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.

Monty Rice, Treasurer

Monty Rice joined Project Hope and Fairness in the spring of 2018. He functions as bookkeeper and treasurer, manages the bank account, receives donations, pays bills, and communicates with donors.

Monty and his wife Julia founded America’s Classic Foods in 1994. They export snack foods and ice cream operations to countries worldwide. This has involved designing equipment and having it manufactured in China and shipping equipment and powdered ice cream mixes and flavor concentrates to many developing countries.

From 1970 to 1980, Monty owned a business selling RVs and boats. From 1980 to 1990, he was Director of Special Projects for the Baskin Robbins Corporation. And until he established America’s Classic Foods, Monty served as a consultant to food service product and equipment manufacturers.

Monty has an Executive MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School of Management. He is also a member of the Rotary Club of Cambria, California, and an elder in the Presbyterian Church.

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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