30 Faces of WESST
As part of our 30th anniversary, we are highlighting a number of individuals, businesses and organizations that demonstrated a key role in WESST’s growth over the past 30 years in our “30 Faces of WESST” feature.
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.
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.
30 FACES OF WESST – FEBRUARY
In the late 1980’s, Ginny Stanley first became involved with WESST as a volunteer consultant. She can still see the face of a client she worked with as Ginny advised her on pricing and cost accounting. After several hours of working with this single mom who wanted to start a business, Ginny says that the lightbulb finally went on for the client and this was a source of great satisfaction both for the client and for her as a consultant. Shortly thereafter, Stanley took on all of WESST’s bookkeeping work and provided these monthly services pro bono until the mid-1990s. This in-kind support was of tremendous help to WESST in its early years when it didn’t have a budget for financial services.
Kim Blueher came to WESST 29 years ago when Jessica Glicken appeared at her desk and asked if she wanted to start and run a microloan program at the then nascent non-profit called WESST. Kim immediately said yes, and has been an integral member of the WESST staff ever since.
Kathy McCormick volunteered for the WESST Loan Fund Committee while working at the NM Economic Development Department in the 1990s. Given that her professional efforts focused on creating jobs primarily in rural communities, she thought WESST’s mission fit nicely with her day job. McCormick has served as Chair of the WESST Loan Fund Committee for over 20 years and she stays involved because she’s proud to be associated with WESST staff and other Loan Fund Committee members. She also enjoys supporting entrepreneurs and is amazed at the variety of businesses they create.
Since the early 1990’s, Wells Fargo has provided ongoing support to WESST’s training, consulting and access to capital programs for New Mexico entrepreneurs. The Bank recognizes WESST as an important business resource throughout the state and believes WESST’s work has improved the lives of small business owners and families.
30 FACES OF WESST – MARCH
- JOANIE GRIFFIN
Joanie Griffin was one of the first women to benefit from WESST services in the early 1990s. At the time, she had started her own firm – Griffin and Associates — to provide marketing, advertising and public relations services. She was a “one woman executive suite” and struggled with the question of whether she should remain a solopreneur or proceed down a growth path. She came to WESST and through a series of consultations and coaching sessions, Griffin decided to grow her firm. She credits WESST with giving her the confidence to go forward and soon after she hired her first employee.
READ MORE ABOUT JOANIE GRIFFIN AND HER LONG TERM WORK WITH WESST>>
US SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
Office of Women’s Business Ownership
One of the most important pieces of legislation for women-owned businesses was the passage of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988. In addition to creating the National Women’s Business Council, the Act also created a Demonstration Program for Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) as a response to women’s organizations that presented evidence to Congress that women face discrimination in starting and running small businesses.
SBA Microloan Program
In 1993, the SBA started a Microloan Demonstration Program in response to the significant gaps in capital access for diverse and underserved entrepreneurs. WESST’s application to participate in this new SBA program was accepted and we’ve been an active SBA Microloan lender ever since.
SBA District Office
WESST’s participation in the WBC and Microloan Programs wouldn’t be possible were it not for our great, on-the-ground relationship with the SBA’s District Office for New Mexico located in downtown Albuquerque.
SETON ENABLEMENT FUND
In 1989, WESST’s founders contacted the Seton Fund to inquire about support for launching a WESST Loan Fund in New Mexico. Using WESST’s business plan as security, the Seton Fund agreed to lend WESST $50,000 for five years for this purpose.
30 FACES OF WESST – APRIL
WESST is so grateful for the many individuals who have served on its Board of Directors during the past 30 years. Their advice, counsel, financial support and fiscal oversight have been instrumental in WESST’s ongoing growth and development. This month, we acknowledge the 4 individuals who each served for a total of 12 years on the WESST Board. Our sincere thanks and appreciation for these Board veterans.
- MIKE BICKEL
A native of Albuquerque and the spouse of a small business owner, Mike Bickel has always been a champion for small business. He views small businesses as the life blood of our New Mexico economy and their success is essential to the growth and development of our state and its citizens.
- SHAREN RAMIREZ
Sharen Ramirez became a commercial lender because she wanted to help others, and she saw the impact that loans can have on people’s lives and dreams. In the 1980’s, she worked as a lender at a community bank in Albuquerque where she frequently received requests for loans from people who wanted to start a business. These individuals, often women, rarely qualified for commercial bank loans. Ramirez wanted to provide other routes to success for these clients, so she researched community resources and learned about WESST.
