CONNIE K. DUCKWORTH
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Connie Duckworth founded ARZU, Inc. in 2004 and serves pro bono as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. She is a retired Partner and Managing Director of Goldman, Sachs, & Co., where she was named the first woman sales and trading partner in the firm’s history during her 20 year career. Ms. Duckworth is currently a Trustee of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company and a Director of Russell Investment Group and Steelcase Inc. In her philanthropic work, Ms. Duckworth serves on the boards of The Wharton School in Philadelphia, the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago and NorthShore University HealthSystem, in Evanston, Illinois, where she was the first woman to be named Chairman of the Board. She is a member of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, a public/private partnership aligned with the U.S. State Department and past Chair of the Committee of 200, the organization of leading women entrepreneurs and corporate business executives in the U.S. She also co-authored a primer on entrepreneurship entitled The Old Girls Network: Insider Advice for Women Building Businesses in a Man’s World (Basic Books 2003).
The recipient of numerous awards for leadership, advocacy, social impact, innovation and global presence, Ms. Duckworth received the 2012 UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Award and was honored as the 2012 Woman Extraordinaire by the Chicago International Women Associates. In 2011, she was awarded the Wharton School Dean’s Medal, the school’s highest honor and was named a 2008 Skoll Foundation honoree for Social Entrepreneurship. She holds an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from the University of Texas.
Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer
Cindy Berryman joined ARZU, Inc. in June of 2010. She has served in a CFO/Controller role for several Fortune 500 companies including Miles/Bayer AG, McDonald’s Corporation, and Kim and Scott’s Gourmet Pretzels. She has extensive experience in strategic planning, process improvements, reengineering, and systems implementation and has supported the due diligence and valuation process as well as mergers, acquisitions and equity raises. In addition, she has previously consulted with companies such as Allstate, Nicor Home Services, Insurance Auto Auctions, Northwestern University, Asianic Foods, Gourmet Kitchens, Tradaq Barter and ITW to name a few. Her breadth of experience spans manufacturing, consumer products, distribution, food and construction and has been international in scope. Cindy earned her Masters of Business Administration from DePaul University and Bachelors of Science in Finance from University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. In addition, she also was an attendee of the Executive Program at Notre Dame. Cindy is a member of the Financial Executive Network Group and regularly contributes time to a variety of charitable causes and peace initiatives.
Vice President of Retail Sales and Operations
Suzana Rizzo joined ARZU, Inc. in 2005, with extensive experience in entrepreneurship and operations at a successful small business venture she founded and operated in the Chicago area. She previously worked in volunteer relations at Ravinia Festival, in Highland Park, Illinois, where she was responsible for organizing fundraisers and benefit events. In addition, Suzana has served as a volunteer at Children’s Memorial Hospital, Misrecordia and Camp Heartland. She holds a M.B.A. from DePaul University in Chicago and a B.S. from Loyola University, Chicago.
Vice President, Creative & Technical Director
Angela Attento is responsible for all new product design and development. Prior to joining ARZU, Inc. in 2008, Angela was the Art Director at Odegard, developing new designs, advising on finishing and quality control, and directing all graphic design and print production of materials. She was also actively involved in assisting RugMark in its goal of ending illegal child labor. Previously, she worked for a number of years in advertising at Crispin Porter and Bogusky, starting off as an intern in the collateral division, then as a full-time Production Assistant and finally as the Assistant to the Chairman. Angela attended Savannah College of Art and Design, where she studied Fibers and Sculpture.
Director of International Programs
Melissa Bertenthal joined ARZU, Inc. in 2007 and oversees all Afghan programs, including all social benefits for the women weavers and their families, as well as developing community projects. Melissa earned her B.A. in Latin American Studies at Brown University with a focus on international development and democracy. After graduating, Melissa moved to Chicago to pursue a career in public relations with Edelman Public Relations. She utilizes her background in international development, marketing, and public relations to assist in the development and advancement of ARZU, Inc.'s mission, sales, and program goals. As both a student and career woman, Melissa has been very committed to volunteering for non-profits.
Director of Project Development
As a Director of Project Development at ARZU, Inc., Tricia Glass works with the ARZU, Inc. team in Afghanistan to design facilities and programs that support rug weavers and their families. As a founding member of the Boston-based nonprofit Beyond the 11th, aiding the people of Afghanistan became a priority and has led to her working on projects for other not-for-profits that operating there. Closer to home, Tricia worked in development at The Steppingstone Foundation. She has served on the boards at her daughters’ schools and supports organizations that offer education opportunities to children in underserved neighborhoods. Tricia has a BA from Colby College and an M.S.J. from Northwestern University.
