Our Team

Our dedicated staff and board are experts in the fields of business building and trauma-informed care. Each person on our team is committed to our vision of flourishing communities where trauma survivors find healing in safe workplaces and provide for themselves and their families.

Staff

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Dorothy Douglas Taft

Executive Director

Dorothy has decades of experience engaged in US and international policy to advance human rights protection and advocate for the most vulnerable, as well as engage with issues related to trauma healing. She has worked in the United States Congress and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and in partnership with a variety of nonprofit organizations. Representing the US Government and Members of Congress, she has defended the human rights and dignity of men and women in virtually every continent around the globe. Dorothy in 2021 completed the Global Mental Health: Trauma and Recovery course from Harvard Medical School’s Program in Refugee Trauma, and in 2014, Missio Seminary’s Global Trauma Recovery Institute CE training. She and her husband James Taft live in Alexandria, Virginia.

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Brad Jones

Director of Field Operations

Brad strongly believes that creating jobs is an effective and holistic way to care for people. With 10 years of entrepreneurial experience, Brad has started and managed several social impact businesses. In North Africa, Brad and his family lived cross-culturally and spoke Arabic, and as a compassionate and engaged small business employer, helped improve many of his employees’ lives. Brad completed training in Disciplined Entrepreneurship from MIT’s Leadership Institute for Entrepreneurs with a focus on accelerating business growth, scaling a business and driving revenue. He has a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Clemson University and a seminary degree from Columbia International University. He is also an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church of America. Brad and his wife April live in Greenville, SC with their four children.

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Rebecca Hickey

Senior Advisor

Becky serves as an advisor with experience developing and implementing fundraising plans and cultivating relationships for all funding streams. She has had careers in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. For over a decade she worked in the Community Development Financial Institution field where she helped establish new programs that involved State and/or Federal Governments, lending institutions, and community development organizations. She is a co-founder of Hope for New York, which provides financial and professional support to those working with the poor and marginalized of New York City. Becky has a BA in English Literature from Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL, and a Master in Urban Planning from New York University, Robert F. Wager School of Public Service. Becky volunteers as a court-appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She and her husband live in Lititz, PA. They have two grown children.

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Tyra Jackson

Communications Director

Tyra is a communications consultant who uses her love of words and storytelling to shape messages that help organizations reach their audiences in impactful ways. During her more than 10 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications, Tyra has promoted the organizational goals of a diverse array of private sector businesses, government entities including the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and non-profits across the DC Metro area. Tyra received her Bachelor of Science in Business Management with a concentration in Marketing from Hampton University, in Hampton, Virginia. She is Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for Comunidad, a community-based non-profit in Falls Church, VA. Raised in Northern Virginia, Tyra currently resides in Arlington with her cat, Kadeem.

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Joel Salazer

Capital Fellow

Joel is a recent college graduate on board as a Fellow at the Market Project. He assists our team across the sweep of TMP’s mission in development, programming, communication, and administrative duties. Joel is passionate about the intersection of economics, business, and life-giving human relationships where the Market Project operates. Joel received a bachelor’s degree in economics and math from Grove City College. A proud Colorado native, Joel currently resides in Fairfax, VA.

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Shelly Smith-Thames

Organizational Development and Operations Consultant

Shelley serves as a consultant coming alongside early-stage nonprofit leaders to help operationalize a vision and provide practical guidance and tactical execution along the way. Prior to beginning her consulting career, Shelley served for over 17 years with International Justice Mission (IJM). There Shelley provided leadership and support for a nonprofit start-up of five employees through various stages of organizational growth and maturity, ultimately being a senior advisor to an international organization of nearly 1,000 employees, $50m budget, and over a dozen foreign locations. Shelley led the strategic planning function, the content planning and supervision of the organization’s service to the Board of Directors and served as a utility player covering various functions and gaps for the organization. Prior to IJM, Shelley served with World Relief Atlanta, recruiting and training church sponsors for new refugee families from Somalia, Bosnia, and Iraq. Shelley has a BA in Social Work from Baylor University and a Master of Public Administration from George Mason University. She and her family live in Falls Church, VA.

