Between the United States and Guatemala, our entire Common Hope staff is passionate about what we do. We’re dreamers and doers, organizers and empathizers. A determination to make the world a better place is in every one of our staff’s DNA. And each of us believes that the right people in the right place can, and will, achieve even the biggest of goals.
Shari Blindt was appointed executive director for Common Hope in September 2006, having previously served as the director of development. For 18 years prior she served in leadership roles with Penn Garritano Marketing, FICO, and DynaMark. Her experience leading team-based, collaborative business units contributed significantly to her clients’ success and the growth of these organizations.
At Common Hope, Shari sees a fitting unification of her personal and professional life. She has a personal passion for building opportunity for impoverished Guatemalan children and families and says, “Common Hope is my opportunity to truly give back to a country which has helped to make my family and my life whole.” Shari’s involvement with Common Hope began after the adoption of her two Guatemalan children, when she felt called to give back to the people of Guatemala. In September 2005, Shari left the for-profit sector and joined the Common Hope leadership team.
Director of Strategic Planning
Jeff came to Common Hope in February 2001 to oversee the construction of New Hope Village, and since July 2003 has served as Director of Strategic Planning. In that capacity he works with staff in both Guatemala and the U.S. to identify goals, opportunities, and the means to achieve them. He also manages special projects, such as construction of the New Hope School and the policy restructuring initiative.
Fittingly, his own arrival in Central America came as the result of a combination of careful planning and a natural disaster. Hurricane Mitch struck during the week he was taking his oral exam for a master’s in Central American economic history and development. Recognizing a hint when he saw it, he moved to Honduras, where he spent a year and half as a volunteer working with a reconstruction and community development project. In a previous life, Jeff was an account manager for an advertising agency.
A strong leader with a deep commitment to Guatemalan culture and livelihood, Rebecca most recently served at the Rainforest Alliance of Guatemala, where she built and led a global team since 2008. As a manager, advocate, and market strategist in sustainable agriculture, she has extensive experience serving NGOs, the private sector, and local farmers’ operations in 40 countries across the globe.
Joining Common Hope | Familias de Esperanza in May, Rebecca will be charged with developing and executing Common Hope’s vision of helping children to graduation and families out of poverty in the Antigua Valley. Her knowledge of international business and human development represents a significant opportunity for Common Hope to make an even greater impact.Rebecca came to Guatemala to serve in the Peace Corps and stayed. Dedicating her life to her work in Guatemala for the last 17 years, she has built not only a marvelous career serving the people of the country, but she has a family and home here as well. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Economy from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Monterey Institute of International Studies.
The position of Country Director allows Rebecca to, as she would say, “work with the most wonderful team,” and make use of her diverse leadership skills for capacity building, training, program analysis and evaluation, and strategic and operational implementation. She looks forward to working together to continue delivering Common Hope’s mission of hope and opportunity to the children, families, and communities we serve.
Director of Administration
Pablo arrived at Common Hope as IT Director in February 2006 and in 2016 he was made Administrative Director in charge of IT, Human Resources, and Accounting. He is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of each department. Prior to Common Hope, Pablo spent eleven years working in systems with a large non-profit in Guatemala.
Of his work Pablo states that of course he loves working with the technology, but above that he enjoys the opportunity he has at Common Hope to feel connected with the families we serve. From his office at the Family Development Center, he is able to see the work going on all around him as the families arrive daily for social work meetings, medical appointments, support groups or educational classes.
Chief Financial Officer
Danielle has a broad base of experience in nonprofit accounting and leadership. She comes to us most recently from the public accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen. In her 10 years at CLA she spent two years in nonprofit audit before transitioning into the firm’s nonprofit outsourcing division. Danielle spent the last eight years as an outsourced CFO/Controller for multiple nonprofits, leading their finance, audit and accounting functions. She’s led trainings for their national outsourcing group, and has experience managing both internal and client-based finance/admin teams. Prior to her work at CLA she worked at H.E.A.R.T., a nonprofit, for two years and was in-charge of their finance and administration department. Danielle is thrilled to join Common Hope and grateful for the opportunity to blend her professional expertise with her passion to help others.
Danielle graduated from the College of Saint Catherine with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. She is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and Minnesota Society of CPAs.
