Empower women. Eliminate poverty.

Board of Directors

Susie Miller – Chair

Susie has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked for many years as a high school Spanish teacher. She later earned her Master’s degree in community counseling and now works in private practice treating anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Susie started the Friendship Circle in Mequon, Wisconsin, and has been active over the years as their Circle leader. She and her husband John have four children. They have both traveled in Guatemala on various mission and insight trips, and Susie has recent experience working on education and development programs in eastern Kenya.

Susan Zimmermann – Vice Chair

An internationally-known speaker and consultant, Susan Zimmermann is the coauthor of Mosaic of Thought and 7 Keys to Comprehension. She co-founded and served as the Executive Director of the Denver-based Public Education and Business Coalition, an organization that has spearheaded groundbreaking work on reading comprehension. Susan has given hundreds of workshops, keynotes, and summer institutes in nearly every US state, and internationally, on ways to deepen reading and writing experiences for adults and children. Susan is also the author of Keeping Katherine and Writing to Heal the Soul, winner of the Colorado Book Award. Susan has been a trustee of numerous nonprofits including the International Rett Syndrome Association, the Colorado Outward Bound School, and The Women’s Wilderness Institute. A mother of four and graduate of Yale Law School, Susan lives in the foothills west of Denver.

Caroline Rodriguez – Secretary

Caroline joined the Friendship Bridge board of directors in August 2015, bringing over three decades of work in business and community development. In her 33-year affiliation with the McDonald’s Corporation, Caroline spent 22 years on the corporate side and 11 years as a Franchisee. Caroline’s experience spans operations, training & development, marketing, product development, and business research. Caroline serves as the Treasurer of the Antelope Valley Friendship Circle, and she serves her local community in many ways – most recently as the 2014 Chairwoman of the Palmdale Chamber of Commerce, as past Chair of Zonta International, and as Board Member of Girl Scouts Joshua Tree Council. She currently serves on an Advisory Board of Small Business Owners and is a member of the National Latin Women’s Business Association’s Los Angeles Chapter.

“The mission of Friendship Bridge has been so naturally aligned with my own personal concerns for the social support of indigenous women. I am honored and humbled to accept a board position. Offering women and their families a door to education that will lift them from severe poverty and enable them to become role models for their next generations gives such purpose to our existence.”

Maryann Hunter – Treasurer

Maryann has 15 years of experience on the Federal Reserve Board, having served as both as Deputy Director and Senior Advisor. She also served as the officer in charge of bank supervision and risk management functions for the Kansas City District of the Federal Reserve. She received her Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Government from Penn State University.

James F. Wood – Immediate Past Chair

James brings 42 years of legal expertise to the Friendship Bridge Board. James was an attorney in the Business and Real Estate Department of Sherman & Howard’s Denver office and practiced extensively in the areas of private capital formation, business entities, mergers and acquisitions, and other transactional work. James was named Best Lawyers’ 2013 Securities/Capital Markets Law Lawyer of the Year in Denver. He received his B.A. from the University of Texas and his J.D. from Yale Law School. James first became interested in Friendship Bridge when he helped develop an experiential learning program at the school where his children attended; students took school-sponsored trips to Guatemala and learned about Friendship Bridge. For several years, James provided pro bono legal services in connection with borrowings by Friendship Bridge and various corporate and contract matters. His wife (Felicity Hannay) was a board member from 2006 to 2012.

Antonieta Del Cid de Bonilla

Antonieta is a Guatemalan Economist with a bachelor’s degree from San Carlos University of Guatemala and a Master of Science in Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. She is presently the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business Sciences at Universidad Rafael Landivar (URL) where she previously consulted in the research fiscal area. She has national and international experience, both in the public and the private sector. She was a representative of Central America on the board of the International Monetary Fund between 2017 and 2019 and again in 1999 and 2000. She also served as a resident expert on central banking at the Regional Center for Technical Assistance of said organization. She presided over the Banco de Guatemala and the Monetary Board between 2006 and 2010, where she had previously held the positions of Vice President (1993-1996), Manager of the Economic Area, Coordinator of the Technical Council, and Director of the Department of Economic Studies. She was Minister of Finance between 2004 and 2006. She served as executive director for Central America and Belize at the Inter-American Development Bank between 1996 and 1999. She has also served as general manager of two private banks and has chaired and served on several public and private sector boards. Between 2011 and 2013, she was a columnist for the column “Economic Prism” of the newspaper Prensa Libre.

