In 2013, we founded Empower in order to strengthen civil society and improve corporate accountability by eliminating the strategic information gap between civil society stakeholders of corporations and businesses themselves. As advocates, organizers, and researchers, we seek not only to contribute to social impact but also to innovate new revenue streams and build a democratic economy model of worker ownership.


Empower is comprised of a Board of Directors, a chief executive officer, senior researchers, research associates, and administrative and external communication staff. We are supported by consultants and independent providers.

We also draw upon a wide network of allies throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. By working closely with them, we are able to execute field research in remote locations, collect sensitive data, and assist in cross-border strategy and planning.

Founder and Executive Director, BENJAMIN COKELET

Benjamin Cokelet is our Founder, Executive Director, and President. He was the founding executive director (2010-19) of PODER www.projectpoder.org, a Latin American NGO recognized worldwide as a pioneer in the fields of corporate, accountability, business and human rights.

Since 1993 he has worked with non-profit organizations and trade unions primarily in the U.S., Mexico, and Latin America, taught public administration at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, and served on the boards of civil society, educational, philanthropic, social entrepreneurial, and media organizations.

He holds a BA in political science and African and African-American studies from Washington University in St. Louis and an MA in international business and politics from NYU. As a graduate student, Benjamin was awarded the Catherine B. Reynolds Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship and wrote his thesis on business politics and state capture in Mexico. 

Benjamin is also a fellow of the foundations Ashoka and Echoing Green.