Our Staff

Genevieve Sheridan – Executive Director

Genevieve Sheridan

Genevieve is passionate about the success of emerging small businesses, regenerative agriculture, and building financial resilience in her community. Genevieve moved to Salem from Morgan Hill, CA, her hometown in Silicon Valley. She studied Wine & Viticulture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo along with Project Management courses at UC Santa Cruz extension and proceeded to work as a viticulturist for several years, doing sustainable agricultural project management, field research & consulting. She has worked in agriculture in 3 states & 2 continents over the last 17 years. Pursuing a desire to be self-employed, she became a partner at Adobe Insurance Brokers and established Adobe’s NW Regional Office in 2016. She holds a Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS) designation from the Hartford School of Insurance.

Phone: 503.584.7314
Languages Spoken: English, Spanish, Danish

Mona Edwards – MicroEnterprise Program Coordinator

Mona Edwards

Mona has owned small businesses for more than 27 years that helped clients with interior design and space planning before pursuing a graduate education. She opened her first retail store at the age of 20 and sold it 5 years later to move in to Design Consulting. She has a MA in Leadership and has taught leadership development and training. Currently she and her husband operate a design and construction company.

Phone: 503.584.7314
Languages Spoken: English

Sandra Oja– MicroEnterprise Program Coordinator

Mona Edwards

Sandi is an entrepreneur. She enjoys the entrepreneurial spirit. She has her own photography business and understands the process of opening and maintaining a business. She is passionate about people, assisting them and getting them the help they need. Sandi has an Associates Degree in Photography and Business Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Technology and Culture with a minor in Business. She enjoys teaching and has experience teaching a variety of ages of people. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her children, biking, hiking, kayaking, photography, digital scrapbooking, reading and sewing.

Phone: 503.584.7314
Languages Spoken: English

Omar Alvarado – IDA Program Assistant


Omar is our IDA Program Specialist and helps facilitate the in’s and outs of the IDA program. Omar is a graduate of Western Oregon University and currently operates his own music business, DJ Sticky Soundwavves LLC.

Phone: 503.399.3524
Languages Spoken: English, Spanish

Sarah Carpenter – Community Liason


A Marion County Native, Sarah Carpenter, has joined the MERIT team to fuel her lifelong commitment to inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit and supporting folks in need through compassion and motivation. As a small business owner and MERIT Program Alumni, Sarah is looking forward to spreading the gospel of MERIT and ensuring that anyone with the desire to start a small business is aware of the services offered. Sarah enjoys Texas Hold ’em and gardening at her South Central Salem home, where she performs her most important job: wife and mother to three bright children.

Languages Spoken: English

Kyley Nishimura – Micro Finance Intern


Kyley has joined our team as one of our interns at MERIT. She is a Willamette University 18’ Economics Major and originally is from Waikoloa, Hawai’i.

Languages Spoken: English, Japanese

Claudia Maciel – Micro Enterprise Intern


Claudia has joined our team as one of our interns at MERIT. She is currently a junior at Western Oregon University pursuing a B.A in Social Science with a minor in Public Policy and Administration. She will be graduating in spring 2019. She was born and raised in Salem, Oregon and attended North Salem High School. She is Latina and speaks multiple languages. After college, she hopes to go into social services and give back to the community.

Languages Spoken: English, Spanish, French

Claudia Helm – Volunteer


Claudia can regularly be seen at MERIT and assists our staff with office duties and administration.

COMING SOON – Bilingual Program Coordinator

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Our Bilingual Program Coordinator position is open and we are accepting new applicants! Could it be you? Head over to our careers page to see how you can apply today. In the meantime, if you still need bilingual services, please reach out and someone will help you.

Phone: 503.584.7314

Latest News


MERIT to Launch Second Phase of Financial Empowerment Academy

Salem, Oregon – Tuesday February 20, 2018 – In a motivating influence for the Willamette Valley community, MERIT (Micro Enterprise Resource Initiatives and Training) continues providing comprehensive financial and business resources for local business owners and families.

MERIT is a 501(c)3 non-profit, located in downtown Salem’s Center for Business and Industry, and has been helping determined individuals blossom into prosperous business owners in our community for over 13 years. True to their philosophy, MERIT has been a resource in providing training and workshops for local entrepreneurs and business owners who wish to take their ideas to the next level.

Through Initiatives such as group classes, IDA’s (3 to 1 matched savings), lending circles and coaching; MERIT has helped seed the foundations of main street businesses throughout the Willamette Valley.


Our Funding Partners

Merit Funders Logos - NALCAB
Merit Funders Logos -Chemeketa Community College
Merit Funders Logos -Northwest Area Foundation v2
Merit Funders Logos Ford Family Foundation
Merit Funders Logos -Wells Fargo v2