Symposium Speakers 

The annual TACFEP Symposium boasts speakers from a diverse array of backgrounds. Speakers provide attendees with industry insight, best practices, and ways to re-imagine how financial literacy could look in Higher Education. 

View the Symposium Presentations

Understanding and Promoting Student Financial Wellness: 

A Report from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Trellis Company

Bryan Ashton - Vice President, Trellis Company

Bryan Ashton serves as the Vice President of Community Investment and Government Affairs at Trellis Company (formerly TG). In this capacity, Bryan is responsible for leading the organization's college and university support efforts, student support efforts (including student coaching, financial literacy and college access services) and higher education research efforts. Bryan is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of the Higher Education Financial Wellness Alliance.

Erin Willig - Director of Virtual Advising and Strategic Student Outreach, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

Erin Willig is the Director of Virtual Advising and Strategic Student Outreach at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. She leads THECB’s Ask ADVi, a statewide effort to support college-going students in Texas via text message. She earned her Bachelor’s in History from the University of Montana and her Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin.

In the Pandemic's Wake: 

The Mental Health and Financial Effects on Students

Joey Harmon, CFPM - Graduate Assistant/Counseling, UNT Student Money Management Center

Joey Harmon CFPM is the current graduate assistant for the Financial Readiness Program at UNT's Student Money Management Center. He is also a counseling intern and play therapist at Apple Counseling & Consulting. He will be graduating in August with his M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. While at the center, Joey has been able to combine his passion for emphatically helping others with educating students on financial matters.

Paul Goebel, CPFM - Director, UNT Student Money Management Center

Paul Goebel, MBA, CPFM® is the founding and managing Director of the Student Money Management Center at the University of North Texas. Under his leadership, the center has received numerous national, state, and institutional awards of excellence. Paul and his team of professionals, graduate assistants, and undergraduate money mentors have worked tirelessly to streamline all money management education services within one dedicated office serving as a single entry point for students.

Transitioning to the Virtual Environment

Nick Kilmer -  Assistant Director, Texas A&M Money Education Center

As Assistant Director of the Money Education (ME) Center, Nick Kilmer oversees student financial education for Texas A&M University. Nick also instructs the Foundations of Money Education Course as an Adjunct Faculty member, serves as President of the Texas Association of Collegiate Financial Education Professionals, and participates on several state and national taskforces. He has earned a Bachelors in Finance from Texas A&M, and an MBA from the University of Texas at Tyler.

Stephen Lewis - Assistant Director, UNT Student Money Management Center

Stephen attended the University of North Texas where he received a B.B.A. and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration. He serves as the Assistant Director for Financial Readiness in the Student Money Management Center, overseeing outreach and marketing. Stephen’s goal is to normalize the financial conversation, making financial literacy a common and practical topic. Knowledge is power, sharing that knowledge is success


Samantha Smith - Financial Wellness Coordinator, Denison University

Samantha Smith is the coordinator for the financial wellness program at Denison University in Ohio. Denison’s program is available to all students from the time of their acceptance continuing after graduation as young alumni. Samantha and the office promote student-led one-on-one coaching, workshops, online resources, and partnership with groups across campus to better connect with students and their needs regarding financial literacy.

Successful Faculty Collaborations

Jennifer Wilson, AFC® - Assistant Director/Instructor, Personal Finance Program, Texas Tech University

Jennifer Wilson, MS, AFC®, is a faculty instructor and assistant director of the Personal Finance program within the department of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University. Prior to Texas Tech, she served three years in AmeriCorps throughout the country with a focus on financial education, counseling, and resource development. Jennifer has extensive experience working with diverse audiences delivering financial awareness presentations, providing one-on-one financial counseling, and teaching personal finance and financial counseling at the college level.

Town & Gown: 

The Power of Partnerships

Mary Lange, CAE - Vice President, Member Relations, Texas Bankers Association

As a passionate and committed supporter of community bank programs to enhance personal financial education, Mary is a member relations officer for Texas Bankers. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Texas Jumpstart Coalition and holds an active role in Financial Women in Texas. Additional achievements include serving as an examiner with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Program within the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.

Karen Serna, AFC® - Director, Student Money Management Office, ACC

Karen Serna, AFC®, is an award-winning financial education advocate and leader with a strong background transforming and growing financial education programs in nonprofits and higher education institutions. Ms. Serna established and built ACC's Student Money Management Office from the ground up and under her leadership over 15,000 students have participated in a financial literacy workshop and 700 have opened incentivized savings accounts. Her research has appeared in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice and The Journal of Multidisciplinary Graduate Research.

Brent Cox - Vice President, Texas Bankers Association

Brent has over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry with a wide breadth of responsibilities, which include sales leadership, product development & implementation, FinTech innovation and is the owner of several technology patents. His many years of diverse experience bring a unique set of skills and knowledge to the TBA. Brent’s responsibilities within the TBA are unique and focus primarily on our alliances with undergraduate and graduate banking programs. Brent currently serves as an Advisory Board Member for banking programs at Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, Stephen F. Austin University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and The Graduate School of Banking at LSU. In addition to his advocacy for the growth and advancement of existing banking programs, Brent is active in the development of new University programs that will advance the opportunity for increased diversity, inclusion, and talent expansion on behalf of the banking industry.

Texas Association of Collegiate Financial Education Professionals 

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