Letter from Marsha Bailey, CEO

Dear Friends of WEV,

I am writing to you today to announce that I will be retiring from WEV at the end of 2020.  I feel so fortunate to have had the privilege to create a life’s work dedicated to a mission that has been and will always be central to who I am and what I value. But I know that it is time for me to move on to do the things that leading an organization and raising a family have not afforded me the time to do.

When I started exploring the possibility of creating an economic development program for women in 1987, I had no idea where that exploration would lead. I just knew I wanted to create a program that would provide women with opportunities to be financially self-sufficient and to have the freedom and options that financial security offers.

When we launched WEV in 1991, after three years of planning and fundraising, the idea that we could improve women’s economic status by helping them start their own businesses was both innovative and unproven. Now, 28 years later, we have proven not only that business ownership can provide a viable pathway out of poverty, but that it can build family wealth and stability and contribute to the economic well-being of our communities.

I am so proud of what WEV has accomplished, but I didn’t build it alone. WEV has been a labor of love for countless staff, board members, volunteers and donors. There is nothing I can say to adequately express the depth of my gratitude to those who have shared their resources and wisdom with WEV and their mentorship and friendship with me, personally, throughout the years.

It’s clear that women have more opportunities today than we did thirty years ago, but while many things have changed, we still have a long way to go to achieve equal opportunity and economic parity. I have the utmost faith and confidence in the WEV staff and board to lead the organization into a future where women have the economic power to make their voices and values heard.

I am especially thrilled that I will be passing the baton to an able successor, Kathy Odell. Kathy has been a WEV supporter and board member for many years and is well-known in the community for her entrepreneurial accomplishments and business leadership. Kathy will become CEO-elect on May 1st; I will remain as CEO through December 31st.  On January 1, 2020, I will become CEO Emeritus and Kathy will become CEO. Post 2020, I will be available to Kathy and to WEV in whatever capacity is needed.

As we navigate this important leadership transition, we hope you will join us in honoring the past and envisioning a future filled with greater opportunities for women.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank each of you for giving me the opportunity to spend the last thirty years doing work I love in service to a vital mission.


Marsha Bailey
Founder & CEO