Financial Capabillity and Asset Building

Ray Boshara, MAR, MPA,

Ray Boshara, MAR, MPA, is senior adviser and director of the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The Center conducts research on family balance sheets and how they matter for strengthening families and the economy. Mr. Boshara is also a senior fellow in the Financial Security Program at the Aspen Institute, where his work focuses on the future of building wealth. Before joining the Fed in 2011, Mr. Boshara was vice president of New America, a think tank in Washington, D.C., where he launched and directed several domestic and international policy programs. He has also worked at the Center for Enterprise Development (CFED, now Prosperity Now), a United Nations (UN) agency in Rome, the U.S. Congress, and Ernst & Young. Over the past 25 years, he has advised presidential candidates as well as the George W. Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations. He has testified before the U.S. Congress several times. Mr. Boshara has written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Democracy, among other publications, and his media appearances include National Public Radio, CNBC, C-SPAN, and Bloomberg News. He serves on many local and national boards and commissions related to financial security, community development, and peace and justice. His book, The Next Progressive Era, co-authored with Phillip Longman, was published in 2009. Mr. Boshara is a graduate of The Ohio State University, Yale Divinity School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Charles Lewis, Jr., PhD

Charles Lewis, Jr., PhD, is President of the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP). He served as deputy chief of staff and communications director for former Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns and was the staff coordinator for the Congressional Social Work Caucus. He was a full-time faculty member at Howard University School of Social Work prior to joining Rep. Towns’ staff and now is an adjunct associate professor. As staff coordinator for the Social Work Caucus, Dr. Lewis helped to plan and to coordinate numerous briefings and events on the Hill and in the 10th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.

A professional social worker, Dr. Lewis received his MSW degree in clinical counseling at the Whitney M. Young, Jr. School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University. He earned his PhD in social policy analysis at the Columbia University School of Social Work in 2002. He strongly believes that social workers have much to bring to the policy discussion because of their hands-on knowledge about the real-world experiences of people in all walks of life.

Dr. Lewis has been a strong advocate for children’s mental health as president of the Mental Health Association of the District of Columbia and has published extensively about the need for early detection and treatment as a means to reduce the overrepresentation of African Americans and Latinos in the criminal justice system. Dr. Lewis co-edited a book in 2011 with former Philadelphia Mayor Dr. W. Wilson Goode and Howard School of Divinity professor Dr. Harold Dean Trulear entitled, Ministry with Prisoners and Families: The Way Forward, presenting ideas to reduce the constant flow of young people of color into the criminal justice system by addressing their psychological and behavioral needs at an early age. He is a strong proponent for increased mental health services in schools. Speaking at a forum at the Center for American Progress titled: “Everyone Isn’t Obama: Black Men and Social Policy,” Dr. Lewis stated the over-representation of young people of color in the criminal justice system is the number one civil rights issue of today for African Americans because of the economic and relational penalties incurred by individuals, families and communities.

Speakers, Panelists, and Moderators:

Haksoon Ahn, PhD

Haksoon Ahn, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work. She has been on the faculty since 2009. Dr. Ahn’s research interests include child and family welfare, and advanced quantitative analysis utilizing large-scale datasets. Dr. Ahn has been leading a range of research projects funded by Maryland Department of Human Resources Social Services Administration as a principal investigator. These projects include a statewide evaluation of effectiveness and efficiency of Maryland child welfare services and policies; Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement Plan for child welfare policy and practice, Family Centered Practice, and Recruitments and Retention of Foster Parents. Dr. Ahn has been using a variety of datasets including the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) conducted by the US Census Bureau and examined impacts of federal welfare policy and Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) on low-income families’ income changes, child care costs, and mothers’ employments. She also has been teaching core Master-level courses including “SOWK 600: Social Policy and Social Welfare, and SOWK670: Social Work Research,” and advising several MSW and PhD students at the University of Maryland.


Prior to joining the University of Maryland, Dr. Ahn worked at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington, D.C. as a Research Economist. She received her MA and PhD in Social Policy from Brandeis University, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, and BA and MSW from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.

