Meet Our Staff

WEDI is composed of ambitious, dedicated, and passionate individuals who firmly believe in the mission of the organization, in the potential of the people who utilize our services, and that WEDI's work can truly impact the community in a positive way. Learn more about the WEDI team and what they bring to the organization. And if you want to join us, check out our employment opportunities.

WEDI is composed of ambitious, dedicated, and passionate individuals who firmly believe in the mission of the organization, in the potential of the people who utilize our services, and that WEDI's work can truly impact the community in a positive way. Learn more about the WEDI team and what they bring to the organization

Carolynn Welch | Interim Executive Director

 Carolynn received a B.S.in Psychology from D'Youville College. She began her career in the non- profit world immediately out of college. She has worked in a variety of areas including program management, corporate compliance and development. She has been actively involved in Education programs for over 10 years. During this time she served as a member of the Erie County Youth Board and as a consultant for Computers For Children. She has a passion for enriching the lives of children and providing them new and enriching opportunities through after school programs.

Carolynn received a B.S.in Psychology from D'Youville College. She began her career in the non- profit world immediately out of college. She has worked in a variety of areas including program management, corporate compliance and development. She has been actively involved in Education programs for over 10 years. During this time she served as a member of the Erie County Youth Board and as a consultant for Computers For Children. She has a passion for enriching the lives of children and providing them with new and enriching opportunities through after-school programs.

Jazmine Frazier | Program Support Specialist

 Jazmine moved to Buffalo from Alabama’s Gulf Coast in 2011 and took a winding path through different industries before she began her service with Americorps at WEDI in February 2018. Having spent her formative years in historically impoverished areas in the South, her passion for helping under-served communities establish stability for themselves brought her into the nonprofit world. In working with WEDI, she brings her degree in Communication and Media Arts and many life experiences that lends to the people-first approach that is close to her heart.

Jazmine moved to Buffalo from Alabama’s Gulf Coast in 2011 and took a winding path through different industries before she began her service with Americorps at WEDI in February 2018. Having spent her formative years in historically impoverished areas in the South, her passion for helping under-served communities establish stability for themselves brought her into the nonprofit world. In working with WEDI, she brings her degree in Communication and Media Arts and many life experiences that lend to the people-first approach that is close to her heart. 

Economic Development Team

Yanush Sanmugaraja | Economic Development Director

  Yanush graduated from State University of New York Geneseo with a dual degree in Economics and Sociology in 2016. Before being hired as program director, he served as a WEDI Economic Development Specialist through AmeriCorps, utilizing his experiences in technology, development, and design. When Yanush was 12, he built an online, self-sustaining community for teenagers, which operates on its own to this day. Yanush is dedicated to the mission of the organization and is excited to assist blossoming businesses.

Yanush graduated from State University of New York Geneseo with a dual degree in Economics and Sociology in 2016. Before being hired as program director, he served as a WEDI Economic Development Specialist through AmeriCorps, utilizing his experiences in technology, development, and design. When Yanush was 12, he built an online, self-sustaining community for teenagers, which operates on its own to this day. Yanush is dedicated to the mission of the organization and is excited to assist blossoming businesses.

Joshua Brenner | Loan Operations Manager

Joshua joined WEDI as a member of Economic Development Corps after graduating from the University at Buffalo with a degree in Economics in 2017. During his time at the University at Buffalo, Joshua spent 4 months interning in London at a search-engine marketing company where he learned the fundamentals of business development and gained the cultural proficiency required to work with a diverse range of populations.

Joshua joined WEDI as a member of Economic Development Corps after graduating from the University at Buffalo with a degree in Economics in 2017. During his time at the University at Buffalo, Joshua spent 4 months interning in London at a search-engine marketing company where he learned the fundamentals of business development and gained the cultural proficiency required to work with a diverse range of populations.

Joshua serves the organization on the Economic Development team with the role of coordinating and managing the day to day operations of WEDI's Small Business Microloan Program. In addition, he leads WEDI's Economic Development team in the assessment of potential borrowers and developing WEDI's loan underwriting processes. Joshua is excited to help provide opportunities to empower the people of Buffalo and help small businesses thrive in the local economy.

