Bangladesh Artisans


Alex Shave – Social Media Strategist
Alex 1 After two years working to promote Ontario’s co-operative sector, I’m thrilled to join the Villages Canada team to represent the organization on Social Media. I’m the lucky guy who gets to share our incredible Villages stories with new, exciting audiences. I find it so rewarding to reach out to fans, advocates, and allies in communities across Canada, and to ask questions that spark inquiry and spirited discussion. When I’m not plugged in to the Internet, I love playing guitar, vegetable gardening, and canoe camping.
Clara Salamanca – Volunteer (Granville Island, Vancouver, BC)
Clara Salamanca - Bio pic I have been a volunteer at Ten Thousand Villages on Granville Island since it opened five years ago. For most of my adult life, I have been involved in social justice causes. I believe in the philosophy of Ten Thousand Villages and try to be conscientious in my daily life. I live in a Co-op, I shop in a Co-op, I support local farmers: it makes sense to help, even in a small way, the people around the world who create beautiful crafts. I like the fact that it preserves their cultural traditions and provides them with a fair wage.
Caitlin St. John – Former Assistant Store Manager (Waterloo, ON)
Caitlin Since joining the Ten Thousand Villages Waterloo store team in Spring 2014, I have learned tons about the Fair Trade mission and enjoyed sharing it with the wider community. I believe our beautiful products are the perfect medium for the message, as art and design transcend boundaries unlike anything else. I have an intense interest in decorative and applied arts, as well as many years’ experience working with fine jewellery and gemstones. And it goes almost without saying that one of the best things about working in a Ten Thousand Villages store has been the opportunity to learn Putumayo’s entire World Music catalogue by heart.
Carol Reimer-Wiebe – Store Manager (45th Street, Saskatoon, SK)
Bio photo I started working for Ten Thousand Villages in 1996 when my youngest child started school. My staff and volunteers are great, which makes our store a fun place to be. I enjoy being surrounded by beautiful items from around the world. I had the privilege of going on a learning tour to Kenya and Uganda in 2007. It was an amazing experience as I met some of our wonderful artisans and saw firsthand how purchasing fairly traded items can make a difference. In my spare time, I enjoy baking, reading and watercolour painting.
Derrick Cunningham – Manager (Cobourg, ON)
Derrick - Bio photo option I have been a professional teacher for over 20 years and a Ten Thousand Villages manager for almost three years.  My teaching colleagues, Barb & Rodger Henderson, and I formed a Board of Directors to run a Ten Thousand Villages store in Cobourg in 2007.  The store opened in August 2009 and has just celebrated five successful years of operation.  I am also an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and I hold a Master’s degree in theological studies from Knox College.  Other interests of mine include singing choral music, participating in community theatre and “Star Trek”.  Cobourg is my hometown and I still live there with my dog, Kaia.
Don Peters – Executive Director, MCC Canada
Don Peters MCC Executive Director Don  Peters  has served as Executive Director of MCC Canada since 2001. By virtue of this position, he has sat on the Ten Thousand Villages Canada board for that same period of time. Don and his wife, Elaine, previously worked as co-MCC representatives in Brazil and prior to that, were founding members of Olivebranch, the first Villages board store in Canada. Don chairs the board for Canadian Foodgrains Bank. He has three adult children and two grandchildren.
Gwen Repeta – Store Manager (Plaza Drive, Winnipeg, MB)
 Gwen_Bio2 Twelve years ago, I answered an ad for a manager at Ten Thousand Villages. Little did I know how much this would change my life! Since that interview many years ago, I have been exposed to the many faces of Fair Trade through education, worked alongside dedicated Fair Trade advocates, heard and shared stories of people whose lives are changed through our relationships with them, and seen many gorgeous handmade creations come through my store. My job is to manage the Winnipeg Plaza Drive store and coordinate the Canadian Rug Program. The work I do is varied, challenging and fun — everything from marketing to merchandising, to speaking to school groups, to working alongside volunteers, to balancing inventory (and sampling chocolate!). Every day is different and rewarding.
