By Baylie Evans, Writer

March 5, 2019


Board Members

This month, we welcome four new members to the Wyoming Business Council board of directors, and we bid farewell to four whose terms have ended. We had the opportunity to meet the new board members and glean some wisdom from some of the outgoing members. 

 

New Members: 

Charles Kenyon 

Will you briefly describe your background and the experience you bring to the Business Council board? 

I am recently retired after 26 years of employment at Eastern Wyoming College where I was a physical plant technicianadjunct instructorstudent activity sponsorcomputer technician and finally a network systems administrator. 

I served on the Torrington City Council from 1999 to 2007 and I have been on the State of Wyoming Electrical Board since 2013. 

I have also been a member of the Torrington Volunteer Fire Department since 1987, and a Goshen County Deputy Fire Warden since 2018. 

I hold associate degrees from Eastern Wyoming College and Casper College, and a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University. 

I am married to Cindy Kenyon, Goshen County Clerk. 
 

What are you most looking forward to as part of the board? 

I am looking forward to immersion in state-level economic development and being part of a team striving to make our state economy stronger and more diverse by growing business. 
 

What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge as a board member? 

Getting up to speed as a new board member able to contribute intelligently to the discussion. I’m thinking that’s going to take a year. 
 

What is your favorite thing about living, working and playing Wyoming? 

The best thing about Wyoming is the people. It’s great to be able live and work here in a state with such wide-open spaces and natural beauty. 

 

John Coyne III 

Will you briefly describe your background and the experience you bring to the Business Council board? 

My professional career has always been in banking. I started my career in Cheyenne as a credit analyst and commercial loan officer with American National Bank. I was then offered a market president job in Gillette with the same bank before settling back home and taking the reins as the Chairman, President and CEO of Big Horn Federal. This 21-year career in banking has provided deep experience in some of Wyoming’s biggest and smallest markets. Each one has a unique place in this great state. I have worked with both the public and private sectors on myriad projects. This background will hopefully provide sound perspective in this new role and guide me as I form opinions on the financial viability of various projects. 
 

What are you most looking forward to as part of the board? 

From an early age, influenced by my parents, I was provided with the insight that community service makes a profound impact on both the people and the place you choose to call home. I think the goal of the Wyoming Business Council – making Wyoming communities better places for all – resonates with me on a personal level. To be able to learn and, hopefully, share my perspectives with the other directors who carry similar passions is truly exciting. 
 

What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge as a board member? 

Many of the projects managed by the Wyoming Business Council have their place and time. Making sure we steward the funding appropriately across the state while delivering recognized impacts is certainly a goal. Secondly, blending the resources between the established businesses in the state for their future success while providing pathways for the new businesses will continue to be important. 
 
What is your favorite thing about living, working and playing Wyoming? 

Relationships in Wyoming transcend the mileage that encompasses this large state. I love to see friends from all over this state and be able to pick up a three-year-old conversation like it took place yesterday. My wife and I joked before we were married that she wanted to live in a big town. I expressed that I was fine with a big city, so long as it was in Wyoming. Now we live in Greybull, where we have a community that looks out for our children and truly cares. There really isn’t a better place to be.   

 

Cindy Johnson 

Will you briefly describe your background and the experience you bring to the Business Council board? 

As the founder and CEO of a software company that conducted business in 28 different states and three countries, I bring a “hands-on” experience to the Business Council board. I have experienced both the challenges of starting up a tech company in Green River and the exhausting efforts needed to see a company through its end strategy.   
 
What are you most looking forward to as part of the board? 

Witnessing firsthand the ongoing intergovernmental coordination efforts of the board is what I am most looking forward to. I have truly admired that effort. 
 
What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge as a board member? 

Getting to know the current strategies and diverse personalities of the many strong leaders at the Business Council will be a pleasant first challenge. The second challenge will be identifying the places where my skillset will help propel the Business Council’s goals.   

I am curious to learn how Wyoming leaders deal with the ever-repeated sentiment that residents do not want Wyoming to become another big city. I am confident that, with the right development strategies, we can continue to grow while staying true to our Wyoming culture. 
 
What is your favorite thing about living, working and playing Wyoming? 

I like going to the Mountain Man Rendezvous at Fort Bridger in September, exploring the Oregon/Mormon Trail and eating the elk and other wild game my family members hunt; but, what I love most about Wyoming, is no one makes outlandish faces at me or thinks what I like to do is strange. 

 

Kathy Tomassi 

Will you briefly describe your background and the experience you bring to the Business Council board? 

I am married (49 years!) to Tony Tomassi, a small-business owner. I have two children: Chris Tomassi, who lives in Washington, D.C.; and Kiley Tomassi, who lives in Evanston. 

I’m originally from Montana and have lived in Wyoming for 45 years. I have a bachelor's degree from Montana State University, Billings. 

I helped run small businesses with my husband and his family for several years while working as a loan officer at a local bank. I also sold real estate locally after my children were born to keep my hand in work and also be home with my children. And I opened an accounting business with a partner doing payroll, taxes, etc. 