 

Dave Chambers | Small Business Counselor

An international business lawyer for 35 years, David took on the role of Economic Development Specialist with WEDI in 2016.  In addition to serving as senior Counsel to several global corporations, David has been intensely involved with Western New York economic development initiatives, serving on the Board of Directors

An international business lawyer for 35 years, David took on the role of Small Business Counselor with WEDI in 2016.  In addition to serving as senior Counsel to several global corporations, David has been intensely involved with Western New York economic development initiatives, serving on the Board of Directors of Erie County Economic Development Agency; and as the chief of Economic Development Policy for the Erie County (New York) Executive, among other positions.  A graduate of the University at Buffalo and The Cornell Law School, David brings with him a continuing passion for the resurgence of Western New York and its diverse and wonderful communities. 

 

Nate Gray| Business Development Officer

Headshot17.jpg

Motivated by the increasing economic injustices imposed on the disadvantaged and the importance he places on childhood development, Nate joined WEDI in 2018.  Upon completing his B.S. in Business Administration at Indiana Wesleyan University, he taught for two years in the New York City Department of Education followed with careers at Oppenheimer and as a Director for a Healthcare Eligibility Advocacy organization in Detroit, MI. Additionally, he and his brother founded and transferred control of a non-profit in Long Island, NY, where the importance and value of community were impressed and made an indelible mark. 

 

Cristen Gregory| Small Business Counselor

Headshot17.jpgCristen Gregory is originally from Toronto, Canada.  She comes to WEDI from a background in the Performing Arts, having traveled the world singing opera.  She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto and earned an MBA from Medaille College. She has been a professor at Niagara University and currently at Canisius College.  She has served as a director on many diverse Boards throughout the region. She joins the Economic Development team as a Small Business Counselor, helping entrepreneurs develop their potential and realize their business goals.

 

Esperance (Hope) Rwigamba | Economic Development Specialist

  Esperance is originally from Rwanda and came to the United States in 2005. Back in her country, she worked as a small loans consultant at a local bank and as a supervisor of Save the Children, an organization whose sole focus was to support orphans and single parents. She has a B.A. in Business Administration from Medaille College and completed her Master’s degree in Public Administration at Buffalo State College in 2015. Esperance currently serves as WEDI’s Economic Development Specialist and enjoys seeing local businesses that are supported by WEDI become even more successful.

Esperance is originally from Rwanda and came to the United States in 2005. Back in her country, she worked as a small loans consultant at a local bank and as a supervisor of Save the Children, an organization whose sole focus was to support orphans and single parents. She has a B.A. in Business Administration from Medaille College and completed her Master’s degree in Public Administration at Buffalo State College in 2015. Esperance currently serves as WEDI’s Economic Development Specialist and enjoys seeing local businesses that are supported by WEDI become even more successful.

 

Ryan Schupp | Portfolio Specialist

  Yanush graduated from State University of New York Geneseo with a dual degree in Economics and Sociology in 2016. Before being hired as program director, he served as a WEDI Economic Development Specialist through AmeriCorps, utilizing his experiences in technology, development, and design. When Yanush was 12, he built an online, self-sustaining community for teenagers, which operates on its own to this day. Yanush is dedicated to the mission of the organization and is excited to assist blossoming businesses.

Ryan earned his BA in Accounting from Mercyhurst University in 2015. A year later he received his MBA from Penn State Behrend. His first job out of school was as a Staff Accountant in the Audit department at Lumsden & McCormick. Ryan learned a great deal in his year and a half there, but his desire to use his business degree to help the community led him to pursue a different path. His first step was completing an AmeriCorps VISTA term with the City of Buffalo, Division of Citizen Services. Here he learned a lot about Buffalo and community organizing. It was at the end of this VISTA term that Ryan joined WEDI as the Portfolio Specialist. Ryan also acts as the Director of Community and Fan Engagement for FC Buffalo, where he believes soccer can be a unifying force for good for our city.

 

Chris Way | Small Business Counselor

Headshot17.jpgPassionate about lean business models, teams, management, and optimizing small-business systems through new technology, Chris is continually learning how to practice transformational development through everyday business and relationships. He is a 2012 graduate of Houghton College with degrees in Intercultural Studies and International Development, with concentrations in Applied Linguistics, and Psychology. Chris remains active as Managing Director of The Atinga Project, established officially as a Benefit Corporation in 2014. Chris loves to serve and support every WEDI client as they discover their full potential, fine-tune their strengths, and tackle their weaknesses with practical tools and business education resources.