Board of Directors

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James Dirksen

Founder & Chairman of the Board

James Dirksen, Founder of The Market Project and Chairman of the Board, has over 25 years’ experience bringing products and services to the global market. He serves The Market Project in the role of new business creation. He began his career as a cybersecurity engineer at NorthropGrumman and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Working his entire career in cybersecurity, he has since started, grown, and sold companies and technology to companies including Microsoft, Symantec, Telefonica, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Citrix, and Cisco. James founded two non-profit organizations that operate around the world. James has a degree in biology and chemistry from Point Loma University. He lives with his wife Dana in Portland, Oregon. They are the parents of six children and have three grandchildren.

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Dorothy Douglas Taft

Executive Director

Dorothy has decades of experience engaged in US and international policy to advance human rights protection and advocate for the most vulnerable, as well as engage with issues related to trauma healing. She has worked in the United States Congress and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and in partnership with a variety of nonprofit organizations. Representing the US Government and Members of Congress, she has defended the human rights and dignity of men and women in virtually every continent around the globe. Dorothy in 2021 completed the Global Mental Health: Trauma and Recovery course from Harvard Medical School’s Program in Refugee Trauma, and in 2014, Missio Seminary’s Global Trauma Recovery Institute CE training. She and her husband James Taft live in Alexandria, Virginia.

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Mark Hellweg

Board Member

Mark Hellweg is a Portland, Oregon-based entrepreneur. He founded Clive Coffee in 2008, offering an edited collection of high quality coffee equipment. Four years later, Mark founded a new line, Ratio, to design and build coffee makers of exceptional quality. In today’s competitive consumer goods market where “faster and cheaper” is the name of the game, Mark strives to create products that are beautiful and built to last. Mark resists getting absorbed in the “how” to the detriment of the “why” – his wife and children are the why!

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Colleene Isaacs

Board Member

Colleene’s personal mission is to “do her utmost to facilitate others to their utmost.” She lives out her mission by coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs in the early- and growth-stage of their companies, helping them reframe paradigms and move towards a more holistic and transformational approach to their thinking. Colleene also serves small, international non-profits through leadership development and assists these organizations with design and implementation of strategies, targeting long-term sustainability. Colleene has started or played a key part in the launch of several San Francisco Bay-area companies, focusing on education, training and certification, and standards development as well as new market and product development and funding. Colleene and her husband live in northern California. They have two children and five grandchildren.

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Catherine Johnson

Board Member

Catherine Johnson advises The Market Project on project design, development, and management. A Senior Foreign Service Officer with the United States Agency for International Development (retired), Catherine served as Country Representative in Albania, led USAID’s democracy and governance offices in Pakistan, Romania, and Georgia, and championed women’s rights globally. Prior experience in African rural communities and low-income areas in Latin America reinforced her passion for working with those of limited means. Her commitment to assisting survivors of human trafficking recently led her to complete a credential in teaching trauma-informed yoga. Currently the founder of the women’s Centre for the Healing Arts in Hürtgenwald, Germany, Catherine teaches yoga, holistic healing, meditation, and contemplative prayer in international settings.

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Eleanor Nagy

Board Member

Eleanor Nagy advises The Market Project on strategy, project development, and policy issues. She served as a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State and at U.S. Embassies around the world, including as Deputy Chief of Mission in Burma (Myanmar) and in Macedonia. Other postings over those 25 years included serving as Director for the Office of Refugee Assistance for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas; and as Director for the Office of Global Hunger and Food Security. Most recently she served as the Senior Director of Strategy at World Vision International’s Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs. Her career and personal convictions have centered on creating opportunity for the vulnerable while building more personal security in their lives.

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Justin Reimer

Board Member

Justin Reimer and his wife, Tamara, founded Guidelight (formerly The Elisha Foundation) in 2005 to serve families affected by disability in North America, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Justin serves as the Executive Director. Previously, Justin spent over 16 years in the aviation industry and was a founding partner in a successful aviation company. He lives with Tamara and their 5 children in Portland, Oregon.

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Sharon Cohn Wu

Board Member

Sharon Cohn Wu has partnered with governments and led international teams for more than 20 years to strengthen effective responses to end violence, measure them and promote human flourishing. She served as Principal Advisor on Violence Against Women and Children for International Justice Mission (IJM), leading IJM’s center of excellence in addressing sexual violence against children and intimate partner violence and developing globally applicable best practices. Her passion lies at the intersection of government support and survivor strength. Prior to joining IJM, she clerked for Hon. Richard L. Williams and was a corporate litigator for Arnold & Porter. Sharon lives in Washington DC with her husband, John, and their three children.