30 Faces of WESST – August
Over the past 30 years, WESST has benefited tremendously from contributions of time, talent and treasure. We are particularly grateful for the support of several couples whose unwavering commitment to WESST’s mission has been integral to our growth and development. In July and August, we’re pleased to highlight the remarkable ways these WESST couples contribute to our community.
SALLY AND KEN ADAMS
A native New Mexican, Sally Adams chose to get involved with WESST as a board member in 2009. She is passionate about the health and welfare of Albuquerque and New Mexico and was fortunate at the outset to offer support to WESST through some marketing access with the company she worked for at the time. Her initial involvement soon developed into her taking on more of a leadership role and becoming one of WESST’s biggest cheerleaders. In 2014, she chaired the WESST Board and in 2020, she will become the 5th individual to serve a total of 12 years on the board.
As founding members of WESST Visionaries, Sally and Ken are most interested in supporting efforts that provide equal access to educational and capacity building opportunities that help all entrepreneurs further their own dreams. Through WESST’s comprehensive business and financial services, the Adams’ have witnessed how lives are impacted forever when opportunity and access provide WESST clients empowerment to succeed at entrepreneurship. “WESST does this work with ethics and passion and that makes all the difference in the world to us.”
“It has been great to have Sally so involved with WESST,” says Agnes Noonan “because she always sees the glass half full. She has such a zest for life and always sees the best in people. This zest for life spills over into everything she’s involved with which means if Sally is on your team, you couldn’t ask for a more passionate and committed person. She is moved by the people whose lives have been forever changed due to WESST’s support because ultimately Sally is all about possibility.”
Sally feels that her eyes have been opened to the possibilities that individuals and small companies can achieve with the right training from the right people. “During my tenure on the board, I have watched WESST become essential and successful in our state. When we talk about systemic change, it means that root challenges can be resolved, unhealthy cycles can be broken and opportunities for success are dramatically increased when people work with WESST. I think the same goes for me, personally. I am a better human as a result of my interactions with WESST,” says Sally. “Over the next 30 years, we will be excited to watch WESST leading the ecosystem they swirl in, diverse and unified as the greatest business support team ever!
In addition to their various community activities, Sally and Ken are enjoying life and being very grateful to do so. Avid travelers, they recently returned from a extended trip to the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver. “We LOVE to travel in our 5th wheel with our dog to places that expand our knowledge of this beautiful state and country.”
ANGELA ANDERSON AND DAVID HUGHES
As successful entrepreneurs each in their own right, Angela Anderson and David Hughes believe that owning your own business and providing employment for others can be one of the greatest gifts to our communities. From their perspective, the world needs all types of business owners to serve the ever growing needs of our communities. And when diverse entrepreneurs succeed at entrepreneurship, it catalyzes others in their families and communities to thrive. “Success is about community. When one succeeds, others will follow in their own way.”
Angela joined the WESST Board in 2009, the same year that the WESST Enterprise Center opened for business. She has been a very engaged board member, serving as Treasurer and head of WESST’s Finance Committee for several years and as Chair of the Board for two consecutive years in 2015 and 2016. “Angela’s leadership at the Board level has been invaluable,” says WESST President Agnes Noonan. What makes her kind of leadership special is her keen understanding about what it takes to start and grow a small business and her deep-seated caring and compassion about our community. She values human relationships above all and this is reflected by her passion for helping anyone with the drive and ambition to make a small business work.” She also believes that smart entrepreneurs use outside consultants, mentors, coaches, and cheerleaders and WESST can provide all of that.
David is the founder of Affordable Solar, New Mexico’s largest solar company and Angela has successfully run A. Anderson Consulting for many years. Their entrepreneurial mindset is couched in a belief that everyone deserves a chance to create their own future. They admire the complex set of services that WESST provides because they take into account the wide array of challenges that anyone faces in business such as a woman who can work when kids are at school but has to be home to care for them when they are not or a Cuban refugee who needs to adapt to living and working in a new environment. WESST’s IDA Program is a favorite of theirs. The program, which combines financial literacy training with a savings incentive, allows very low-income individuals to save towards the purchase of an “asset” – small business, higher education or a first-time home. Notes Angela, “I once was able to be there when a couple received their check to start a landscaping business; the smiles were so impactful you were moved to joy. Again, the opportunity to design and create a future. That is what WESST is to us.”
Founding members of WESST Visionaries, Angela and David give to organizations that have vision, impact, financial integrity, and serve a population of people that are interested in improving themselves. “Self-sufficiency is about your own success and giving permission for others to succeed around you. WESST incorporates all these values so it’s very easy to give to WESST. We are also very impressed with the staff at WESST and it’s not just because they are lucky, they have a robust hiring and vetting process that is top notch.”
These days, the couple is focused on their own well-being and the well-being of those around them. Engaged in the community, they are working with a local organization that is well-positioned to change the design of energy consumption in the future. They are also mentoring a young entrepreneur from Barbados who is importing reasonably priced goods into the U.S.