 

 

Education Team

Courtney Yonce | Interim Education Director 

 Courtney's passion for teaching English to speakers of other languages began in during her year abroad through Rotary International in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. Before graduating from SUNY Geneseo, she took a year off to serve as an Americorps ABLE member at Buffalo Public School 80. The following year, she served a second term, but transferred to WEDI's middle school program, FLY. During this time, she finished her undergrad, receiving her BA in English and Anthropology. Now that her second term of service with Americorps is over, she is stepping up into the new role of Launch Program Coordinator for the pilot high school program at Lafayette International High School.

Courtney's passion for teaching English to speakers of other languages began in during her year abroad through Rotary International in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. Before graduating from SUNY Geneseo, she took a year off to serve as an Americorps ABLE member at Buffalo Public School 80. The following year, she served a second term, but transferred to WEDI's middle school program, FLY. During this time, she finished her undergrad, receiving her BA in English and Anthropology. Now that her second term of service with Americorps is over, she is stepping up into the new role of Launch Program Coordinator for the pilot high school program at Lafayette International High School.

Donna Glasgow | FLY Program Coordinator

 Jazmine moved to Buffalo from Alabama’s Gulf Coast in 2011 and took a winding path through different industries before she began her service with Americorps at WEDI in February 2018. Having spent her formative years in historically impoverished areas in the South, her passion for helping under-served communities establish stability for themselves brought her into the nonprofit world. In working with WEDI, she brings her degree in Communication and Media Arts and many life experiences that lends to the people-first approach that is close to her heart.

Donna Glasgow is the Program Coordinator for Westminster Economic Development Initiative, Inc. FLY after school program. Ms. Glasgow was born and raised on the west side of Buffalo and where her passion for working with children had begun. Working as a teacher assistant for the Buffalo Public Schools for thirty years, Ms. Glasgow has worked with many grade levels from first grade through high school which she is currently working at Hutchinson Technical High School. During her years with Buffalo Public Schools, Ms. Glasgow went to Medaille College where she received her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education. Ms. Glasgow worked for People Inc. as the after-school program staff for children with disabilities 5 years old through 21 years old. The after-school program with People Inc. was housed at the Belle Center on the lower west side of Buffalo which brought Ms. Glasgow to her new job opportunity. While at the Belle Center, Ms. Glasgow resigned as Program Manager for People Inc. after three years to become the Program Director for an after school program at the Belle Center. Ms. Glasgow managed the after-school program which served 175 children in grades K-8th. She also organized the summer camp at the Belle Center through Say Yes. 

 

Delaney Connolly | ENERGY Program Assistant

An international business lawyer for 35 years, David took on the role of Economic Development Specialist with WEDI in 2016.  In addition to serving as senior Counsel to several global corporations, David has been intensely involved with Western New York economic development initiatives, serving on the Board of Directors

Delaney serves on the education team assisting in both the FLY and ENERGY programs. She graduated from Houghton College in 2018, holding undergraduate degrees in Spanish and Intercultural Studies with a concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Her experience teaching children English ranges from Central and South America to Europe, al within the past five years. These experiences have prepared her to serve with great cultural awareness. She is passionate about challenging and transforming the way children and young adults think about the world, and enjoys working through difficult issues with them to help them grow.

 

Aye Min Thant | Interim High School Coordinator

  Yanush graduated from State University of New York Geneseo with a dual degree in Economics and Sociology in 2016. Before being hired as program director, he served as a WEDI Economic Development Specialist through AmeriCorps, utilizing his experiences in technology, development, and design. When Yanush was 12, he built an online, self-sustaining community for teenagers, which operates on its own to this day. Yanush is dedicated to the mission of the organization and is excited to assist blossoming businesses.

