Meet the WMI Staff Members
Tom and Carol Wells – Our President and Director of Operations
Tom Wells is our President and Chairman of the Board, and thus gets to be in charge of everything. He admits, “I like doing the vision and delegation thing!” WMI was founded when Tom, during his travels to Africa for YMCA World Service, kept meeting bright young people who had no prospects for financing their post-secondary education. Believing that “education is the single best thing that we can do to help an individual and his or her community,” he started the WMI Scholars Program in 2005. Tom has visited Africa five times and has been to Haiti over 25 times, where WMI is active in supporting the YMCA. When not working on WMI, he is the senior partner of Wells, Jaworski & Liebman, a New York/New Jersey-based law firm and a trustee of the Bolger Trust and Foundation. He is a partner with his wife Carol in Wells Mountain, LLC, a real estate development and management company, and Bristol Suites, a lodging establishment, both based in Bristol, Vermont. Tom has had extensive civic involvements, including eight years on the local Planning Board, and more than twenty years as a YMCA trustee and chair of the Ridgewood YMCA World Service Committee. Most recently, he was honored to be elected as one of only two non-Haitian trustees on the YMCA d’Haiti National Board.
As with so many other things that Tom thinks up, Carol is the glue that holds it all together. Carol is our corporate secretary and director of operations. She supervises all of our operations, in particular, our WMI Scholars selection process, the annual online auction, and Book Angels. Carol has spent her career outside of WMI as a school social worker, running our independent bookstore, and, most recently, as the executive director of Bristol Downtown Community Partnership. Her civic involvements are extensive and include two terms on our local selectboard (Town Council), chair of Bristol Friends of the Arts, and co-founder of Art on Main, a cooperative community art and craft gallery.
Tom and Carol both graduated with bachelor’s degrees from Bucknell University, where they met sophomore year. Tom went on to earn his juris doctorate from Case Western Reserve University. Carol obtained her master’s degree in human services and counseling from John Carroll University.
Bethany Bingham – Office Goddess
Bethany Bingham assists with the bookkeeping for Wells Mountain Initiative and helps out with other tasks as needed. After graduating with a degree in accounting from Vermont Technical College, Bethany worked as an accountant at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. Bethany now juggles her role as the office goddess for the Wells Mountain Initiative with her position as Assistant Innkeeper for Bristol Suites and her responsibilities as office assistant for Wells Mountain LLC, Tom and Carol’s real estate management company. When not balancing her various responsibilities, Bethany and her family raise award-winning Holstein dairy cattle.
Lisa McLaughlin Wyncoop – Empowerment Through Education Program Coordinator
Lisa is WMI’s Empowerment Through Education (ETE) program coordinator. Lisa has worked extensively with international students at the secondary and tertiary education levels. A former associate professor at Columbia University in New York City, she has taught English language skills to international students and refugees living in the United States, as well as teaching English as a foreign language in Spain. When not taking care of her family’s farm and assorted barnyard animals or volunteering in her community, she likes to read, garden and spend time with her husband and two teenage sons.
Lisa is fluent in Spanish and conversant in French. She graduated from Boston College with a double major in English and philosophy and has a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language from St. Michael’s College.
Benjamin E. K. Ryan – Development and Communications Coordinator
Benjamin Ryan is the development and communications coordinator for Wells Mountain Initiative. Prior to working at WMI, Ben worked with NGOs in South Asia with particular focus on promoting education and community resilience to climate change in urban slums. As a research assistant at the University of Vermont, Ben gained experience working under federal grants as well as applying for federal grant funding. Ben is passionately dedicated to contributing to the betterment of society and life on earth as an avid permaculture-gardener, outdoor enthusiast and adventurer.
As a graduate of the University of Vermont with a degree in community and international development, is eager to put his education to work for WMI.
Nicole Schmitz – Alumni Coordinator
Nicole has worked for the foundation since April of 2013. Her experiences with WMI are varied. She has served as a Programs Coordinator for all international programs and fundraising, traveled to Haiti in 2014 to assist with building the Caracol YMCA Center, helped plan the first WMI Dream Big Conference in Kenya, and developed the WMI Micro Grants Program. She is now in charge of all WMI Alumni programs.
Nicole states, “Students supported through the Empowerment Through Education program are dedicated members of their communities. These individuals possess a unique set of skills that enable them to be tremendous mentors once they graduate and become WMI Alumni. WMI Alumni continue to guide their communities and nations forward. I am very optimistic about the future of the ETE program and the support we can provide to our WMI Alumni members!”
Nicole earned her Bachelor’s Degree in International Business from Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. Her international experiences began as a high school Rotary International Exchange Student in Poland and continued with her international university studies in Scotland and Costa Rica. Nicole works remotely from Curitiba, Brazil where she lives with her husband.