Director of Project Development
Serving as a Director of Project Development at ARZU, Inc., Amy Letteney continues a long-term commitment to aiding the people of Afghanistan by managing projects that bring hope to rug-weaving families and their communities. As a founding board member of Boston-based Beyond the 11th, she drew on her background in corporate branding and marketing to shape a successful Afghan aid organization in the United States, including logo and web site design. Amy has also assisted a number of smaller non-governmental organizations with their day-to-day operations. Locally, Amy is active in planning and implementing a children’s event that supports the Pan-Mass Challenge, a bike-a-thon that has contributed over $239 million to support cancer research. Amy has B.A. from Franklin & Marshall College.
Director of Sales
Gina Watters joined ARZU, Inc. in 2008. After graduating from Michigan State University with a B.A. in Communications and Public Relations, she relocated to Chicago to work in advertising sales at Forbes Magazine. Gina volunteers regularly with Chicago Cares and is particularly focused on issues facing women and children.
Director, New Media
Before joining ARZU, Inc. in February 2010, Colleen Claes graduated from DePaul University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Cinema. She has a background in filmmaking, writing, and digital and online media. Throughout college she gained diverse professional experience, including a position as a Programming Intern for the Chicago International Film Festival, as well as assistant positions in marketing and higher education. Colleen is an active supporter of national and local human rights organizations, with a strong interest in women’s rights advocacy.
Peace Cord® Product Manager
Naomi Czerwinskyj joined ARZU, inc. in June 2012. Her previous experience includes working for a small social enterprise in product design and development, distribution, sales, and marketing. Most recently, Naomi worked with a Chicago nonprofit that helps indigenous Guatemalan women achieve economic security by creating a market for their hand woven products. Naomi has worked and studied in Central America and has a special interest in women’s economic development. She holds her B.A. in Anthropology from University of Illinois at Chicago, and her M.S. in International Public Service Management from DePaul University.
Jesse joined ARZU, Inc. in 2012. His background includes a B.A. in both Psychology from Ithaca College, and Photography from Brooks Institute in California. His experience in visual arts began in the field as a freelance photographer, where he signed with Getty Images, before eventually transitioning into graphic arts and design. Before joining the team, Jesse worked as an Art Director for an advertising/marketing agency, but realized that he wanted to devote more time to helping others, and working for a cause that helps people’s lives for the better.
Country Director, Afghanistan
Hamid Hekmat joined ARZU, Inc. in August 2004, as the organization’s second employee, and held the position of Administrative and Financial Officer in the Kabul office. He was rapidly promoted to his current position of Country Director and is responsible for overseeing all ARZU, Inc. operations and staff in Afghanistan. Hamid earned his B.A. in Law and Political Science from Kabul University, where he holds several academic awards. Prior to working for ARZU, Inc., Hamid served as an administrator at the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance.
Program Director, Afghanistan
Razia Jan joined ARZU, Inc. in 2008 and oversees all education, healthcare and social benefit programs in Afghanistan. For many years, Razia has worked to forge connections between people in the United States and Afghanistan. She began by rallying her community to send over 400 homemade blankets to rescue workers at Ground Zero.
Her efforts expanded to include sending care packages to our troops in Afghanistan and, through her involvement in the military's Operation Shoefly, she has coordinated the delivery of over 30,000 pairs of shoes to needy Afghan children. In 2005, with the help of the Duxbury Rotary Club, Razia began raising funds to build a school for girls outside of Kabul. Thanks to many generous donations, the Zabuli Education Center for Women and Girls opened it doors to 200 girls in March 2008. Born in Afghanistan, Razia moved to the United States in 1970. A member of the Interfaith Council, No Place for Hate, and on the Board of Directors at Jordan Hospital, Razia received many awards for her humanitarian work, including the 2007 Woman of Excellence award from Germaine Lawrence Inc.
OUR STAFF IN AFGHANISTAN
ARZU, Inc. currently employs a staff of 51 in Afghanistan which monitors both social benefits programs and rug production. This all-Afghan team of dedicated individuals works closely with weavers and their families to maintain a safe, healthy and productive environment.
Our all-local staff makes trusted communication and dialogue possible. Since Afghanistan is a gender-segregated society, with differing cultural and tribal customs depending on region and ethnic group, we select a Regional Director and teams of monitors (both men and women) from the two provinces in which we work: Bamyan and Faryab. There are three monitoring functions: rug production, health and education. Our namayendas (rug monitors) provide quality feedback and oversight on the weaving process by visiting our weavers in their homes. ARZU, Inc. provides weavers with top quality materials at no charge, including graphs and natural vegetable-dyed wool. Monitors deliver these materials at the outset and inspect each rug at least three times during production to identify and rectify any problems with the weaving quality and to help weavers continually improve their skills.
Our health and education monitors visit our weaver families weekly to ensure the children of the household are attending school regularly and that the family is receiving treatment for any illness or injury. ARZU, Inc. monitors also provide oversight to ensure that child labor is not employed on ARZU, Inc. rugs and to track and witness all payments to weavers for their work.