The Financial Beginnings team is united through our collective mission.
We're working toward a stronger tomorrow through financial education today. Here's how we do so, and the passion behind our roles.

Melody Bell, EdD - CEO & Founder
"Prior to starting Financial Beginnings, I had set out with a personal mission to educate young people regarding the basics of personal finance in the hopes they wouldn't make the mistakes of many adults. I spent years working in the finance industry, witnessing how people are ill-prepared to manage their finances in adulthood. I started this pursuit on my own, but soon realized it was more than a one-person job, and here we are more than 15 years later."

Connect with Dr. Bell on LinkedIn.
James Chen - Chief Advancement Officer
"Growing up, I was lucky to have parents who taught me the basic concepts of budgeting and the importance of living within means. However, beyond those principles, I had to teach myself about credit, investing, large purchase planning, etc. As a result, I am empowered to take control of my financial future. The same cannot be said for the vast number of youth and adults across the nation who were not fortunate to receive any financial education, which is where Financial Beginnings' mission fills that gap. Personal finance and education are areas that I'm passionate about and I have the privilege to be in a workspace that can provide access to quality financial education programs."

James assists with the growth and expansion of the organization by opening new affiliate offices across the country.
Tim Christy, PhD - Chief Operating Officer
"I was greatly impacted by my family's continued money mismanagement as a child. No matter how hard they worked, my family never seemed to get ahead. Having the knowledge and confidence needed to become financially empowered would have made a huge difference in my family's life and their financial futures. Financial education has a far-reaching impact on us all, at both the individual and societal level. But to reach its optimal influence, financial education must be accessible to those who need it most."

Tim oversees key operational components that are necessary for Financial Beginning's day-to-day and future functioning.
Ash Boodel - Director of Technology
"I grew up in a house where finance wasn't discussed. While in college I accrued a large amount of credit card debt because I didn't understand the process. I was a business major and finance and accounting were course requirements, yet personal finance was never discussed. I want to make sure that this information is available to all. Financial education is important to me to ensure that our youth have the knowledge and tools to avoid the same situation, as well as adults for a better financial outlook."

Ash works to keep Financial Beginnings' technology systems up and running; manages all user profiles, access and P&P; manages security of organizational digital assets; and researches, recommends, and implements new tools.
Joanne Danganan - Program Manager
"I grew up in a household where money was a taboo topic. My parents didn't talk to me or my sisters about it, and when they spoke to each other about it, it was usually a heated conversation. Plus, I went to public school in California, which unfortunately provides no standardized personal finance curriculum to its students. With this compounding lack of knowledge, I was ill equipped to manage money, let alone the tens of thousands of dollars I borrowed in student loans to pay for college. I learned about money management the very hard way, setting me back years in wealth building. My situation is not unique, and it is a deep shame that many people like me aren't given a level playing field from the start when it comes to financial education. There are huge gaps of offerings across the board, where some schools may have full semesters of personal finance and most others are unable to provide even one class period on it. It has become my passion to change that situation and to provide resources to the students we impact."

Joanne equips financial educators and financial literacy advocates with the tools and training necessary to provide financial education to those in their communities who need it most.
Karrissa Jyles - Program Manager
"I grew up in the community in which we serve, both figuratively and literally. Obtaining a financial education changed the economic outlook of my life, and this knowledge will be passed on for generations to come."

Karrissa manages the strategy, volunteers, partners, funding, and day-to-day operations in Nebraska. She also serves as the Chair of Financial Beginnings' Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
Chineva Smith - National Program Manager
"Having lived experiences that are similar to the youth and adults that we serve intensifies my passion for equitable and accessible financial education to all. Financial education is one of the most valuable gems that can be passed from generation to generation."

Chineva assists with national growth and expansion efforts, from aspects of partner engagement to the launch and development of new affiliates.


"Together, we can achieve so much more than I could have ever imagined on my own."
CEO Melody Bell
Financial Beginnings USA
Board Members

Casey Boggs - ReputationUs
FBUSA Board Chair

"Financial literacy and the advancement of financial education is my passion."
Donald L. Bielen, MBA, Certified Financial Planner, CM&AA - Perkins & Co.
FBUSA Board Treasurer

"Our mission and vision embodies the organization's ability to provide the financial tools and awareness to help people across the U.S. to thrive in the complex world of finance. The curriculum serves as the foundational building blocks that are essential and sorely lacking in our current educational system."
Jen Collins, JD - Denver Public Schools
FBUSA Board Member

"I am passionate about designing educational systems where all students thrive, particularly in diverse, urban communities. Financial literacy is a key educational component to help individuals realize their dreams."
Mike Fisher, MBA, LIIF - COUNTRY Financial
FBUSA Board Secretary

"It has been a longtime passion of mine to champion financial empowerment through greater financial literacy, particularly in communities of color. I am delighted to be part of an organization that focuses on helping to strengthen family financial security."
Ron Olsen, Former CPA, Current Angel Investor & Executive - Insight Venture Advisors
FBUSA Board Member

"I believe that financial literacy is critical to the long-term success of every individual and it is a foundational element to closing the wealth gap in disadvantaged communities. Financial Beginning's mission is one that I share and I'm proud to join the Board at such a transformational time in the organization's history."
Feel connected to our mission?
We're continually seeking new volunteers and staff to help us deliver our programming to a growing number of communities.
Come join the team!