Meet Our Board

Left to right: Andrea Dennis, Neila Adams, Shelly Ruzicka, MichelleThomas, Chipo Nyambuya, Bethany Collins, Adam Olson, Katherine Bissell Cordova, Rene Edde, and Natasha Casanova

Katherine Bissell Cordova

Executive Director

Having worked for social justice movements dedicated towards human rights, immigrant rights, and workers rights for over twenty years all across the world from Chicago to Guatemala to Honduras, Katherine Bissell Cordova has gracefully taken on the role as the Executive Director of Chicago Fair Trade. Her dedication to human rights and fair trade is reflected in her well rounded experience throughout the world and her receiving the Casa Guatemala’s Human Rights Award. She was also recently appointed as a co-chair to the Fair Trade Campaigns’ National Steering Committee. Katherine currently lives in Chicago with her two children, Sofia, a budding artist, and Mateo who is showing telltale signs of being a future organizer. Her hobbies include a newfound passion for gardening and cooking delicious dinners for CFT board meetings. 

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Neila Adams

Neila Adams is Sweet Beginnings LLCs Operations/Sales Manager (Sweet Beginnings is the social enterprise that produces the fabulous honey and bath products-Bee Love. Neila brings a wealth of expertise in sales/customer service, operations and retail management. Most recently, she worked with the Deloitte firm where she was a consultant.  Neila holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mental Health with a minor in Entrepreneurship from DePaul University.  She has won several honors and awards including One Million Degrees Scholarship Recipient and Student Ambassador, Phi Theta Kappa Member and Vice President of Membership,  DePaul University’s Black Alumni Chapter Recipient, the Apostolic Church of God Academic Achievement Award, and Alpha Sigma Lambda – Delta Lambda Pi Chapter Recipient. Neila  enjoys exercising, bike riding, kayaking, and skating.  She has owned and operated a hotdog stand within the Englewood community for 10 years. 

Board Member

Bethany Collins

Bethany Collins grew up in Southwest Michigan and moved to Chicago to study Communication at Loyola University, graduating in 2015. Since then, she has pursued a career in communications and development for various nonprofit organizations, and hopes to devote her life's work to social justice. She joined the board of Chicago Fair Trade in 2017. In her free time, Bethany enjoys practicing yoga, exploring Chicago's neighborhoods in search of art galleries and fair trade coffee shops, and traveling the world as much as life allows.

Board Member

Andrea Dennis

Andrea Dennis is an organizer, fundraiser, and facilitator in the fields of cultural exchange, fair trade, service learning and sacred connection.   She serves as the Director of Environmental Education and Engagement at Friend of the Park.  Previously, she headed up  fundraising, scholarship programming and marketing as the DOVE Director (Development, Outreach, Visibility, Engagement) for the Chicago based international nonprofit, Greenheart International. Her approach is influenced by a wide-ranging background in multiple fields including: meditation, yoga, permaculture, and community organizing. She received teacher trainings in Primordial Sound Meditation from the Chopra Center; a 200hr yoga teacher training course from Yoga Now Chicago; a certification for Fundraising from the Heart by Lynne Twist; a permaculture Design Certificate at the Earth Activist Training by Starhawk and Charles Williams; and became a Life-Cycle Celebrant through the Celebrant Institute and Foundation. Andrea is a published author in the anthology Purpose Rising. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Social Enterprise Alliance and currently serves with Chicago Fair Trade. She volunteers with Chicago elderly and youth, and is lovingly committed to bringing forth a flourishing existence for all beings. She rides her bike around the city and enjoys lounging.

Board Member

Rene Edde

As Fair Trade USA’s Senior Business Development Manager of the Coffee division, Rene Edde leads the development and execution of global coffee supply chain sustainability initiatives and helps advance and drive a better understanding of certification based social impact opportunities and solutions for business partners.  Rene helps companies to create multi-faceted tools and communication strategies to bridge sustainability efforts and global sourcing priorities and practices. Previously. Rene worked at Whole Foods Market where she held a variety of positions, providing leadership and guidance to a team of over 400 employees.   Rene, a recipient of the Walton Sustainability Executive Scholarship in 2016, graduated top of her class with an Executive Masters in Sustainability Leadership from Arizona State University.  

Board Member

Sarah Faur

Sarah began volunteering with Chicago Fair Trade in 2018 and enjoyed it so much that she agreed to serve as the volunteer coordinator. She currently helps to connect volunteers with events and opportunities that support Chicago Fair Trade. Sarah has years of experience managing events, and genuinely enjoys leading people to work together toward a common goal.  Her personal connection with fair trade values stems from her experience working in a social enterprise in Argentina and Colombia, where she equitably sourced products from local family businesses. It was during that time that she truly understood the living and working conditions of people without access to fair employment and education. Conversely, she also witnessed the empowerment that integrating fair trade values in a business created for the vendors and their communities.Sarah takes being called 'bossy' as a compliment, knows how to sew, rides her bike around town, and speaks fluent Spanish. She is excited to play a part in growing the Chicago Fair Trade community and promoting its mission.