Holly deGraaf – CEO
Bio pic - Holly02 Just as Fair Trade is complex to explain, so is my role! Encompassing marketing, merchandising, purchasing, stores and public relations, every day provides me with new opportunities to learn, grow and interact with the products and people of our Fair Trade community. It is incredibly rewarding to know that the work I do here provides tangible, significant benefits to artisans around the world. At day’s end, I enjoy heading home to my husband, two growing boys and big orange cat!
Jan Jorgensen – Volunteer (St-Denis, Montreal, QC)
The Fair Trade Boutique for Bangladesh I love the way justice and creativity come together when one is volunteering at Dix Mille Villages, and I enjoy the ongoing collaboration between our church and the shop on St-Denis Street in Montreal. We have a lot on our hands right now, with the store’s upcoming move and a jointly sponsored ethical trade fair on the horizon. More of a cook than a baker, I find myself taking the lead on assembling the team that will bake Fair Trade-inspired goodies to sell at our event. (I’m second from the left in the photo.)
Jenni Leister – Director of Operations, Bunyaad
Jenni Leister bio shot #2 drinking tea in the villages of Pakistan I am simply a woman wanting my work each day to benefit other women, so that they can feel empowered. A woman cannot focus on protecting her rights if she doesn’t have enough money to care for herself and her family. Nothing energizes me more than seeing the difference a woman earning a living wage makes for both her and her family. For me, there is no better way to do this than working with Bunyaad, with over 850 artisan families throughout 100 villages in Pakistan. From flipping rugs and loading trucks, to working on promotional pieces, to getting to know artisans in their village homes, my job is diverse and it is never dull. I’ve been working with these rugs since 1993. I married my co-worker (I guess you could say we tied the knot), and our toddler son is more excited to come to the rug room to help roll and move rugs than he is when we head to the playground. Our poodle doubles as our Director of Stain Resistancy and excels at her job.
Jacqui MacDonald – Former Chair, Board of Directors
1234 Jacqui MacDonald is a senior consultant on fair and ethical trade issues at Verite, with clients including The Body Shop, The Ethical Trading Initiative, The Co-operative Group, UK, ITC, IFC and many other NGOs, businesses and fair trading organizations around the world.  She co-authored Business and Poverty: Bridging the Gap and was the Director of the DFID Resource Centre for the Social Dimensions of Business Practice after serving as General Manager, Fair Trade at The Body Shop International.  As one of the pioneers of Fair Trade in Canada, Jacqui led Bridgehead (Oxfam Canada’s trading arm) from the late 1980s to 1994, when she left to work with The Body Shop.  Jacqui complements her MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice with years of service in a variety of prestigious organizations.  She has served on our Board of Directors since 2007, and as Chair since April 2014.
Kristen Fromm – Purchasing and Collections Planning Manager
Kristen I’m the one artisans send all their creative ideas and beautiful products to for Ten Thousand Villages to bring to Canada, and I’m constantly shown the beauty of art from around the world. I am energized by the creations of others, and share this with my friends and co-workers. Known as the master of the controlled chaos at work, I can often be found in discussion with other employees, some of whom are trying to work.
Level Ground Trading
 LGteam Level Ground Trading was started in 1997 in Victoria BC, with a mission to trade fairly and directly with small-scale farmers in developing countries and a vision to alleviate poverty through trade. Prior to Level Ground’s inception, Hugo Ciro, co-founder and CEO of Level Ground Trading volunteered at the Self Help Crafts (now Ten Thousand Villages) warehouse in Abbotsford. In 1998, Ten Thousand Villages was Level Ground Trading’s very first customer! Today, Level Ground Trading imports the annual harvest of 5,000 farmers from 10 countries including coffee, tea, dried fruit, cane sugar, heirloom rice, spices, vanilla beans, and coconut oil.
Joshua del Sol – Level Ground Trading
LGJosh Josh is Level Ground Trading’s Roastmaster, Lead Cupper, and Quality Control Specialist and has been with LGT since 2007. To say that he enjoys coffee is a great understatement. An avid lover of food, he also possesses potentially polarizing opinions on a variety of restaurants, foods, beverages, and flavours in general. He has a special place in his heart for banana cakes made with panela and sour cherry pie.