Ledy Garcia-Eckstein

Ledy spent nearly 20 years working for the City and County of Denver in a variety of roles, from Assistant Director of the Mayor’s Office, to Senior Policy Analyst, and eventually as Director of Economic Mobility where she ensured the growth and prosperity of Denver residents, neighborhoods, and businesses. She formally worked as a financial planner and loan officer, brokering insurance products for small businesses and frequently speaking publicly at women’s conferences and events. She was appointed by Governor Polis as the Commissioner for the Colorado Judicial Performance Commission in January 2019 and remains in that role today. She holds a Master’s degree in government from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor’s from the University of Iowa.

Kusi Hornberger

Kusi is a results-focused executive with 20+ years of investment, strategy, and project management experience across the globe. He is analytical, entrepreneurial-minded, hardworking, and passionate about making a meaningful impact in the world. He has been a Partner with Dalberg since June 2017 and previously worked with Global Partnerships as Vice President of Investment Research and with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as an Investment Officer. He holds a Master in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID) from Harvard University and a Masters of Business Administration from the INSEAD School of Business in Paris/Singapore.

Geoffrey Hoyl

Geoffrey Hoyl, is a co-founder, Chairman of the board of directors, and an audit committee member for Keynetics Inc., one of Idaho’s largest private technology companies. Prior to co-founding Keynetics in 1998, Geoff had a thirty-year career in the mining industry. During that time he served as the chief executive of a series of private and publicly held mining companies with operations in the United States and around the world. He has extensive experience in corporate finance, mining, geological engineering, labor relations, and business operations and management. Geoff lives in Colorado.

Paolo Leiva

Paolo is an Industrial Engineer with an MBA from Universidad Mesoamericana and a Master in Microfinance and Social Development from Universidad de Alcalá de Henares Spain. He is Guatemalan and is a finance business manager at Cementos Progreso, a “multi-latina” cement company. He brings to Friendship Bridge 20 years of corporate finance background mainly in treasury, credits and collection, and financial planning and analysis in diverse industries. He is a social entrepreneur that co-founded Asociación Solidaridad por Guatemala and founded Asociación Emprendimiento Social, an association from which he earned seed capital from an entrepreneurship contest in Guatemala launched by the Ministry of Economy (EMPRENDEGT) to develop the first Guatemalan crowdfunding platform to raise funds for NGOs and social entrepreneurs.

“I support Friendship Bridge because since I first knew about their work and mission, I said to myself, ‘I want to be part of that organization.’ I began working in the Credit Committee and the more I learned about the work, the staff and leadership team, and the real contribution to empowering Guatemalan women, the more I wanted to contribute to the organization. Thank you for the opportunity to help my country through this wonderful organization.”

Meryle J. Melnicoff, Ph.D.

Meryle’s involvement with Friendship Bridge builds on her longstanding work to empower women entrepreneurs. Meryle was a co-founder of the Alliance of Women Entrepreneurs of Philadelphia and has published two guidebooks on funding for start-up businesses. Currently, she is a member of WIL of Greater Philadelphia, which supports selected microfinance institutions, including Friendship Bridge. Previously, Meryle was the Director of Business Development at The Wistar Institute, where she established multiple collaborations that led to the commercial development of Wistar’s technologies for new vaccines and cancer treatments. Her work at Wistar brought substantial funding to the institute and enabled it to double the endowment. Meryle received an M.S. in Clinical Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the Medical College of Pennsylvania (now Drexel University College of Medicine) and has been involved with multiple projects to develop new diagnostic tests. Meryle resides with her family in New Jersey where she is on the board of the Delanco, NJ public library.

“When I visited Guatemala with Friendship Bridge, I saw firsthand how effectively and efficiently this organization helps women develop better lives for themselves and their families. The loans are the critical first steps, but Friendship Bridge integrates the loans with training on health, education, and business management to enable their clients to break out of the cycle of poverty.”

