Liz believes that if you don’t look forward to coming to your job, you’re in the wrong job. For Liz, that’s never been a problem throughout her more than 20-year-career as a leader focused on workforce and economic development. She’s turned failing organizations into award-winners, exceeded expected performance outcomes, innovated in project planning, grant writing, and fiscal grant management – and in the process, helped make a positive impact on countless lives. These days, she heads into the office motivated by the opportunity to promote business ownership by women, and she’s continually inspired by the commitment of the WBEC’s staff, board, and volunteers. Liz leads with empathy, kindness, and a great sense of humor. She claims to be bad at singing and cooking, but at home you might find her enthusiastically doing both (perhaps even at the same time). And if you stop by the office for a visit, you’ll likely meet Liz’s rescue dogs, Bindi and Tucker, who are proud to co-serve as Chief Fun Officers. (Just don’t tell Tucker he’s missing a leg; Liz never told him!)
Prior to joining us, Jamie enjoyed a nearly 20-year career in the pharmaceutical industry promoting medicines that help people live healthier and longer lives. We couldn’t be happier that she’s decided to channel her enthusiasm for making a positive difference into her work with us. We are continually impressed by Jamie’s kind, giving nature, her desire to serve others, and how hard she works on behalf of the women business owners we serve. It’s clear that she’s inspired by the cause of promoting supplier diversity and dedicated to helping women succeed. Off the job, she’s something of a homebody, spending her time with family, friends, and her beloved chocolate lab, Gunnar.
Fatima describes herself as a “disciplined person who is focused getting the job done, the right way”. A budding entrepreneur and mother of an amazing 9 year old, Fatima is motivated to work with WBEC-East to see firsthand the impact our organization has on guiding women owned business to pursue opportunities. She is particularly interested in contributing her originality & creativity towards helping develop new opportunities for working mothers. A former American Idol aspirant, in her downtime you can find her spending time with her son and listening to music on long car rides, driving towards the nearest nature preserve.
We welcome Joyce Cadesca, our newest addition to the team. Joyce is a steadfast equity advocate with a passion for leveling the playing field for women and minorities. As our Women’s Business Center Director, she is responsible for leading a team that focuses on the planning, development, execution, and quality assurance of all business training programs. We appreciate her calm demeanor and her values in building genuine, trust-based relationships. Joyce comes to us with an outstanding educational background having received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree (MBA) from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. In her free time, she is either volunteering as a career coach and mentor to Black and Hispanic young professionals -- or spending time with her son – usually at a local park (theme park, trampoline park, state park… you get the picture)! Additionally, Joyce enjoys quiet activities/excursions such as trips to the botanical gardens, museum visits, live jazz venues, and camping/hiking. Contrary to the last statement, Joyce also enjoys contact sports – she was a rugby player in college and voted “Rookie of the Year” during her freshman year!
We now have our very own He’s for Shes on staff at WBEC-East! Steve joined our team during the pandemic and comes to us from the workforce development field with a degree in Hospitality Management from Penn State University. Steve brings a unique and creative perspective to our outreach efforts and has increased our social media followers by 65% in his first few months! He doesn’t know how to say “no” which is appreciated by all of our Partners who want us to share their events and resources on our website. Steve grew up in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania and – get this – he’s a Dallas Cowboys fan! (No… we didn’t know that before he was hired but we love him anyway!) In his free time, Steve enjoys watching football, collecting sports memorabilia, and fishing. He and his wife, Stephanie, live in New Jersey with their two cats, one who is appropriately named “Little Steve.”
Ashana believes there is only one way to get through life, by dancing through it. Spending most of her free time teaching hip-hop dance, Ashana frequently works with her old dance group at the University of Delaware and teaching at studios. She takes that passion from the studio floor to her role of certification coordinator, where she works primarily with our volunteers to schedule site visits. At the office, you will frequently see Ashana on the phone talking to WBEs or making some spreadsheets (and by that we mean many many spreadsheets). While she is out being a road warrior and visiting countless WBEs, she enjoys learning about the different women owned businesses and engaging with the inspirational women that run them.
