BENTON HARBOR, Mich., (October 11, 2022) – The Women’s Business Center (WBC) at Cornerstone Alliance recently announced that Kristen Patzer has been named as its newest Director.

The WBC is the leading regional provider of technical, business, and financial assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs. The WBC, in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), places an emphasis on income disadvantaged and women owned businesses.

Kristen Patzer joined the Cornerstone Alliance team in June 2020 as the Accounting Executive Associate, transitioned to the Manager of the WBC, and now serves as Director of the WBC. Patzer is a graduate of Indiana University Bloomington. Her career as a nonprofit administrator has spanned over two decades including the role of Executive Director of the Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph. Her communications, marketing and fiscal management skills create an advanced level of counseling and advisory services to assist area entrepreneurs.

"Kristen's skills and dedication to entrepreneurs make her the best person to lead the WBC. Kristen has an unwavering commitment to serving entrepreneurs in Southwest Michigan. I am confident that the Women’s Business Center will continue to expand its reach and its services under Kristen’s leadership," said Rob Cleveland, Cornerstone Alliance President and CEO.

As director, Patzer will work closely with staff and the WBC Advisory Council to ensure the organization will continue to adapt to serve entrepreneurs and small business owners. She will also oversee the continued expansion of services and programming available to WBC clients.

"I am delighted to be named the next Director the Women’s Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance," said Kristen Patzer, Director of the WBC. "I will ensure the WBC continues to support entrepreneurial opportunities and provide a high level of guidance to women, people of color, veterans, and low to moderate income individuals in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties. The goal of our programs and services is to provide the space for small business owners to develop economic self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship."

In addition to Patzer’s promotion, The Women’s Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance recently recruited Jackie Yates to its team. Yates, a graduate of Andrews University, comes to the WBC with over a decade of experience working with minority and underserved populations. Yates also manages a podcast that has a global reach and enjoys creating voice-over narrations for commercial, radio, and television ads.

"I am pleased to join on as Manager of the Women's Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance. The commitment to helping women, people of color, veterans, and socially/economically disadvantaged individuals launch and scale their businesses aligns perfectly with my views. I look forward to the work that the WBC will produce in the near future," said Jackie Yates, Manager of the WBC.

Patzer and Yates will utilize their vast professional knowledge to provide high quality counseling to WBC clients and will launch new, innovative programs to propel small business creation, investment, and job growth throughout Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.

The success of the WBC is a direct reflection of the success in the small business community, and would not be possible without support of Cornerstone Alliance, the WBC Advisory Council, and the SBA. Through support of aforementioned organizations and investors, entrepreneurs have opportunities to receive business counseling and training at little to no cost.