Laura Zinski, Chief Executive Officer
“MVI’s collaborative structure makes a way for incredibly dedicated people to work together to support and improve their communities. I’m honored to work with so many people with deep integrity and the persistent desire to do right and do well.”
Laura has been a part of the Mon Valley Initiative since 1994, leaving briefly from 1998-2001 to work with the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development and Mosites Company, then returning in July 2001 to become MVI’s third director.
Originally from Canton, Ohio, Laura first came to Pittsburgh in 1992, after completing her undergraduate studies at Wheaton College in Illinois. While earning her Master of Science degree in Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University, Laura interned with the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh and Central Northside Neighborhood Council. She accepted her first full-time position as Housing Development Specialist at MVI after completing her graduate degree.
Laura chose to live in the Mon Valley because it’s a great, affordable location where you have access to all the amenities in the region. She recently completed the renovation of her 110-year-old house in Braddock. She loves gardening and spending time with her husband and her daughter, Veronica.
April Hoover, Controller
“I am excited to be part of a team who is dedicated to the betterment of our communities. You can learn so much about yourself and each other when change is encouraged and embraced.”
April joined the MVI team in September, 2014. In her role as Controller, she directs the accounting, financing, and internal control functions of the organization. April’s background is in accounting and finance in the nonprofit sector, and she has a Bachelor’s of Art in International Business and Management from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Though she now lives in Verona with her husband and three furry children, April grew up in Windber, Pennsylvania, a small town outside the Greater Johnstown Area with a very similar history to the Mon Valley.
In her free time, April loves to read historical fiction and travel. She has previously taken two trips to Ireland and hopes to have many more in the future! She loves the sense of relaxation she gets from riding her bike along the Mon River trails.
Elizabeth (Liz) Hannold, Fiscal Specialist
“I love the history of the Mon Valley and what it says about the community here – dedicated people who work tirelessly until the job is done.”
As our Fiscal Specialist, Liz assists our Controller in day-to-day operations, including preparing monthly financial reports, balancing monthly accounts, and keeping everything in order to ensure a smooth annual audit. She also assists our HUD Intermediary Manager in handling financial compliance and report submission tasks related to HUD grants. Liz earned her Master’s of Business Administration from Point Park University and began working with MVI in May 2015.
Liz is from Townville, PA and currently resides in Glenshaw with her husband, Adam. The two enjoy going to Penguins and Pirates games. Liz enjoys acting and singing onstage and, tying back to her bachelor’s degree in Music from Mercyhurst University, she is interested in getting involved in local community theater.
Sheila White, Executive Assistant
“I love being a part of the Steel Valley and the Mon Valley’s historical heritage.”
Sheila has been the Executive Assistant at MVI since 1996, where she provides clerical support, performs administrative functions for the Board of Delegates, assists in database management, and fills a host of other roles to keep our organization running!
She was born at Pittsburgh Hospital and grew up here, attending Duff’s Business Institute and CCAC for Business Administration. Sheila loves to travel, but she always comes back to the ‘burgh! She also has an interest in issues related to poverty in third-world nations.
Sheila’s two dogs, Stevie Wonder and Buddy, keep her on her toes at home, so the MVI employees make sure to do the same while she’s in the office – just so she won’t miss them.
Community Outreach Team
Stephanie Eson, Community Outreach Specialist
“The people are so welcoming and have such pride in their history. It’s truly inspiring and an incredible motivator for creating positive change in Mon Valley communities.”
In her role as a Community Outreach Specialist, Stephanie provides support to MVI staff and to the Rankin, Swissvale, Greater Charleroi, and Homestead CDCs. She is also responsible for assisting in the planning and promotion of annual MVI events, as well as programs and events coordinated by the Real Estate, Housing Counseling, and Workforce Development teams.
Stephanie graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in April 2014 as a Master of Social Work and joined the MVI team in that same month. She grew up in Aurora, Indiana and received her Bachelor’s of Political Science from Miami University in 2011.
When she is away from the office, you will find Stephanie traveling, learning, reading, or improving her gluten-free cooking skills. She loves reading about the Cold War, refugee populations, and cultural practices. Now that she is finished with school, she hopes to get back into her hobbies such as making handmade greeting cards and sewing children’s quilts.
Housing Counseling Team
Dana Hodge II, HUD Intermediary Manager
“The Mon Valley has always been ‘home’ to me. Even though they may seem different at first, the communities are really all the same overall, with the same strong values.”
Dana has been our HUD Intermediary Manager since 2005. Housing Opportunities, Inc. (HOI) merged with MVI in 2004, and Dana then joined our staff, having been their Assistant Vice President.