Our resident karaoke queen, Regina Ford recently joined our team as a Program Coordinator for our COVID-19 related efforts. When she is not singing, dancing, or playing violin (and just generally being awesome), she is managing COVID-19 grants. As the Founder of Willow Communication Strategies, Regina provides the perspective of a business owner which helps with framing our programming better. Her coordinating style is very forward-thinking and geared towards strategy and solving problems, which makes sense considering she does logic puzzles for fun in her free time. Given her tendency for running into celebrities - Jay Z, Jason Siegel, Coolio, etc. - when you meet her in the real world, make sure to ask her for insider stories!
It’s been said that someone’s pets can tell you lot about them. So, let’s look at Meaghan’s two beloved felines, which are of the Devon Rex variety – a breed known to be highly intelligent and very people-oriented. Bingo! They are, however, also fond of sleeping on very high shelves, a habit we believe is foreign to Meaghan. At the office, you’ll often find Meaghan reviewing files with the volunteers she coordinates for the Certification Committee. Meaghan loves files – especially complex ones. (Go figure. Maybe it’s because she’s a trained paralegal.) At home, Meaghan likes to hang out with her cats. There may be knitting or crafting involved – by Meaghan, not the cats. Although, come to think of it, the Devon Rex is a very special animal...
Our “Liz K” is a passionate nurturer. On the job, she’s focused on encouraging, equipping, and empowering women business owners for success, which we see her do tirelessly every day. In the process, she demonstrates unwavering commitment to the WBEC mission and a passion for teamwork. At home, she directs her energies toward raising her two young children. (We are fortunate she has the fortitude to do both!) One thing Liz K is decidedly not passionate about is talking about herself; but the success of the WBEs with whom she’s worked – and, no doubt, the futures of her wonderful kids – will speak very loudly on her behalf.
Colleen absolutely loved being a Girl Scout. Later, as she embarked on her professional career, she went to work for the organization. So, her current position with us seems like a natural progression: “I love working in a place where women are empowered to change the world,” she says. And we’re glad she’s here to help us do that. She’s a jack-of-all-trades – pitching in on everything from certification to strategy. She takes pride in being a great multitasker, which comes in very handy not only here, but also in her off-hours, when she coaches a marching band, homebrews beer, and plays five musical instruments (probably not simultaneously, but... maybe?).
Joining us from Minnesota, Yana is an energetic and positive ENFP (a Myers-Briggs personality classification). If you get lucky one day and meet her, you might be able to catch her Minnesota accent slip out here and there. Recently moved to Pennsylvania, Yana has an MA in International Development and a fondness for complex file review. Yana sincerely loves paperwork, to the point that she is currently working towards a paralegal certificate in order to support her work with WBENC certification. Besides organizing paper with meticulous accuracy, in her spare time Yana enjoys travelling, coordinating themed parties, hanging out with her corgi and her bouncy baby… not in that particular order of course!
Stephanie is fond of reminding us that her name means “to be crowned.” And, indeed, we think of her as our Queen of Administration. Unlike most monarchs, Stephanie is extremely accessible – always welcoming, encouraging, and very helpful. Her reign with us began in 2000, which makes her institutional knowledge invaluable; in fact, she’s kept WBEC-East running smoothly and efficiently for so long that we can’t imagine life without her. So, we won’t. Long live Queen Stephanie!
We wish Gabby, who started with us as an intern while in high school, wanted to spend her entire career here. But that is not to be. She’s on her way to her bachelor’s degree in nursing. When she moves on, our loss will be the gain of countless patients (who better listen to her, trust us – she’s a no-nonsense Philly woman!). In the meantime, though, we are very glad that we get to work with her. She’s really good, and really smart. She makes a huge contribution to our Certification Committee by handling of a variety of important responsibilities. Even though she’s a millennial, her old-school ethics and work habits remind us that we shouldn’t generalize about an entire generation.
When it comes to planning our futures, most of us have five- or ten-year plans. Not Rebecca. She has a 40-year plan. By the time 2053 rolls around, Rebecca wants to be enjoying retirement near a beach in Ghana. We have no doubt she’ll realize that dream, because she consistently turns focus into achievement. She does it all – from strategic planning to operational support – and as a result, she’s contributed to the success of hundreds of WBEs. Somehow, during her tenure with us, she managed to earn degrees in Psychology and Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Trust us: if she wants that beach, she’ll get that beach!