What experiences do you bring to your work helping clients? Before starting VAF, I was at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), where I worked on financial education and empowerment. Before that, I was in a different CFPB group, investigating mortgage servicing misconduct. Before that, I built the first national financial skills education programs for union members, first at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers (AFSCME), and then at the AFL-CIO Office of Investment and as a faculty member at the National Labor College.
In all of those contexts, I learned about peoples’ financial lives, what they needed to be more financially secure, and what kept them from feeling that they had enough, or that they were financially secure. That encouraged me to be in relationship with clients, listening to them and their needs and helping them become empowered in their own financial lives.
Prior to that I worked at the Change to Win Investment Group and at SEIU in the Capital Stewardship Program which advised pension funds with $1.5 Trillion in investments. That work helped me learn about institutional-scale investment issues, including financial topics like portfolio construction. Perhaps most importantly, it helped me learn about policy and ethics questions that arise with investment–especially how investors can move us towards a just and more sustainable world and what kind of differences investors and investing can make.
By now I have worked with hundreds of families and see a lot of trends. Our world is set up to make people work more than they should, to acquire more than they need, all distracting them from what really matters: being of service, friendship, family, community, mindfulness, and even cultivating interests like art, books, fitness, etc. People realize they are not the only ones dealing with the challenges of overwork and of feeling hopeless. It can be good for people to know they aren’t the only ones and I bring the experience of working with hundreds of families to bear on the question of how to help people break out of that rut and to finally feel aligned and like their money matches their life vision.
I love making a difference in my community by… I served two terms as Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and loved it because it means that when I go around my neighborhood, I bump into people who I helped solve problems with their trash, cutting through red tape, or expediting road blocks which made it hard for them to open local businesses, etc. It brings me so much joy to see people I have been able to help whether it was in small ways or big. And serving in that role also created a good opportunity to support some campaigns that are important, such as the 59 express bus on 14th street.
When I retired from being an ANC, I redoubled my efforts and lead Councilmember Janeese Lewis George’s campaign for DC Council. I am so appreciative to have been able to play that role in helping a transformative leader become the representative of the community. Personally, one of the issues I care the most about is tax justice because it is a racial justice and economic justice issue. And because of councilmember George’s election and leadership, she was able to finally raise taxes on millionaires to help reduce homelessness and augment wages of childhood education workers who are mostly women of color, and also build the first wage boosting system for people earning low-wages in DC.