Congratulations to winners of the Financial Counselor of the Year Award!
2018 call for nominations opens late Spring 2018.
2017: Rachel Grimes, AFC®
Rachel Grimes, MA, AFC® is the Assistant Director-Financial Readiness for the University of North Texas Student Money Management Center. Rachel joined the center in 2010, and has since expanded the center's outreach programs resulting in increased student engagement and a greater number of collaborations with departments and programs both on-campus and in the community. "One of the biggest challenges teaching financial literacy/wellness to college students is that they are in a transitional period," Rachel explains, "They are not in a position to make a lot of money due to the demands of being a student. Therefore, student are faced with more financial challenges.” To overcome this challenge, Rachel and her team use relevant activities and practical, hands-on engagement strategies in all workshops, presentations and outreach events. She practices good finance in her own life by reevaluating her own personal financial goals on a monthly - and sometimes daily - basis. Prior to her current position, Rachel worked within higher education in career services.
2016: Martina Simpson
Martina Simpson is an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC®), a 2008 FINRA Military Spouse Fellow and Military Spouse of 31+ years. She has more than 20 years of experience as a Manager/Trainer for tax related issues and is an Owner of Affiliate Real Estate Broker. Since 2010 she has been worked as a military Personal Financial Counselor.
In 2010, Martina earned the AFC® certification and since then has assisted thousands of military service members and their families through education and workshops to achieve financial stability. Her passion to change financial lives has taken her all over the world, including a year assisting military servicemembers who supported Operation Enduring Freedom in East Africa. Martina’s passion to teach and mentor others to achieve financial freedom is tireless. She enjoys volunteering with military Veterans and Survivors in her community, and has earned the Commander’s Award for Public Service by the Department of the Army, the Commanding General’s “Helping Hand” Award at Ft. Jackson, SC and a Certificate of Appreciation for Patriotic Civilian Service.
Martina lives in South Carolina with her husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the first grandchild in December.
2015: Patsy Collins
As the Director of the Student Money Management Center at Sam Houston State University, Patsy firmly believes that graduates shouldn’t live from paycheck to paycheck. She strives to help people and their families develop the skill sets to aggregate wealth and be “for-profit” entities!
Patsy provides coaching/counseling for students, alumni and employees of Sam Houston State as well as conducts presentations in both workshops and the classroom. Of the surveys completed for coaching, 100% of the clients indicated a new level of learning and understanding regarding financial wellness.
As many financial education professionals know, a major concern is always how to get students to attend non-mandatory workshops. Over the past two years, workshop attendance at Sam Houston has increased by 90% and this year by over 200%. This increase is due to several factors, but the overwhelming reason is that the importance of financial wellness has begun to resonate with the students of Sam Houston.
The State of Texas now requires financial wellness training for K-12 students. Patsy worked with the College of Education to develop curriculum to train the college’s student teachers in the required areas. In pre and post test, students’ levels of knowledge increased by 83%. Patsy is working with Institutional Research to determine methodologies to capture long-term effects such as student retention, graduation, reduction of loan default rates and even alumni that become donors to the University.
2014: Madeleine Greene
Madeleine Greene is an award-winning educator, speaker, author, TV and radio show host and value-oriented penny pincher at heart. In 2014, she added AFCPE Financial Counselor of the Year to her list of accolades. As a longtime, active member of AFCPE®, Madeleine has played an instrumental role in AFCPE’s history and growth, but this past year she was honored by the professionals in our membership for the incredible work that she does as an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC®).
Madeleine retired as a tenured member of the faculty of the University of Maryland-College Park in 2007, but continues to work tirelessly as a military consumer financial services consultant and money counselor. “Madeleine has a passion for helping individuals understand the importance of their actions today and the impact that these actions have on the stability of their financial futures,” said a nominator. “She helps clients establish a budget, track their spending, understand the impact of credit use and creating a savings plan using available resources to track and reach their financial goals.”
Her clients are diverse – ranging from service members returning from Afghanistan with significant savings and no understanding of how to build wealth to a young widow having to make financial decisions in order to provide for herself and her child. She also does pro bono work with senior citizens, helping them apply for property tax credit, file income taxes, qualify for Medicaid, conserve their resources and avoid scams.
In addition to one-on-one financial counseling, Madeleine has been highly involved in curriculum development and educational programs. She was part of a team that developed the personal finance curriculum used by the military life consultants, and she has presented more than 100 seminars to service members of all groups and sizes. Since 2008, her educational presentations have reached more than 50,000 individuals a year. Madeleine is also currently serving as the Chair of the AFCPE Certification Council.
Her passion for the field and for consumers is evident in her work as a Maryland Financial Literacy Coalition Member. She recently testified before the Maryland Legislature in support of legislation requiring a personal finance class as a graduation requirement and she worked with the Fredrick County Commission for Women to develop the MD Women’s Conference, providing knowledge and skills that positively impact the financial future and quality of life for women and families in Maryland.
Colleagues and clients alike value Madeleine’s unique approach to counseling and education. She makes financial topics that can seem overwhelming or complicated, understandable. Life savers, payday candy bars, 100 grand bars, larger than life currency, shredded money and flashing dollar signs are just a few of the tools she uses when teaching basic money concepts to groups. Madeleine understands her audience and uses real life events as the basis of her financial lessons.
Madeleine educates, counsels and mentors with a level of commitment felt by all whom she serves. Her level of expertise in a variety of areas has allowed her to affect positive change in many different ways within the field. The legacy that Madeleine has built will be the tremendous impact she has had on our organization and on the field of financial counseling and education.