Our accomplishments reflect the character of our team.
From the top down, our experienced staff operates in a team-oriented collaborative environment that helps foster small business solutions to share with our clients. We are prodigious learners, meticulous listeners, and natural problem solvers. Our collective experience is our foundation and it grows stronger with every new challenge we face and every new client we help.
Prior to joining WESST in 1991, Agnes served as a small business consultant in the United States Peace Corp in Costa Rica and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt. She holds a BA in Political Science from Berea College and a MA in International Affairs from The George Washington University. She has received numerous honors: Top-Performing CEO (2009), Junior Achievement’s New Mexico Business Hall of Fame, (2005); Women of Influence (2005); and New Mexico’s Small Business Advocate of the Year, United States Small Business Administration, (1995). Agnes is particularly passionate about personal and business financial literacy. She loves to read and fantasizes about becoming a beach bum.
Director Emeritus of Lending
Kim officially retired from WESST at the end of 2020. She received her MBA in Finance from the UNM Anderson School of Management in 1982 and spent the next 8 years in banking as a commercial loan officer in Arizona and New Mexico. When WESST started in 1990, she joined to set up the micro-loan program, which she deftly managed until her retirement. She continues to teach classes in Albuquerque on business planning and financial projections as her schedule allows. Kim is passionate about the outdoors, and spends as much time as she can biking, hiking, skiing and fly fishing while attempting to relax and enjoy retirement.
Regional Manager, Santa Fe
Before coming to WESST in 1992, Bette spent over 18 years in advertising and marketing with national companies, serving as Senior Marketing Executive for Kay Jewelers, B Dalton Booksellers and Henry Birks Jewelers. She holds a BA in Secondary Education and a MA in Mass Communication. Named the 2009 Home-Based Business Champ by the SBA and the 2009 Women’s Business Advocate of the Year by the New Mexico Women’s Business Association, Bette is also the winner of numerous CLIOS, ADDYs, and Printing Industry of America awards, and is the author of WESST’s award-winning Perfect Pitch™ curriculum. Bette boasts particular pride in transitioning professional skills from the for-profit world to the non-profit world. A healthy and active wife, mother and grandmother, Bette loves to read, run, garden, travel and golf, and particularly enjoys rowing at sunrise on Cochiti Lake. She is a serial entrepreneur to boot!
Regional Manager, Rio Rancho
Born in Albuquerque and raised in Lubbock, Texas, Brad returned to New Mexico in 1994 and has held a variety of positions throughout his career including Restaurant/Hotel management with Hyatt Regency hotels, Sales and Marketing in both the industrial and healthcare sectors, and in Real Estate sales and investments. He holds his undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University and an MBA from the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico. Brad is also an avid sports fan, skier, mountain biker, and outdoorsman who loves to travel and enjoy new adventures with family and friends.
Regional Program Coordinator and Trainer, Las Cruces
Fernanda was born in Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua and moved to Las Cruces to obtain her Bachelor’s in Journalism and Mass Communications. She worked as a Communications Coordinator for the International Borders Program at New Mexico State University and became very passionate about establishing relationships to help people. Fernanda has lived in Las Cruces for seven years and is looking forward to creating new connections with future entrepreneurs in her new journey with WESST. During her downtime, she enjoys reading, hiking, knitting, playing the guitar and spending time with friends and family.
Regional Manager, Farmington
Dawn Facka is a long-time resident of San Juan County. Dawn previously worked in the area of workforce development and has several years of experience in community engagement and project development. Dawn holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Walden University and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from New Mexico Highlands University.
Director of Marketing Strategy & Business Consultant and Trainer, Albuquerque
Mark Gilboard joined WESST in 2017 after 16+ years as a marketing and advertising research professional with Nielsen Media Research and Clear Channel Outdoor. He focuses on helping people achieve their entrepreneurial dreams with careful and insightful guidance and enthusiasm. Prior to embarking on his corporate career, Mark taught college courses in Media, and Communications, at both CNM and UNM. He has a Master’s Degree in Communication from UNM and Bachelor’s Degrees in both Rhetoric and Spanish from Bates College, in Lewiston, Maine. Mark believes New Mexico is a great place to build successful businesses, and an especially great place to start and raise families. He lives in the Ridgecrest area of Albuquerque with his wife Kristen and two daughters – Anneliese and Nola, plus a bevy of beasts – canine, feline and reptilian.
