Financial conversations can be awkward. Kara Yaquinta set out to change that—and, in the process, launched an award-winning program that encourages honest, open conversations about money.
“Everything in life deals with money,” says Yaquinta, digital growth strategist at $927 million asset Tropical Financial Credit Union in Miramar, Fla. “But what are the things beyond money that affect me? How can I do the things I love but reorganize and restructure my wallet to match or support them?”
These questions drive Get Beyond Money, the credit union’s initiative providing judgment-free financial guidance to members and the community. When Yaquinta started at Tropical Financial as a content strategist, she took the lead on Get Beyond Money, building out the program’s resources with videos, articles, guides, checklists, and a dedicated podcast.
“It’s a movement for those who feel embarrassed or haven’t had the resources or tools to talk about money,” Yaquinta says. “It’s also a community of likeminded people looking for a support system.”
Yaquinta co-hosts the Get Beyond Money podcast and cultivates conversations with guests—including community leaders, entrepreneurs, and financial experts. She also partners with local influencers to increase awareness of the show and grow its listenership.
“She has turned nonbelievers into believers when it comes to creating content for Get Beyond Money,” says Todd Templin, executive vice president of BoardroomPR and public relations partner for Tropical Financial. “The podcast has been steadily growing since its launch.”
Yaquinta’s direction earned the program a CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council award in 2020. She advanced to her current leadership role in 2021 and developed vital new technical skills through extensive coursework.
Through her training, Yaquinta has learned to prioritize data. “Listen to data and let it guide you,” she says.
Data has empowered Yaquinta to implement artificial intelligence and personalization in member communications. This allows the credit union to “serve the correct message to the correct person at the correct time,” she says.
Yaquinta also is an active member of the Tropical Community Action Team, which supports charitable causes like the Humane Society of Broward County’s Walk for the Animals, Susan G. Komen, and JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). Yaquinta has Type 1 diabetes, so the credit union’s volunteer work with JDRF is particularly meaningful to her. “It was inspiring that our team chose me as their face,” she says. “It’s cool that we volunteer as one.”
In addition, Yaquinta serves on the board of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates Young Professionals Group.
When she’s not behind the microphone or giving back to the community, Yaquinta enjoys motivating others as a cycling instructor. As with her credit union career, cycling is a perfect match for Yaquinta’s upbeat personality.
“I love showing up and giving back to my riders what was given to me,” she says. “Giving my heart and soul to people—I’m down for that."