- MARJORIE ROGERS
Like many individuals who serve on WESST’s Board, Marjorie Rogers looks back on her 12 years of Board service as a very “rewarding experience.” She credits WESST as being the type of organization where you can see results and noted that watching someone realize their dreams has been personally and professionally rewarding. “Watching WESST grow from a very small organization to one with a statewide reach – always changing and adapting to better serve small businesses — impresses me tremendously,” notes Rogers.
- MARY WIEDERHOLT
Mary Wiederholt met Agnes Noonan in 1996 at a women’s leadership conference. She saw in the WESST microlending program an important and valuable community resource. At the banks where she worked, funding was not readily available to startup and small businesses. She was impressed that WESST not only provided much needed capital to entrepreneurs who might not otherwise receive it, but also provided technical assistance and business consulting to loan clients so that they would meet with greater success.
READ MORE ABOUT MIKE, SHAREN, MARJORIE AND MARY AND THEIR LONG-TERM WORK WITH WESST>>
- BETTE BRADBURY
At the time of their first meeting, Bette Bradbury and Agnes Noonan had a lot in common. They both relocated to New Mexico in the Fall of 1991. They also both applied to be WESST’s second Executive Director. Noonan was hired in 1991 and as testament to Bradbury’s desire to give back and help other women identify and develop their entrepreneurial skillsets, she began volunteering for WESST, joined the WESST Board and served as Chair of the Board in 1993.
READ MORE ABOUT HOW BETTE HELPED WESST EXPAND TO A STATEWIDE ORGANIZATION>>
- BANK OF AMERICA
Bank of America has been a long-time advocate for WESST, providing ongoing financial support to key WESST initiatives. Most notably, the Bank has been a key funder of WESST’s financial literacy initiatives, including WESST’s Individual Development Account (IDA) Program as well as more recent initiatives focused on distance learning and business incubation.
READ MORE ABOUT BANK OF AMERICAS PARTNERSHIP WITH WESST OVER THE LAST 30 YEARS>>
30 FACES OF WESST – MAY
- Hearst Foundation
The San Francisco based Hearst Foundations has provided support for WESST programs since 2001. Founded by William Randolph Hearst in 1945, the Foundation “funds direct-service organizations that tackle the roots of chronic poverty by applying effective solutions to the most challenging social and economic problems. The Foundation prioritizes supporting programs that have proven successful in facilitating economic independence and in strengthening families. Preference is also given to programs with the potential to scale productive practices in order to reach more people in need.”
READ MORE ABOUT THE HEARST FOUNDATIONS’ FIRST GRANT TO WESST>>>
- McCune Charitable Foundation
Since the early 1990’s the McCune Charitable Foundation has been a key partner in WESST’s economic development efforts throughout New Mexico. Founded in 1989, the Santa Fe-based Foundation was established to continue the philanthropic legacy of Marshall and Perrine McCune who were long-time residents of Northern New Mexico.
READ MORE ABOUT THE MCCUNE FOUNDATION >>>
- Diane Barrett
In January 1996, Diane Barrett visited the WESST office in Las Cruces with a friend on each arm and a smile on her face. She was a woman on a mission: to become self-employed. Shortly before her first visit to WESST, Diane moved to Silver City to open a restaurant with a friend. That friend backed out after Dianne made the move. Only mildly concerned with the financial obstacles in front of her, Diane focused on her passion, baking, and on her belief that with her friends’ support and WESST’s help, she could do anything.
READ MORE ABOUT DIANE AND HER WORK WITH WESST OVER THE LAST 23 YEARS>>>
30 FACES OF WESST – JUNE
- FRANK H. MARTINEZ
Frank Martinez was the first Albuquerque resident WESST visited when the idea for the WESST Enterprise Center was envisioned. Since the plan included building the WEC in the Historic Martineztown neighborhood, WESST placed high value on briefing Martinez and securing his support for the project. A long-time neighborhood activist, Martinez says when WESST approached him about the vision, “it was a Godsend.” When he learned of WESST’s mission to serve the entrepreneurial development needs of women, people of color and low-wealth New Mexicans, he wholeheartedly threw his support behind the project.