Reflecting on her 11 years of board service, Angela has been proud to serve on a board who is truly passionate about WESST’s mission which is reflected in the engagement of board members. “WESST is blessed with a talented, diverse group of board members who understand and fully support our efforts to provide economic opportunity to all,” says Noonan. “All non-profits should be so fortunate to have such an engaged board.”
Confident about WESST’s future, Angela and David think that WESST will continue to refine how it serves communities throughout the state and suggest that how WESST serves clients 30 years from now may be “unrecognizable” to us now given the rapid pace of technology changes. In any event, they’re grateful that WESST will always be about helping entrepreneurs make sound business decisions that will impact their communities and the lives of those around them.
CHET AND DIANA STEWART
Long-time residents of New Mexico, Chet and Diana Stewart love talking about their community and how every person in it has the capacity to give. Each was raised in families where they were taught about the importance of giving at a very early age. “Our Faith and life experiences have shown us that we have been very blessed,” say the Stewarts. “The real joy of giving comes when we share those blessings with those who have not been as fortunate as we have been.”
For the Stewarts, it is all about relationships – with family, with friends, with neighbors, with community. It’s also about living a life of service and giving. Agnes Noonan recalls when she first met Chet many years ago “he pulled out a video called The Ultimate Gift and suggested I watch it with my then young children. Since then, I’ve watched the movie over a dozen times because the lessons of the film — service, giving, putting others first — never go out of style.”
Chet is the grandson of Chester French who founded French Funerals and Cremations in 1907. While still in his 20’s, Chet was thrust into the leadership of the company when his grandfather passed away suddenly. He says one of the reasons WESST is special is that early in his own business career, “a local banker had the vision to risk helping us as young entrepreneurs, help that might not be readily extended in today’s banking environment. Organizations like WESST are helping to fill the gaps for entrepreneurs today.”
Long-time WESST donors, Chet and Diana understand the important role small businesses play in our economy. “Most jobs in New Mexico are provided by small businesses so the growth and the health of our economy depends on vibrant small businesses,” says Chet. “WESST is an incredibly important vehicle that trains, empowers and encourages people to start, grow and sustain small businesses which has a powerful impact on our community.”
The iconic Albuquerque couple is still involved in the company and in community activities, albeit on a more limited basis. They have been able to travel a good bit and when they do, “we love to tell people about the place we love so much—Albuquerque and New Mexico because we know it is the best place to live. We try to be good Ambassadors for our amazing city and state wherever we go.”
“When I hear the word selfless, I think of Chet and Diana,” says Noonan. “They are always focused on what they can do to lend a hand, an ear or a dollar. They are truly living a life of servant leadership and our community is forever blessed by their love for one another and their love of humanity.”
JUDY ZANOTTI AND DAVE DAVIS
Judy Zanotti was the Senior Vice President for Human Resources and Governmental Affairs at PNM when she was introduced to WESST at the time of WESST’s founding. From the beginning, she was impressed with WESST’s dedication to helping small businesses through its comprehensive training, consulting and lending programs. For nearly 20 years, PNM provided in-kind office space to WESST and until her retirement, Judy was the internal corporate sponsor. “In the early years, WESST was so very fortunate to have its offices, supplies, printing, and telecommunications costs covered by PNM. All non-profits struggle in the early years and I don’t think WESST would ever have survived if it hadn’t been for PNM. Judy was a huge cheerleader during this time, and I will always be grateful for her support and encouragement during those formative years,” says WESST President Agnes Noonan.
As a native New Mexican, Judy and her husband Dave Davis care deeply about the welfare of New Mexico. “The businesses helped by WESST have created significant new jobs and generated millions of dollars in annual revenues in New Mexico. All of us benefit from the economic development fostered by WESST. People’s lives are changed, and our communities are better served because of WESST.”
Long-time philanthropists in the state, Judy and Dave are intentional with their giving so that it truly impacts New Mexico and fits with their passion for specific outcomes. “WESST’s track record of success is truly impressive. We believe small business is the life blood of New Mexico and we are particularly pleased and grateful for how WESST‘s support system is there for a company through successes and as well as challenges. One of our dear friends has personally benefitted from the support and guidance of WESST for her small business in areas such as developing a business plan, strategic financial management and marketing her products.”
In addition to her career at PNM, Judy also served as President of New Mexico First, a nonpartisan statewide non-profit that builds consensus on critical issues facing our state and communities and leads positive policy change through deliberative town halls, forums, and nonpartisan work. Now happy in retirement, Judy continues to be actively involved in various charitable efforts because she loves giving back to the community.
After working for Gas Company of New Mexico and PNM for twenty years Dave retired in 1993. Today, he works part-time for Aspen Leaf Landscaping company (owned by Judy’s son and daughter in-law) and he still enjoys his favorite hobby of dirt bike riding.
Judy and Dave are each founding members of WESST Visionaries. “Their belief in WESST and their commitment to our mission has been incredible,” says Noonan. We are so very fortunate to count them among our supporters. The couple is excited about WESST’s future and thinks WESST will continue to make a positive impact on micro and small businesses around the state. “WESST will continue to be innovative and we are very excited about that.”
To see previous #30FACESOFWESST features please click HERE.