Laura Zinski, Chief Executive Officer
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.
“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.”
April Hoover, Chief Financial Officer
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.
“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.”
Elizabeth (Liz) Hannold, Fiscal Specialist
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.
“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.”
Jason Togyer, Communications Manager
Jason Togyer recently realized that he’s never lived more than a mile from the Monongahela River. With a love for the Mon Valley and broad communications experience, he is helping MVI to tell the important stories about our communities and the many individuals that we are honored to serve.
A native of McKeesport, he worked as a journalist at several local newspapers before joining the marketing teams at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon.
The author of a history of McKeesport’s G.C. Murphy Co., he currently sits on the board of directors of the charitable G.C. Murphy Co. Foundation and the vestry at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, McKeesport, and is an active volunteer in several community organizations.
Jason is also the founder and currently serves as the volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media, which operates websites and an Internet radio station in McKeesport. He also hosts a weekly podcast about the Mon Valley as well as an oldies show. He and his wife, Denise, live near Bettis Field.
“I believed in the mission of MVI before I came to work here. I want to tell everyone I can that the Mon Valley is a great place to live, work and play, and that its best days are still ahead of it.”
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Dana Hodge II, HUD Intermediary Manager
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.
“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.”
Jonathan Weaver, Housing Counselor
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.
“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.”
Patrick Shattuck, Real Estate & Community Development Director
Patrick is our Real Estate & Community Development 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.
“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.”
Rick Dunn, Senior Construction Manager
Rick has been a part of our Real Estate Development program 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.
“The people are the highlight of the Mon Valley. I find them to be very friendly.”
John Bachetti, Senior Construction Manager
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.
“The river and bike trails in the Mon Valley are second to none.”
Grant Cole, Community Outreach Specialist
Originally from a small town in central Pennsylvania, Grant moved west in 2010 to attend the University of Pittsburgh. There, he received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and went on to work in corporate retail for two years.
After getting involved in politics, organizing for both national and local campaigns across the Western Pennsylvania region, Grant realized he had a passion for working on the ground with people who are deeply dedicated to the success of their communities.
Grant is currently a resident of the North Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh. In his spare time, he loves running, going to concerts, binge-watching his favorite television shows, exploring new breweries and coffee shops and keeping up with current events.
“What originally attracted me to Western Pennsylvania was the passionate, resilient people I met on my first trip here. The Mon Valley is a perfect example of that legacy – full of communities that have been through some tough times but are more determined than ever to move forward.”
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Laura Jean (L.J.) Kahl, Community Outreach Specialist
Laura Jean “L.J.” Kahl has called the Beaver and Allegheny valleys her home, and is now proud to live in the Monongahela Valley.
In 2016, she moved to Monongahela, Washington County, where she is the fourth generation to live on the family homestead, along with her dog, Annie, and her cat, Tula.
She is an avid gardener who enjoys canning her harvests and is busily adding livestock to her hobby farm. Outdoorsy and adventurous, L.J. can be found paddling, cycling, hunting and camping when she’s not at work or homesteading. She also enjoys playing guitar and singing in the style of country greats such as Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams.
With a background in the arts, L.J. is excited to be at MVI because she believes in the power of cultural connectivity, and the transformations that arise from people coming together and sharing their stories.
“I love the culture and heritage of the Mon Valley and look forward to helping others take pride in their communities, and calling this valley home.”
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Andrew Ritchie, Real Estate Developer
Andrew Ritchie has been interested in housing and construction since he was a young boy, watching his parents restore a 19th century row house in Pittsburgh’s Mexican War Streets.
Working at MVI rewards his passion for grassroots community development and engagement. He is currently helping to manage development projects from initial conception to completion as part of MVI’s regional revitalization strategy.
Today, he and his wife, Amanda, are fixing up a house of their own in Forest Hills, where they’ve also begun fostering retired racing greyhounds.
An advocate for urban farming and local food systems, Andrew is on the board of directors at the East End Food Co-Op. In his free time, he enjoys biking along Pittsburgh’s river trails, perfecting his homebrew recipes, or making music in his basement studio.
“Working alongside such compassionate, driven, and thoughtful people in service of the Mon Valley communities is incredibly rewarding and I’m tremendously happy to be here.”
Workforce & Business Development
Tracey Reaves, Workforce Development Director
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.
“My favorite thing about the Mon Valley is its huge potential for community growth and economic development.”
Earl Lamar, Employment and Financial Coach
Earl Lamar came to MVI in 2017 after a career in the corporate world, working in management, marketing and corporate sales.
Now, his main goal is getting MVI participants back into the workforce and on their feet, living financially stable lives. He’s committed to providing the support they need, every step of the way.
Earl grew up in Penn Hills and earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from California University of Pennsylvania.
A diehard Steelers and Pirates fan, when Earl’s not in the office, you can find him with his family, traveling, or riding his motorcycle.