Member Spotlight Jean Lown, PhD. is a professor in the Department of Family, Consumer, and Human Development at Utah State University where she teaches investing, retirement and estate planning. She is a charter member of AFCPE and was present at the meeting where AFCPE was formed. Since then has only missed one annual conference, and for good reason. She was on sabbatical leave in New Zealand and Australia. Jean has served two terms on the AFCPE Board of Directors and received several AFCPE Awards, including the Mary Ellen Edmondson Educator of the Year award.
What made you decide to pursue a career in Personal Finance?
I started my focus on consumer issues and gradually evolved to concentrate on personal financial wellness. I attended college during the feminist movement, so I am conscious of the disparate economic situation of women and men, especially when women are single.
Tell us a little about the monthly seminar you teach for the local community, Financial Planning for Women (FPW). How did this initiative come about and why is it so important to you?
FPW started with an invited presentation on women and financial planning for the local chapter of the American Association of University Women in 1996. After the presentation a number of women expressed an interest in learning more, so I offered a monthly meeting to teach about finances. A plethora of studies have confirmed that women need to be encouraged to take more responsibility for their financial security. It’s now 2014 and I’m still teaching the monthly FPW seminars on a wide range of financial topics and encouraging my students to participate in the presentations so they gain experience. A monthly email newsletter has been replaced by a searchable blog: http://fpwusu.blogspot.com/. Please check it out as well as the FPW website: www.usu.edu/fpw.
Have you seen the impact of your workshops on the women within your community?
I’ve received lots of anecdotal feedback that FPW has changed women’s lives. And I continue to conduct research to determine what topics women are most interested in learning about, how to motivate them to take action, and to document the impact of FPW.
You’ve also done some great work to encourage and aid your students to attend the AFCPE Symposium.
At the 1993 Symposium in San Antonio, I was sitting in a session with one of my grad students when I had the idea that our undergrad Family Finance students should attend AFCPE. So I proposed, developed and taught a 1credit career seminar course for the Family Finance students. I designed an assignment to conduct informational interviews with professionals in areas of career interest, and encouraged students to attend the Symposium so they could conduct their interviews with conference attendees. Due to this seminar, USU has had Family Finance students attend the AFCPE Symposium almost every year since 1995. To help finance travel to the conference, I offer financial advising throughout the year, and donate the fees to a student travel fund. I’m proud to say that many of my past students are now active professionals in the association.
Jean is interested in networking with AFCPE members who have a similar interest in encouraging women to take responsibility for their financial future. She is also working with fellow AFCPE member, Karen Richel, in an effort to provide financial education for jail inmates and is interested in educational materials targeted to prison inmates to help them transition to life outside. If you would like to connect on these topics, please contact Jean at firstname.lastname@example.org.