WHO WE ARE
Oikocredit US (OUS) is the United States affiliate of Oikocredit International (OI), a 45 year-old global cooperative and social investor that makes impact investments in Africa, Asia and Latin America to improve the living standards of low-income people and communities. OUS is a 34-year-old, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports the impact of OI. We generate financial support for and raise awareness of OI’s impact investing and capacity building activities in the Global South. More information about what OI and OUS do is at this link.
MISSION AND VALUES
OUS promotes and facilitates the global work of OI, to catalyze a movement supporting a partnership approach to social investing, and to promote economic ecosystems that enhance human dignity and sustainability.
The name Oikocredit emphasizes our mission. “Oiko” from the ancient Greek, means house, community, and world. "Credit" originates from the Latin verb “credere,” meaning “to believe.” In keeping with these ideas, our motto is “Investing in People.”
Oikocredit challenges all to invest responsibly. It provides services and supports organizations to improve the quality of life of low-income people and communities in a sustainable way.
We envision a global, just society in which resources are shared sustainably, and all people are empowered with access to resources they need to create a life of dignity.
Our organization and our work embody six values: People, Sharing, Ecumenical Spirit, Grassroots, Integrity, and the Environment.
BOARD AND STAFF
OUS is led by a volunteer board of directors, which currently consists of members located in California, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington State.
In 1968, amidst Apartheid in South Africa and the Vietnam War, the World Council of Churches met in Uppsala, Sweden. Young, politically engaged church members wanted assurances that church investments were aligned with their values. The idea of an ethical investment channel for churches and related organizations was put forward, with the intention that investments would provide credit to emerging, sustainable companies run by people in low-income communities.
In 1975, the Oikocredit Ecumenical Development Cooperative Society, UA was legally incorporated in the Netherlands to pursue this mission.
BOARD AND STAFF BIOS
Chad Toppass, Head of Customer and Consumer Experience Insights, Nintendo of America
Chad Toppass has a passion for people and has made it his life mission to help others reach their full potential of leadership. He has an MBA and Certificate of Supply and Value Chain Management from Texas Christian University, and earned two BA degrees from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. He has more than 10 years of experience in the field of Customer Experience management. He currently manages the Voice of the Customer program at Nintendo of America. Prior to moving to Seattle he served as Chair of the Young Leaders Society of United Way, Tarrant County, Texas.
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Katelyn Haas-Conrad, Senior Policy Analyst, Allegheny Conference on Community Development
Katelyn is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development where she focuses on infrastructure and sustainability policy. She received her MPA from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and the University of Pittsburgh. Katelyn's interest in international sustainable finance stems from her service in the Peace Corps as a science and math teacher in Sierra Leone. She has attended Oikocredit Annual General Meetings in the Netherlands (2016) and Accra, Ghana (2017), and the Annual Winter Member Meeting in Ghent, Belgium (2019). Locally, Katelyn has ties to Oikocredit through her church, East Liberty Presbyterian Church, a long-term Oikocredit supporting organization.
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Charlotte Lott, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Chatham University
Charlotte is Emeritus Professor of Economics at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During her 34 years on the faculty, she taught courses in economic development, international trade and finance, economic theory, and statistics. Charlotte was fortunate to take faculty and student study tours to Taiwan; Shanghai, China; Egypt; Paris, France; and Berlin, Germany. She has a Ph.D in economics from the University of Pittsburgh, a M.A. in Library Science and a B.A. in history from the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. Charlotte is an active member of the Community of Reconciliation, an interracial, multi-denominational Christian church committed to an inclusive congregation and dedicated to social justice. She is married to Randy (retired from Westinghouse) and has four grown children and four grandchildren. Charlotte first became involved with Oikocredit in 2005 when she was invited to join the Board of the Western Pennsylvania Support Association (now merged with Oikocredit US). She has attended Oikocredit Annual General Meetings in Bonn, Germany (2005), Oaxaca, Mexico (2006), and Potsdam, Germany (2015). Charlotte remains committed to Oikocredit’s vision of a just world where sharing resources enables all to have lives of dignity and purpose.
Eryn Correa, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Crivella Correa
Eryn Correa is the co-founder and managing partner of Crivella Correa, a law firm built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Prior to founding her own firm, she worked as in-house securities and board governance counsel for Alcoa Corporation, and in private practice for K&L Gates LLP in both their Pittsburgh and Dubai offices. Eryn holds a JD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a BA from the University of Virginia. In addition to serving on the Board of Oikocredit US, Eryn is Vice Chair and Governance Committee Chair of Sustainable Pittsburgh, and is a fellow in the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce.
Antoinette Kenmuir-Evans, Vice-President, Private Client Advisor, JP Morgan Wealth Management
Antoinette Kenmuir-Evans was inspired to join the board of Oikocredit US to support and promote its mission of improving the lives of those living in underserved communities around the world. Based in New York City, Antoinette is Vice-President, Private Client Advisor in JP Morgan’s Wealth Management division for high net worth individuals, families, and small institutions. Prior to her 16-year tenure in finance, she worked at IDEXX Laboratories in the Environmental Division where she held various roles, most recently as Regional Sales Manager of the Asia-Pacific region. While at IDEXX, she travelled extensively and learned firsthand about the importance of clean and safe water in developed and non-developed communities. Antoinette is a graduate of Bates College in her native state of Maine where she received a B.A. in Biology. She is passionate about making a positive impact whether it be for her clients or the nonprofits that she works with in her free time.
