Mary LaPorte, Board Chair
Mary LaPorte led non-profit organizations working in the fields of community economic development, job training & education, and international development over a span of three decades. Mary was the founding Executive Director of Jane Addams Resource Corporation in Chicago, the founding Executive Director of the Center for Employment Training in Cleveland, and the Chief Operating Officer of International Partners in Mission in Cleveland. She served as a Field Instructor at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Graduate School of Social Work, Case Western Reserve University, throughout her time in Cleveland. Mary earned a Master of Social Work and a Bachelor of General Studies from the University of Michigan.
Mary joined the EcoViva Board in 2009 and has held the positions of Secretary and Chair of the Board Resource Development Committee. She serves as a member of the Riverfront Neighborhood Leadership Team and a representative of Community Forum for the City of Missoula. Mary is active in environmental advocacy, including work as a board member of Montana Elders for a Livable Tomorrow. Recently she was certified as a Master Naturalist through the Montana Natural History Center.
Mary has resided in Missoula, Montana, since 2011. She and her husband Charlie Rial have two grown sons, a daughter-in-law, and a terrific dog.
Karina Copen is currently an independent consultant working with international NGOs in the US and Central America. Previously, she served as the Program Officer for Humanitarian Preparedness and Response with Oxfam America for the region of Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Based in the agency’s El Salvador Office, Karina managed projects related to disaster risk reduction, prevention and mitigation as well as gender and humanitarian response.
Prior to joining the team at Oxfam, Karina worked as a program evaluation consultant with various international institutions. She also spent two years with the non-profit organization, Familias de Esperanza, in Guatemala and three years with iEARN-USA, an international education non-profit based in New York City, as well as having served on the Board of Directors of EcoViva since 2001. She earned a Master of International Affairs and a Master of Public Health from Columbia University and during that time conducted her Master’s thesis with EcoViva’s partner, the Mangrove Association, in El Salvador.
Lisa Brown Oppenheimer, Secretary
Lisa Brown Oppenheimer joined the EcoViva board in 2014. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Lisa received a BA from Harvard and a JD from the University of California, Los Angeles. She spent the 80’s working in various aspects of the film industry including production and distribution. Moving to a ranch in northern New Mexico in the 90s, Lisa and her husband Eric Oppenheimer raised two children while pursuing their shared passions for horses. Today they continue training equines and have added a small organic farm to their operation.
Lisa has served on several boards including The New Mexico Association of Grantmakers and Breakthrough, NM. She is currently Vice-President of the Eric Oppenheimer Family Foundation and is committed to environmental, economic and social justice initiatives locally, nationally and globally.
Cam joined the EcoViva board in 2015. A labor educator, he taught political economy, immigration policy and strategic campaigns at the National Labor College and has worked in the labor movement for more than 30 years. As Regional Director for the Americas of Public Services international — the global federation of public service unions — he developed labor rights campaigns with public sector unions in North and South America. He also worked for the AFSCME Research Department, the AFL-CIO Workers Institute for Safety and Health, and the AFL-CIO International Department.
Cam established an environmental economics program at Greenpeace International, campaigning on NAFTA and World Bank projects in Latin America. Besides teaching for labor organizations, he taught economics at the American University and at the University of Costa Rica, and served as Chief Economist for the US House Committee on Small Business. He received a BA from Stanford and a Ph.D. in labor economics from American University, and published From Debt to Development: Alternatives to the International Debt Crisis (Institute for Policy Studies). He was raised in San Antonio, and lived in Puerto Rico and Washington DC before moving to New Mexico in 2007. He was active in the Latin America solidarity movement in the 70s and 80s. Cam is currently on the board of the International Labor Rights Forum in DC, and serves as a Trustee of the Northern New Mexico Central Labor Council.
Jeff Haas joined the board of directors of the FSSCA (EcoViva’s former name) in 2002. He has served as our board chair since 2009 and has visited El Salvador 12 times. He was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He earned his BA from the University of Michigan 1963, and his JD from the University of Chicago Law School. He is a founding partner of People’s Law Office in Chicago focusing on Civil Rights and Criminal Defense, and specialized in police misconduct litigation. He was active in Central American Solidarity and Sanctuary work in the 1980s. He is a member of the New Mexico Bar Association, where he has done work on peace and civil rights. He led protests against the US war in Iraq. He defended Mora County New Mexico’s ban on oil and gas exploration from Shell Oil.
He earned an MFA from Bennington College and published The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther in 2009.
