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, Controller
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.”
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.”
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.”
Housing & Real Estate Development
Patrick Shattuck, Real Estate & Community Outreach Director
Patrick is our Real Estate & Community Outreach 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 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.
“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.”
Zinat Naderi, Real Estate Developer
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.
“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.”
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.”
Bobby James Smith, Workforce Development Specialist & Financial Coach
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!
“We roll up our sleeves and work for the common goal: Helping people!”
Camille Smith, Job Developer and Workforce Development Specialist & Financial Coach
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.
“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.”
Earl Lamar, Workforce Development Specialist & 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.
Gail Bachy, Intake Coordinator
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.
“The Mon Valley is an area filled with wonderful history and hardworking, goodhearted people who never give up the fight..”