Watch the 2024 Symposium on YouTube!

Event Information:


Tuesday, April 30, 2024


9:00 a.m.*–4:15 p.m. CT

*Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m.


Olmsted Center at Drake University (2875 University Ave, Des Moines, IA 50311)

Virtual YouTube Live Stream on The Harkin Institute YouTube Channel

Registration Fees:

  • In-Person General Admission*- $70
  • Virtual Admission- Free
  • Sponsor/Speaker/Invited Guest- Free
  • Drake University Faculty/Student/Staff- Free

*If you are in need of financial assistance for this event please contact


American Sign Language (ASL) and live-captioning (CART) in English will be provided for all attendees. Please email with any additional accommodation requests.

Event Summary:

Whether you’re budgeting for the present or planning for your retirement, managing your finances can be an overwhelming task. That’s why The Harkin Institute chose “Navigating the Journey to Financial Wellness” as the theme for this year’s Harkin Retirement Security Symposium. The event will bring together advocacy and community organizations, government agencies, and private companies and their foundations that work on financial wellness and retirement security. The symposium will provide a forum to discuss the most pressing challenges and find collaborative opportunities to address documented financial wellness needs and their relationship to retirement security, with an emphasis on vulnerable populations. 

If you would like to have a booth at the Financial Wellness Fair, please contact for booth sponsorship pricing and details by April 1, 2024.


8:30 a.m. Registration and Breakfast 

9:00 a.m. Opening Remarks

  • Matthew Reed, Executive Director, The Harkin Institute
  • Alejandro Hernandez, Dean of the Zimpleman College of Business, Drake University

  • Rayna Stoycheva, Retirement Security Policy Director, The Harkin Institute

9:10 – 9:40 a.m. Morning Keynote, When Money Isn’t Real

  • Adam Carroll, Author and TEDx Speaker

9:45 – 10:45 a.m. Panel – Financial Education Curriculum and Best Practices 

  • Moderator: Stephanie Wager, Social Studies, Financial Literacy, and World Languages Consultant, Iowa Department of Education 
  • Jennifer Anderson, University of Northern Iowa 
  • Suzanne Bartholomae, Iowa State Extension  
  • Ryan Osborn, President, Junior Achievement of Central Iowa
  • Amanda Volz, Director of Professional Development, NGPF 

11:00 – 11:40 a.m. Achieving and Measuring Financial Capability 

  • Gary Mottola, FINRA 
  • Angela Fontes, Ph.D.
  • J. Michael Dedmon, National Endowment for Financial Education 

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Lunch Keynote Discussion

  • Mark Miller, Author, Retirement Reboot
  • Moderator: Chris Farrell, Minnesota Public Radio

12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch & Visit Fair Exhibits   

1:10 – 1:25 p.m. Iowa Department of Insurance and Financial Services Presentation and Fraud Videos

  • Katie Averill, Superintendent of Iowa Credit Union Division

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Panel- Financial Wellness for Vulnerable Populations 

  • Moderator: Jo Christine Miles, Principal Foundation
  • Angela Fontes Ph.D
  • Ena Babic Barnes, Executive Director, Iowa Credit Union Foundation
  • Joy Esposito, Evelyn K. Davis Center Director 
  • Kelli Soyer, United Way of Iowa 

2:35 – 3:00 p.m. Featured Presentation: ABLE accounts 

  • Jessica Graves-Butler 

3:10 – 4:10 p.m. Panel- Medicare choice & managing health care costs in retirement  

  • Moderator: Joshua Pearson, Senior Fellow, The Harkin Institute
  • Paige Yontz, Advocacy Manager, AARP Iowa
  • Amber Christ, (she/her), Managing Director of Health Advocacy, Justice in Aging
  • Kristin Griffith, Iowa SHIIP/SMP Director 

4:15 p.m. Closing Remarks  

Financial Wellness Fair Exhibitors

  • AARP Iowa
  • College Saving Iowa
  • Foster Group
  • Iowa Jump$tart Coalition
  • Iowa Department of Insurance and Financial Services
  • Iowa Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP)/Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP)
  • ISL Education Lending
  • Iowa Bankers Association
  • Iowa Center for Economic Success
  • Junior Achievement of Central Iowa
  • Prairie Meadows
  • Social Security Administration


More speakers coming soon!

Mark Miller

Mark Miller

Mark Miller is a journalist and author who is a nationally-recognized expert on trends in retirement and aging. His writing offers a holistic view of retirement security, including healthcare and Medicare, Social Security, retirement investing, midlife careers and housing. He also writes frequently about retirement-related public policy issues, including reform of Social Security, Medicare and workplace retirement plans.

