Dawn Lindley has worked tirelessly for the past 15 years to remove barriers to financial education, whether those barriers are cost, time, or resources.
As the director of marketing and financial literacy for the Virginia Credit Union League, Lindley is a champion of financial education. During her tenure, credit unions across Virginia have reached more than 400,000 young people with lessons on basic budgeting and money management.
Lindley saw that cost was a barrier for small credit unions to offer employees a prep course for the exam to become a CUNA Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor. By engaging volunteer trainers, she created a free (aside from the cost of books) webinar-based training program.
“We trained the people who graduated from each class to become volunteer trainers so we can offer it to others,” she says. “They ‘pay it forward’ by teaching the next class.”
Lindley says the number of employees who’ve been certified has steadily grown.
When a Virginia law passed in 2010 requiring K-12 teachers to add more financial education into the curriculum, the league’s financial literacy committee realized that many teachers didn’t have access to educational resources to help them fulfill the new requirements.
Under Lindley’s leadership, the committee started offering teacher training workshops each year in different areas of the state to introduce them to the resources credit unions could offer in a classroom setting.
A true servant-leader, Lindley shares credit with her colleagues for getting the financial literacy program off the ground.
“All I did was listen to passionate people and help them make their dreams come true,” she says. “We’ve pulled off a lot of great things together.”
In its work with teachers across the state, the financial literacy committee learned that teachers wanted more offline teaching aids to engage kids in financial literacy.
The committee created a board game, called SCORE!, to teach students about credit scores. Lindley coordinated the playtest and found a manufacturer for the game. Proceeds support the Credit Unions Care Foundation of Virginia, and the game already has raised more than $1,000 within its first year.
Lindley says she found her career sweet spot when she started working with credit unions.
“I love what credit unions do for people each and every day, and I’m so proud to be a part of the financial education machine,” she says.