD Is

Amy B. Dean
President and Founder of ABD Ventures

Amy Dean

Amy B. Dean is a fellow of The Century Foundation and principal of ABD Ventures, an organization development consulting firm that helps social change groups be more effective through innovative staff training, strategic coalition-building, and leadership development. She is co-author, with David Reynolds, of A New New Deal: How Regional Activism Will Reshape the American Labor Movement. You can follow Amy on Twitter (@amybdean), on Facebook, or via the website www.abdventures.com.

Amy Dean brings to her practice more than two decades of experience working at the intersection of labor and community-based organizations, linking policy and research with action and advocacy. Amy 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.

Out of a desire to reflect on advances in the field of organization development and to highlight innovative campaigns by social change groups throughout the country, Amy publishes regularly as a political analyst and commentator. She is a columnist for Truthout and Al Jazeera America, writing on labor issues, social movements, and American politics. She serves on the editorial board of New Labor Forum. Additionally, Amy contributes to national magazines and newspapers such as the Boston Review, the Nation, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Jewish Daily Forward, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, the American Prospect, Yes! Magazine, Tikkun, and the Harvard International Review. She has appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, the News Hour, Good Morning America, and National Public Radio, and she has been quoted in outlets including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Le Monde, and El Pais.

Amy Dean began her career in the labor movement in 1986 as an organizer for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU). In 1987 she became the political and education director for the Midwest region of the union. In 1993, Amy was elected as the President and CEO of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, representing more than 90 unions and 110,000 members in the Bay Area. Serving in that capacity until 2003, she was the youngest person and first woman to lead a major labor federation in the AFL-CIO. The New York Times named her “the most innovative figure in Silicon Valley.” In 1995, Amy was tapped by International AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to lead a national team of her peers to retool and reposition the role of labor at the regional level. She led this effort for more than seven years.

In addition to working in the labor movement, Amy has created two successful nonprofit organizations. In 1995, she founded Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA), a research non-profit that tied sound economic policy with strong community organizing. Under Amy’s leadership, WPUSA helped to achieve universal child health care in Santa Clara County, the first living wage ordinance governing public contracts in San Jose, and the development of one of the country’s first private-sector community benefit agreements. In 2005 Amy reproduced her success in Silicon Valley on the national level with Building Partnerships USA, an organization dedicated to increasing civic participation, strengthening democracy, and advancing economic justice at the regional level.

Amy is a sought-after leader for progressive and non-profit institutions. Since 2004, she has served on the board of Bend The Arc (formerly Jewish Funds for Justice), and she is currently the board co-chair. During this period, Bend the Arc has grown from a $2 million organization into a nearly $8 million operation, with a $35 million community lending fund. Amy sits on the general membership board of the Forward newspaper and of Temple Sholom in Chicago. She has previously served on the Board of Governors of California’s Community Colleges, on the California Secretary of Commerce’s Economic Strategy Panel, and on the Speaker’s Commission on State & Local Finance in California.

In recognition of her efforts, Amy Dean has received awards including Woman of the Year from the San Jose Mercury News, the John M. Gardner Exemplary Leaders Award from the American Leadership Forum, and the Gloria Steinem Women of Vision Award from the Ms. Foundation. She has been profiled in Fast Company, Mother Jones, the New York Times, and BusinessWeek.

Now based in Chicago, Amy is raising two beautiful children while continuing her volunteer work, nurturing her involvement in Jewish community, and running a successful private consulting practice.