Staff Spotlight: Katie Knipe

By Lorena Schott | November 1, 2021

For this month’s blog, we decided to switch things up a little and do another staff spotlight in order to introduce you to Katie Knipe, our VP of Development.  Prior to joining WESST, Katie was the Communications Program Director with another local non-profit.  She is an experienced nonprofit development and communications professional with a strong track record of managing a robust development and marketing calendar.  Katie earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Clarinet Performance from Vanderbilt University and her MBA from the University of Cincinnati. We are very happy to have Katie as part of the WESST family!

What made you want to come to work for WESST?

It was November 2019 and I was still new to Albuquerque, trying to find my place professionally in this community. I drove by the WESST Enterprise Center in November 2019 and thought “that’s a cool building, I wonder what WESST means.” I wound up taking a deep dive on wesst.org! I’ve always had a lot of random business ideas myself and as I read more I thought that WESST would be an amazing resource to help me get started, now or someday. I went to business school but I am missing some of the practical knowledge about the steps it takes to establish a business. In my deep dive I saw a job posting for VP of Development and it was the exact type of job I had been looking for, before I got distracted by my half-baked business ideas! The more I learned about WESST the more excited I felt about all the ways WESST helps people who want to start or grow a business. I was reminded of my family’s entrepreneurial roots and thought about how helpful an organization like WESST would have been when my grandfather emigrated from Cyprus to pursue the American Dream.  I’m proud to raise support for an organization that helps so many people achieve their dreams!

What was your very first job?

I worked at a drive thru coffee shop in Kingsport, TN called MaxMax. I invented my own latte, the “Groovy Goat” which is equal parts espresso and steamed milk flavored with chocolate, hazelnut and caramel! I also discovered that blueberry and chai is a delicious combination. I loved that job! Sadly, Starbucks opened their first store and MaxMax went out of business not long after. The importance of small business!

What’s your favorite part of working here?

I love expressing gratitude and I feel so lucky that it’s part of my job! Thanking our donors for supporting our work is uplifting and I enjoy finding ways to continuously share WESST’s impact with our supporters who make this work possible.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I love spending time with my family! My husband and I had our first baby in March and watching him grow up has been so much fun. We spend a lot of time together doing things like listening to records and playing with our pets so it’s been awesome to see our son begin to appreciate those things with us.

What do you wish people knew about WESST?

WESST can help remove the barriers to starting a business. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have experience with any of the aspects of running a business, if you only speak Spanish, or if you don’t have the funds to start a business, WESST can help you get there!

About the Author


Lorena Schott

Lorena Schott is a native New Mexican that brings a wealth of experience to the WESST team. Before joining WESST in 2009, she worked for Intel where she was acknowledged for her establishment of Intel’s centralized on-line system, rewarding and recognizing employees worldwide.

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