Our Story

West Arete has been dedicated to delivering specialized software solutions for higher education institutions since 2005. As a certified benefit corporation and impact company, we focus on empowering our team to create meaningful work that makes a difference.

Our Mission

To work alongside visionary clients and colleagues, crafting software that makes a positive impact.

To lift up the communities that we live in, the environment that surrounds them, and the individuals within them.

To provide opportunities for the curious to discover the joy of creating elegant, useful software.

To lead the way on sustainable, responsible business, and share with others how it can be done.

To provide a place to do the best possible work, while leading the best possible life, with those you love both inside and outside of work.


Our Values

What we expect from our company … and from ourselves.

Projects that clearly make the world a better place

Because quality work is too precious to squander on even neutral endeavors. We want to be proud of our impact and legacy.

Empathy

We are not merely technologists. We share in the nuances of our clients’ goals, joys, and challenges as if they were our own.

An environment for growth and the pursuit of mastery

Guide and encourage our own personal vision and trajectory, so that we can set our sights high and fulfill our potential.

Craft and expertise

We create solutions that are elegant, easy to understand, and adaptable. We grow through curiosity, focus, and practice.

Trust us to be professionals

Challenge us, support us, hold us accountable, and then give us autonomy so that we can have the space to be brilliant.

Respect for the individual

We care deeply about the people we work with, and we speak and act accordingly. We are professionals, but we are also much more than that.

Good stewards of our company, our communities, and our planet

Contribute to their health and sustainability for generations to come.

Team first

When everyone does this, you will find your entire tribe supporting you.

Transparency and influence in how the business is run

So that we may also help to guide and steward our mutual investment.

Speak the truth

Evil slips past and progress is lost when the hard things are left unsaid.

Ample compensation, benefits, and unencumbered time off

Give us the foundation and freedom to pursue a healthy and fulfilling life outside of work, and the ability to secure our families’ future.

Performance and adaptability

We succeed through each individual’s ability to consistently deliver value while effecting and responding to change.

Be a leader and a catalyst for positive change

Leverage our accomplishments, our experiences, and our resources as a platform to peacefully change the world for the better.

Enlightenment

We are eager to share our insights and talents with the world, and we gravitate toward people who share our curiosity and joy of learning.


Meet our Team

Scott Woods, Founder & CEO

Scott aligns West Arete’s direction with the places where we can create the greatest impact. Because of his expertise in leading exemplary technical teams and collaborations with exceptional mentors in leadership, Scott is dedicated to improving how business best serves our clients and our team.


Operations Team

Chet Swalina, CIO

Chet oversees the operations team and has served many roles on the West Arete team, including product owner and project manager. With a PhD in computational chemistry and an engineering background, Chet’s rare blend of management skills, development expertise and scientific knowledge make him uniquely suited to run our Operations department.

Eric Durante, Software Developer

Eric designs and implements full-stack web applications that successfully accomplish an institution’s objectives. After spending his first few years with West Arete learning how to design and deploy good software, Eric now uses his expertise to help streamline workflows and craft tooling that supports critical software development.

Ryan Schenk, Software Developer

Ryan writes complex code and ensures that our applications are thoughtfully designed. With a highest honors degree in computer science and background working in laboratories computing large datasets, Ryan’s mastery of skills are instrumental to core software development at West Arete.

Mark Quezada, Software Developer

Mark crafts elegant, maintainable software that holistically encompass high-performing development and product design. As a former co-founder, chief technology officer, and chief product officer of several startups, Mark uses his expertise to empathetically design easy-to-use solutions with our clients top of mind.

Rich Nash, Project Strategist

Rich strategically helps with the execution of projects by establishing our direction and removing roadblocks from our work. With a career in project development for more than 40 years, Rich’s experience in a wide range of technologies and market segments is invaluable for finding solutions to technical challenges.

Jen Donahue, Project Facilitator

Jen serves as our lead client advocate and product owner, cultivating meaningful and effective relationships with clients by connecting business needs with organizational vision. After spending more than a decade in the healthcare industry building core elements of prevention-based programs, Jen has a strong knack for translating technical concepts into essential resources.

Emily Holmes, Design Strategist

Emily is a human-centered designer who uses design thinking methods to foster new mindsets, imagine new outcomes, and help clients discover the best strategies to achieve their objectives. She has over fifteen years of experience consulting and leading digital transformation projects. A substantial portion of her experience is in the ed-tech space, where she built and led design and innovation teams, and worked to craft the intersection between Product, UX, and Engineering.


Outreach Team

Natalie Simonson, COO

Natalie strategically leads how we tell our story, grow our team, generate our work, and celebrate our impact. With a B.S. in computer engineering and MBA from Penn State University, Natalie has a strong background in programming but also understands the importance of comprehensive client support and community investments.

Netta Caligari, Community Lead

Netta promotes our clients through storytelling and connection. With a professional background supporting higher education institutions with digital engagement, fundraising, and project management, her passion for community is rooted in the initiatives she leads for West Arete.

Liz Munsterteiger, Creative Lead

Liz visually tells the stories of our clients and their projects with a specialized focus on design and marketing. After working in the newspaper industry for more than two decades, she gained invaluable experience as a graphic designer, design department manager, and audience development specialist. Her expertise helps us beautifully share West Arete’s mission to impact the world.


Finance

Lisa Swalina, Finance Manager

Lisa is West Arete’s financial guru, steering the company in the right direction with strategic decisions. With more than 25 years of experience in accounting processes at engineering firms, Lisa ensures that we remain a healthy and vibrant company.

Anders Woods, Financial Assistant

Anders is balancing his first job with getting good grades in high school. He supports the finance team’s efforts by processing the various streams of information that flow into the business and ensuring that everything winds up clean, secure, and in the right place.


Our History

West Arete was founded in 2005 in State College, PA as a custom software development company for research groups and academic institutions. Our small initial team drew upon their background in high-performance computing, data, and scalability to solve worthy research problems with custom software.

Even in these early days, we gravitated towards worthy causes. Our early projects advocated for social good by advocating for living wages around the country, by studying how to improve iron absorption in women with anemia, and by examining how speech naturally develops in bilingual children.

We also committed from day one to sustainable business practices. We were one of the first 100 companies to join 1% for the Planet. This commitment to donate 1% of our annual sales (not profit) to environmental nonprofit organizations was no small feat for an early stage company that often wouldn’t have any excess cash to spare. Yet when we see the impact that those many tens of thousands of dollars have made, we have never doubted that it was the right thing to do. Our business simply adapted to the commitment, rather than the other way around.

Over the years as our company grew and matured, we deepened our commitments to social and environmental good by becoming a certified B Corporation and a Silver Bike Friendly Business. We became more involved in our local community by spearheading several technical and entrepreneurial efforts. And we introduced radical employee benefits such as fully-paid, $0 deductible health insurance for each employee’s entire family, and mandatory three week sabbaticals every year, for every employee.

We eventually broadened our target market to serve other industries, and not just academia. But we narrowed our focus to serve the organizations that are doing good in the world, namely nonprofit organizations, foundations, and purpose-driven companies. We feel that life is too short and precious for us to spend our time and talents developing software that does anything but make the world a better place.

We are proud of our company’s history and the positive impact that it has had. And we’re excited about the future, as we accelerate the pace at which research universities can create positive impact for society, while giving our people the best working years of their lives.

If you’d like to be part of the West Arete team,
we’d love to hear from you!

Click here to check out our Careers page.

Let’s Connect

Interested in elevating the way that the information at your institution can serve your people and your mission? Contact us to explore how West Arete’s solutions can help.