During his time at MVI, Dana has occupied a different office on all three levels of our office building. As HUD Intermediary Manager, he assists agencies with acquiring and maintaining HUD grant funding. He has a background in accounting, the degree he received from ICM, and experience as a Bookkeeper and Systems Technician for Housing Opportunties, Inc.
When he is not at work, Dana is doing whatever his 6-year-old and 8-month-old daughters want to do. He is a Steelers fan and enjoys getting the chance to watch sports on television instead of the Disney channel.
Jonathan Weaver, Housing Counselor
“I am convinced I have the best job here at MVI. I get to meet people who have expressed interest in becoming homeowners and help them work toward that goal.”
Jonathan has been a part of the MVI team since June 2013. As our certified Housing Counselor, he provides valuable information and guidance to potential homeowners and Mon Valley residents in one-on-one and group training sessions.
After growing up in Venetia, PA and attending IUP for a Bachelor’s of Arts in Liberal Arts degree, Jonathan settled in the Southside of Pittsburgh, where he has now lived for 16 years. He loves the diversity and strong work ethic of the people in the Mon Valley.
Jonathan likes to spend his free time with his family, golfing, riding his bicycle, or being outside.
Housing & Real Estate Development Team
Patrick Shattuck, Real Estate Director
“Each community in the Mon Valley is unique in its proud local heritage, customs, and commitment to place and history. As an architecture buff, I also love the great inventory of buildings and possibilities that each possesses.”
Patrick is our Real Estate Director, bringing to the position over 20 years of historic preservation, grassroots community redevelopment, and federal housing experience. Since joining our staff in 2007, he has directed our team of real estate experts and construction managers as they work to revitalize emerging communities in the Mon Valley through affordable housing efforts and service to the volunteers of our member CDCs.
From as early as he can recall, Patrick has educated and immersed himself in real estate. In elementary school, he spent recess sketching floorplans and reviewing new listings provided to him by his grandfather, a Realtor. Patrick bought his first house while obtaining a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation and a minor in Art History from the Savannah College of Art and Design and by 19 was the Vice-President of his neighborhood association, working to address blight and encouraging others to invest in his neighborhood.
In 2004, while also serving as the Director of Federal Housing Programs for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Patrick fulfilled a lifelong dream – purchasing a restaurant and serving as its chef. With his wife, Tamara and son, Cosmo, they transformed a dilapidated building into Brown’s Market Bistro and made it a destination in the middle of rural Vermont. Patrick relocated to Wilkinsburg in 2007.
Along with Tamara and daughters, Violet and Poppy, he volunteers in his community: serving on Council, the Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Board and with Girl Scout Troop 51058. And, he still compulsively tracks real estate and sketches floorplans.
Rick Dunn, Senior Construction Manager
“The people are the highlight of the Mon Valley. I find them to be very friendly.”
Rick has been a part of our Housing & Real Estate Development Team since March, 1994. As a manager of the construction crews who work on MVI development projects, he carries our team through the process of evaluating housing and other structures for renovation, estimating costs, and writing specifications needed for construction.
A Philadelphia native, Rick sought out classes at Temple, Drexel, community colleges, and trade schools throughout the state for a total of over 40 years of education in his area of expertise.
Keeping his skills sharp, Rick enjoys hands-on carpentry, electrical work, and plumbing in his free time. He also loves spending time with his family and friends.
John Bachetti, Senior Construction Manager
“The river and bike trails in the Mon Valley are second to none.”
– John Bachetti
As a Senior Construction Manager for MVI, John verifies the building feasibility of all potential development sites, estimates cost and construction specifications, and monitors the bidding process and ongoing work of general contractors.
John received a degree in Building Construction Technology from the Greensburg Institute of Technology in 1986. He has been with MVI since 2000, where he met his wife, a previous MVI Real Estate Developer.
If ever you can’t find John, he is probably biking on the trail that runs along the river, just behind the office. His favorite hobbies include kayaking, fishing and going to a camp near Bedford.
Zinat Naderi, Real Estate Developer
“Each home that we acquire has a different story to tell, and rehabilitating that structure allows that story to continue. It’s exciting to incorporate historical aspects into the new design of the structure, respecting what it previously was while improving the property for a new generation to enjoy.”
Zinat joined the MVI Housing & Real Estate Development Team in October 2012 as our Real Estate Developer. She is a key part of the search, acquisition, and rehabilitation process of single and multi-family dwellings, and she also performs various asset management duties for the MVI rental portfolio, including energy upgrades and budget analysis.
Hailing from the East End of Pittsburgh, Zinat enjoys getting involved in local initiatives in and around the area and has a very strong interest in understanding the rich history of the communities we serve, which allows her to effortlessly incorporate community engagement into her work with MVI. She is involved with everything from house tours and solar tours, to urban farms, to night markets that bring individuals together and get people interested in the places in which they live, work, and play.
