Pittsburgh Staff

  • Jennifer Novelli
    Executive Director
    Jennifer Novelli started with Building New Hope as Executive Director in 2015. Previously she worked at the international medical relief and development organization Global Links for over 10 years – drinking Building New Hope coffee that entire time – and in the field of international education at the University of Pittsburgh Study Abroad Office for over 6 years. Jennifer has her Master in International Development from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, with a focus in environmental sustainability.
  • Sandi Suni
    Administrative Director
    Sandra (Sandi) Suni has been involved with Building New Hope for over 10 years, first packing coffee, then packing off two kids as BNH volunteers in Granada; their experiences highlighted BNH’s important role in Nicaragua. After 21 years as a homemaker and homeschooling mom, she took a part time job as Barbara Wein’s assistant in 2011. Sandi was deeply moved visiting the schools and projects in Granada; hope was truly being built through BNH’s partnerships. Sandi served as Interim Director between April 2013 – December 2014 and currently serves as Administrative Director for BNH. Sandi has a BS in Accounting from Valparaiso University.

Granada Staff

  • Ivañía Cristina Hernández Castillo
    Head Teacher, Escuelita Yo Puedo
    Ivañía joined the Escuelita staff in 2008 after earning a degree in education. She currently serves as the program’s lead teacher.  Ivañía loves her work; her greatest satisfaction comes from seeing students achieve academic success.  She also loves music and her four daughters.
  • Karla Vanessa Guadamuz Palacios a native of Granada, joined Escuelita Yo Puedo in 2007. Karla, who holds a degree in primary education, is proud of changes that the teachers have made over the years to improve their ability to meet each student’s learning needs. She believes that adults also need to learn from children who teach us how to live and to enjoy life’s every moment.
  • Mariela Vanesa Gómez López  joined the staff of Escuelita Yo Puedo in February 2017. Mariela holds a degree in teaching, has English language skills, and lived in Belize for a few years before returning back to Granada.
  • Mario Javier Alemán Gutiérrez
    Head Teacher, Quinta Los Chavalos
    Mario Javier Alemán Gutiérrez earned a Masters degree in Primary Education in 1980.  He has worked with BNH for 12 years and is the lead teacher at Quinta Los Chavalos. Before that, he worked in public and private schools in rural and urban Nicaragua. Mario believes that education is the most important vocation one can have because teachers carry the responsibility of turning children and teen-agers into thinking citizens of both Nicaragua and world.
  • Luis Armando Guzmán Rodríguez has been an educator with Building New Hope for eleven years; he has been nurturing children and adolescents for nearly twenty years! Before joining BNH, he has worked with child street vendors and youth struggling to overcome drug addiction.  He currently tutors  students in second through sixth grades. He is grateful for the opportunities and support that BNH has provided him.
  • Juan Sandino joined the Quinta Los Chavalos staff in February of 2017.  He comes from a family of educators and lives just outside of Granada.

The Board

Building New Hope is a small volunteer-driven organization that relies on the talent, energy and enthusiasm of its Board of Directors. Any given day, you might find members of the Board sampling coffee at a farmers’ market, presenting to an area school, or organizing a fundraising event. The current Board of Directors of Building New Hope is:

  • Barbara Wein, board member emerita is a co-founder of Building New Hope and has worked as an organizer on social justice and international issues, many involving Central America, for more than 30 years. She helped found several NGOs including Building New Hope, where she has carried out all aspects of the organization. She has a Masters of Arts in Economic and Social Development and a Certificate in Latin American Studies from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • John Soluri, board co-chair, 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.
  • Anne Marie Toccket, board co-chair, holds an M.A. in international development and nonprofit management from the University of Pittsburgh, as well as bachelor’s degrees in Spanish, journalism and international affairs from Penn State University. She has extensive experience in nonprofit fundraising and program development. She joined the board of Building New Hope in 2012 after visiting El Porvenir as part of a graduate school capstone project.
  • Bibi Al-Ebrahim 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.
  • Eileen Kraus-Dobratz, board Treasurer, 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.
  • Don Roberts has a Ph.D. in history and a Certificate in Latin American Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. He has lived in Latin America (Venezuela and Mexico) for three years. He is a retired History Lecturer (Pitt) and public school teacher (Pittsburgh). Don joined the board of Building New Hope in 2008 to support their grassroots projects.
  • Therese Tardio 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.
  • Loraine Taylor, board Secretary, 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.