Meet the Team at Wells Mountain Initiative

Thomas M. Wells

Founder and President

Tom is WMI’s Founder and President. Believing that “education is the single best thing that we can do to help an individual and his or her community,” Tom started the WMI Scholars Program in 2005. 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.

Tom graduated with bachelor’s degrees from Bucknell University, Tom went on to earn his juris doctorate from Case Western Reserve University.


Jordyn Wells

Co-founder and Managing Director

As WMI’s Managing Director, Jordyn oversees the day-to-day execution of the WMI’s vision, development of internal operational systems and planning and implementation of new programming.

Previously, Jordyn worked for Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), a Kenya-based NGO, from 2011-2016, most recently as the Chief Program Officer, where she led the design and implementation of SHOFCO’s operational, financial, and evaluation systems. Prior to SHOFCO, Jordyn served as the Chief Program Officer at  As’s Chief Program Officer, Jordyn provided young people with the funds and training to start and grow their own community projects and nonprofit organizations.

Jordyn has a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Bard College and a MSW, with a concentration in Nonprofit Management and International Social Welfare, from Columbia University


Johnson Abuto

Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator

Johnson is responsible for the design and pilot testing of our survey instruments, as well as managing the creation and ongoing oversight of our M&E database. 

Johnson, a WMI Graduate Scholar, has over six years’ experience in information technology and monitoring and evaluation (M&E). Prior to joining WMI, Johnson worked for Carolina For Kibera as a youth coordinator and for Shining Hope for Communities as the M&E coordinator and system administrator. 

Johnson has a Diploma in Monitoring and Evaluation and is currently completing a BA in Business and Information Technology from Nazarene University. Johnson is based full-time in Nairobi.


Justine Jackson

Admin & Communications Coordinator

Justine provides administrative support to WMI’s programs and is in charge of designing and creating our communication materials. 

Prior to joining WMI, Justine has worked both in the nonprofit sector as a Learning Coordinator at Northlands Job Corps and a School Director for a Ghana-based school, and in the arts sector as an Events Coordinator for a NYC-based gallery and as the Director of Edgewood Gallery. When not working for WMI, Justine co-owns and co-manages Northern Daughters Gallery in Vergennes, VT.

Justine has a BA in International Studies from Middlebury College.


Lisa McLaughlin Wyncoop

Student Scholar Coordinator

Lisa manages our scholarship program, where she’s responsible for all communication with the Student Scholars and with assisting them in their academics and community service.

She 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.

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.


Nicole Schmitz

Graduate Scholar Coordinator

Nicole has worked for WMI since 2013. She served as our first full-time Programs Coordinator, managing all our Scholar programs, assisted in fundraising, helping to plan the first WMI Dream Big Conference in Kenya, and developing the WMI Micro-Grants Program. She is now in charge of all WMI Graduate Scholars, our Micro-grants and Fellowship programs. 

Nicole earned her BA in International Business from Champlain College.  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.


Carol Vitz Wells

Co-founder and Special Projects Director

Carol is the glue that holds WMI together. Carol is a co-founder and Special Projects Director. 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 the family 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.

Carol has a BA from Bucknell University and a MA in human services and counseling from John Carroll University.