Over the past 30 years, racial, gender, generational, and educational wealth gaps have grown – undermining the resilience and upward mobility of families as well as the economic growth of our nation. High levels of economic inequality have, historically, preceded and prompted an update of our social contract, as the extensive reforms of the Progressive Era, New Deal, and Great Society powerfully suggest. Have we reached another one of those inflection points in our history? Could we reimagine how families save and accumulate wealth in the wake of growing inequality, a pandemic, an economic downturn, and a national moment of racial reckoning?
It may be too soon to label this era of historic social and economic reform—but it’s not too early to offer new ideas that could underlie those reforms. Within this context, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program are pleased to publish The Future of Building Wealth: Brief Essays on the Best Ideas to Build Wealth—for Everyone. This book pulls together 63 original essays featuring 106 invited contributors, offering some of the best, most promising, and novel ideas to build or rebuild the balance sheets of struggling U.S. families.
On September 30th, we invite you to join us in conversation with the book’s editors and a few of its authors. It is our hope that you walk away with ideas, tools, and approaches to grow wealth inclusively across the United States — and help people achieve greater levels of economic resilience and upward mobility.
The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program thanks the Citi Foundation and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth for their support of this event.
James Bullard, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
James (“Jim”) Bullard is the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. In that role, he is a participant on the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which meets regularly to set the direction of U.S. monetary policy. He also oversees the Federal Reserve’s Eighth District, including activities at the St. Louis headquarters and its branches in Little Rock, Ark., Louisville, Ky., and Memphis, Tenn.
A noted economist and policymaker, Bullard makes Fed transparency and dialogue a priority on the international and national stage as well as on Main Street. He serves on the board of directors of Concordance Academy of Leadership, and he is a past board chair of the United Way U.S.A. Bullard is co-editor of the Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, a member of the editorial advisory board of the National Institute Economic Review and a member of the Central Bank Research Association’s senior council. He is an honorary professor of economics at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also sits on the advisory council of the economics department and the advisory board of the Center for Dynamic Economics. A native of Forest Lake, Minn., Bullard received his doctorate in economics from Indiana University in Bloomington.
Dan Porterfield, President and CEO, Aspen Institute
Dan Porterfield is President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. A native of the City of Baltimore, where he was raised by a single mother at the height of the civil rights movement, and a Rhodes Scholar, he has been recognized as a visionary strategist, transformational leader, devoted educator, and passionate advocate for justice and opportunity. Dan previously served as President of Franklin & Marshall College, where he led the College in tripling its percentage of incoming low-income students and doubling its percentage of domestic students of color. He was named a White House Champion of Change in 2016, holds bachelor’s degrees from Georgetown and Oxford, and earned his Ph.D. at The City University of New York Graduate Center where he wrote his dissertation on the poetry of American prisoners.
Mark Blyth, William R. Rhodes ’57 Professor of International Economics, The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University
Mark Blyth is a political economist whose research focuses upon how uncertainty and randomness impact complex systems, particularly economic systems, and why people continue to believe stupid economic ideas despite buckets of evidence to the contrary. He is the author of several books, including Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford University Press 2013, and The Future of the Euro (with Matthias Matthijs) (Oxford University Press 2015).
Ray Boshara, Senior Advisor and Assistant Vice President of the Institute for Economic Equity, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Ray Boshara is senior advisor for the Institute for Economic Equity at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. He is also a senior fellow in the Financial Security Program at the Aspen Institute. Before joining the Fed in 2011, Boshara was vice president of New America, a think tank in Washington, D.C., where he launched and directed the Asset Building, Financial Inclusion, and Next Social Contract policy programs. He also served as policy director at CFED (Prosperity Now), and on the domestic policy staff of the U.S. House Select Committee on Hunger. Boshara is widely credited with leading the campaign to enact the Assets for Independence Act, which created thousands of Individual Development Accounts throughout the U.S. He also forged Baby Bonds, Roths at Birth, and other bills in the U.S. Congress to establish savings accounts for all kids. Over the past 25 years, he has advised presidential candidates, as well as the George W. Bush, Clinton, Obama, and Trump administrations. He has testified before the U.S. House and Senate several times. Boshara has written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, among others, and is frequently quoted by local and national media outlets. His book, The Next Progressive Era, co-authored with Phillip Longman, was published in 2009. Raised in Akron, Ohio, Boshara is a graduate of The Ohio State University, Yale Divinity School, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
Wole Coaxum, Founder and CEO, Mobility Capital Finance (“MoCaFi”)
Wole C. Coaxum is a Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mobility Capital Finance, Inc. (“MoCaFi”). MoCaFi is a start-up financial technology company that leverages mobile technologies, data analytics and digital strategies to improve the financial behaviors of underbanked communities. Our goal is to move people away from high cost alternative financial services products, e.g. payday lenders, check cashiers, pawn shops, etc., and into the financial mainstream, so communities can live healthy and productive financial lives.
Prior to starting MoCaFi in 2015, Wole served as Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase where he held a series of leadership positions in Business Banking, Card Services, and Treasury & Securities Services. Prior to joining JPMorgan in 2007, Wole was a senior executive of Willis Towers Watson, where he served as Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operating Officer of Willis North America and Chief Executive Officer of Willis Canada. He started his career at Citigroup working in investment banking, asset management, insurance and corporate functions.
