About Us

Project Hope & Fairness, Inc., is a California public benefit corporation that is in a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. We are a volunteer organization based in San Luis Obispo, California, that was created to assist African cocoa farmers who suffer disproportionately from the inequities in the world cocoa trade with particular focus on the participation of chocolate producers and consumers in the United States. Currently, our Board of Directors has two members. We are looking for additional members capable of contributing the following: providing legal services, filling out tax forms, applying for grants, interfacing with primary and secondary schools and universities, and fund-raising.

Tom Neuhaus, President

Tom Neuhaus is the president and founder Project Hope & Fairness, Inc. Tom first thought of donating solar-powered freezers to villages after visiting Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon in 2003 and 2004, as selling bags of water or bissap (hibiscus tea) were important sources of revenue. On his 2005 trip, during which he interviewed several Ivorian cocoa farmers about their paltry earnings, it became apparent that one way of bringing more money into cocoa-growing villages would be to provide tools for increasing farmers’ production efficiencies. Each of the subsequent trips have yielded new surprises and his efforts to make change have become more complex.

Tom is an owner of Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates, Inc., one of the first uniquely Fair Trade/organic artisan chocolatiers in the U.S. (established in 2004). He is also an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo.Tom formerly taught for 16 years in the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, where he earned his PhD in Food Science. He also wrote afood column for the Washington Post from 1982-89 and for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner from 1984-88. Tom’s tasks include: fundraising, purchasing and installing equipment in villages, serving as tour guide on trips to Cameroon, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire, making speeches, writing articles, and designing and maintaining the web site.

Lisa Nicholson, Chief Financial Officer

Lisa Nicholson is currently a Professor Emeritus teaching at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. At Cal Poly her teaching and research interests include to tailoring theory-based nutrition communications for increased effectiveness within diverse audiences; Service/Community-Based Learning in the nutrition curriculum; and obesity prevention community outreach. She was a designer of the Pink and Dude Chefs cooking curriculum for after-school programing; collaborated on a video series of parenting nutrition tips with UC Extension Services; and consults to nutrition and health companies. Dr. Nicholson has held leadership positions in the Academy of Nutrition & Dieteticsat the local, regional and state level. Currently she is serving as an Advisory Board member at the San Luis Obispo County Food Bank and Project Hope and Fairness.

Lisa will be helping us to interface with schools and to bring the issue of cocoa sustainability to our primary, secondary, and university school systems; this includes developing coursework so that teachers and professors can more easily and quickly access information about child labor, child slavery, and the chocolate business. She also is advising Tom on best methods for presenting information on this site.

John Thompson, Secretary

Dr. John Thompson, Professor of French at Cal Poly State University, native of San Luis Obispo, graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with degrees in French and Medieval Studies. He received his doctorate from Yale University in 1993. John has been at Cal Poly since 1998. In the early 2000s, John and Tom Neuhaus taught a course together, French Cooking in French. In lecture, students learned about French culinary history, the science and the methods of French cooking in French. In lab, students cooked French meals and were required to speak French.

John will be in charge of English-French translation, as we are developing a French version of the web site and we need to send official documents to Côte d'Ivoire which need to be written in the sort of language used by government officials.

Ben Taylor, Treasurer

Ben received his undergraduate degree from the University of Redlands in 2010, majoring in business administration with a minor in economics. He quickly discovered that working in the corporate world was not something that interested him and thought he would try a career in the food industry. His family purchased a small chocolate company from his home town called Stafford’s Chocolates in 2012 and the rest was history. After learning as much as he could from books, the internet, and trials and tribulations, he chose to continue his education, but this time decided to attend The International Culinary Center, completing the Professional Pastry Arts course in 2016. Ben then worked in a Michelin star restaurant called Mourad in San Francisco before coming down to San Luis Obispo to take over Mama Ganache from Tom and Eve starting on May 1.

Ben will be in charge of local (San Luis Obispo) PH&F activities such as fundraising and accounting. He and his family will be the new owners of Mama Ganache, which will continue Tom's work to establish commercial links with West African village factories as part of the mission of Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates, Inc.. The Seven Villages Chocolate line will contain chocolate manufactured in the participating villages--at first from Depa and Pezoan and eventually from villages in Ghana, Cameroon, and Uganda.

Barbara Shah, Legal Counsel & Fundraising

Barbara earned her BA at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where she met her husband Sanat. She majored in the Teaching of Social Studies, with minors in German and Philosophy, taught high school social studies, and was active in politics in Illinois. She is the mother of 3 children; her eldest son is deceased. After moving to Pittsburgh area in 1976, she attended Duquesne Law School, evening program, while working full time during the day as outside salesperson. After passing the PA Bar (1st attempt), she began practicing law, specializing in divorce, support, custody, wills, and estate cases. She learned that it is necessary to educate clients on the law and with the aid of modern technological tools she uses a client-centered approach .

In addition to law, Barbara has been a member of the Bethel Park Democratic Committee for 20 years. Since 2017, she has been active in the anti-gerrymandering movement and has joined several local Resistance groups. She and her late husband have long supported charities and charitable giving, in particular the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, in honor of their deceased son.

Barbara will advise the Board on legal concerns and will reach out to corporations in the Pittsburgh area to enlist their aid in achieving our objectives.

Our Mission Statement

The Mission of Project Hope & Fairness, Inc. is to assist African cocoa farmers who suffer disproportionately from the inequities in the world cocoa trade with particular focus on the participation of chocolate producers and consumers in the United States. Our purposes will be achieved through the following three activities: promote the sustainability of African cocoa farmers through direct assistance (grants and in-kind contributions); educate American consumers about the realities of the world cocoa market and the inequities being suffered by African cocoa farmers in particular; and build rice hulling and chocolate-making facilities; .

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