Richard P. Barth, PhD

Richard P. Barth, PhD, is Dean, School of Social Work, University of Maryland. He has previously served as a chaired professor at the University of North Carolina and the University of California at Berkeley. His AB, MSW, and PhD are from Brown University and UC Berkeley, respectively. Dean Barth was the 1986 winner of the Frank Breul Prize for Excellence in Child Welfare Scholarship from the University of Chicago; a Fulbright Scholar in 1990 (Sweden) and 2006 (Australia); the 1998 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Research from the National Association of Social Workers; the 2005 winner of the Flynn Prize for Research; and the 2007 winner of the Peter Forsythe Award for Child Welfare Leadership from the American Public Human Services Association, and winner of the Distinguished Achievement Award by the Society for Social Work and Research. He is a Fellow and Past President of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. He currently sits on numerous national research advisory boards including those of the Durham Family Initiative, the California Evidence Based Practice Clearinghouse, and the Prevention and Family Recover Initiative. He has directed more than 50 studies and perhaps, most significantly, served as Principal Investigator of Berkeley’s Child Welfare Research Center from 1990 to 1996 and as Co-Principal Investigator of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, the first national study of child welfare services in the US. He has served as a lecturer and consultant to universities and governments in many states and countries. He has been honored to testify before Congressional and state government sub-committees.

Julie Birkenmaier, PhD

Julie Birkenmaier, PhD, is a Professor of Social Work at Saint Louis University School of Social Work. Her research focuses on financial capability, financial access, credit, and community development. Her recent publications include Financial Capability and Asset-Building in Vulnerable Households with Drs. Margaret Sherraden and J. Michael Collins (in press, Oxford University Press), and Financial Capability and Asset Development:  Research, Education, Policy, and Practice with Drs. Margaret Sherraden and Jami Curley, Eds. (Oxford University Press, 2013). She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and an MSW and BA from Saint Louis University.

Christine Callahan, PhD

Christine Callahan, PhD, is Research Assistant Professor with the Financial Social Work Initiative (FSWI) at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She joined the FSWI in July 2012 and conducts research and provides training to grow the FSWI as a national leader in financial capability. Dr. Callahan received her MSW from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1993 and her PhD in social work from the Catholic University of America in 2012. She worked as a clinician for 20 years at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD. Much of her work involved financial distress and financial burden with people who were in medical and psychosocial crisis. Since 1999, Dr. Callahan has presented regularly at national conferences, including AOSW, SSWR, CSWE, and SWHPCN General Assembly, and has written steadily on psychosocial issues related to cancer and social work practice and financial capability, including in The Journal of Social Work Education, Social Work in Health Care, and The Journal of Psychosocial Oncology

Mat Despard, PhD

Mat Despard, PhD, joined the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for Community Capital as Executive Director in October 2017 after serving as Assistant Professor with the University of Michigan School of Social Work. He is also faculty associate with the Center for Social Development and the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion. He holds an MSW and PhD from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work. His research focuses on the financial security of low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, including tax-time savings, workplace financial wellness programs, credit, and financial services, as well as nonprofit and community capacity. Dr. Despard has several years of teaching experience in financial social work, nonprofit management, community practice, and social policy, and practice experience with nonprofit organizations serving LMI households.

Terri Friedline, PhD

Terri Friedline, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, Faculty Director at the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion, Faculty Affiliate at the Institute for Policy & Social Research, and Research Fellow at New America. She holds an MSW and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. Her research focuses on the financial system and whether and how lower-income households leverage the financial system for managing their day-to-day needs and investing in their futures.

Jodi Jacobson Frey, PhD

Jodi Jacobson Frey, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work. Dr. Frey chairs the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) sub-specialization and the Financial Social Work Initiative. Her MSW and PhD degrees were earned from the University of Maryland. Dr. Frey’s research focuses on workplace behavioral health, including the impact of employee health and wellbeing on productivity and safety. She studies the effectiveness of employee assistance, work/life, and financial capability programs for working families and has dedicated a significant portion of her research agenda to the prevention of suicide and crisis response in the workplace. She leads a recent grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focused on suicide prevention among working-aged men. Recent refereed articles have been published in American Journal of Addictions, Social Work, Journal of Career Development, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Journal of Social Work Education, Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, Research on Social Work Practice, and Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. Dr. Frey regularly presents her research at national and international professional conferences. She is also the Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health.