Mark’s latest book is Retirement Reboot: Common Sense Strategies for Getting Back on Track (Agate Publishing, January 2023). He writes regularly for The New York Times, Reuters and Morningstar and publishes a free newsletter on retirement.

Free copies of Miller’s book “Retirement Reboot” available for in-person attendees!

Adam Carroll

Adam Carroll

Adam Carroll has spent the past decade studying human behavior, particularly as it relates to personal leadership and personal finance. He is an internationally recognized financial literacy expert and leadership workshop facilitator.

Carroll is the author of four Amazon best-sellers, a two-time TED talk speaker with over 6 million views on YouTube, and the creator of Broke, Busted & Disgusted, a documentary that aired on CNBC. He is the founder of The Shred Method, a cash flow management tool that is creating freedom for families everywhere. Adam‘s passion is helping people build a bigger life, not a bigger lifestyle.

Jennifer Anderson

Jennifer Anderson

Financial Skills for Smart Living Administrator, University of Northern Iowa

Jennifer Anderson is the Business Teaching Program Coordinator and Associate Professor of Instruction for the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She earned a B.S. degree in Agribusiness from Iowa State University and her M.Ed. in Business Education from Temple University. She has taught business courses at the high school, community college, and university levels for over 20 years.  

Anderson has been an advocate for financial literacy since the beginning of her education career. She is credited for starting personal finance courses in two high schools as well as making one a graduation requirement. Anderson served on the Iowa Social Studies Standards Committee to update the Iowa 21st Century Financial Literacy standards and the Financial Literacy Standards Committee to update the National Business Education Association standards. Her most recent project is creating a high school personal finance course for college credit, the first of its kind by UNI. As administrator of the Financial Skills for Smart Living program, she has trained over 150 Iowa teachers in the past six years to use the semester-based curriculum.

Anderson is involved in organizations that serve business educators which is her passion. She serves on the Iowa Business Program Management Committee, the Waukee APEX Board of Directors, and is a member of the Association of Career and Technical Education (national and state) and the National Business Education Association (national and state).  Anderson enjoys collecting mid-century artifacts for her home that was built in 1954 that she shares with her two dogs, George and JoJo, in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Ena Babic Barnes

Ena Babic Barnes

Executive Director, Iowa Credit Union Foundation (ICUF)

Ena Babic Barnes oversees the strategic execution of Iowa Credit Union Foundation’s mission-driven programs and investments. Prior to this role, Babic Barnes served as a Program Manager with ICUF, where she led ICUF’s financial education initiatives and fundraising campaigns, surpassing projected annual goals. Prior to coming to ICUF, Ena spent her career in various leadership roles with nonprofit and trade association organizations in Serbia. She led the development of programs and strategies focused on European integration and community development. Babic Barnes has an undergraduate degree in International Relations from the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Belgrade and earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Drake University. She lives in Altoona, Iowa, with her husband Brent and enjoys volunteering in her community.

Suzanne Bartholomae

Associate Professor and Extension State Specialist, Iowa State University

Dr. Suzanne Bartholomae is an Associate Professor of Financial Counseling and Planning and an Extension State Specialist at Iowa State University. Her research focus is financial education evaluation and financial well-being. She has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles and serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Family and Economic Issues. In her role as an Extension State Specialist, she implements research-based education empowering Iowans to live their best lives.
Amber Christ

Amber Christ

Managing Director of Health Advocacy, Justice in Aging

Amber Christ is the Managing Director of Health Advocacy at Justice in Aging, a national organization fighting senior poverty by securing access to affordable health care and economic security for low-income older adults who have been excluded from justice. Christ has deep expertise in Medicare and Medicaid policy and is responsible for developing and implementing projects and initiatives to improve equitable access to health care and long-term services and supports for low-income older adults across the country. She joined Justice in Aging in 2013, is admitted to the California, Missouri, and Illinois bars, and is a 2006 graduate of Washington University School of Law. She received her BA from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. Christ is based out of Justice in Aging’s Washington DC office and resides in Kansas City, Missouri.
J. Michael Dedmon

J. Michael Dedmon

Director, Research, National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE)

J. Michael Dedmon (Michael) is NEFE’s Director of Research, leading initiatives that identify the most innovative research and effective practices in pursuit of redefining financial education. He co-leads NEFE’s growing efforts to combine economic data with commissioned public opinion polling to produce new insights into the financial lives of different communities across the country. Prior to joining NEFE, Dedmon served as the Research and Policy Manager at Change Machine (formerly The Financial Clinic) where he supported the Brooklyn-based non-profit’s work identifying barriers to financial well-being faced by low-and moderate-income households and advocacy work to address these barriers at the local, state and federal level. Trained as a political scientist, his co-authored research has been published in International Studies Quarterly and The Journal of Information Technology & Politics. Dedmon is teaching faculty in the political science department at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and is a member of the American Political Science Association and the International Studies Association. A first-generation college student, he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Syracuse University. He earned a master’s degree in European politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the American University of Paris.
Joy Esposito