Courtney Blodgett, Director of Market Strategy, McKinstry
Courtney works on clean energy, innovation, and sustainability for McKinstry, a built environment company. She also is the founder of Yield Positive, a blog about sustainable investing for the everyday investor. Courtney has worked around the globe in climate and sustainable finance for more than 15 years. Her experience includes helping to design the rules of the carbon market and leading the impact investing team of Paul Allen, Microsoft's co-founder. Courtney has a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from the University of Rhode Island and a Master’s degree in Environmental Management from the University of Amsterdam Business School and École des Mines. She has continued to further her education on a wide range of topics – Economics, Engineering, Finance, Political Science, and the History of Jazz. Courtney is an avid rock climber, hiker, dancer, home chef, explorer, and reader. Courtney joined the Oikocredit US Board of Directors because she is passionate about using finance to further economic and sustainability opportunities in developing countries.
Heather O'Neil, Acting Senior Program Manager, International Training & Education Center for Health (I-TECH), University of Washington
Heather O’Neil has over 10 years of both international and domestic project management and resource mobilization experience. She is currently the Acting Senior Program Manager at the International Training & Education Center for Health (I-TECH), based out of the University of Washington. Previously, she was Program Manager at Worldreader – an international, ed-tech organization - where she focused on digital reading in public libraries for children 12 years and younger. Heather has also worked on cholera prevention in Sierra Leone, HIV prevention and testing in the city of Detroit, low-income housing advocacy in both San Francisco and New York City, and food security and health projects as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in International Political Economy and Development from Fordham University. A programmatic generalist, Heather is passionate about literacy and education, public health, and livelihoods and income generation. These passions brought her to the Board of Oikocredit US.
John Berry, Director, JOBS Tunisia
John joined the board of Oikocredit US based on his long-held belief in the unique structure and mission of Oikocredit International. He has been a board member of Oikocredit US since 2015. John brings to the board three decades of experience in implementing microenterprise in more than 40 countries. John has promoted access to finance through loans, grants, training, and technical assistance for donors and nonprofit organizations in Africa, Latin America and Asia. He has lived and worked in Niger, Tunisia, Rwanda and Swaziland. He has extensive writing and speaking experience and is author of numerous articles on microfinance, as well as a book on the Rwandan genocide. John speaks French and Spanish and Zarma. He has an MA from Johns Hopkins SAIS and a BA from American University.
Patricia (Tricia) Gates, Retired Credit Cooperative and Economic Development Executive
Tricia retired in 2020 from a career in credit cooperatives, international economic development, and Community Development Financial Institutions. Following 25 years in credit cooperatives, culminating as the CEO of a credit union in Seattle, Tricia followed her lifelong passion to work and live internationally. Drawn to the field of microfinance, she worked and lived in 56 counties on six continents, including South Africa, Ethiopia and Kyrgyzstan. Her work with the US-based NGO, ACDI/VOCA, provided her with the opportunity to build and manage a wholesale microfinance institution that continues today to provide loans and capacity building to small microfinance institutions in three Central Asian countries. Through her work with ACDI/VOCA, Tricia engaged with Oikocredit International and learned about the organization’s outstanding work. Once back in the US, she sought out Oikocredit US to offer volunteer assistance. Tricia holds a BS in Business Management from Western Governors University. She has served on the Board of OUS for a total of four years and continues to be passionate about building strong, inclusive and sustainable financial institutions.
Matt Eldridge, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Oikocredit US
Matt is Oikocredit US’s Interim Chief Executive Officer. He brings more than 20 years of experience in interim leadership, and launching and scaling for-profit and nonprofit ventures. Matt is also a co-founder of investorflow.org, an online global network of impact investors. Since 2011, he has held transitional executive roles at multiple nonprofit organizations in the greater Seattle area, with a focus on turnarounds and strategic growth. Previously, Matt co-founded and led an online video startup from inception to profitability, and during a 3-year posting in Amsterdam oversaw expansion of its operations from the US to Europe and Asia. He earned a MBA from Yale, a MA from the University of Cape Town as a Rotary Scholar, and a BA with Honors from Stanford. Matt first got involved in international development through administering the National Democratic Institute’s nationwide voter education program in South Africa in the run-up to that country’s first democratic elections in 1994. He serves on several nonprofit boards, including Realize Impact which facilitates impact investment through recoverable grants. Matt lives with his wife and two children on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, and is an actor and theatre producer in his spare time.
Sara Shoff, Chief Operating Officer, Oikocredit US
Sara is Oikocredit US’s Chief Operating Officer. She recently graduated with an MBA from Yale School of Management and has a BS in Environmental Management from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. While at Yale SOM, Sara focused on impact investing and foreign policy. Previously, she spent 3.5 years with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (now US Development Finance Corporation) managing environmental and social risks. Sara was also a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal where she worked in food security, supporting subsistence farmers with agroforestry technologies. She is passionate about inclusive financial systems and stakeholder engagement structures that elevate the voices of the most vulnerable populations. Sara joined Oikocredit US to support efforts to democratize impact investing in the US market.
Amber Vroman, Marketing Communications Manager, Oikocredit US
Amber leads graphic design and marketing communications at Oikocredit US. She got her start in communications as a Student Ambassador for Battle Creek, Michigan and made a trip to her hometown's sister city, Takasaki, Japan - which gave her a global perspective from a young age. Amber went on to study Graphic Design and Communications, and graduated from Full Sail University with a BS in Computer Animation where she received mentorship from Disney and DreamWorks animators. She has worked with a number of clients ranging from small businesses and local bands to larger organizations, and has had the pleasure to work alongside companies such as The Kellogg Company and Thermo Fisher Scientific. Amber ventured to the Pacific Northwest to work with Nintendo of America where she designed, laid out, and wrote reports on the consumer experience and supported major product releases such as Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. In her free time, Amber paints and is working towards sustainable living on a small homestead with her partner. Motivated by sustainable agriculture and financial inclusion, Amber is excited to be a part of Oikocredit's mission.