My Work: In my current role, I work to support financial capability practitioners, including but not limited to those within CBA’s network of over 500 nonprofit organizations, by disseminating credit building and credit education best practices.  

My Roots: My educational background is in international relations and peace and conflict studies. While completing my Master’s degree at Portland State University in Conflict Resolution, I became really interested in the role of women’s economic empowerment in restoring communities and peace-building following a conflict. This led to my interest in microfinance strategies for poverty alleviation, and eventually I started my career working in US nonprofits that focus on financial inclusion through lending, education and credit building activities. Before working for CBA, I worked at Innovative Changes, a Community Development Loan Fund in Portland, OR, and Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity in Colorado Springs, CO.

My Passion: Personally, my family and exploring the great outdoors! Personally and professionally: working towards creative solutions that combat the structural inequities within our economic systems.

My Hero: My Grandmother

My Favorite Quote: “The ability to perceive or think differently is more important than the knowledge gained.” ― David Bohm

My Favorite Personal Finance Tool/Resource: Personally, I am an excel nerd, and still use basic spreadsheets for budgeting, saving, and even keeping track of credit card rewards! But, there is so much amazing work happening in the “FinTech” world that is supporting financial inclusion and expanding the possibilities of personal finance management. I love to keep up with all of the great innovations that come out of the Center for Financial Services Innovations (CFSI)’s FinLab. All of the organizations that work with FinLab are so creative and ultimately committed improving Americans’ financial health.

My Advice:

  • To Someone Considering Becoming a Financial Counselor/Coach: Providing financial counseling and coaching services can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be tough. In my previous roles, I have worked with many clients who were dealing with extreme financial instability, and it is not always easy to identify a clear path forward. When your clients struggle and face hardships, it is hard not to take your work home with you at the end of the day. Understand going into this role that you alone cannot solve your clients’ financial problems, but offering knowledge, resources and a judgment-free environment for creative problem solving can be of immense value to the people who you are working with.  
  • To Someone Beginning the Journey of Financial Education/Wellness: Don’t underestimate the power of baby-steps! I believe that the one of the keys to success is establishing the daily, weekly, or monthly patterns that support overall financial health. So if you are trying to achieve a savings goal for example, the amount that you are saving initially is less important than identifying HOW you will save (such as setting up a direct deposit), and actually getting into the habit of doing so.

My Way of “Meeting People Where They Are”: I find that household financial management can be deeply personal. The way that we manage our money is informed by our values, belief systems, cultural background, and family experiences. Thus, understanding where people are coming from is crucial to helping them figure out where they are going. At CBA, we support empowerment –based processes that let clients drive their journey forward based on their own unique goals.  As coaches and counselors, we can support their clients in this way by: asking questions first, employing active listening, suspending judgment, and being aware of how our own personal experiences have shaped our approach to money management.

Follow me on social media:

My Question for Colleagues/Peers: There are many great financial services to choose from out there. There are also lots of not-so-great financial services and products, and some that can even harm consumers.

What strategies do you use to help your clients make wise decisions when selecting financial products and services?

Respond to Carmina’s question in the comments section below and follow AFCPE on social media to engage with our#FinLitMonth spotlight questions, tips and fun facts throughout the month of April. 


Join Carmina and CBA starting April 17, for a 5-part webinar series: 
Credit is an Asset 

April 03, 2018

Carmina Lass, AFCPE Member®
Director of Training and Consulting, Credit Builders Alliance (CBA)

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