Regional Manager, Albuquerque
Margarita holds a Master’s degree in Mass Communication and a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, both from the University of Florida. She has been a business owner for the past 8 years and has over 15 years of experience in training, entrepreneurship, and consulting. Margarita was the founder and education director of Spanish ABQ, financial advisor with Merrill Lynch, education advisor with DeVry University, and process engineer with privately held companies in Houston. Margarita is a published author and fluent in Spanish. She has a strong sense of empathy and a passion to educate, help, and inspire others to do remarkable things. She is passionate about working with entrepreneurs and small business owners helping them start and manage their business. Margarita is a big believer in nurturing the ability to speak multiple languages and she serves on the board of a bilingual education school. She loves spending time with her family and using her creativity to reimagine new uses for old things.
Regional Manager, Las Cruces
Humberto Joins WESST after nearly four years of Business consulting for the Small Business Development Center. Prior to his consulting days, Humberto taught Economics and Mathematics for Dona Ana Community college and El Paso Community College. He holds a Bachelors of Business Administration in International Business and a Masters in Economics from New Mexico State University. Humberto is passionate about serving his community and assisting in strategic and healthy growth. Humberto relishes his time with his wife Leslie and children – Alessi and Milan – whom love to travel any chance they get in search of new adventures at every occasion.
VP of Development
Katie Knipe hails from Kingsport, TN and has worked in nonprofit management and arts administration for the past decade. She has dedicated her career to fundraising for organizations whose missions fuel her fire, including those who promote classical music performance and who serve people experiencing homelessness. Katie is grateful for the opportunity to raise support for WESST and help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. She and her husband Kenney relocated to New Mexico in 2019 to put down roots closer to family and they’re grateful to call Edgewood home. As a lifelong clarinetist, Katie has a deep love for music. Katie and Kenney enjoy spending time with their dog and two cats – Apollo, Ares, and Lebowski – while listening to their collection of vinyl records. Katie earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Clarinet Performance from Vanderbilt University and her MBA from the University of Cincinnati.
VP of Finance
Cheri Lopez joined WESST in July 2021 as Vice President of Finance. She has held numerous executive leadership roles, playing a critical role in strategic growth development, compliance operational oversight, working with boards of directors, organizational change, business oversight, comprehensive accounting systems, project management, human resources, systems implementation and integration. She focuses on organizations that further education, affordable housing, business ownership and the human spirit. In Albuquerque, she previously worked at Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico from 2018 to 2020, as Controller, then Associate Executive Director of Finance and Administration before joining WESST. Cheri holds an EMBA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a BBA from the University of North Florida, and AA degree from the Florida Community College at Jacksonville. She loves unique items, crafts, animals and living in a rural part of New Mexico.
A native of New Mexico, Nancy joined the WESST team in 2008. She manages all of the data reporting for the six WESST Women’s Business Centers as well as the programs offered at the WESST Enterprise Center. Nancy is active in the Association of Women’s Business Centers, mentoring others in their data collection and reporting processes. She enjoys volunteering in her community and traveling.
Business Consultant and Trainer, Hobbs
Rachael was born in beautiful Gallup NM to parents Richard and Cecilia Perez. Rachael was encouraged and supported by her parents to attend and graduate college, the first in her great big family. She earned a Bachelor’s in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations from Eastern New Mexico University. Rachael moved to Hobbs in 2009, and with her passion to serve others, she quickly engaged in community activities as a volunteer and has been serving Lea County ever since. She has served in several non-profit organizations and is currently the Vice President of the Hobbs Hispano Chamber of Commerce. Rachael comes with over 20 years of experience in public relations, community outreach, marketing, event management and business consulting. As the former Public Information Officer for Lea County, she holds certifications in Crisis Management, FEMA and the New Mexico Broadcaster’s Association. Rachael has two sons, Zaeden and Gavin who are excellent students and talented athletes. She enjoys running and lifting weights with her husband Brandon whom she adores. Rachael is looking forward to serving entrepreneurs and business owners with the successful programs WESST has to offer.
Regional Program Coordinator/Trainer, Roswell
Hope was born and raised in Roswell and is an energetic, outgoing, ambitious and big-hearted person. She worked for a large national bank for seven years as a personal banker. While in her position at the bank, she enjoyed connecting with the community. She presented financial literacy courses at the local junior college, high schools, and different businesses in Roswell. She continues to learn new things and loves teaching and training others. Hope’s nephew, mom and dad are her world. Their support and encouragement are the reasons she is successful today, and why she is the woman she is today. In Hope’s free time, she enjoys spending time with her two fur babies. Hope’s favorite pastimes include eating, dancing, watching movies, being outdoors, listening to music and spending time with friends and family.
