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Our Team

James Burnett

Executive Director, VestedIn
Mr. Burnett has worked in the financial services industry for over 30 years, beginning his career with Fidelity Bank 1988. In 1999, Mr. Burnett pivoted to community economic development (“CED”) as Executive Director of the West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution (WPFSI). Because of his CED work, Mr. Burnett became an adjunct professor position at Thomas Jefferson University in the School of Sustainable Design. In addition to his professional focus, Mr. Burnett has served diligently on various community and professional boards and is committed to the promotion of financial education and access to capital. While building ParkWest Town Center Mr. Burnett oversaw the development of the WesGold Fellows program to provide high school students with exposure to opportunities that are typically beyond their reach. Mr. Burnett has frequently spoken about how having these students around every summer brings new ideas and focus to why VestedIn is committed to investing in Philadelphia’s youth and their impact on the future of the City.

Samantha R. Lyons

Director, WesGold Fellows
Prior to joining VestedIn as WesGold Fellows’ first full time director, Samantha spent eight years as a business attorney, providing strategic legal and business development on behalf of her clients. After graduating law school, she worked as the Diversity Recruiter for Villanova University School of Law. After Villanova, Samantha joined Tiagha & Associates as the Manager of Corporate & International Business, with a particular focus on business development, corporate transactions, real estate, and small business. After Tiagha & Associates, Samantha founded Grace & River Strategies, a project development firm, where she served as the head of Strategic Legal & Business Development. Samantha received her Juris Doctorate from Villanova School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Ursinus College, where she minored in Spanish and English. She is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program and a graduate, with honors, of Temple's Real Estate Institute. A Philadelphia native, Samantha is a proud alumna of the Philadelphia High School for Girls.

Crystal Randall

Office Manager
Crystal has over 20 years of office administrative experience working with several non-profit organizations in the Philadelphia area. At VestedIn, she is responsible for carrying out day-to-day general administrative duties for the entire organization, including accounts payable and receivable, office management and human resources. In addition, she assists with the management and distribution of grants and loan processing. Crystal studied public relations at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.

Precious Samuel

Director of Programs
Precious Samuel, the inaugural Director of Programs for VestedIn, brings a potent combination of compassionate advocacy, entrepreneurial flair, and a profound commitment to community welfare. With over 15 years in coalition-building and community organizing, she deeply understands the challenges underrepresented communities face, particularly in obtaining access to capital and essential services. As Senior Partnerships Manager at Made to Save, she led nationwide initiatives alongside health organizations and businesses to boost workplace safety standards and promote fair COVID-19 vaccine protocols in small businesses. Her entrepreneurial path started as a participant in VestedIn’s B-Smart Entrepreneur program, where she founded a consulting firm that turns innovative ideas into practical solutions and systems. Now leading VestedIn's programmatic initiatives, Precious is committed to cultivating a nurturing environment to foster the growth and resilience of small businesses. Precious is a West Philly native pursuing a BA in Operations Management and Analysis at the University of Arizona's Forbes School of Business & Technology, complementing her extensive practical experience.

Barry D. Whitney

Business Development Officer

Jasmine Warner

Compliance and Portfolio Administrator
Jasmine has been working in the financial industry for over 20 years. She started off at Merrick Bank in collections, and then moved on to customer service. From Merrick Bank she went to PNC Bank in Pittsburgh, PA and then back home in Philadelphia (where she previously trained their team on building wire deals) in the wire transfer department. After 10 years with PNC, she accepted a position Wells Fargo Bank as a Wire Investigations Analyst, and then Wire Escalations Representative. As the new Compliance and Portfolio Administrator for VestedIn, Jasmine also works part- time at her area Wawa. She enjoys many different genres of music, travelling, reading, writing, trying new wines, and attending festivals with her wife of six years in the summer. To relax she enjoys serial killer documentaries, CSI, Law and Order: SVU, Disney movies, and coloring in her coloring books. She is a graduate of University of Pittsburgh (main).

