“Leadership IS the Difference” – A Conversation with Bettye Pressley

By Katie Knipe | July 12, 2022

One of my favorite aspects of working at WESST is getting to know our supporters who make this work possible. I’ve especially enjoyed getting to know Bettye Pressley through our regular phone calls. Bettye always shows her support, not just of WESST, but of me, personally and professionally. I sincerely appreciate Bettye’s generosity, through contributing to WESST, and through sharing her valuable advice and perspectives. She makes me feel so motivated and proud of WESST each day! Bettye has been involved with WESST as a board member, a volunteer, and now as a WESST Visionary. I’m grateful that she took time to tell me more about why she is so supportive of WESST.

When I asked about her passion for WESST, Bettye started by telling me about her deep admiration for our President, Agnes Noonan. “Leadership, to me, is very important. Leadership makes the difference. It IS the difference.”

As an experienced nonprofit executive herself, I always respect and appreciate when Bettye shares her thoughts on topics like leadership. “Over the years, I’ve had a chance to see Agnes’s leadership grow and how well she and the board work together. As a board member, I also saw how those in key positions at WESST also model leadership. That’s important.”

Bettye shared another observation that would inspire our whole team as much as Bettye inspires me each time we speak. “The staff, the president, all the people I have interacted with are so focused on WESST’s mission. No one is concerned about who gets credit. Healthy organizations have people like that.”

I love to learn the unique reasons that compel people to generously support WESST. I was especially excited to hear Bettye’s “why.” Bettye said, “I think WESST is making a tremendous difference. When I was on the board, and now as a donor, I like being able to listen to and hear from the people WESST serves what a difference we’re making across the state. The tremendous support you provide, not just the loans, but also the expertise, knowledge and connections you help make for them…without WESST, our state would suffer a real void of small businesses.”

If I had been recording our conversation, her next comment would have made the perfect soundbite! “WESST helps people envision possibilities and overcome obstacles. When I’ve visited some of the businesses, just seeing the confidence they have, it’s because they know they have strong support and advocates at WESST.”

Thank you, Bettye, for articulating WESST’s impact so powerfully! I am so grateful for the ways Bettye supports WESST, with her encouragement and affirmations, her leadership, and her generous contributions. Bettye said, “People who come to the board don’t make it about them…they embrace and want to support the CEO and staff.”

We are grateful for how strongly Bettye embraces WESST! Thank you, Bettye, for your selfless, dedicated support.

About the Author


Katie Knipe

Katie Knipe is the VP of Development for WESST 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.

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