In 2013, the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund selected five cities -Philadelphia, San Antonio, Denver, Lansing, and Nashville – for a three-year grant to pilot a new way to improve the lives of their citizens, a Financial Empowerment Center (FEC). The center utilizes a partnership between city governments and nonprofits to provide free, one-on-one counseling for city residents.
Through the financial counseling model created in New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Financial Empowerment Center focuses on four key areas: reducing debt, improving credit scores, increasing savings, and establishing safe and affordable bank accounts. By working in these areas and empowering clients to take charge of their financial lives, the centers would create a multi-generational impact and help people to create true wealth.
In Nashville, former Mayor Karl Dean partnered with United Way of Metropolitan Nashville to open the first Nashville Financial Empowerment Center. The successes realized under Mayor Dean’s administration where expanded when Mayor Megan Barry was elected. Mayor Barry has a dedicated Senior Advisor for Financial Inclusion in her Office of Resilience, and the Financial Empowerment Center is a cornerstone in the work of the team to expand economic opportunity and empowerment.
Since the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center opened in 2013, our clients have saved more than $700,000 and reduced their debt by more than $5,000,000.
Erin Akery, Accredited Financial Counselor
Erin has been working at the Financial Empowerment Center since the inception of the program in 2013. Prior to her work at the center, Erin was an AmeriCorps member in Boston, where she provided financial counseling and free income tax preparation at a non-profit. Erin’s most important financial advice is “Savings is key.”
Ryan Ellis, Accredited Financial Counselor
Ryan has been working at the Financial Empowerment Center since 2016 and had volunteered his time as the center’s intern and counselor-in-training beginning in mid-2015. He is a bilingual counselor and works on-site with Conexion Americas to counsel Nashville’s Spanish-speakers looking to improve their financial lives. Ryan believes the no one’s financial situation is unfixable, and hopes to instill hopefulness and determination in his clients.
Sabrina Franklin, Accredited Financial Counselor
Sabrina has been with the Financial Empowerment Center since it opened in 2013. She previously worked as a portfolio specialist at a bank, helping customers select the right bank accounts, loan types, and refinance and restructure loans. She gets her clients excited about budgeting, saving money, credit building, and solid financial decision making.
Kathy L. Payne, Accredited Financial Counselor
Kathy has been a part of the Financial Empowerment Center since it began in 2013. She spent many years in the banking industry, which positioned her to help Financial Empowerment Center clients gain a deeper understanding of financial matters and complex transactions such as mortgages, refinancing, loan restructuring, checking account reconciliations, and basic investment options. Kathy’s philosophy is “if you want different results, you must be willing to change your behavior.”
Ariana Ramos, Office Manager
Ariana joined the team at the Financial Empowerment Center in late 2014. She has a deep interest in comprehending others, and how to best accommodate their needs and the needs of counselors. She recommends that clients come to the Financial Empowerment Center with an open mind because people often don’t realize there are other ways to approach problems. Ariana is fluent in Spanish and English.
John Murphy, Mayor’s Senior Advisor for Economic Inclusion
John is responsible for developing and implementing Nashville’s economic inclusion strategy. John also supports the Office of Resilience in the development of Nashville’s resilience strategy. He previously served as the Financial Empowerment Manager in the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Empowerment (OEOE). Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, John served at the Tennessee Department of Treasury in the Financial Empowerment Division. The Financial Empowerment Division provides customer-focused programs that educate and support the financial lives of Tennesseans, managing the Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission, TN ABLE, the 529 College Savings program, and the Small and Minority-Owned Business program, among others.