Director, WESST Enterprise Center
Prior to joining WESST in 2010, Michele spent 10 years in the Air Force and 10 years at Intel. She has been in the customer service/admin world for over 20 years. She is a mother of two boys, Josh & Tylor as well as 2 lab pups, Koko & Bandit that keep her very busy. In her spare time she loves to read, spend time with family and serve in the homeless ministry.
Financial Literacy Program Manager
Zoe is passionate about New Mexico and enjoys working on programs that build community and contribute to economic development. For the past several years, Zoe has managed the IDA program for WESST, training over 200 people on personal financial literacy topics and assisting over 150 of those participants with asset purchases. With a B.S. in Family Studies and a background in financial literacy program management, marketing and fundraising, Zoe is excited about the future of programming at WESST. Zoe is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) through the National Financial Educators Council. Zoe loves her family, is passionate about New Mexico and is known for a few of her “special recipes” and love for the kitchen.
Regional Program Coordinator/Trainer, Farmington
Holly Patterson was born and raised in the Four Corners area of New Mexico. Holly joined WESST in the fall of 2020. She received her B.A. in Anthropology from Dartmouth College in 2019. Throughout college she developed and co-managed various social media platforms for multiple campus organizations and Dartmouth’s NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Team. Holly was selected twice for the College Board’s New York Summer Internship Program that resulted in the first publication of an educational guidebook focused on college-preparation for Native American high school students. She also aided in the coordination of a national grant program for educators. Holly is very passionate about education, marketing, and administrative work that focuses on shorting the disparities between marginalized communities/individuals and their opportunities. She looks forward to sharing her abilities with individuals to help them achieve their success.
Regional Program Coordinator/Trainer, Santa Fe
Roseanna is bilingual and brings a wealth of experience to the WESST team, including Pueblo Human Resources, Corporate Customer Service Management on a local and regional level, plus management experience in the hospitality industry. She has extensive training experience, and is herself an entrepreneur. Roseanna has been recognized for funds raised for Race for the Cure and for her participation in Boxing for Seniors. In her spare time she loves to bowl and read, and she coaches a boys’ elementary basketball team.
Director of Marketing Communications
Lorena Schott is a native New Mexican that brings a wealth of experience to the WESST team. Before joining WESST in 2009, she worked for Intel where she was acknowledged for her establishment of Intel’s centralized on-line system, rewarding and recognizing employees worldwide. Lorena is devoted to her husband and two sons. She enjoys the outdoors and spends her free time reading, hiking, and baking.
C. Sandro Tonini
Director of Lending
Sandro came to WESST after hearing about the work WESST did with underserved communities. He developed a passion for teaching financial literacy after a career in banking and market research. A first generation American and a believer of the American Dream, Sandro takes pride and finds fulfillment in serving marginalized populations. Outside of work he enjoys camping, cooking, and playing soccer. The most important thing in his life is spending time with his wife Brittany and his son Cesare; together they raise their dogs Ajax and Rizzo, and their rabbits Babs and Lola.
VP of Client Services
Dave joined the Staff in 2018 but was no stranger to WESST having participated on the WESST Board of Directors for six years and serving as the Board Chair in 2013. Dave is a people oriented servant leader with extensive experience in leading, developing and managing high performing teams and organizations at both the corporate and entrepreneurial business level. Dave has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Organization Leadership, from the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico. Dave enjoys building capability, improving internal systems and controls, integrating process improvements and managing complex projects with entrepreneurs and small business owners. Away from WESST, Dave treasures family time, serving on youth mission trips, traveling, cycling, dancing, and enjoying just about every outdoor recreational activity with his wife Karen and their dog Oreo.
Rita Carina Veleta
Bilingual Business Consultant and Trainer, Albuquerque
Rita was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM. She holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of New Mexico and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Texas. As a first-generation student, Rita discovered her passion for serving the underserved communities in her home-state early on in her education years. She has been a life-long advocate for woman empowerment, immigrant rights, and people of color in higher education. She now gets to apply her previous experiences to help WESST reach a broader community in the Albuquerque area. On her free time, she loves to hike and travel the world with her husband Bryan and cuddle with her cat Valentina.
Loan Fund Administrator
Prior to joining WESST, Melissa spent a few years working in the microloan industry. She holds a BS in International Business Administration with an emphasis in Spanish from Missouri State University. At WESST, she will help manage the microloan portfolio.