Aye graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College, where she majored in Art and Letters. She works at Albright Knox Art Gallery as a studio art teacher, in addition to being an active member of her community. Aye was also one of Dr. Podolefsky's Fellowship Students at the Community Academic Center and was involved in the Alternative Break Team at Buffalo State. Aye started out in the AmeriCorps ABLE program were she worked with Cradle Beach Project S.O.A.R; improving emotional intelligence, and expanding the overall development of children through meaningful experiences. She joined WEDI as an AmeriCorps VISTA and began working with the Community Development Team as a Community Development Assistant in March 2018. She assisted with coordinating business mentors and the West Side Bazaar expansion.  In May 2019, she transitioned into the role of Interim High School Coordinator where she is leading efforts to coordinate the high school afterschool programs. These programs are Launch, Latina Girls Group, and Shark-Tank at Lafayette International Community School

 

Community Development Team

Bob Doyle | Community Development Director

Bob is a lifelong Buffalonian excited to take on a new role as Operations Manager at the West Side Bazaar. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from SUNY Buffalo, and has spent over a decade working in restaurants and nonprofits in Buffalo. Bob loves traveling, cooking, gardening, eating, and learning new languages. In addition to his native English he speaks fluent Italian, as well as conversational Spanish and French. 

Bob is a lifelong Buffalonian excited to take on a new role as Community Development Director. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from SUNY Buffalo and has spent over a decade working in restaurants and nonprofits in Buffalo. Bob loves traveling, cooking, gardening, eating, and learning new languages. In addition to his native English, he speaks fluent Italian, as well as conversational Spanish and French.

Nura Hunt| Business Development Counselor (West Side Bazaar & Broadway Market)

Headshot17.jpg

Nura Hunt joined WEDI in 2019 as a Small Business Development  Counselor. Before joining WEDI Nura worked as a conduct Administrator at the University of Denver. She holds a bachelor of Arts degree from The State University of New York and an MA from the University of Denver. Nura spent years working with different minority communities through various non- profit organizations. Her role at WEDI entails working with low-income entrepreneurs and providing business guidance for the prospective entrepreneur's journey. She enjoys walking/ reading and listening to music( all genres no exclusion) as well as navigating through avenues of continuous learning. In addition to English, Nura speaks fluent Arabic and Somali.

Purnima Mohan| Community Development Program Coordinator

Headshot17.jpg

Purnima Mohan is originally from India and started with WEDI in April 2019 as Community Development Program Coordinator. Purnima is excited to be part of the WEDI team, work with clients with diverse backgrounds, and use her passion to support the businesses at the West Side bazaar and the Broadway market. Her role includes coordinating all aspects of support provided to the entrepreneurs hosted in the West Side Bazaar and at other locations within the Community Development Department. She supervises site managers at the Bazaar, Kitchen @ the Market, and future sites to ensure consistent program implementation. Purnima’s role includes organizing and hosting workshops, field trips, and other small group training opportunities and professional development for Bazaar business owners. She works to strengthen the Bazaar’s food system work and improve existing programming to better serve WEDI’s clients and meet program objectives. She worked for Rich Products Corporation in the Sensory Science function within Research and Development for 13 years to ensure that customers and consumers are provided with good quality tasting products that are developed from concept to commercialization through the product life cycle. Prior to that, she worked for Coca-Cola India in their Quality Systems function. She has degrees in Chemistry, Food, and Fermentation technology. She loves to volunteer and has volunteered with Friends of the Night People, Ronald McDonald House, Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity to name a few. She is also a facilitator at EPIC (Every Person Influences Children). She is currently the Vice President at the Williamsville School District PTSA Council. In addition to English Purnima can speak fluently in Hindi and Tamil. Purnima has a passion for serving the community in her different roles as part of organizations like Vibha, which supports underprivileged children, CHAI (Council of Heritage and Arts of India) and Akshaya Patra.

Michael Moretti | West Side Bazaar Operations Manager

Headshot17.jpg

Michael fell in love with Buffalo after pursuing his master's degree in Higher Education Administration at SUNY Buffalo State in 2013. Post graduating, he lived and worked in many different areas of the country (Albany, Iowa, Los Angeles, Washington D.C.), primarily working in multi-use facilities on college campuses. After cheerleading Buffalo's growth from all over the United States, Michael found his back to the city in early 2018 and plans to never leave again. In his free time, he enjoys using his slow cooker and supporting Buffalo's growing local music scene.  

