"I’ve been to 40 countries and I chose Pittsburgh. It’s a place where you can create institutions."
Anne Marie is one of those rare individuals who seem to engage people in meaningful opportunities wherever she goes. While hiking in Peru, she saw Inca villages that were isolated from the cash economy. With her family background in international textiles trade, and her compassion for human need, she helped to develop a textile-purchasing program, which grew into AWAMAKI, an organization of indigenous women and families who handcraft textiles. The proceeds help to support access to healthcare, community education and sustainable tourism in Ollantaytambo and the surrounding high Andean communities. Today, AWAMAKI employs 15 staff in Peru, and partners with more than 100 female artisans, while Anne Marie oversees fundraising operations from a row house in Bloomfield, Pittsburgh’s “Little Italy.”
Her community engagement continues locally. She co-founded the Big Idea Bookstore, a cooperative bookstore and café, and she’s active on the Bloomfield Citizens Council and Community Development Council. In the South Side, Anne Marie is opening a hostel targeted to traveling artists in hopes of better connecting Pittsburgh and the outside world.