Salvador Menjivar, Treasurer
Salvador Menjivar is the Executive Director of Beneficial State Foundation. Salvador has been in positions of leadership in the private and nonprofit sectors for over twenty years.
While attending school in New York he helped launch an import-export company brokering and selling organic foods from Latin America. He has also directed political campaigns on behalf of the California Democratic Party. Most recently he served as Executive Director of Hamilton Family Center in San Francisco. Salvador has also served on governmental commissions in the Cities of San Francisco and Berkeley. He has volunteered his time on many Boards of Directors in the Bay Area – including the Mission Area Federal Credit Union, as President and Treasurer.
He holds a degree in Economics from New York based New School University and an M.B.A from the University of San Francisco. Salvador has recently received several awards, including a local award from the Full Circle Fund for innovation in the areas of affordable housing, and a National Achievement Award from the National Alliance to End Homelessness for his work on ending homelessness for families and children.
Salvador lives in Berkeley with his two children, Alejandro and Rafael.
Michelle R.B. Saddler is currently a Principal with Kittleman and Associates, an executive search firm dedicated to recruiting leaders for nonprofit organizations around the country. Michelle previously served as Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) for five years, taking leave for four months to serve as Chief of Staff to former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. Prior to IDHS, Michelle served in various roles including Policy Director to the Illinois Governor, Director of Investments for the State of Illinois, and Manager with the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada.
Michelle’s civic leadership includes service as President of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Co-Chair of Protestants for the Common Good, an Illinois social justice organization, and Vice President for Lifelink, Illinois’ largest international adoption agency. In addition to her board work with EcoViva, Michelle currently serves on the board of directors of the Michael Reese Health Trust and Housing Opportunities for Women.
Michelle earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and her Master’s in Management Degree from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Michelle and her husband Ed Shurna are grateful to share four adult children and four grandchildren.
Erik Schnabel currently works as the Development Manager at Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC) and is responsible for supporting various fundraising programs. Erik brings over 15 years of fundraising experience, including work with such organizations as LYRIC, Grantmakers Without Borders, and the SHARE Foundation: Building a New El Salvador Today. In addition, he ran his own fundraising consulting group, where he specialized in supporting international grassroots organizations. He has long been active in organizing around various social justice issues, including immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, international solidarity issues with Latin America and Southeast Asia, and other human rights issues. Erik has served on the Board of Directors of EcoViva since 2010 and ALDES, and serves as a volunteer community outreach organizer with Out4Immigration. He holds an MA in Social and Cultural Anthropology from California Institute of Integral Studies, and a BA in International Relations from Antioch College.
Steve Solnit works as a data analyst for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. He is an elected delegate and union steward with the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21. Steve graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in computer science. Steve was active in the movement to oppose US military aid to Central America in the 1980s. He taught computer science at the National Engineering University in Managua, Nicaragua from 1988 to 1992. He was active in a number of Nicaragua solidarity organizations, and co-founded a Managua-based solidarity committee to support the Salvadoran struggle. In the early 1990s, he accompanied the repatriation of Salvadoran refugees from Nicaragua to El Salvador. Steve volunteered with International Development Exchange (IDEX) from 1994-1998, chairing the Latin America Program Committee. He served on the Steering Committee of the Committee for Health Rights in Central America (CHRICA) from 1995-1999. He has been active in a peace and anti-militarism movements for 35 years. Steve is an avid urban and back roads cyclist, and is involved in advocacy for alternative transportation and sustainable development in the Bay Area. He lives in Berkeley with his wife and two sons.
Eleanor Stein has been a life-long activist for human rights, civil rights, and peace. A founder of the upstate New York group Women Against War, for the last ten years her focus has been climate change. She teaches the Law of Climate Change: Domestic & Transnational at Albany Law School and the State University of New York at Albany, and she is currently enrolled in the LLM program on Climate Change Law and Policy at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. She has also been an administrative law judge for New York State’s agency responsible for energy and environment policy, and is currently the Project Coordinator for the Reforming the Energy Vision initiative. Her work has included mediating the 2013-14 Climate Resiliency Collaborative for New York City’s energy utility Con Edison, addressing the city’s adaptation to climate change impacts post-Superstorm Sandy. She also presided over and mediated proceedings concerning renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Her recent publications include “Regional Initiatives to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” in Michael Gerrard, Ed., Global Climate Change and U.S. Law (2nd ed., 2014) and “Ignorance/Denial-Fear/Paralysis-Engagement/Commitment: Reflections on a Decade Teaching Climate Change Law,” upcoming in Radical Teacher magazine.