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Press Releases

The ESOP Association Names James J. Bonham President and Chief Executive Officer

The ESOP Association


Washington, DC, February 7, 2019 – The ESOP Association (TEA) announced today that James J. Bonham will assume the role of President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on March 1.  Founded in 1978, TEA is America’s largest national trade association focused on advancing employee ownership through the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) model.

Bonham will also serve as President of the Employee Ownership Foundation, an affiliated non-profit with a mission to encourage, educate, and catalyse new research in support of employee ownership nationwide.

“Jim has a long and successful track record of high-level, transformational leadership advising some of the most widely recognized companies and leaders in the nation.  When combined with his deep familiarity with employee ownership rooted in his family’s history, he was the perfect choice to lead TEA into the future,” said David Fitz-Gerald, Chair of the TEA Board. “Jim is well-versed in the legislative and regulatory priorities of ESOPs and our members and we’re thrilled to welcome him aboard.”

More than 14.5 million Americans are beneficiaries of ESOPs that grant them ownership shares in the companies where they work.  The ESOP Association counts nearly 2,900 corporate and professional members, supporting their work through a national headquarters in Washington, DC as well as 18 state and regional chapters across the nation.  TEA is the leading advocacy voice for employee ownership and hosts several national employee ownership conferences each year, including its Annual Conference in Washington, DC each spring and the Las Vegas ESOP Conference & Trade Show each fall.

“I am excited for the ESOP Association to talk to more employers and Americans about employee ownership and the benefits it brings to our economy,” said Bonham.  “My grandfather’s personal and professional relationship with James Cash (J.C.) Penney, incubated a shared business philosophy.  One of their beliefs was granting a form of ownership to their employees in the small mercantile businesses they ran.  It was an excellent model that had great success, and I’m proud to have the privilege of attaching my work today to that legacy.”

In his new role as CEO, Jim will be responsible for leading TEA’s dedicated team of professional staff while growing the value of the organization to its members, donors, sponsors, partners, and other stakeholders. He will lead efforts to expand awareness of ESOPs as an organizational model, increasing the organization’s involvement with its partners, and growing and strengthening its membership base.

Bonham brings extensive experience in executive leadership, including strategic planning, public policy and advocacy, plus government and community relations. Previously, Jim served nearly eight years as the Chairman of Public Policy and Government Relations at Manatt, Phelps, & Phillips, LLP, a nationally recognized law and business consulting firm where he Chaired the firm’s highly regarded bipartisan public policy and advocacy division in Washington.  Bonham also served in multiple senior staff positions in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate and is a former Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

Bonham will be replacing Michael Keeling, who is retiring after serving as President of TEA since 1991.  The search was conducted by association and non-profit search experts Vetted Solutions.

About The ESOP Association

The ESOP Association is America’s largest employer-sponsored advocacy and education association focused on employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). Founded in 1978, the Association seeks to enhance and streamline federal laws and regulations governing ESOPs, provide members with expert information, and fund useful research via the Employee Ownership Foundation (an affiliate). The ESOP Association’s members include ESOP companies, companies considering an ESOP, academics, and service providers that assist in setting up and maintaining ESOPs.