About Us

Board of Directors December 2022

Project Hope & Fairness, Inc., is a California public benefit corporation that is in a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS (EIN-20-3269307). We are a volunteer organization originally based in San Luis Obispo County, California.

PH&F Vision: PH&F serves as a center of excellence for cocoa cooperative members to learn quality production techniques and business and marketing skills to boost their incomes and improve their lives.

PH&F Mission: Helping African cocoa farmers boost incomes and improve their quality of life.

PH&F Values: 1) Respect for village cultures and capabilities; 2) Integrity -- true to our word; 3) Accountability -- accountable for the use of resources and the results achieved; 4) Inclusivity -- encouraging opportunities for all.

Project Hope & Fairness, Inc. est une société d'utilité publique californienne qui a le statut 501(c)(3) auprès de l'IRS (EIN-20-3269307). Nous sommes une organisation bénévole basée à l'origine dans le comté de San Luis Obispo, en Californie.

Vision de PH&F : PH&F sert de centre d'excellence pour les membres des coopératives de cacao afin d'apprendre des techniques de production de qualité et des compétences commerciales et marketing pour augmenter leurs revenus et améliorer leur vie.

Mission PH&F : Aider les producteurs de cacao africains à augmenter leurs revenus et à améliorer leur qualité de vie.

Valeurs de PH&F : 1) Respect des cultures et des capacités du village ; 2) Intégrité - fidèle à notre parole ; 3) Responsabilité - responsable de l'utilisation des ressources et des résultats obtenus ; 4) Inclusivité -- encourager les opportunités pour tous.

Tom Neuhaus, CEO

Tom started his professional life working in various restaurants and bakeries in France, Austria, and the U.S. In 1983, Tom started writing weekly cooking columns for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. He moved with his family to San Luis Obispo in 1998, where he taught in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition until his retirement in 2015.

Tom Neuhaus is the president and founder Project Hope & Fairness, Inc, established in 2006 to study the shocking inequity between the cocoa farmer and the cocoa consumer. Tom's first effort in international development in 2004 was to donate a freezer to support the production and sales of Bissap or hibiscus tea. 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 trips (2003-2014, 2019) yielded new surprises and his efforts to make change have become more complex and now focus on making two Ivoirian villages, Pezoan and Depa, sites of chocolate production.

Tom lives in Cordes-sur-Ciel with his wife, Eve. He is currently developing a patisserie/chocolaterie business that uses exclusively chocolate and chocolate bars made by David Logbo Zigro in Depa, Côte d'Ivoire and by Adama Yamba in nearby Pezoan. His plan is to create a market for village-produced chocolate.

Peggy Papathakis, Board Chair

Peggy has been a long-time colleague of Tom’s and supporter of PHF since 2007.She joined the PHF board in 2021 and brings her organizational, educational, and African nutrition research experience to Project Hope and Fairness.She is an Emerita Professor of Nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo. Her focus there has been teaching clinical and maternal/child nutrition; her research focused on how malnutrition in pregnant and lactating women impacts birth outcomes in South Africa, Malawi and Sierra Leone. Many senior projects have resulted from analysis of the data collected by Dr. Papathakis and numerous nutrition students have developed a more international perspective thanks to their collaboration with her. In 2019, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to help develop the dietetic curriculum at the University of Malawi. While there also worked to improve the quality of hospital food and researched the hospital malnutrition at two large regional hospitals in Malawi.

Peggy completed her undergraduate degree in dietetics at Cal Poly, is a registered dietitian, and worked as a pediatric senior dietitian at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center for nearly 20 years before she returned to academia.She earned her MS in Nutrition and PhD in Nutritional Biology with a designated emphasis in international nutrition at UC Davis.

Peggy combines an indefatigable drive to improve quality of life in poor, agricultural areas with a strong desire to increase student sensitivity to international development issues. This makes her especially sensitive to the needs of West Africa's cocoa farmers.

Don Maruska, Strategy & Organizational Development

Don has been a long-time donor to PH&F and joined the Board in 2019. He’s also pleased to be a founding partner and continuing donor to Project Redwood. He serves as PH&F’s sponsor for PRW grants.

