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Our Board

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Annia Aleman


Annia is the Director of Innovation at the business incubator Ascender. At Ascender she is in charge of leading educational programming and empowering entrepreneurs. Previously, she was the Senior Civic Innovation Specialist for the City of Pittsburgh where she led initiatives like the citywide startup program PGH Lab and also co-organized Inclusive Innovation initiatives including Inclusive Innovation Week and Summit convening hundreds of community partners working to make Pittsburgh a more equitable city to live, work, and play. Annia holds a B.A in Global Policy studies from Chatham University and a Masters in Public Policy and Management from the Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University. Annia was born and raised in Nicaragua and moved to Pittsburgh in 2006 with her family. She enjoys climbing outdoors and world traveling.

Bibi Al-Ebrahim


Bibi  joined the board in 2017 and is the Education Director at Amizade Global Service-Learning. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Bibi spent over a decade working in Ecuador. Bibi was first able to go to Ecuador as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She then returned to the U.S. to complete a masters in International Public Health in 2008. Soon afterwards, Bibi re-located to Ecuador and began work as the Director for Manna Project International, a community development organization working just outside of Quito. In 2011, Bibi returned to Peace Corps/ Ecuador as the Program and Training Specialist for the Community Health program and then as the Training Manager.

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Eileen Kraus-Dobratz

Board Treasurer


Eileen has been involved with Building New Hope since the early years and was part of the 1994 steering committee when the organization incorporated as a 501(c)3. Eileen traveled with the early brigades to El Salvador. She traveled in subsequent years to the coffee cooperative. She has an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of Business, and holds graduate degrees in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in Economic Development
and Latin America.

Jason Norris


Inspired by BNH’s mission, Jason joined the board in 2017. Jason is Managing Attorney for FedEx Ground’s Litigation team. Prior to joining FedEx Ground, Jason was an associate with Blank Rome LLP where he focused on white collar crime, class actions, securities, and other complex litigation matters. Jason received his J.D. from Temple University School of Law. He received his B.A. in History and International Affairs from The George Washington University. He concentrated his undergraduate studies on diplomacy with a particular focus on U.S. relations with South and Central American countries.

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John Soluri

Board Chair


John is a professor of Latin American history and directs Carnegie Mellon University’s Global Studies program. His research and teaching focus on food, energy, environment, and social justice. He has lived and traveled throughout Central America. John joined the board of Building New Hope in 2005 after teaching a seminar on Fair Trade coffee.

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Loraine Taylor

Board Secretary 

Loraine  is a retired Spanish teacher. A longtime supporter of Building New Hope, she was a member of the first work brigade in 1992 that completed two projects in Nueva Esperanza, El Salvador. She has visited Granada, Nicaragua, twice to observe Building New Hope’s programs. In Pittsburgh she enjoys volunteering as a BNH representative at various outreach events.

Therese Tardio


Therese is a professor of Hispanic Studies at Carnegie Mellon University where she teaches and conducts research related to Central American cultures and politics. She has also advised and led numerous student groups on trips to Nicaragua. Therese is the board’s primary liaison with both BNH’s teaching staff in Granada and the El Porvenir coffee cooperative.

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Melissa Nix


Melissa is the Communications and Development Associate at Amizade. Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, Melissa attended Texas Christian University (TCU) and obtained a BS in Interior Design in Art History, then worked as an interior designer in      Los Angeles for two years before deciding to pursue a Masters degree in International Education Management at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. She moved to Pittsburgh in 2018, after living in Seville, Spain, where she worked as an Internationalization Coordinator for a local university. Melissa got involved with Building New Hope as a volunteer shortly after moving to Pittsburgh. She was drawn to the organization because of the focus on education and her love of a good cup of organic, fair trade, bird-friendly coffee.


Penny Zeisloft


Penny is the Commercial Lines and Human Resource Manager at White Insurance Agency in Mt. Pleasant, PA.  Penny's passion for fair trade started in 2015, when she held a small fair trade sale in her home during the Christmas season.  This event has grown to an annual event involving 15+ vendors and over 30 volunteers and has raised over $50,000 since its inception.  Her desire is to spread fair trade geographically and to educate people in untapped markets about its benefits.  She views fair trade as a market-driven partnership fueled by a heart change in the buyers.  One of her primary motivations is Proverbs 3:27, which states, "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act."  She strives to encourage people to shop fair trade, whenever possible, and through this simple change,  to impact lives around the world.

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