Joy Esposito

Assistant Director, currently serving as the Interim Director, Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families

Joy Esposito is the Assistant Director, currently serving as the Interim Director at the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families. She has been with EKDC since 2015 and in 2019, became the center’s first Assistant Director. The EKDC integrated service model empowers individuals to access multiple programs and helps them achieve goals and enhance their quality of life. Esposito guides programming at the center, including financial coaching services through its Polk County Financial Empowerment Center. She has a 25-year career in human services, ranging from refugee resettlement and child protection services to advocacy for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors. An Iowa transplant, Esposito returns to her hometown, Oceanside, California, regularly for self-care at the ocean.
Chris Farrell

Chris Farrell

Senior Economics Contributor, Minnesota Public Radio and Marketplace

Chris Farrell is a senior economics contributor at Minnesota Public Radio and Marketplace, American Public Media’s nationally syndicated public radio business and economic programs. Chris is a columnist for Marketwatch, PBS Next Avenue, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and he hosts the economics podcast Office Hours. The author of five books, his most popular are: The New Frugality, Unretirement, and Purpose and a Paycheck.
Angela Fontes, Ph.D.

Angela Fontes, Ph.D.

Vice President of Policy and Research, Financial Health Network

Angela Fontes, Ph.D., is a researcher and consultant passionate about improving the financial health of all consumers. She conducts research focused on household finance and investor decision-making, with a specific focus on the financial well-being of African American and Hispanic/Latino families. Using both traditional economic methods, as well as methods from behavioral science and marketing, Fontes delivers actionable insights for a diverse set of stakeholders. 

A nationally-recognized expert in household finance, Fontes is regularly quoted in national and trade press and is a frequent speaker on topics related to financial wellbeing. She has been the Principal Investigator on several projects, including work with the Securities and Exchange Commission to conduct investor protection research and an ongoing collaboration with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. Her research can be found in journals such as the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Journal of Family and Economic Issues, the Journal of Women, Politics, and Policy, and Financial Counseling and Planning.

Fontes is the Vice President of Policy and Research at the Financial Health Network and a Visiting Scholar at the FINRA Foundation. She previously worked as a Vice President in the Economics, Justice, and Society department and Director of the Behavioral and Economic Analysis and Decision-making (BEAD) program at NORC at the University of Chicago. She is adjunct faculty at Northwestern University where teaches graduate courses in behavioral economics and public policy, policy analysis, predictive analytics, and research writing. Fontes is Past-President of the American Council on Consumer Interests and on the Board of Directors at the Northwest Center. 

Fontes holds a Ph.D. in Consumer Behavior and Family Economics with a minor in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®).

Jessica Graves-Butler

Outreach, State Treasurer’s Office

Jessica Graves-Butler is a member of the outreach team for State Treasurer Roby Smith. Jessica earned her bachelor’s degree in English Education from the University of Northern Iowa and her master’s degree in Education from Viterbo University. Jessica educates others about IAble through in-person and virtual events across the state to share its power in helping individuals with disabilities pursue financial freedom.
Kristin Griffith

Kristin Griffith

Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Director, Iowa Insurance Division

Kristin Griffith joined the Iowa Insurance Division’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) in February 2020. These federally funded programs provide counseling, education and casework assistance to over 48,000 Iowa Medicare beneficiaries annually. SHIIP/ SMP services are provided state-wide through a network of over 120 sponsor sites, hosting almost 400 Volunteer Counselors.

Griffith has two decades of program management experience, with a focus on leveraging resources and partnerships with service users, community agencies, and government to improve impact; overseeing large-scale volunteer programs, and managing federal contracts. Griffith holds a Master of Public Health from Boston University, and an MBA from York University in Toronto, Canada.

Jo Christine Miles

Jo Christine Miles

Director, Principal Foundation and Principal Community Relations

As the Director of Principal Foundation and Principal Community Relations, Jo Christine Miles oversees the philanthropic investment of Principal Financial Group. With more than 18 years of experience in public policy, legal and nonprofit sectors, her expertise advances the company’s social impact and corporate responsibility goals.
Gary Mottola

Gary Mottola

Research Director, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation

Gary R. Mottola is the research director for the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and a social psychologist with over 25 years of research experience. In his role at the FINRA Foundation, he oversees and conducts research projects aimed at better understanding financial capability in America, protecting investors from financial fraud, and improving financial disclosure statements. Mottola received his B.A. from the University at Albany, M.A. from Brooklyn College, and Ph.D. from the University of Delaware. He was a visiting scholar at Wharton in 2006 and is an adjunct professor of statistics in Villanova University’s MBA program.
Ryan Osborn

Ryan Osborn

President, Junior Achievement of Central Iowa

Ryan Osborn is the President of Junior Achievement of Central Iowa, an organization dedicated to empowering youth with the skillset and mindset to create a bright future. Junior Achievement advances their educational mission through expertise in experiential learning, real-world connections, and a deep understanding of the future of work. Since Osborn’s tenure began in 2016, Junior Achievement of Central Iowa has doubled its annual student impact from 14,000 to over 28,000 students and from 163,000 instructional hours to over 360,000 this past school year. 

