30 Faces of WESST – January
In late 1988, Joellyn Murphy, Carol Radosevich and Jessica Glicken learned of a new program model for assisting women in New Mexico who wanted to start or grow their own business. By 1989, the Women’s Economic Self-Sufficiency Team was launched with a mission of being a home for entrepreneurs – particularly women, people of color and low-wealth individuals in New Mexico. Murphy was the Senior VP for Regulatory Policy at PNM at the time; Radosevich was the Director of Economic Development at PNM and Glicken became WESST’s first Executive Director.
The inspiration for WESST’s founding began with Murphy. She had met an organizer of a women’s business development program in Minnesota called WEDCO and was so impressed with the program, she raised seed funding for the first six months of WESST’s operating expenses from Meadows Resources which was a subsidiary of PNM in the late 1980’s. “One of the things that struck me about WEDCO,” says Murphy, was that they were serving the whole person; this means teaching a woman how to write a business plan, cope with her family and approach the banker with the confidence they want to see.” Murphy was also motivated by the fact that “economic development seems to be focused on the big catch – 500 jobs, or on high tech. That leaves out a whole lot of folks, women who want to be self-sufficient but may not have grand ideas,” noted Murphy in 1988. Although Murphy relocated to California in 1992, she continues to be a WESST donor and a huge fan of WESST’s ongoing success. Following her tenure with PNM, Murphy started a global energy consulting practice.
Radosevich says she was motivated to be involved in WESST’s founding because there was an unmet need for helping women go through the business planning process. She also notes that at the time, the birth of the women’s business center movement had just gotten underway and the sentiment among the three founders was “If they can do this in Minnesota, we can do it in New Mexico. After serving as an original WESST board member until 1991, Radosevich returned to chair the Board in 2008 during a critical time when WESST was raising money for the construction of the WESST Enterprise Center in downtown Albuquerque. Notes Radosevich, “I can’t help but be proud every time I drive by the WEC; the business training and education WESST provides is so critical and as relevant today as it was 30 years ago – perhaps even more so given the changing competitive landscape.” Following a 42-year career with PNM, Radosevich continues to consult on energy and economic development issues.
Glicken recalls being asked by Murphy and Radosevich to serve as WESST’s first Executive Director. She was intrigued by the idea and thought an organization like WESST could be very useful to New Mexico. For 6 months, she worked on a business plan for WESST which outlined the consulting and training programs WESST planned on offering; the plan also incorporated a volunteer consulting and mentoring program so that experienced entrepreneurs and business professionals could share their expertise with those aspiring to start/grow their own business. The WESST Business Plan authored by Glicken also provided the impetus for WESST’s first $50,000 program investment from the Sisters of Charity which launched the WESST Loan Fund in 1990. Glicken served as the Executive Director until 1991. She has had a long career in organizational development consulting, policy analysis and national security consulting for Sandia labs and the private sector.
In addition to the three WESST founders, WESST’s first Board of Directors included Roberta Cooper Ramo, Ruth Frazier, Debbie Johnson, Ann Silva, Laura Threet and Chuck Wellborn. To our founders and early supporters, THANK YOU for launching an idea that has since impacted the lives of so many New Mexicans!
WESST’s founding in late 1988 was made possible through a $25,000 seed grant from PNM. Since that time, PNM has been a great corporate partner who has supported WESST’s mission in countless ways over the past 30 years. From nominating PNM executives to serve on WESST’s board to providing in-kind office space for 18 years, WESST has been blessed by PNM’s leadership and support. Highlights of PNM’s support include:
- Two of WESST’s three founders were PNM execs (Joellyn Murphy and Carol Radosevich) who were supported in this effort by then CEO Jerry Geist.
- In 1999, PNM made a multi-year commitment to sponsor the annual statewide Entrepreneurial Leadership Awards Program designed to recognize some of New Mexico’s most successful, yet often overlooked women and minority-owned small businesses. Under then CEO Ben Montoya, this innovative awards program continued until 2008.
- When planning for the WESST Enterprise Center commenced in 2004, then CEO Jeff Sterba played a critical role in the Capital Campaign for the building. Sterba met with public and private officials on WESST’s behalf and PNM made the first corporate commitment to the campaign. Carol Radosevich returned to the WESST Board in 2005 and then stepped up as Chair of the Board to help WESST complete its successful $10.0 million campaign.
- In 2012, under the leadership of CEO E, WESST’s Technology Toolkit Initiative was launched with the support of the PNM Job Growth Fund. This continuing program is designed to assist small businesses in New Mexico to incorporate technology tools into their businesses and maximize their online presence in order to facilitate revenue growth and job creation.
- In 2017, PNM made a multi-year commitment to support Power Up Your Biz, a unique program designed to facilitate business growth.
- Through the years, many PNM employees have shared their time and talents by serving on the WESST Board of Directors. In addition to Murphy and Radosevich, these individuals include Chris Olson, Ron Talbot, Judy Zanotti, Barbara Barsky, Rick Brinneman and Shirley Ragin.
“WESST and PNM share a commitment to supporting local small businesses, especially those that reflect and celebrate the wonderful diversity of the people and culture of New Mexico,” says Pat Vincent-Collawn, Chairman, President and CEO of PNM. “From the beginning, WESST has grown and evolved to offer entrepreneurs across the state access to the most current and effective tools and resources, access they might otherwise not have. This helps make our community stronger and more successful. We’re proud to continue to support this important mission.”
To go back to the WESST Celebrates 30 Years of Impact Page click HERE.