I was elected as the Lincoln County Treasurer in 2010 and retired in 2016. 

I have served on many boards including the Board of Professional Responsibility, the Wyoming Community Foundation and the Kemmerer Rotary Club. 
 

What are you most looking forward to as part of the board? 

I am truly looking forward to making a positive contribution to the state of Wyoming. I believe there are some complex and exciting times ahead for Wyoming, and I would like to be a small part of that. 

 
What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge as a board member? 

Of course, the learning curve of being on the board will be steep, which will be a great challenge. Getting up to speed with the rest of the board and feeling comfortable with the various items addressed will prove to be interesting. Also, it will be a challenge to assess priorities and make decisions based on true value to communities. 
 

What is your favorite thing about living, working and playing Wyoming? 

Wow, where do I start? Wyoming has been good to my family and me. This state has given us wonderful opportunities, from the great education offered to my children to the businesses we have been involved with, to the chance of running for elected positions. I feel Wyoming welcomes people with open arms if they have an innovative idea, the willingness to work, and the initiative to put ideas out there and take a risk. The quality of life is fantastic – low cost of living, small school classrooms, and low taxes, just to name a few. We love the outdoors, and the low cost of golf at our municipal course, the abundant hiking opportunities, the walking trails, etc. lend themselves to a wonderful, wholesome way of life. We all feel lucky to have had a great life in the state of Wyoming. 

 

Outgoing Members: 

Paul A. “Cactus” Covello, Jr. 

What are you most proud of from your time on the Business Council board? Any specific projects you remember that made a significant impact to the state? 

I am proudest of the fact that, despite a tightened budget, fewer employees and all the other obstacles we faced, we were able to continue to provide more jobs and economic diversity for the state of Wyoming. Weatherby moving from California to Wyoming is a highlight, for sure. Each of the projects will make a difference for their respective community and county while helping the state as a whole. 

Any advice or tips for the new board members, and for the board moving forward? 

My advice to new members is to listen to the board members; I learned a lot from each one. Also, listen to the people that present the projects and apply for the funds; they will inspire you with their knowledge and passion! And my advice to the board is to keep on asking the hard questions and taking the time to make the best decisions that you can. 

What do you hope for the future of the Business Council and economic development in Wyoming? 

I hope the board can increase its funding for the future and continue to make a real difference for a broad spectrum of people and businesses in the state. Moving forward with ENDOW, UW, the community colleges, workforce services, and other state agencies to implement changes for all of Wyoming will always be of the utmost importance. 

Any other thoughts to share? 

I am humbled to have been part of the Wyoming Business Council, and I am sure that, in the end, I learned more and received more than I gave. I met so many passionate people that encouraged me to further my efforts in economic development. Traveling the state of Wyoming and meeting the folks that want to make their city, town, county or geographical area better is extremely inspiring and makes me believe the Business Council is doing the job that was intended! 

 

Mike Wandler 

What are you most proud of from your time on the Business Council board? Any specific projects you remember that made a significant impact to the state? 

I am most proud of being the commercial code-shared air service champion and the voice for advanced manufacturing in Wyoming. 

Any advice or tips for the new board members, and for the board moving forward? 

Business Council board member should use their experience to make good, sound business decisions that will increase the sales and profits of Wyoming businesses. Leave the political decisions to others. Pick a sector or two that you champion. Enjoy all the excellent people on the board and staff; you will learn more than you teach. 

What do you hope for the future of the Business Council and economic development in Wyoming? 

I hope the Business Council is a world-class economic development team that is properly funded, supported and respected by its taxpayers and politicians. I hope it is instrumental in transforming from a carbon-based to a digital economy, especially in advanced manufacturing. 

 

Pete Illoway 

What are you most proud of from your time on the Business Council Board? Any specific projects you remember that made a significant impact to the state? 

The Weatherby relocation was special because I was able to go to Las Vegas to meet them and then attend their groundbreaking in Sheridan. I really cannot pinpoint anything because we visited nearly every county in my six-year term and helped, I think, every county in the state with grants and loans. It was a great time, even though at times we did not have all the money we wanted to loan or grant out. We supported many great projects for cities and counties throughout the state, and it is great to return to some of those projects and see what has occurred. 

Any advice or tips for the new board members, and for the board moving forward? 

For new board members, enjoy your time with a great organization. I was in the Legislature when the Business Council first started. So, I was privileged to watch it grow and do good things, and then to be a board member of something I had worked with as a legislator was a great privilege. 

What do you hope for the future of the Business Council and economic development in Wyoming? 

I hope the Council continues to forge forward. Economic development and diversity is not easy. There are many projects, and sometimes the Business Council is criticized for not doing more, but there is only so much money. New board members have got to not fall in love with every project, knowing there may be a better one just around the corner. Every project is good, and every city and county thinks their project is best. You walk a difficult tightrope, but it is a wonderful and rewarding experience to serve.    

 

Business

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