Financial Capability Specialist
As Financial Capability Specialist, I hold a joint appointment with SoHE’s Center for Financial Security and with UW-Extension Cooperative Extension Family Living Programs. Prior to joining UW-Madison, I worked with UW-Extension providing community-based education, with a focus on financial coaching, counseling, and education for individuals and community partners. I have also worked as a therapist, home visitor, and collaborative services coordinator. In all of my previous positions, I’ve been privileged to talk with hundreds of people about their money – goals, fears, hopes, challenges. While my academic focus is to translate research from household finance and learning theories into financial education programs on the UW-Madison campus and statewide in partnership with UW-Extension, my purpose is to help people align their money with their values. I graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a Bachelor of Science in Social Welfare and a Master’s in Social Work, and hold a Professional Life Coaching Certificate from UW-Madison.
My background in community development planning and housing allowed me to work directly with families facing foreclosure and economic difficulties. This work inspired me to seek an area of
engagement that would connect low-income and vulnerable populations to financial capability tools and techniques that are empowering, inspiring, and well-researched. The Center for Financial Security in the School of Human Ecology takes this mission seriously and brings innovative thinking and research to a field that requires ongoing development and dynamic solutions.
Senior Research Specialist
Collin O’Rourke focuses on evaluating financial education, counseling, and coaching programs. He recently completed the U.S. Treasury-funded evaluation of the My Classroom Economy financial education program, and he supports the Center’s research on emergency savings. He previously served as the youngest member of the Lake County and Lake County, IL Forest Preserve District Boards, and worked as the case study manager for 80,000 Hours at the University of Oxford. O’Rourke earned a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also completed his undergraduate studies.
Faculty Director, Center for Financial Security
Fetzer Family Chair in Consumer and Personal Finance
Associate Professor, Consumer Science
Associate Professor, La Follette School of Public Affairs
University of Wisconsin-Madison
In addition to serving as Faculty Director of Center for Financial Security, I hold appointments at the La Follette School of Public Affairs, UW-Extension, Cooperative Extension and the Institute for Research on Poverty.
I study consumer decision-making in the financial marketplace, including the role of public policy in influencing credit, savings and investment choices. My current focus is on financial capability and well-being with a focus on low-income families.
I came to academia after consulting and working in the nonprofit/foundation sector, as well as the public sector. My masters is from the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard University and my PhD is from Cornell University.
Areas of Research Interest: Consumer Decision-Making in the Financial Marketplace, Role of Public Policy in Influencing Credit, Savings and Investment Choices, Financial Capability with Focus on Low-Income Families, and Household Finance
Assistant Professor, Economics
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Services
Utah State University
Areas of Research Interest: Economics of preventive healthcare, Retirement policy and workforce aging, Part time employment, Partial retirement, Parental leave, and Maternal labor supply