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

Natasha Casanova

Natasha is an international social entrepreneur and marketing professional with over 10 years of public relations, business development and management experience. She is the founder of Kathmandu Yogi, a yoga lifestyle brand that produces ethically made goods for a socially-conscious audience. She and her company are committed to making a global social impact by empowering everyone in the supply chain, including the end consumer, through fair trade. 


Natasha earned her B.A. in Communication with minors in Art History and Italian from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. In addition to serving on the CFT board, she volunteers for Diamond Way Buddhism offering her expertise to the organization's "Dharma Shop" team. 


In her spare time she enjoys catching up with friends over a nice bottle of wine and is always up for a good adventure. 

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

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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