Board Member

Jocelyn Leitzinger

Jocelyn Leitzinger is an Assistant Professor in the Managerial Studies Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her research, Jocelyn examines how social movements pressure firms and industries to change their socially and environmentally detrimental practices. She has studied activism in the areas of urban agriculture, electricity, water, and forestry products. In her teaching, Jocelyn educates undergraduate students about the intersection of business with civil society, the state, and the natural environment. Previously, she has taught courses on strategic management (University of Wisconsin, Madison), social entrepreneurship and innovation (McGill University), and organizational leadership (Kellogg School of Business, Northwestern University). Jocelyn holds a PhD in Strategic Management and Organizational Theory from UW Madison and a Master's in International Business and Bachelor's degrees in Advertising and Marketing from the University of Florida. In her free time, Jocelyn stays active with rock climbing and appeases her creative side though painting, photography, and cooking.

Board Member

Stacy Neier Beran

Stacy Neier Beran has been teaching at Loyola University's  Department of Marketing for Quinlan School of Business since 2008. Her professional background includes roles in marketing research and consumer insights for Gap Inc. and Euromonitor International. Accordingly, her Loyola classes focus on Marketing Research as an essential tool to drive effective marketing strategies. She also teaches Fundamentals of Marketing, Consumer Behavior, Retailing Management, and Microenterprise Consulting. Each course offers opportunities to engage in Chicagoland business community. Stacy also studied textiles as an undergraduate, so the fashion & apparel industries have always fascinated her too. She is a long time supporter of Chicago Fair Trade, involving dozens of students in the work of CFT over the years.

Board Member

Chad Nico Hiu

Chad Nico Hiu [@chadnico] is a Hawaii-born New Yorker and student of the world having served with the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) Diversity, Inclusion & Global (DIG) team since 2011 and is Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion. With an amazing, experienced and respected team, Chad helps to build local, state-wide, national and global capacity to engage diverse, vulnerable, underserved and marginalized communities, co-leads Y-USA’s DIG strategy and network, and leads integration of diversity, equity and inclusion policies, practices and programs towards community bridge building and social cohesion for all in the 10,000 communities the Y serves across the U.S. 


Previously, Chad served as Director of International Operations & Youth Exchanges for the YMCA of Greater New York, where he was part of an era of dynamic growth in cultural exchanges, collaborations, and global education/inclusion programming. A strategic, effective and passionate NGO professional for twenty years, Chad holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services Administration & Youth Development and a Master’s degree in Organizational Management and Leadership from Springfield College in Massachusetts and a Global Studies Certificate from the University of Pittsburgh. 

Chad serves on the Board of Directors for Howard Brown, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ health care networks, the Board of Trustees for the Tyler Clementi Foundation, dedicated to ending bullying in all forms, the Board of Directors Chicago Fair Trade supporting global social responsibility through purchasing, has traveled to 40 countries on almost every continent of the world, participated in the globally recognized Semester at Sea study abroad program, volunteered with the CASA YMCA youth shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, represented Y-USA in global settings and the World YMCA at the United Nations, keynoted at numerous national events, lived in Hong Kong for two years and served as Youth Director with the YMCA of Honolulu. Chad can be reached at and lives in Chicago, Illinois with his husband of ten years.

Board Member

Chipo Nyambuya

Chipo Nyambuya is the Founder and Principal of Virgil LLC.  She has nearly twenty years of cross-sector experience as a lawyer and policy advisor advising Fortune 500 corporations, start-ups, international development agencies, and foreign governments. Her expertise ranges from negotiating multi-million dollar corporate deals to helping establish legal and judicial institutions in post-conflict countries. She continues to advise organizations and governments on policy and rule of law issues relative to energy, education, economic development, and technology. In recent years, she has consulted for startup companies on technology law and for not-for-profit organizations. She founded Virgil LLC in 2015.

Board Member

Adam Olson

Adam is a Senior Advocacy Advisor in Oxfam America's policy and campaigns division. Oxfam is a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty. In 2006, Oxfam helped found Chicago Fair Trade. The rest is history. Adam works with a global team fighting poverty by advancing human rights. He collaborates with policymakers, allied organizations, community leaders, faith groups, and academics towards this end. Adam works across the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Tennessee. His current issues of interest include America's role in international agricultural development, aid reform, and humanitarian crisis intervention.

Board Member

Shelly Ruzicka

Shelly has brought a plethora of knowledge and academic accomplishment to the board. She is a graduate of Elmhurst College where she received the Founders Award for Service, the college’s highest honor awarded a student. She has participated as a former grantee representative on a Crossroads Fund grant-making committee, presented at a Center for Nonprofit Success Fundraising Summit, and has provided peer support on fundraising and administrative systems to other worker centers around the country. Shelly is the Director of Operations for Arise Chicago, an organization that builds partnerships between faith communities and workers to fight workplace injustice. She has brought this passion for fair labor practices to Chicago Fair Trade, where she serves on the Board of Directors. 

Board Member

Michelle Thomas

Michelle Thomas is a founder and co-owner and Director of Operations at Mata Traders, a beloved Chicago -based fair trade fashion company located in Chicago, IL that partners with women’s cooperatives in India and Nepal to create their apparel and jewelry collections. Michelle has been immersed in the fair trade landscape for over 10 years and loves to connect the women who make Mata abroad with the women who wear it here in the States. Michelle lives in Chicago with her husband and seven year old daughter. 

Board Member

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