There is no such thing as too many questions, or too tough of ones, believes Julie Kalkowski, executive director of Financial Hope Collaborative housed in Creighton’s Heider College of Business. Questions lead to dialogue, and dialogue leads to problem-solving.
But sometimes questions lead to more responsibility for the person making the query. That’s okay with Kalkowski, who asks asking cutting-edge questions about poverty, its root causes and how we as a society need to address it.
“I am not afraid to speak up,” Kalkowski says.
So when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) held one of its quarterly meetings in Omaha two years ago, Kalkowski was invited to speak about her work with financially disadvantaged clients. Her presentation must have been memorable as when it came time for the Bureau to add new board members who would be consumer advocates, her name was on the list. This summer, Kalkowski began her three-year term as a member of the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board.
The CFPB seeks to protect consumers from inequitable and/or deceptive practices by taking action against companies that violate laws and regulations and educating the public so consumers can make informed fiscal decisions.
The Consumer Advisory Board is comprised of experts in the consumer protection, community development, civil rights, fair lending and consumer financial products industries. Kalkowski brings to the board a 25-year history of ushering low income families into the economic mainstream through such programs as Omaha’s Micro Enterprise Program and the Individual Development Accounts Program and organizations such as United Way Worldwide and, currently, Financial Hope Collaborative. Her innovative approach to addressing the issues that hold people financially hostage is a talent she will draw on as a Consumer Advisory Board member.
Kalkowski is pleased to be part of an organization that has helped over 29 billion consumers and secured almost $12 billion in relief. As a board member, she will share the knowledge she acquires with her clients at Financial Hope Collaborative and the Omaha community, in particular, information of the newest financial schemes. She also hopes to create greater awareness of the numerous programs CFPB offers the public to safeguard them from financial exploitation. Recognizing the need for organizations like CFPB, Kalkowski will work to ensure its longevity so that future working families will continue to have a financial organization solely dedicated to improving their quality of life.
“There always seems to be a ‘fresh hell’ for financially struggling consumers,” says Kalkowski. “If only all that creativity being used to defraud people of their hard-earned cash could be used to help people become more financially stable, we would have much healthier and stronger communities nationwide.”