The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program’s Financial Resilience Series highlighted the foundational role benefits play in supporting household financial resilience, elevated the insights and work of benefit leaders, and discussed the opportunities for scale and innovations needed in public benefits and workplace benefits.
Part 2: Modernizing Workplace Benefits to Support Financial Resilience. This event used Aspen FSP’s new financial resilience framework to showcase the importance of workplace benefits to holistically support households to manage and mitigate the impact of financial shocks. It explored commitments by private sector leaders to support workers’ financial resilience and elevate the benefit innovators – investors, benefit providers and administrators, employees and fintech- who are currently leading the way to modernize workplace benefits and scale innovations to ensure all workers and their families are financially resilient.
Sarika Abbi, Associate Director, Aspen Institute Financial Security Program
Sarika is an Associate Director for the Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program. She leads our Benefits21 work to modernize the design and delivery of benefits to ensure the financial security and economic dignity of all workers. She has spent nearly 15 years in financial inclusion and financial security work, both internationally and domestically, with expertise in program management, product design, research and evaluation. Prior to joining Aspen FSP, she was the Assistant Director of the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment, directing its Economic Mobility Lab to test and scale innovations that strengthen the economic security and mobility of low income San Franciscans. She developed and managed strategic partnerships with City departments to design and embed financial solutions into their work, including innovative ways to reimagine benefits so workers and their families can achieve stability and long-term financial security. She also worked at Commonwealth (formerly D2D Fund) to design, pilot and evaluate financial innovations, helping lead a new area of work on emergency savings. Prior to that she worked at ideas42 and collaborated with financial institutions, funders and academics to design, pilot and evaluate financial innovations internationally.
Sarika earned her Master of Arts in Public Administration from New York University and Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.
Don Baylor Jr., Managing Director& Co-Head of Worker Solutions, Lafayette Square
Don Baylor is the Managing Director and the Co-Head of Community Impact at Lafayette Square. Prior to joining Lafayette, Don served as a Senior Program Officer at The Annie E. Casey Foundation, where he oversaw the Foundation’s portfolio.
Previously, he held roles as Senior Associate with the Urban Institute in Washington, DC where he focused on expanding economic opportunity through JPMorgan Chase, Citi, McArthur and Gates Foundation projects across the US and as Director of OpportunityTexas at Every Texan (formerly the Center for Public Policy Priorities) in Austin. Don was a founding member for RAISE Texas, Texas Match the Promise Foundation and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board.
Prior to that, he served as legislative and political Director at New York ACORN where he organized campaigns and advanced state and local legislation to curb predatory lending, broaden financial inclusion and expand access to affordable housing in New York. Don began his career as a Senior Consultant at KPMG’s State and Local Government Practice, where he performed management and performance audits for school districts, state agencies, and municipal governments.
Originally from Texas, Don holds a B.A. from Georgetown University and M.A. from University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently serves as co-chair of the Asset Funders Network Board of Directors, serves on the boards of SaverLife and Equal Measure.
Sara Enright, Director of Sustainability Collaborations, BSR
Sara Enright is a Director at BSR, where she designs and facilitates private sector collaborations for sustainable development, and advises multi-national companies on work related to equity, inclusion, and justice. She directs the Healthy Business Coalition and the Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking (GBCAT). Previously, she worked at the Business Call to Action, a multilateral alliance hosted by the UNDP focused on advancing inclusive business models, and McKinsey & Company, where she consulted for global companies and development organizations on projects related to strategy, corporate social responsibility, and philanthropy. Sara has an M.B.A. from IE Business School in Spain.
Mike Estep, Head of Product , Group Insurance Prudential Financial, Inc.
Michael (Mike) Estep is head of Product for Group Insurance (GI), a business unit of Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU) that produces and distributes a full range of group life, disability, voluntary, and corporate- and trust-owned life insurance. In this role, Estep is responsible for product development, underwriting and business insights to meet the needs of clients, including large and medium-sized companies, banks and associations.
Estep joined Prudential in May 2022, focusing on all aspects of product and business strategy, including developing the long-term product vision, new product development and in-force management. With accountability for the entire product portfolio, Estep will define and execute the strategic roadmap for GI’s current and future product portfolio with a focus on customer relevancy and sustainable, profitable growth.
Prior to joining Prudential, Estep led the voluntary benefits business at Symetra, with profit and loss accountability for product, enrollment, strategy and execution. Previously, Estep led the group product and voluntary practice at the Guardian Life Insurance Company.
Estep holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from the University of Wisconsin, and an MBA from DePaul University.
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.