Class Action Founders Jennifer Ladd and Felice Yeskel met in the fall of 1989. Within five minutes, they realized that they had grown up at different ends of the class spectrum, but shared a passionate interest in class issues and economic justice. Over the years they kept talking, while Felice co-founded United for a Fair Economy with Chuck Collins and Jenny started a philanthropic and wealth counseling business.
In 1995, Jenny and Felice decided they wanted to broaden the conversation about how class and money issues affect people—personally, culturally, and institutionally. They formed a cross-class dialogue group composed of four people from upper-class backgrounds and four people from poor or working-class backgrounds, all involved with some form of social change work. Their wealth ranged from a net worth of $10 million to significantly below zero due to health care debt. The group met for six hours every month for more than six years. The work they did was powerful and transformative for each participant.
In the fall of 2001, Felice and Jenny, with fellow dialogue group member Jerry Koch-Gonzalez, began offering workshops and cross-class dialogue groups for other people in Western Massachusetts. The number and variety of their workshops grew, and there were more requests for organizational consultations and talks on class. Felice and Jenny decided to form a non-profit organization in order to more effectively raise consciousness about the taboo topic of class and to address classism, both locally and nationally. Our board was formed in May 2004, and Class Action incorporated in July 2004.