Our Team

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.

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Agnes Noonan

President

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.

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Kim Blueher

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.

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Madayi Chavez

Loan Assistant

Madayi is the Loan Assistant for WESST. She works in correlation with the VP of Lending and the Loan Operations Officer to meet all the client’s financial needs. Before coming to WESST Madayi spent 4 years as a Consumer Loan Officer but has been in the financial industry for over 10 years and played numerous roles in the financial sector.

Madayi enjoys helping local businesses, going to the gym, shopping, eating, watching movies, and spending time with her family.

Madayi’s favorite quote- “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my mother.” - Abraham Lincoln

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Fernanda Estrada

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.

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Dawn Facka

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.

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Mara Flores

Bilingual Community Liaison, Albuquerque

Mara Flores was born in Texcoco, Mexico where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management and her master’s degree in Botany. She founded her own consultancy agency to work with rural communities in different regions in Mexico and foster sustainability, conservation of biodiversity, and a solidarity economy. She moved to Chicago and got involved with many Hispanic communities working in environmental education, food justice, and arts. She helped with the development and establishment of two farmers’ markets, one in Mexico and one in Chicago. She moved to Albuquerque, NM, looking for enjoying more outdoor activities and the rhythm of a smaller city, she is currently helping with the Money Learning Lab program. During her downtime, she enjoys cooking, reading, hiking, writing stories, making art, and trying to produce her own food.

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Rhonda Gilliam-Smith

Regional Manager, Roswell

After living and working in Ohio for most of her life, Rhonda moved to Roswell, NM to enjoy all the beauty and serenity the Land of Enchantment has to offer.  During her over nine-year residency in Roswell, NM, she has served in several management positions serving the Roswell and Albuquerque Communities.  She holds a Ph.D. from Miami University of Ohio in Education Administration, a master’s degree in Human Resource Development from Xavier University of Ohio, and a BA degree in Communications from Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio.

While earning her education, Rhonda, a wife and mother to two sons, worked almost 20 years as a Pipefitter/Welder.   She knows from experience the obstacles and challenges women face in striving to maximize their potential.  Throughout her career, Rhonda's passion has always been to uplift marginalized and disenfranchised communities of color and women.  She believes that “women hold up more than half of the sky”; therefore, organizations such as WESST play a key role in helping women achieve their financial self-sufficiency thru business ownership. And, as a recent client of the Roswell Business Center, Rhonda is honored to serve as its new Regional Manager.

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Margarita Guarin

Regional Manager, Albuquerque - SBA NM Minority Small Business Champion of the Year (2018)

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.

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Humberto Hijar-Alvidrez

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.

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Samantha Kimball

Staff Accountant, Albuquerque

Samantha is a transplant to The Greater Albuquerque area, moving to the 'big city' in 2015. There she fine-tuned her knack and enjoyment for numbers as she explored the accounting sphere of New Mexico, where she found herself drawn into the non-profit realm. Combining her uncanny ability in finding unnoticed details, organization skills, curiosity, and her drive for helping others, Samantha sought out opportunities that would not only bring positive impact on an individualistic level, but on societal level. Understanding the impact that small businesses have on a community from personal experience, Samantha is excited to be part of a non-profit dedicated to serving the community at large as part of WESST’s accounting department.

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Katie Knipe

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.

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Cheri Lopez

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.

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Adriana Martinez-Guzman

Money Learning Lab Program Manager

Adriana is passionate about creating a better community and sharing her knowledge. For the past nine years, she has focused on teaching financial education in New Mexico, coaching people to reach their goals, and supporting them in their journey. Adriana is often humbled and inspired by those around her and strongly believes in the power of diversity. Adriana graduated from New Mexico Highlands University with a Master of Social Work degree. She loves traveling, dancing, exploring the great outdoors, and spending time with her cat and family. Her favorite quote is “it’s never too late to be who you might have been”  by Mary Ann Evans (aka George Eliot).

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Michele Newman

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.

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Sara Lynn Osusky

Regional Program Coordinator, Rio Rancho

Sara is a proud native of Albuquerque and joined the WESST Team as Rio Rancho Program Coordinator in 2022. She is passionate about life-long learning, helping others, and connecting her community. She received her BA in Psychology with a focus in Studio Arts from the University of New Mexico in 2013.  Sara has over 15 years’ experience in retail sales, customer service, print/digital marketing, and project management. She has been actively networking for over 7 years in Albuquerque and was appointed as Chair of the Ambassador Committee in 2019 for AREA (Albuquerque Regional Economic Alliance). In her free time, Sara is an avid foodie, loves crafting, outdoor photography, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

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Holly Patterson

Business Consultant/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.

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Roseanna Perea

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.

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Neema Pickett

Business Consultant and Trainer, Albuquerque

Neema holds a Bachelors of Science in Clinical Psychology and Evolutionary Anthropology with a minor in International Business. She additionally is a licensed Cosmetologist and Educator. She passionately believes that Entrepreneurship is the way to move families from poverty to financial freedom. This passion led her to join our team here at WESST where she hopes to further support the community.

Neema hails from the rolling hills of Altadena California. She was raised on a 24-acre working ranch. She is no stranger to riding and showing horses in the state fair. Her family carries forward the generational traditions of storytelling, music, dance and performing arts. As an intellect and innovator, she found her path to entrepreneurship at the age of 20. Her first business, a vegetarian café and wellness retreat, continues to serve her mission of promoting health and wellness here in Albuquerque.

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Tom Ragan

Comcast Digital Media Studio Manager

With over 15 years in the industry, working in short form and feature length productions, Tom brings his sense of precision and detail with a warm and collaborative approach to every project he takes on. With a rich background of experience delivering authentic, approachable and attuned documentary-style filmmaking to business & corporate marketing plans and industry events, Tom brings the savvy and skill set necessary for producing engaging and pristine content. After 10 years in NYC, he now calls Albuquerque home.

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Lorena Schott

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.

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C. Sandro Tonini

VP of Lending

Sandro came to WESST after hearing about the work WESST did with underserved communities. He developed a passion for teaching and increasing financial capability after a career in retail banking and market research. A trilingual First Generation American and personal witness to the American Dream, Sandro takes pride and finds fulfillment in serving marginalized communities. Sandro graduated with honors from the University of New Mexico where he studied Operations and Marketing. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in finance. In addition to overseeing WESST’s Statewide microloan program, Sandro also directs the statewide implementation of WESST’s “Money Learning Lab”, which uses human centered design to develop and deliver financial capability training for, with, and in the communities of New Mexico.

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Dave Vedera

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.

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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.

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Yini Wang

Development Officer

Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Yini moved to the U.S. in 2008 to complete her undergraduate education at Purdue University. Prior to joining WESST, Yini had worked at two national financial institutions as commercial loan operations manager and business project manager. Yini is passionate about education, community building and bridging people in the community. She has always wanted to bring her experience as an immigrant, and her care for others to the non-profit world. Yini values work-life balance and cares about the environment. Outside of work, Yini enjoys hiking, climbing, camping and road trips with her partner and two dogs, Joie and Chewie. She also loves house plants and gardening and is learning to become a master composter.

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Melissa Williams

Loan Operations Officer

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.