Josh has been a Head Canadian National Barista Judge, coffee educator, and is one of a few Q-Graders in Canada. He is also a father of two tremendously brilliant children and can be found outdoors on rainy days looking for the largest puddles to run through… with or without his kids.

Lynn Nightingale – Store Manager (Brandon, MB)
Lynn I have been involved with Ten Thousand Villages in Brandon, Manitoba in some capacity for ten years. I started as a volunteer and summer student, and am currently enjoying the next stretch of the adventure as store manager! I’m passionate about writing, I like to dream big, and I am inspired by the ways that we can connect with our global neighbours through Fair Trade!
Opal Lancaster – Former Store Manager (St-Denis, Montreal, QC)
Opal Having the pleasure of working in the vibrant Plateau Mont Royal boutique in Montreal, I am intrigued by the opportunity to meet new people. I have made a passion of getting to know our customers, and learning what excites them most about shopping at Ten Thousand Villages. As a major tourist destination and multicultural city, we see people from all over the world. So many of them already recognize us, while many are discovering us for the first time. In either case, you just know there’s always something magical about walking into a Ten Thousand Villages store!
Rebecca Kinzie – E-Commerce Sales Manager
Rebecca Kinzie I am a Fair Trade fan with a love for design, DIY, fashion and style. In my spare time, you will find me happily clicking through home décor and craft blogs, and attempting DIY projects with mixed success. I also enjoy good stories, good coffee and eating lots and lots of chocolate.
Roxanne Cave – Store Manager (Granville Island, Vancouver, BC)
Roxanne Cave My work in Fair Trade for the past 18 years has fulfilled and inspired me beyond my wildest imagination. How could I have imagined that a degree in English, a summer job coordinating the PNE’s amateur arts and crafts show, and international development work with OXFAM-Canada’s BC office would have so perfectly prepared me for this work: first with Bridgehead, and then with Ten Thousand Villages in Vancouver? To work with people and with beauty and make a difference – it doesn’t get any better!
Ryan D. Jacobs – CEO (2011-2016)
Ryan D. Jacobs After completing degrees in philosophy, religious studies and history, I chose to focus my career on finance and operations. I worked in a variety of industries in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors before joining the Ten Thousand Villages team in 2011. The best part of my job is having the opportunity to work with amazing people to achieve such an important mission. I live in Waterloo with my charming wife, three energetic kids, and an exceedingly cuddly parrot. I aspire to learn a little bit about as many topics as I possibly can, and I’m motivated to leave the world a bit better than the state in which I found it.
Stephanie Barth – Store Manager (Waterloo, ON)
Waterloo_Stephanie-edited-300x300 I’ve been involved with Ten Thousand Villages for over 7 years. What started as a need for a summer job quickly turned into a passion for Fair Trade and Ten Thousand Villages. I have had the privilege of working at both the New Hamburg location and currently as manager of the Waterloo store. I take my work home with me…in the form of way too many scarves and jewellery pieces!
Swathi Meenakshi – Volunteer (St-Denis, Montreal, QC)
ssm2 I am a volunteer at the boutique on St-Denis in Montreal, Quebec. Currently, writing my master’s thesis on designing economical motors for electric cars, I am a huge fan of sustainable solutions for our fragile planet. I believe in fair trade and the power of small acts of collective action, which go a long way in creating that lasting, sustainable change.
Val Schade – Social Media &  Digital Projects Coordinator, Ten Thousand Villages USA
Val A Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Valentina recently moved to Lancaster, PA where she runs slowly, hikes often, and excitedly points out historical landmarks to unenthused friends and family. She is fond of curry and guacamole, and insists that vanilla ice cream is a waste of time and calories. Val is convinced that the greatest feeling in the world is stepping off a plane in a new place, and is a passionate believer that all the best days include books, baking, border collies, and bagpipes.