Peter Bielagus became an authority on money management by turning around his own personal finances. After amassing $5,000 in credit card debt as a college student, he set out to learn everything he could from financial pros. He read more than 300 books, interviewed experts and attended seminars. By graduation, Bielagus's cards were clean. He went on to write Getting Loaded: Make A Million While You Are Still Young Enough To Enjoy It and Quick Cash For Teens: Be Your Own Boss and Make Big Bucks in addition to opening one of the few financial planning firms geared to young people. Bielagus has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Miami Herald and the syndicated radio show "Hints From Heloise." Also a popular speaker, he mixes humor and emotion with real-life examples to empower audiences of all ages to take charge of their financial futures.
Beth Kobliner is a personal finance expert, magazine columnist, and commentator who offers practical advice and insight on a wide range of economic, financial, and money matters. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties, and has made multiple appearances on Oprah, CNN, NPR's The Takeaway, and NBC's Today. She has been a columnist at Glamour, a staff writer at Money magazine, and has contributed to The New York Times. She has testified before a U.S. Senate policy committee on young people's attitudes toward Social Security and has spoken at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., on the hazards of credit card debt. She sits on the board of the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) and was a member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' National Commission on Retirement Policy.
Ron Lieber writes the "Your Money" column for The New York Times and oversees the reinvigorated Your Money pages on Nytimes.com. Both cover diverse personal finance topics -- from grocery prices to loyalty programs to inter-generational wealth transfers (or the lack thereof). Specializing in money management issues for younger people, Lieber helped develop the personal finance Web site FiLife. Previously, he wrote for The Wall Street Journal (including the "Green Thumb" column on money management) as well as Fast Company and Fortune magazines. In addition, Lieber is the author or co-author of three books: Upstart Startups; Best Entry-Level Jobs; and Taking Time Off, the New York Times bestseller which encourages young adults to take a year off just prior to or during their college years.
Michelle Singletary is the award-winning nationally syndicated columnist who pens "The Color of Money" for The Washington Post. In 2006, she launched the national television program "Singletary Says" on TV One. Through this half-hour personal finance reality show, Singletary visits people in their homes to help resolve financial issues. Singletary also was a regular personal finance contributor to the NPR program Day To Day. Her personal finance segments have appeared on numerous local and national broadcast outlets, including Oprah, Nightline and CNN. A frequently requested keynote speaker, Singletary has shared her knowledge with audiences at Georgetown University, HUD, Essence and Simmons College School of Management. She also has conducted personal finance workshops for the National Football League's annual Rookie Symposium.
Fred Bristol is the vice president of membership and sales at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership in Buffalo, New York. The Partnership involves nearly 2,500 local employers, who work together to grow and improve the regional business climate. The Partnership advocates in Albany, Washington and locally to remove obstacles that impede investment and job growth in the area. It also offers various products and services -- including health insurance -- to help members save money and increase revenue. Bristol oversees the Partnership's health insurance program and has been working to improve the cost effectiveness of offerings for all members, including self-employed professionals and freelancers. Previously, he was the regional director of sales and marketing at Adelphia Cable Communications, and the vice president of marketing at Cox Communications.
This long-time civil rights activist is the president, CEO and co-chairman of the nonprofit Hip Hop Summit Action Network, which sponsors "Get Your Money Right" personal finance seminars. These educational forums for young people bring together hip-hop stars, music industry executives and financial experts. Chavis co-founded the Network, which harnesses the influence of the hip-hop culture to empower youth, with Hip Hop pioneer Russell Simmons. A civil rights organizer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the late 1960s, Chavis also served as executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Coining the term "environmental racism," he spearheaded the report, "Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States." The former United Church of Christ minister converted to the Nation of Islam in 1997.
Ann Diamond is the Co-Chair of the Financial Women's Association's (FWA) Financial Literacy Workshop Program for economically challenged women in the New York City area. The FWA assists the graduates of Non-Traditional Employment for Women in such matters as credit cards, money management, taxes, investments, insurance and debt elimination. Previously, Diamond was a portfolio manager, vice president and director of a private investment banking firm. She worked in the institutional brokerage and private banking fields for more than 15 years. She now manages her own business as a Chartered Financial Consultant, through which she counsels private clients and conducts financial management seminars. Diamond has shared her expertise through numerous major national media outlets, including CNN, Money Talks, The Nightly Business Report and several major national print publications.
Duana Palmeris a former credit card salesperson who dramatically switched roles and now advises people how to free themselves from credit card debt. Palmer owns a credit counseling business in Tallahassee, Florida. She is especially interested in helping young adults adopt beneficial spending habits, because she has seen first-hand the financial problems many encounter. Her sales job involved setting up tables on college campuses and at markets, giving away free T-Shirts to promote the credit cards, mostly to freshmen. Recalling how difficult it once was to get a credit card, she sincerely believed she was providing these young adults a valuable service. She soon realized the more experienced students tended to avoid her sales pitches, often telling her they were already deeply in debt.
Greg Plechner, an advisor with 18 years of experience in wealth management, is the director of financial planning for his own firm, Modera Wealth Management. He holds five professional credentials: Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Financial Consultant, Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Advisor for Senior Living, and Enrolled Agent. He is a member of two national associations: NAPFA (for Personal Financial Advisors), Registered Advisor and NAEA (for Enrolled Agents). Also an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Plechner is often quoted by the national media. Previously, as a First Vice President for a division of Smith Barney (New York City), Plechner provided counsel and support to the firm's financial consultants, clients and other advisors on advanced retirement and financial planning strategies.