People Behind GreenPath – Empathy Powered Financial Education

  • December 8, 2021
  • By: Greenpath Financial Wellness

Connecting people with information that empowers, while working to understand and respect each person’s unique perspective, is what powers GreenPath’s Learning Experience Specialist, Alexandra Cisneros. This passion and dedication was recently honored with a National Foundation of Credit Counselors (NFCC) 2021 Award of Excellence as finalist for Financial Educator of the year.

Alexandra’s passion for helping people to effectively deal with financial challenges and build healthy futures is what motivates her on a daily basis.

A Milwaukee resident, Alexandra is inspired to make the world a better place. She received formal training in Human Centered Design (HCD) from LUMA and IDEO- and believes that it is essential to empathically empower people with the ability to make informed choices.

“When looking for answers to our financial questions, we often get information described simply as budgets and logical decisions, but we engage with money in an emotional manner,” she says. “I believe in learning from the human experience by listening both to one’s courage and vulnerability as we navigate a complicated financial system.”

As the pandemic created new financial challenges for many individuals, Alexandra was ready to help. Her leadership skills shone through as she developed “Navigating Uncertainty”, a guide she co-authored at the outset of the pandemic. Check out the link below in the Resources section.

And as Stimulus Checks first started rolling out in 2020, she used material developed by the University of Michigan Poverty Solutions and Civilla, to quickly create a learning tool that ultimately became GreenPath’s most accessed resource, with over 60,000 people visiting the tool in 2020.

People Behind Greenpath

People Behind GreenPath

People Behind GreenPath is a series that spotlights our employees here at GreenPath. We hope these stories will give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their daily lives, and how they strive to make an impact by helping people improve their financial wellness.

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Alexandra’s success is centered on the idea that an idea is only valuable if it is reaching the people it’s designed to support. So she drew from her Spanish heritage to help GreenPath decide which experiences are offered in Spanish. For example, Checkright, a story-based interactive course, is now offered in both English and Spanish.

Her focus on access also includes designing a Learning Management System (LMS) to house GreenPath’s educational content. Her development team launched the Learning Lab in 2021.

One of Alexandra’s biggest goals is to remove the stigma surrounding talking about money and is pursuing a new service titled MoneyConversations in this aim.

“Unfortunately, some people see their financial situation tied to their personal worth. We need to help people with financial challenges understand, ‘I’m not the only one.’ ” Alexandra says, “Let’s normalize the conversations around money.”

As the facilitator, she’ll introduce varying financial topics to initiate critical thinking and discussion while providing opportunities for community guidance on next steps. This approach stems from her experience working with Hispanic communities and the inspiration and hope that often comes with connecting with one’s community. By understanding that others with similar backgrounds have achieved their goals, people often feel more capable of doing so themselves. She hopes that a more connected world will break down the stigma of talking about money and, in turn, find ease in their financial progress.

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Alexandra on a recent visit to Mexico City – Ciudad de México.

Overcoming this stigma is a key feature of GreenPath’s Real $tories Podcast (link below), where individuals are given a platform to share their money journeys. Alexandra is a key contributor to this project, helping to shape the episodes behind the scenes.

Her community involvement is exemplified in her recent work with the Michigan State University College Assistance Migrant Program. This program assists migrant and seasonal farm worker students with academic, social, and financial support. Realizing that these students might have unique needs, she developed a survey used to design a class to meet the needs that were uncovered.

In addition to her certification around Empathic Leadership, she achieved NCHEC Certification in Pre-Purchase Homeownership Education from Neighborworks. This, coupled with her previous experience as a housing educator in Milwaukee, has proved valuable as she develops content such as the Mortgage Forbearance Course (link below) she co-authored.

Alexandra’s work will not be done until people feel comfortable asking for help.

“Sometimes people may be afraid to call GreenPath because of distrust. I wish people could truly feel safe and know they are going to talk to a real person,” she says. “Often, people value themselves on financial success. Disappointment can turn to shame, and we begin asking ‘Is something wrong with me?’ ”

Alexandra’s goal is to help people create the money strategy they need to turn their situation around. But also to help them separate what they are going through from who they are.

“I’m proud to work for an organization that creates safe spaces for people to talk about their finances,” she says. “Getting the confirmation that someone actually gets it is my greatest satisfaction: seeing that I am contributing to a person’s growth.”

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