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.
Carolynn Welch| 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 with new and enriching opportunities through after-school programs.
Jazmine Frazier| Office Manager
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 along with her many life experiences that lend to the people-first approach that is close to her heart.
Community Development Team
Bob Doyle| Community Development Director
Bob is a lifelong Buffalonian and enjoys his 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.
Cristen Gregory| Community Engagement Coordinator
Cristen 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.
Purnima Mohan| Community Development Program Coordinator
Purnima Mohan is originally from India and started with WEDI in April 2019 as a 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
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.
Cody Clement-Sanders| Director of Operations
Cody Clement-Sanders started at WEDI as an AmeriCorps VISTA member and now holds the position of Director of Operations. 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
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.
Economic Development Staff
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 a 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.
Matthew Baker| Business Intelligence Specialist (BUMP)
Matthew hails from rural northwestern Pennsylvania but moved to the city of Buffalo in September of 2019 to serve on the WEDI Economic Development team. During his studies at Houghton College for his B.A. in International Development, he discovered his passion for the non-profit sector of microfinance. While his primary responsibilities at WEDI emphasize forming reports and organizing data, he is also excited to serve as a literacy volunteer with the ENERGY after school tutoring program.
Joshua Brenner| Loan Opreations Manager
Joshua joined WEDI as a member of the 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| Quality and Compliance Administrator
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.
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 to become even more successful.
Ryan Schupp| Portfolio Specialist
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.
Courtney Yonce| Education Director
Courtney's passion for teaching English to speakers of other languages began 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.
Donna Glasgow| Elementary Program Coordinator
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 Buffalo.
Susu Tway| FLY Program Assistant
Susu is originally from Burma, however, she was born and grew up on the Thai and Burma border. She finished high school at Karenni Community College in 2012 where she worked as a teachers assistant before she came to the United States in 2014. She finished her Associate degree in Arts at Erie Community College in 2018 and is now continuing her education at Buffalo State College with the plan of receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. Susu also volunteers at West Side Community Center and enjoys working with people from different countries, especially children. Susu joined the WEDI FLY program in May 2019, is currently a work-study at Buffalo State Academic Center, and speaks fluent Karenni and Burmese.
Vivian Wang| Energy Program Assistant
Vivian became a teaching assistant in the ENERGY Program in 2019. Before coming to the US, she graduated from EdUHK receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and worked as an English teacher for three years in Hong Kong. The passion and sense of achievement that she found in her teaching motivated her to pursue a TESOL master's degree at SUNY University at Buffalo. She would like to continue her interest in working with children, especially those who speak English as a foreign language, not only learn and improve their English but most importantly overcome their difficulties learning English with her knowledge and experience.
Morgan Vacanti| Finance Director
Morgan Vacanti received her Bachelor's degree in Accounting and Accounting Information System's from Canisius College. Throughout her 11 year tenure in the non-profit sector, she has built a reputation for improving processes, procedures, and efficiencies in the financial arena. Morgan has developed a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit sector after working with underprivileged youth within the charter school system, which gave her a deep appreciation for how nonprofits seek to improve the quality of life in the Buffalo region one program at a time. She is passionate about WEDI's mission and excited about the rapidly growing economic development of the refugee community.