FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellow Profiles
"Every time you move, you feel like you have to go down a rung on the ladder. I always struggled with having portable job skills and the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship provided me with those skills."
Like many military spouses, Katie Leiva understands the hardships of permanent change of station (PCS) moves. While her first husband, then a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the Navy, was deployed overseas, Katie looked to the Family Services Center on base to find solace and friendship. Katie now feels she is in a position to give back to the military community for the support they provided during that time.
With an undergraduate and master's degree in sociology from Duke University, Katie has always been interested in education. After her first marriage ended, Katie stayed in Hawaii where she was an administrator and instructor at the University of Phoenix – Hawaii Campus for eight years. After Katie met and married her second husband, then a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard, they relocated to Washington, DC.
After the move, Katie was looking for a change in career and interested in finance. She was offered a position as Program Coordinator for the Council of Better Business Bureau's Military Line program, a partner in both the Department of Defense's Financial Readiness Campaign and the FINRA Foundation's Military Financial Education Program.
"I thought [the Military Spouse Fellowship Program] would augment my knowledge and give me a leg up in developing new curricula. The certification gives me more credibility as I teach military retirees and separatees basic financial planning skills," Katie said. "Every time you move, you feel like you have to go down a rung on the ladder. I always struggled with having job portable skills and the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship provided me with those skills."
Through the fellowship, Katie volunteered at the Virginia Cooperative Extension doing events and one-on-one counseling with military families. The conversations with these families opened Katie's eyes to the benefits of financial counseling within the military community and she was happy to be filling that need first-hand.
"The fact that financial problems exist within a population that has sacrificed so much for our country is a motivation for me to help them reach their financial goals," Katie said.
Currently, Katie works with the Navy Mutual Aid Association teaching Transition Assistance Program (TAP) classes for retirees, separatees and reservists, covering topics from Survivor Benefits to Social Security and TSP. In the future, she hopes to conduct financial counseling as needed at local installations.