Wole currently serves as a Trustee of Phillips Exeter Academy and a board member of the Roosevelt Institute. His former board participation includes a member of the board of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Chairman of the Board for Phoenix House New York and member of the Phoenix House Foundation Board. He is the recipient of the Harlem YMCA – Black Achievers in Industry Award.
He has a Masters of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Finance from New York University, a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in History from Williams College and studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Exeter College, Oxford University.
Romy Parzick, CEO, Vault
Romy Parzick is the CEO of Vault.co, the leading educational assistance benefits platform helping employers attract and retain talent. With over two decades of leadership, fintech innovation, and operational excellence, her work spans the consumer and commercial finance sectors, where she has worked across organizations to launch new products, drive operational scaling, transform struggling business units, and manage large-scale change initiatives. She holds a B.S. in Industrial Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and an M.B.A from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. She’s been an Aspen Institute First Movers Fellow since 2015.
Vanessa Perry, Professor of Strategic Management and Public Policy, George Washington University School of Business; Non-Resident Fellow, Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center
Vanessa Gail Perry, MBA, Ph.D. is a Professor of Strategic Management and Public Policy at the George Washington University School of Business and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center. Her research examines consumers in financial and housing markets, marketplace discrimination, and public policy, and has been published widely in scholarly journals and practitioner-oriented outlets. She previously served as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, an expert at the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and as a consultant to numerous clients in the private and public sectors. Before joining the faculty at GWU, Professor Perry was a Senior Economist at Freddie Mac. Professor Perry holds a BA in Philosophy from The American University, an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Ida Rademacher, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Financial Security Program; Co-Chair, Aspen Partnership for an Inclusive Economy; Vice President, Aspen Institute
Ida is Vice President at the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program, a leading national voice on Americans’ financial health. Ida combines her expertise in economic inclusion research and policy with her reputation as a collaborative and creative thinker to raise up a national conversation and solutions set around financial inequality and financial instability. Ida and her team are building a cross-disciplinary community of leaders and change agents who, together, are deeply probing critical financial challenges facing US households and shaping market and policy innovations that can improve the financial security and wellbeing of all Americans.
Prior to leading the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program, Ida was Chief Program Officer at Prosperity Now (formerly CFED), where she created the multi-institutional team that led the CFPB’s Consumer Financial Well-Being Metrics Project, and also led the creation of Upside Down, a program examining ways the US income tax code generates disparate wealth-building opportunities and contributes to growing levels of wealth inequality. Earlier in her career, Ida led research and evaluation projects at the Aspen Economic Opportunities Program and the Center for Behavioral and Evaluation Research at the Academy for Educational Development.
Alison Schrager, Senior Fellow, the Manhattan Institute; Contributing Editor, City Journal
Allison Schrager is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a City Journal contributing editor, where her research focuses on public finance, pensions, tax policy, labor markets, and monetary policy. She is also the author An Economist Walks Into a Brothel and co-founder of LifeCycle Finance Partners, LLC, a risk advisory firm.
Previously, Schrager was a journalist at Quartz, led retirement product innovation at Dimensional Fund Advisors, and consulted to international organizations, including the OECD and IMF. She has been a regular contributor to the Economist, Reuters, and Bloomberg Businessweek, and her writing has also appeared in Playboy, Wired, National Review, Foreign Affairs, and City Journal.
She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Edinburgh and a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University.
Ed Sivak, Executive Vice President of Policy and Communications, Hope Enterprise Corporation/Hope Credit Union (HOPE)
Ed Sivak is the Executive Vice President of Policy and Communications for Hope Enterprise Corporation/Hope Credit Union (HOPE). In this capacity, Sivak manages the strategic direction and implementation of HOPE’s public policy advocacy and all communication with associates, members, the media, investors and other stakeholders. Over his 20 year career with HOPE, Sivak has managed numerous community development initiatives and served as the founding Director of the Hope Policy Institute (formerly the Mississippi Economic Policy Center). Drawing on the experiences of HOPE’s members and its programs, the Hope Policy Institute engages in analysis, advocacy and strategic communications to increase investment, financial inclusion and resident voice in decision making in historically overlooked Deep South communities. Sivak is on the Board Inclusiv, a national association of Community Development Credit Unions and chairs the Government Affairs Committee. He formerly served on the Federal Reserve Board Consumer Advisory Council and chaired the Community Affairs and Housing Subcommittee. In November 2017, he was appointed to the Jackson Public School Board as part of a larger effort to prevent a takeover of the school district by the state of Mississippi. He continues to serve on the school board as its President.
Joanna Smith-Ramani, Managing Director, Aspen Institute Financial Security Program
Joanna Smith-Ramani is Managing Director of the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program, a leading national voice on Americans’ financial health. She is responsible for conceptualizing, planning, and overseeing the program’s research, convenings, and programs, aimed at furthering FSP’s mission to illuminate and solve the most critical financial challenges facing American households and to make financial security for all a top national priority. Joanna has more than 15 years of experience across community, personal finance, and asset development. Joanna holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School and a B.A. in Urban Studies from Barnard College, Columbia University. She serves on the Boards of the CASH Campaign of Maryland, A Wider Circle, and the Lilabean Foundation, and was selected to the 2017-2018 class of Leadership Montgomery.