Director of New Program Development
As program development director, Renato focuses on gathering, prioritizing and setting up special projects to be developed for future or existing programming, such as the Common Hope educational quality initiatives, the launch of future outposts and general program monitoring and evaluation work.
Renato was born in Guatemala and orphaned at age five. He was then adopted by a couple in the United States. After graduating from St. John’s University with a degree in political science, he decided to devote the next stage of his life to Guatemala and its people. In 1996, he returned to Guatemala as a full-time volunteer with Common Hope and worked with home construction, stoves, eyeglasses, and computers.
From 1998 to 2008, Renato served as the director of New Hope, overseeing the construction of the village and primary school, as well as overseeing the development of primary and secondary education and community development. In January 2009, Renato accepted his current position of program development director. Renato lives in Guatemala with his family.
Director of Development & Strategic Relations
During her twenty year career, Stacey has held leadership positions at five Minnesota based non-profits. Most recently she increased annual revenue by 50% and produced the country’s largest kids fundraising triathlon at The Miracles of Mitch Foundation. During her time as Director of Philanthropy at the Ecumen Foundation, she secured the first ever Margaret A. Cargill Foundation grant in the aging services arena for $3M, the largest private grant ever received by Ecumen; she lead a $2.5M campaign for the LL Gray Gymnasium at DeLaSalle High School; and she increased operating revenue every year at Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest by at least 7% and as much as 16%. She has consistently produced winning budgets and met goals and metrics that define success all the while remaining true to the ideals of “philanthropy – the love of mankind”. Stacey is committed to serving donors and missions alike, that result in great rewards for all involved.
Stacey holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and English and a master’s degrees in Philanthropy & Development from St. Mary’s University. She also holds a certificate from Penn State’s Executive Leadership Collaborative with Junior Achievement.
Stacey’s career features proven success in major gifts, planned giving, capital campaigns, annual giving, grantwriting, volunteer management, special events, corporate giving and sponsorship. Besides serving on multiple development advisory committees, she has served on the Cornerstone Board of Directors, the AFP Philanthropy Day Committee, the Common Hope Development Committee and the NCEA Convention Speakers Bureau.
Raiser’s Edge Database Administrator
Special Events Manager
Outreach and Partnership Manager
U.S. Vision Team Manager
Associate Director of Marketing & Events
Sponsor Relations Manager
Business Services Specialist
Strategic Relations Coordinator
Kathy Longo, Chair
President and Founder, Flourish Wealth Management
Mary Capozzi, Vice Chair
Former Senior Director of Corporate Responsibility, Best Buy
Eric Carpenter, Secretary
Attorney, M.A. Mortenson Company
Frances McCloskey, Treasurer
Co-Founder and Of Counsel, Financial Advisors, LLC
John Bruellman, Director
President/CEO, Sign-Zone, Inc.
Charlie McMurray, Director
Chief Admin Officer at Donaldson Company, Inc., Retired
Gary Doten, Director
Chief Operating Officer, H3 Life Science Corporation
Amalia Moreno-Damgaard, Director
Founder of Amalia, LLC
Joe Hammell, Director
Partner, Jones Day law firm
Laura Ness, Director
Senior Vice President within Operations, UnitedHealth Group
Nancy Norling, D.D.S., Director
Owner, Nancy Norling, D.D.S. Dental Practice
Shaun Nugent, Director
Chief Financial Officer, AllOver Media
Mark Ruff, Director
Chief Financial Officer for the City of Minneapolis
Tom Page, Director
Founder of Zimmer-Page and Associates, Retired
Pete Regnier, Director
Jardine, Logan & O’Brien, P.L.L.P., Retired
Tom Sullivan, Director
Commercial Real Estate Broke, Cushman & Wakefield | Northmarq
Robert Fafinski, Jr.
The Huebsch Family
Jack Burbidge, Minnesota
Jim Hatch, Colorado
William Huebsch, Minnesota
Jenny Merthan, Minnesota
Kathy Paden, Idaho
Karen Rose, Minnesota
Steve Schmidt, Minnesota
Joan Uselmann, Wisconsin
Amigos De Amigos
Robert Fafinski Jr.