Richette Walton

WesGold Fellows Program Manager
Richette Walton is a West Philadelphia native and alumnus of Peirce College where she received her bachelor's in Paralegal Studies. Driven by a strong passion for equity, inclusion, and community impact, Richette is committed to supporting our Fellows throughout their personal and professional journeys. Labeled as a champion for youth by friends and colleagues alike, Richette has spent the last 5 years working where youth and workforce development meet. As WesGold Fellows’ first program manager, she is responsible for the advancement of the program, by handling the daily management, operations, and relationship building. She is excited to bring both her passion and expertise to the WesGold Fellows Family!

Joshua Parris

WesGold Fellows Pro-Coordinator, School: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCAT)
Joshua, a Junior at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, is pursuing a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in prelaw. Recognized for his dedication to community service, he was a WesGold Fellow in 2020, finding purpose and lifelong connections in the program. Learning the importance of giving back, Joshua sees becoming a coordinator as his chance to continue this mission. The WesGold Fellows Program is not just his home and foundation but also an opportunity to inspire others as it did for him.

Gabrielle “Gabby” Forbes

WesGold Fellows Pro-Coordinator
Gabrielle Forbes is a third-year Entrepreneurship and Innovation major at Drexel University. She holds the position of program coordinator at WesGold Fellows. Passionate about entrepreneurship, advocating for minorities, mental health, and mentorship, Gabrielle aspires to found multiple businesses in the fashion and mental health sectors. She serves as the Vice President of the Kappa Sigma Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. In her leisure time, she enjoys traveling, listening to music, photography, and engaging in community service. Gabrielle is thrilled to be part of the WesGold Fellows team this year!

Carmen Polanco

WesGold Fellows Pro-Coordinator, School: Thomas Jefferson University
My name is Carmen Polanco, and I am a rising Senior at Thomas Jefferson University, majoring in Finance with a minor in Real Estate Development. I chose WGF because it perfectly aligns with my goals of supporting underserved communities, particularly in the realms of financial literacy and real estate ownership. I was a WesGold Fellow back in 2020 when I was in high school, so I experienced firsthand the profound impact this program had on me, and I am honored to now contribute to my community's advancement. Through this role, I aim to cultivate connections within the real estate industry, paving the way for my future career. My aspiration is to empower the next generation of leaders by providing guidance and support to dedicated, driven high school students, ensuring they have the tools and knowledge to succeed.

Johnson Lin

WesGold Fellows Coordinator, School: Drexel University
Nice to meet everyone, my name is Johnson Lin. I am currently a 2nd year, Marketing major at Drexel University. My reason for choosing VestedIn is because of their opportunity for kids to learn about financial literacy at an early point. I think as a program coordinator, I myself can benefit from more info on the business world as well as improve my leadership skills. I believe VestedIn can help me become more confident, outgoing, and vocal as an individual.

Paige Montijo

WesGold Fellows Coordinator, School: Drexel University
My name is Paige Montijo and I am a program coordinator at the WesGold Fellows! I am a third-year psychology major and criminal justice minor at Drexel University. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, and I chose this role because it allows me to help others within the community that I grew up in. I love working with the youth and have gained valuable skills and experiences while working with this population. The WesGold Fellows program promotes financial literacy, personal growth, and professional development among the youth, and I am super excited to teach others while also learning new things myself! We all started from somewhere, and I want to show people that it is never too late to reach out for support, learn new things, and set higher goals.

M. Josh Waller

WesGold Fellows Coordinator, School: Drexel University
I'm Josh a student at Drexel majoring in General Business. I chose WGF because I love to learn and grow, and I feel like we never really stop growing. But more than that I love to see people succeed. That's why my hope at WGF, my goal in life, is to empower those who seek that growth even if it may be one person. Because truly, one ember can make the strongest and brightest of flames.

Board Members

Ismail Shahid

Board Chairman

Darryl Ridgeway

Board Member

Malcom Yates

Board Member

Kwame Amankwatia

Board Member

Fred Alston

Board Member Emeritus

Robyn Chin

Board Member

Jacqueline S. Lopez

Board Member

Andre Andrews

Board Member

Naja Muhammad

Board Member