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>>
To go back to the WESST Celebrates 30 Years of Impact Page click HERE.