Zinat obtained her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Political Science from La Roche College and her Master’s of Public Administration from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
Workforce & Business Development Team
Tracey Reaves, Workforce Development Director
“My favorite thing about the Mon Valley is it’s huge potential for community growth and economic development.”
Tracey joined the MVI team in July, 2013. As Director of the Workforce & Business Development Team, she aids in the facilitation of the intake, orientation, and enrollment process of the workforce program, helping to provide information and resources to under and unemployed Mon Valley residents with significant barriers to employment.
Tracey returned to Pittsburgh, the city of her birth, after she was raised in New York City. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and has a background in Corporate Sales, Marketing, Management, and Professional Development.
When she’s not working to assist her clients at MVI, you’ll find Tracey spending time with her family, reading, or going to church.
Bobby James Smith, Workforce Development Specialist & Financial Coach
“We roll up our sleeves and work for the common goal: Helping people!”
– Bobby James
A February 2015 hire to MVI’s Workforce Development Team, Bobby James Smith serves in a dual capacity as a Workforce Development Specialist & Financial Coach. His main function is to diagnose and remove Workforce Program participants’ barriers to employment by aligning their unique circumstances with the proper resources and professional guidance to become totally empowered and employable. Bobby James’ position as Financial Coach is crucial to the connective interface of the 2015 MVI Financial Opportunity Center, where he offers income support coaching to supplement the career development resources offered through the Workforce Development Program.
Bobby James grew up in Newark, New Jersey, receiving his Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Religion from Upsala College of East Orange, New Jersey. He most recently attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary to become a Master of Divinity.
In his free time, Bobby James loves listening to and making music. As a self-proclaimed “coffeeaholic,” you may also see him frequenting the local coffee shops!
Samson Murage, Senior Workforce Development Specialist & Financial Coach
“As a resident of Mon Valley I like the fact that I’m part of a community that is dedicated to revitalization.”
Samson joined our team in August 2013 after working for approximately five years with the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board (3RWIB). His experience in policy analysis, information system management, government funding sources, and his direct experience serving job seekers with barriers to employment is a valuable asset to the Workforce Program.
Samson received his Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Community Development from Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya, the country he calls home. He then earned a Master’s of Arts in International Development and Social Change from Clark University in Massachusetts and another Master’s of Arts in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006. He has previously worked with Catholic Charities’ Refugee Services, offering direct workforce support to clients.
In addition to spending time with his family, Samson also enjoys working in his yard, reading non-fiction, and watching soccer games.
Camille Smith, Job Developer and Workforce Development Specialist & Financial Coach
“I remember growing up hearing the stories of people in Mon Valley communities sticking together and standing strong so that families could continue to grow in the towns that their forefathers worked so hard to build.”
Camille, our Workforce Development Specialist, joined the MVI team in September 2014. She is responsible for curriculum design, monitoring the quality of in-house job seeker services, and developing monthly resume and interview technique workshops. She started her education studying Medical Billing and Health Claims Examine at Median School of Allied Health Careers, changing her path to social work in 2005 and working for the Allegheny Intermediate Unit for nine years. Camille is now pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Leadership from Ohio Christian University, and she hopes to continue on to earn her Master’s Degree in Counseling.
The Mon Valley has always been home to Camille, who grew up in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. She loves spending time wither her family and friends, and she values the memories that are created when people she loves come together. Working with MVI, she is excited to feed her passion for helping people grow and accomplish their goals.
Gail Bachy, Intake Coordinator
“The Mon Valley is an area filled with wonderful history and hardworking, goodhearted people who never give up the fight..”
As MVI’s Intake Coordinator, Gail Bachy is the “face” of MVI, the first point of contact for everyone who comes through our front door. Beginning work with MVI in May 2015, Gail makes all our visitors feel welcome, enrolls participants in the Workforce & Business Development Program, and ensures that their information is entered into our database.
Gail is a Mon Valley resident herself – having grown up in Munhall, she now lives in Turtle Creek with her husband, Ron, and two young adult children, Alan and Ellen. She attended Penn State University for Education & Agriculture before beginning a career in Health Care. Most of her life has been spent in customer service, filling roles such as nursing assistant, health unit coordinator, data coordinator, and front office lead in a physicians’ office.
You may see Gail outside of MVI singing in her church choir and as a soloist. She loves to sew and quilt, go to car cruises, target-shoot and fish, work in the garden, and spend time with her family. If you ever need to know a bit of local history, ask Gail to check out her collection of old photos, postcards, and Munhall/Homestead and Turtle Creek memorabilia.