Osborn was recognized as a Forty Under 40 by the Business Record. He holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Iowa and a Master of Education from Loyola University of Chicago. Ryan currently serves as Co-Chair of the 6th-12th Grade Committee for Junior Achievement USA. Ryan resides in West Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife and two kids and enjoys coaching youth sports.

Josh Pearson

Josh Pearson

Senior Fellow, The Harkin Institute; Program Director and Assistant Professor, Winona State University

Dr. Joshua Pearson is the program director of the Health/Healthcare Leadership graduate degree program at Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota. He is an experienced leader and faculty in health care administration topic areas and is certified in health care quality and health care financial management. He is also a senior research fellow with The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement in Des Moines, Iowa. Pearson’s research interests include health policy issues related to health insurance coverage (with an emphasis on Medicare and Medicaid) and safety-net providers.

Prior to joining Winona State University, Pearson was employed in senior leadership and consulting roles with federally qualified health centers in the Midwest region. Pearson earned his Doctor of Education in Health Professions (EdD) from A.T. Still University.

Kelli Soyer, MSW, LMSW

Kelli Soyer, MSW, LMSW

President/CEO, United Ways of Iowa

Kelli Soyer serves as President/CEO for United Ways of Iowa. She has spent her career in the non-profit industry working in association management, advocacy and policy, and program management. 

As a social worker, Soyer has spent her career in the non-profit industry. She has been active in grassroots and community organizing. Her advocacy efforts earned her recognition earning the 2016 Children’s Champion Award by the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children and the 2010 Friend of Children Award by the Iowa School Social Workers’ Association.

Soyer earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Social Work degrees from the University of Iowa. She volunteers in the community, serving as a Commissioner to the City of Des Moines Sister Cities Commission and on a committee with the National Association of Social Workers. She served one term on the Des Moines Public School Board, from 2019-2023.

Amanda Volz

Amanda Volz

Director of Professional Development, NextGen Personal Finance (NGPF)

Amanda Volz has over 20 years of experience teaching personal finance at the high school level. Throughout her teaching career, she has led her students to hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships, won multiple awards, and most importantly, impacted the financial lives of thousands of high school students. Volz prides herself on being an educational leader and is constantly looking for innovative ways to make the classroom relevant, rigorous, and fun. She is a passionate advocate for financial education and is currently the Director of Professional Development at NextGen Personal Finance.
Stefanie Wager

Stefanie Wager

Social Studies, Financial Literacy, and World Languages Consultant, Iowa Department of Education

Stefanie Wager is the Social Studies, Financial Literacy, and World Languages Consultant for the Iowa Department of Education. She also consults with the American Institutes for Research. Prior to this role, Stefanie worked for the Gates Ventures OER Project. Wager also taught high school social studies and financial literacy for Des Moines Public Schools and Dallas Center-Grimes Schools and worked at Instituto Thomas Jefferson in Naucalpan, Mexico. In addition, she formerly served as the coordinator of a Teaching American History Grant. She received both a Bachelors and Masters degree from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. In 2011, Wager was named an Emerging Leader in Education by ASCD. In 2020, Stefanie served as the President of the National Council for the Social Studies.
Paige Yontz

Paige Yontz

State Advocacy Manager, AARP Iowa

As a former nursing home and assisted living administrator, Paige Yontz understands first-hand what it takes to serve seniors in a complex regulatory environment. This experience, coupled with her lifelong passion for seniors, makes her an excellent advocate for older Iowans in her role as State Advocacy Manager for AARP Iowa.

Following her time in long-term care in both Wisconsin and Indiana, Yontz returned to central Iowa and transitioned to a primary care setting with The Iowa Clinic where she served as a Practice Manager for two of their family medicine locations. From there, she applied her aptitude for regulatory comprehension and implementation and served as the Compliance Development Manager for Wolfe Eye Clinic, where she initiated a corporate compliance program.

An Iowa native, Paige received her B.A. from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, with double majors in Accounting and Business Management, and recently completed her Masters in Healthcare Administration from St. Joseph’s College of Maine.

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