Development Team

Grove Potter | Development Director

  Grove joined WEDI in 2018, drawn by the organization’s work to help folks get a foot on the economic ladder and start climbing. He believes that WEDI’s work helping new and existing residents get started in business and helping educate their children is a powerful two-tiered economic tool that will enhance the city’s economy and strengthen communities. Grove was the Executive Business Editor at The Buffalo News for 17 years, and worked at the University at Buffalo as a news content manager writing about research and new businesses the university is fostering. He also edits the UB School of Dentistry alumni magazine. He is a graduate of the University of Vermont and holds an MBA from UB.

Grove joined WEDI in 2018, drawn by the organization’s work to help folks get a foot on the economic ladder and start climbing. He believes that WEDI’s work helping new and existing residents get started in business and helping educate their children is a powerful two-tiered economic tool that will enhance the city’s economy and strengthen communities. Grove was the Executive Business Editor at The Buffalo News for 17 years and worked at the University at Buffalo as a news content manager writing about research and new businesses the university is fostering. He also edits the UB School of Dentistry alumni magazine. He is a graduate of the University of Vermont and holds an MBA from UB.

Kat Cejka | Marketing Manager

Kat has joined WEDI as an Americorps Vista, and will be working with the Development Team as a Development Assistant to advance WEDI’s capacity building. She received her Bachelor’s degree in the pre-health program from Canisius College. With a strong liberal arts background, she majored in psychology and minored in neuropsychology. She is driven by her academic background and her creative passions to give rise to connections within our community, facilitate healing, and promote wellbeing. Her role will focus on improving volunteer management and recognition, managing fundraising activities, and assisting in design and promotional strategies.

Kat received her Bachelor’s degree in the pre-health program from Canisius College. With a strong liberal arts background, she majored in psychology and minored in neuropsychology. Her academic interests lie primarily in the intersectionalities of intergenerational trauma, community-based healing, and community ownership.

Kat is driven to give rise to connections within the community, facilitate healing, and promote wellbeing. She is passionate about telling great stories, promoting world-changing ideas and enabling the creative spark that follows when people of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and expertise get in a room to discuss anything with sincerity and respect. Kat is excited to use this passion to highlight the stories embedded within WEDI’s work and to cultivate marketing strategies for a more just, creative, and collaborative community.

Cody Clement-Sanders | Grant Manager

Cody Clement-Sanders started at WEDI as an AmeriCorps VISTA member and now holds the position of Grant Specialist. He supports the organization’s growth through project-based initiatives that improve WEDI’s sustainability and impact and brings highly relevant experience. Cody graduated from SUNY at Buffalo, earning a Masters in Urban Planning with dual specializations in Neighborhood Planning & Community Development and Economic Development & International Planning. He previously interned and worked for small for-profit and nonprofit firms where he helped complete grants and develop client base expansion strategies using ArcGIS to visualize spatial data.\

Cody Clement-Sanders started at WEDI as an AmeriCorps VISTA member and now holds the position of Grant Manager. He supports the organization’s growth through project-based initiatives that improve WEDI’s sustainability and impact and brings highly relevant experience. Cody graduated from SUNY at Buffalo, earning a Masters in Urban Planning with dual specializations in Neighborhood Planning & Community Development and Economic Development & International Planning. He previously interned and worked for small for-profit and nonprofit firms where he helped complete grants and develop client base expansion strategies using ArcGIS to visualize spatial data.

Tehmina Pechefsky | Grant Specialist(Americorps)

  Grove joined WEDI in 2018, drawn by the organization’s work to help folks get a foot on the economic ladder and start climbing. He believes that WEDI’s work helping new and existing residents get started in business and helping educate their children is a powerful two-tiered economic tool that will enhance the city’s economy and strengthen communities. Grove was the Executive Business Editor at The Buffalo News for 17 years, and worked at the University at Buffalo as a news content manager writing about research and new businesses the university is fostering. He also edits the UB School of Dentistry alumni magazine. He is a graduate of the University of Vermont and holds an MBA from UB.

Tehmina received her bachelor's degree in Political Science from SUNY Geneseo. After receiving her degree, she realized her passion for working in sustainable development and education through her work in Uganda teaching health classes to youth and financial literacy to young women; and in the New York City public school system teaching young students about food sustainability and healthy eating. At WEDI, Tehmina strives to better the Education Department through data collection, analysis and grant writing to improve the functions of these programs and aid the Buffalo community to the best of their abilities.


AmeriCorps volunteers supported significantly by:

10_TSC_2011-L.jpg