Steve Miller

Steve Miller has been a member of the law firm Sherman & Howard, L.L.C. since May of 1983, practicing law in its Denver, Colorado office. He served on the firm’s Executive Committee until his resignation as a member of the committee on January 1, 2020.  He is currently a Member of the firm’s Business & Real Estate Department in its Denver office. He is primarily involved in corporate, securities, and commercial law. Mr. Miller’s practice focuses on finance, mergers and acquisitions, fiduciary obligations, and securities law compliance. He has also counseled directors and significant shareholders of public companies in negotiating support agreements and complying with applicable regulatory requirements in change-of-control transactions. Before entering law school, Mr. Miller practiced as a Certified Public Accountant with a national C.P.A. firm where he specialized in tax and accounting matters for manufacturing concerns and financial institutions.

María Matilde Olazábal

María Matilde Olazábal is currently President and CEO of FFH Alcance AC and leads the impact analysis of Co Capital de Impacto. Ms. Olazábal works to promote initiatives that have an impact on improving the quality of life of people living in poverty. Contributing to strengthening human and community development capacities with training and education proposals for civil society organizations and community-based institutions’ staff in charge of addressing poverty issues.

María Matilde has also been developing business, negotiating strategic partnerships between FFHAlcance and other international and national development organizations in addition to supporting innovation, the improvement of comprehensive financial services for microfinance institutions, the development of training of trainers, and the development of educational products on relevant topics for people living in poverty. A focus of her work has been the promotion of development complementary services to the provision of financial services for the microfinance sector. She directed her team’s participation in evaluation (due diligence) activities for private equity investment in two microfinance institutions, focusing on the assessment of rural financial products and complementary services for the poor. Recently, she directed the organization’s Latin America Team in the development and operation of an open training E-Learning Platform to offer Development Sector Front Line Staff training programs to enhance their Key Competencies. Ms. Olazábal is a member of various Boards of Directors and Trustees of Civil Society Organizations recognized for their commitment to improving social problems.

Carolina Roca

Carolina Roca is an Economist with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University. She makes her home in Guatemala and is a senior partner at IDC, a Guatemala consultant firm where she focuses on the areas of finance, institutional development and innovation, and public sector reform. In addition, Carolina is an active member of the community where she has served as President of the Foundation for Women’s Development, a small NGO granting credits and training to women’s micro-business projects, and is presently a board member of FUNDASISTEMAS, Entrepreneurs for Education and Vital Voices Guatemala. Prior to IDE, Carolina served as Vice-Minister of Energy and Mines, Vice Minister of Public Finance, Technical Secretary of the Economic Cabinet and Director of External Financing. In addition, she was the Commissioner of the Guatemalan Tax and Customs Administration from 2005-2008, serving two different government administrations.

“I support Friendship Bridge because I share its mission, values and developing strategy. Fostering sound entrepreneurial opportunities for families and strengthening women’s self-esteem are key factors to take families and communities out of poverty in Guatemala.”

Dan Thomas

Dan joined the board of directors in January 2012, bringing more than 30 years of experience in the global corporate finance world.  Additionally, he served/serves on several non-profit boards, including Past-Chair of the People’s Clinic in Boulder, CO, currently Treasurer of both Intercambio Uniting Communities and the Colorado Alzheimer’s Assoc.  He is a retired CPA, and after his corporate finance career, Dan taught a course in Financial Statement Analysis for several years in the business schools of the University of Colorado and Colorado State University.

“ I joined the board of Friendship Bridge because I was asked by the Executive Director, Karen Larson.  I previously worked with Karen and knew how passionate she is about the mission.  After spending two weeks on the ground in Guatemala in November 2012, I can see why Karen and all the folks associated with Friendship Bridge are so passionate!  The organization truly makes a difference in thousands of peoples’ lives, and I am proud to be a part of it.”

Founders

Connie Ning

Ted Ning

Mimi Schlumberger

Board of Advisors

Chris Dunford – Co-Chair, Freedom from Hunger

Lynne Patterson – ProMujer

Mimi Schlumberger