Serial trailblazer, social entrepreneur, and movement builder. From cooperative development to environmental justice; working with other men to confront our own roles in upholding patriarchy to unleashing the genius of children, what is central for me is the beauty that comes from releasing the untapped power within each of us and our communities.
What I Do
Education & Training Design
Policy & Planning
Omar Freilla is a serial trailblazer, social entrepreneur, and movement builder with a passion for building structures for community self-determination and regenerative economies. His work is grounded in his experience growing up in the South Bronx, a child of Dominican immigrants, within a network of community organizers. He founded Green Worker Cooperatives, the oldest Black-led worker cooperative development organization in the US. He has pioneered multiple approaches to cooperative development that have resulted in New York City now having the largest concentration of worker cooperatives in the US. He is the creator of the Co-op Academy, the first business accelerator for worker cooperatives in the US. His latest initiative is Collective Diaspora, a new global network of Black cooperatives and Black-led cooperative support organizations from across the African diaspora.
Omar has over 18 years of experience developing worker cooperatives and almost as many years as an organizer challenging environmental racism, classism, and sexism. He has been part of the leadership of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance; Sustainable South Bronx; US Federation of Worker Cooperatives; Democracy At Work Institute; NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives; and the Story of Stuff Project.
He currently serves on the Mayor of New York City’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board and New York State’s Just Transition Working Group. He has been a fellow of the Open Society Institute (now Open Society Foundations); Environmental Leadership Program; and the Democracy At Work Institute. He co-curated the NYC portion of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, a project of the Guggenheim Museum. His writings have appeared in numerous books, blogs, and articles. He also appears in numerous documentaries, including Leonardo DiCaprio’s environmental documentary “The 11th Hour”.
He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Rockefeller Foundation’s Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism and has been listed in various “Power 100” lists published by magazines such as Ebony, Essence, and The Root.
Omar holds a Masters degree in Environmental Science from Miami University of Ohio and a B.S. from Morehouse College where he also co-founded the organizations Black Men for the Eradication of Sexism and Students for Afrikan Amerikan Empowerment / Students for All Afrikan Empowerment. Omar enjoys playing with his two children in new neighborhood parks he helped advocate for, and tending to his garden in the Bronx, where he lives with his wife. And where he has co-founded the ministries Transformative Justice and Men Unmasked (a men’s group against patriarchy) at New Day Church.