Jin Huang, PhD

Jin Huang, PhD, is an Associate Professor at Saint Louis University School of Social Work and a faculty director on inclusion in asset building at the Center for Social Development, Washington University in St. Louis. He is interested in social policy that supports family and child well-being, with a particular focus on financial capability and asset building programs for disadvantaged populations. Dr. Huang is one of the network co-leads to the social work Grand Challenge of Financial Capability and Asset Building for All. Dr. Huang has published articles in peer-reviewed journals, such as JAMA Pediatrics, American Journal of Public Health, Social Science & Medicine, Social Service Review, and Social Science Research. He received his PhD in social work from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis in 2011.

Jeff Larrimore, PhD

Jeff Larrimore, PhD, is a Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Board in the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs. His primary research interests involve issues of income inequality and mobility, the financial well-being of low income families, and the implications of taxes and public transfers on the distribution of economic resources. At the Federal Reserve, he works as the lead economist on the Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking, which explores the financial circumstances of U.S. families, with an emphasis on low- and middle-income individuals. Other recent research projects include analyzing the importance of how income is measured on inequality trends using tax return data. Prior to joining the Federal Reserve, Dr. Larrimore worked as an economist for the Joint Committee on Taxation, where he estimated the impacts of tax legislation on federal tax revenues. He received his PhD in Economics from Cornell University and his BA in economics and political science from Davidson College.

Genevieve Melford, MPA

Genevieve Melford, MPA, is the Senior Research Analyst in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)'s Office of Financial Education.  In this position, which she has held since January 2012, Ms. Melford leads the Office’s research portfolio, including work to define, measure, and study the drivers of consumer financial well-being, and effectiveness research on financial education and capability strategies. She also serves as co-chair of the interagency Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC)’s Research and Evaluation Committee. Prior to joining the CFPB, Ms. Melford served as Director of Research at CFED, a national nonprofit dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for low-income families and communities. She holds an MPA from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a BA in economics from Wesleyan University.

Gary Mottola, PhD

Gary Mottola, PhD, is the Research Director of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation and a social psychologist with over 20 years of research experience, more than a decade of which was spent in the financial services industry. In his role at FINRA, he oversees and conducts research projects aimed at better understanding financial capability in America, protecting investors from financial fraud, and improving financial disclosure statements. Dr. Mottola received his B.A. from the University at Albany, his MA from Brooklyn College and his PhD from the University of Delaware. He was a visiting scholar at Wharton in 2006 and is an adjunct professor of statistics in Villanova University’s Economics Department

Margaret Sherraden, PhD

Margaret Sherraden, PhD, is Research Professor at Washington University in St. Louis, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She is author of six books on financial empowerment and well-being in low-income households and communities, including most recently a text on Financial Capability and Asset Building in Vulnerable Households (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, with JM Birkenmaier and JM Collins), and Financial Capability and Asset Holding in Later Life: A Life Course Perspective (2015, Oxford University Press, edited with N Morrow-Howell). Dr. Sherraden is a co-leader of Financial Capability and Asset Building for All, one of social work's 12 Grand Challenges, and currently sits on the Community Development Advisory Council of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.

David Rothwell, PhD

David Rothwell, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in Human Development and Family Sciences at Oregon State University with specialization in research on poverty, families, and social policy. He is currently leading projects to measure asset and wealth inequality in Canada and the US and an Oregon Poverty Measure to more accurately the impact of social welfare policies. He has conducted extensive research on financial capability, poverty measurement, the consequences of poverty, and the role of the social safety net in the United States, Canada, and Singapore.

Karen Zurlo, PhD, MSW

Karen Zurlo, PhD, MSW, is an Associate Professor at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in the School of Social Work and she is also affiliated with the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research. Dr. Zurlo’s research focuses on economic security in late life with a sub-focus on health-related outcomes. She conducts qualitative and quantitative research on mid-aged and older adults that assesses the association between health (chronic conditions, functional impairment, and mental health) and financial outcomes (financial strain, income, wealth, and financial literacy). Her research trajectory aims to gain a better understanding of how public policy interacts with life course processes to impact patterns of health and economic disparities among older adults in the US and internationally.