Mr. Kurland, a lawyer-economist, is co-founder, President and Managing Director of Equity Expansion International, Inc. (EEI). He is considered one of America’s pioneers in participatory ownership law and ESOP credit institutions. Mr. Kurland was a close colleague for eleven years of the late Louis Kelso, author of binary economics and inventor of the ESOP. With Kelso, Mr. Kurland co-founded and served as the first executive director of the Institute for the Study of Economic Systems. He later became Washington Counsel for Kelso’s investment banking firm. Collaborating with Kelso, Kurland authored and lobbied the first and subsequent ESOP legislative initiatives in the U.S. Congress.
In 1981, at the request of senior White House officials, Mr. Kurland developed the “Capital Homestead Act,” a comprehensive package of national infrastructural reforms for broadening citizen access to capital ownership. In 1985 Mr. Kurland was appointed Deputy Chairman of President Ronald Reagan’s Task Force on Project Economic Justice that recommended reforms to implement ESOPs in U.S. development initiatives in Central America and the Caribbean. He was the chief architect of the first ESOP in a developing country, for the Alexandria Tire Company in Egypt. Later he conceived the landmark “parallel legal system” for promoting ESOPs in Costa Rica. These strategies introduced the “Employee Shareholders Association,” an advance over the ESOP trust mechanism in the U.S.
Mr. Kurland was the principal ESOP technical consultant in the USAID-funded project to implement ESOPs in Guatemala, and has been a consultant to the Inter-American Development Bank on ESOP privatizations. At the request of the Mexican government, he was contracted in 1992 by the Inter-American Development Bank to design ESOP legislation for Mexico.
He is the principal architect of several model ESOPs and legal systems for expanding ownership. Among his major ESOP prototypes, Kurland engineered the world’s first 100% leveraged ESOP in 1975, which saved 500 jobs at South Bend Lathe, a failing machine tool company. This strategy, which was later replicated in the employee buyouts of Weirton Steel and AVIS, offers a viable alternative for privatizing state-owned enterprises.
Mr. Kurland’s innovations include the first ESOP and worker shareholders association in the developing world at the Alexandria Tire Company in Egypt; the “Capital Homestead Act” (a comprehensive package of national monetary and tax reforms); the “Community Investment Corporation” (a vehicle for enabling community residents to share land ownership and profits); and “Justice-Based ManagementSM” (a system for applying Kelsonian principles of economic justice for building a participatory ownership culture at the workplaces of business corporations). Business Week described him as “the resident philosopher of ESOP in the capital.” He was the recipient of CESJ’s first Kelso-Ferree Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor he shares with Senator Russell Long, the legendary champion of ESOP on Capitol Hill.
Before joining Kelso, Mr. Kurland was director of planning of the Citizens Crusade Against Poverty, a national coalition headed by the labor statesman Walter Reuther. Before that Mr. Kurland, as a Federal government lawyer, became deeply involved as a civil rights investigator in the Mississippi “one-person, one-vote” movement and later with the core group shaping economic empowerment initiatives in President Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” He came to Washington in December 1959 after receiving a Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Chicago, where he studied law and economics, following five years as an officer on flying status in the U.S. Air Force.