Melissa Bride

After a 12-year Spanish teaching career, Mel, shown far right with co-op head Rosario Lobo (left) and "Mama" (center), the late Lobo family matriarch, shifted her focus to international development through microbusiness and has served as US Representative for Sales and Marketing for the Juan Pablo Segundo Sewing Cooperative since 2002, visiting the co-op annually. While those in El Pital focus on finding in-country outlets for the growing line of products made by the women of the co-op, Mel has focused Stateside on spreading the word about the importance of supporting microbusineses like the co-op by speaking at churches, schools and benefit dinners. She has recently gained Fair Trade Federation certification for the co-op, which provides new outlets for co-op products. In June 2004, Mel led a group of 12 volunteers to El Pital to see the co-op and work in the community.