READ MORE ABOUT FRANK’S SUPPORT OF WESST AND THE WESST ENTERPRISE CENTER IN DOWNTOWN ALBUQUERQUE>>
- WENDY SHANNON
Like many non-profits, WESST has had to rely on external consultants to assist with human resources needs. As the owner of her own small business, Human Resources Works, LLC, “Wendy Shannon has been incredibly supportive,” says WESST President Agnes Noonan. Noonan first met Shannon in the 1990s and recruited her to provide HR consulting and advice on a wide range of issues, including personnel policies, performance evaluations and coaching.
READ MORE ABOUT WENDY AND HER WORK WITH WESST>>
- ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION (EDA)
“EDA has been a partner of WESST for almost 15 years. Their goal of aiding entrepreneurship and building new businesses in economically distressed areas of Albuquerque and New Mexico are perfectly aligned with the mission of EDA. During this partnership, EDA has invested $2.6 million in funding for architectural and engineering design, incubator construction and technical assistance to entrepreneurs. It is wonderful to see how WESST has been able to leverage these investments into strong small businesses, new jobs and improved quality of life. Congratulations on 30 years of fostering Entrepreneurship in New Mexico” says Regional Director of EDA, Jorge Ayala.
READ MORE ABOUT EDA’S INSTRUMENTAL PARTNERSHIP WITH WESST OVER THE LAST 15 YEARS>>
30 FACES OF WESST – JULY
WESST COUPLES 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.
- BEVERLY AND PERRY BENDICKSEN
Together and separately, Beverly and Perry Bendicksen have had a huge impact on WESST. Beverly joined the WESST Board in 2005 and went on to serve as a board member for 8 years. Perry joined the WESST Board in 2015 and he was elected Chair of the Board in 2018. As Chair of the 2019 Board, he is only one of a few people who have served two consecutive terms as Chair.
READ MORE ABOUT THE BENDICKSENS AND THEIR WORK WITH WESST>>
- MARY AND VIC JURY
As entrepreneurs who each started a business with limited capital and who faced innumerable challenges associated with starting, running and building a business, Mary and Vic Jury feel a strong affinity with those who have the desire to pursue an entrepreneurial dream coupled with a commitment to do the hard work to make that dream a reality.
READ MORE ABOUT MARY AND VIC AND THE NUMEROUS WAYS THEY GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY>>
- JEAN ANN AND DUFFY SWAN
During a particularly challenging time in WESST’s history, Agnes Noonan recalls that insight, encouragement and moral support from Duffy Swan made all the difference in the world. “Duffy has been a wonderful mentor to me,” says Noonan. “He and his wife Jean Ann are incredible examples of two people committed to their community and always willing to lend their time, talents and treasure to make this world a better place.”
READ MORE ABOUT THE SWANS’ LONG TERM COMMITMENT TO MAKING ALBUQUERQUE A BETTER PLACE>>
- ANN AND TRACY UTTERBACK
“I really feel like small businesses are what makes a community special. I grew up in a small town, and it’s amazing how often my memories revolve around the small businesses there—a restaurant with my favorite food, a clothing store, a service provider—and how often I knew the people behind the business. These connections are important for creating a real community,” says Ann “and WESST is the best of the best at helping our community of small businesses start their businesses, stay in business and thrive.
READ MORE ABOUT ANN AND TRACY’S ENERGY AND ENTHUSIASM FOR THE WESST MISSION AND OUR FABULOUS SMALL BUSINESS CLIENTS>>
30 FACES OF WESST – AUGUST
WESST COUPLES 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 committment 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
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.”
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.”
CHET AND DIANA STEWART
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.”
JUDY ZANOTTI AND DAVE DAVIS
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.”
30 FACES OF WESST – SEPTEMBER
- MYRA GHATTAS – SLATE STREET CAFE
Myra Ghattas is a member of the Ghattas family, long-time Albuquerque residents. Her sister, Mona Ghattas owns Duran’s Central Pharmacy which her parents had owned and operated for many years, and her brother, Marcel Ghattas owns a second Duran’s restaurant in Northeast Albuquerque. After extensive experience in food service management with the Hyatt chain in D.C. and California, Myra decided to move back to New Mexico and open her own restaurant. It is called Slate Street Café, located near downtown. Myra has slowly been growing her restaurant over the last 14 years and now they also operate Slate at the Museum, the café in the Albuquerque Museum. Most recently, Myra opened a new restaurant called Sixty-Six Acres across from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The name is inspired by the history of land that is being developed by the Center.