Don has a diverse set of experiences that give him valuable insights to guide PH&F. Following graduation from Harvard with a degree in government (the first generation in his family to go to college), Don had fun being U.S. Senator Joe Biden's legislative assistant, writing his first speech on the floor of the Senate and his first legislation that became law. Thereafter, he completed an MBA and JD at Stanford University. While on a McKinsey business trip, he met his wife Liz (a businesswoman and artist who was en route to a trip to Africa) in a discotheque on the Champs Elysses in Paris. After marrying in 1984, Don worked as VP of Marketing for the startup that became E*Trade. Subsequently, he was recruited to be CEO of a healthcare startup applying new technologies to healthcare delivery and created a boutique venture fund that succeeded in bringing startups to public companies.

In 1993 Don's family made a big shift and moved to the small community of Morro Bay (10,000 people) on the Central Coast of California. From here Don has been serving as a business coach and consultant helping leaders and businesses around the world to be successful with their careers and organizations. He published "How Great Decisions Get Made: 10 Easy Steps for Reaching Agreement on Even the Toughest Issues," "Take Charge of Your Talent: Three Keys to Thriving in Your Career, Organization, and Life," and "Grow and Enjoy Your Business: Proven Tools for Success." See www.DonMaruska.com.

Don now focuses much of his attention on key social issues like climate action and service to the poor and dispossessed. His most recent book is “Solve Climate Change Now: Do What You Love for a Healthy Planet.” He recalls the challenges and rewards of working at the village level in Africa from a college summer experience in West Africa with Operation Crossroads Africa.

Monty Rice, Treasurer and CFO

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 was a member of the Rotary Club of Cambria, California, where he worked on dozens of international grants at the club and district level. He is an elder in the Presbyterian Church.

Patricia Bauer, Sales

Born in Philadelphia to a family of German bakers and educated at the University of Pennsylvania in English Literature, Patricia moved to Austin, Texas where she met her husband, Professor Joseph Slate. In 1972, they spent a year in Vienna, and that is where they met Tom, who had trained in French restaurants and had an interest in food chemistry.

Patricia and Tom started a restaurant/bakery, Sweetish Hill, in 1974. They received critical acclaim: Texas Monthly labeled the bakery Best in the State in 1978. Within months of opening the bakery, they added a catering service and a restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. In 1988, Patricia partnered with Jim Murphy, who had taken bread baking classes in Paris and had worked in several famous NYC eateries before returning to Austin.

In 2002, Patricia met nutritionist Kelly Barnhill, who, knowing Patricia's unique culinary and management abilities, asked if Sweetish Hill would offer lunch for her son's preschool. Thus began the idea for Patricia's Lunchbox. Since then, the company has expanded to feeding 400 students in four schools daily. Her goal is to offer great tasting, nutritious, and affordable food which, as Chef Ann Cooper says, "is only as important as saving the planet!"

Lisa Nicholson, Secretary

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 & Dietetics at the local, regional and state level. Currently she is also serving as an Advisory Board member at the San Luis Obispo County Food Bank.

Barbara Shah, Legal Counsel

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

Peggie Bates, Communications

Peggie Bates joined Project Hope and Fairness in March 2022. She is currently working as a Communications liaison with Tom Neuhaus. In Côte d’Ivoire she has worked with the villages to standardize the production processes and help establish quality assurance of all products. This work was documented through the creation of an operations manual. Her US based work includes organizing fundraisers for the group.

Peggie began her culinary career as an apprentice to Patricia Bauer Slate in 1980 at Sweetish Hill Bakery and Restaurant in Austin Texas. Sweetish Hill was originally established by Tom Neuhaus and Patricia Bauer Slate in 1976. She continued working as a chef for 10 years. During that time she completed her degree in Nutrition at University of Texas, Austin. Her career then shifted to Nutrition research at University of Texas and then at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle Washington.

Currently Peggie lives in Bellevue Washington and part time at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe. In addition to working with the board of Project Hope and Fairness she works with Upaya Nepal Nomad Clinic. She has traveled extensively in Nepal, Tibet and Mongolia working in remote areas to provision trips, train cooks and learn about the intersection of food, nutrition, and culture.