- NANCY MCLAIN
Nancy McLain was working for Eclipse Aviation in 2008 when a friend, co-worker and WESST Board member introduced her to Agnes Noonan over a lunch at Yanni’s one afternoon. Approximately two months later she interviewed with WESST and the rest is history. Nancy manages the data and reporting for all six WESST Women’s Business Centers (WBCs). In addition, she mentors WBCs all over the country on not only their data collection and reporting, but also client interaction and program services.
30 FACES OF WESST – OCTOBER
WESST has been blessed by the contributions of time, talent and treasure of so many individuals over the past 30 years. For this issue of 30 Faces of WESST, we look back and remember and honor those who made significant impacts before their passing.
- DON CHALMERS
A long-time business leader and noted philanthropist, Don Chalmers touched the lives of many, including the thousands of entrepreneurs served by WESST each year. “Don was such an incredible mentor to me as he was for numerous business and community leaders in New Mexico,” says Noonan.
- PETE DOMENICI
When former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici was first introduced to WESST in 1993, WESST had already been an early participant in the SBA’s Women’s Business Center Demonstration Program. In an effort to educate him about the important role women-owned businesses could play in the U.S. economy, WESST invited the 6 term senator to meet with a group of female business owners in Taos.
- DR. SUL KASSICIEH
When he joined the WESST Board in 2006, Dr. Sul Kassicieh became an immediate champion for the WESST Enterprise Center (WEC) which would create Albuquerque’s first mixed use certified incubator. His love of entrepreneurship manifested itself in numerous ways starting with his long and illustrious career at the University of New Mexico.
- DOUG LEE
Doug was the driving force behind the impressive growth of our flagship incubator, praised by CNN.com magazine in 2011 as one of the seven hottest start-up incubators in the United States.
- AB POTTER
Ab and Cara Potter have had a tremendous impact on WESST. Ab joined the WESST board in 2007 and he and Cara (currently on the WESST Board) were lead private donors in WESST’s capital campaign to raise funds to open the WESST Enterprise Center, a small business incubator in Albuquerque.
- DR. JACKI RIGGS
Dr. Jacki Riggs served on the WESST Board of Directors from 2003-2009, chairing the Board in 2007. Early on, Jacki was a big proponent of the WESST Enterprise Center and utilized her experience and contacts in state government to help WESST raise $4.5 million in state capital outlay for the construction of the WEC.
30 FACES OF WESST – NOVEMBER
- NANCY MAHONEY
While she served as WESST’s Development Director for only 3 years, Nancy Mahoney made a huge impact on WESST’s future. While developing a very successful track record as a grant writer and fundraiser, it was also Nancy’s vision for WESST to develop a bricks-and mortar small business incubator. In 2003, Nancy spearheaded efforts for WESST to successfully apply to the City of Albuquerque for grant funds to purchase the land on which the WESST Enterprise Center now sits.
- BELINDA JENTZEN
Belinda Jentzen stepped in as WESST’s Development Director in 2005 to help spearhead WESST’s $10 million capital campaign for the WESST Enterprise Center. With a multi-prong strategy for sources of funding, Belinda worked closely with the U.S. Economic Development Administration which eventually led to a total EDA investment of $2.5 million.
- FRED MONDRAGON
Fred Mondragon will never forget a field visit to the EDA offices in Austin in 2005. Accompanying WESST President Agnes Noonan and Development Director Nancy Mahoney and her 3 month-old daughter Kaylie. Mondragon was then serving as the City of Albuquerque’s Director of Economic Development. WESST had applied for a large EDA grant for construction of the WESST Enterprise Center (WEC) and the happy trio traveled to Austin to make a presentation about the project to EDA Director Pedro Garza and his staff.
- CITY OF ALBUQUERQUE
WESST has enjoyed a long-time partnership with the City of Albuquerque. In 1995, WESST was awarded a $250,000 grant from the City’s UDAG fund to establish a loan fund for residents and businesses located in Albuquerque’s low-income neighborhoods (initially referred to as the Pocket of Poverty). The fund has since lent nearly $1 million to 53 businesses and it continues to be an important and inexpensive source of capital for Pocket businesses.
To go back to the WESST Celebrates 30 Years of Impact Page click HERE.