Every year when nominations roll in for the annual Pro Bono Award, sponsored jointly by Financial Planning and the Foundation for Financial Planning, we learn of new ways that planners volunteer to help people in need. They have coached students about the dangers of debt, helped families after a cancer diagnosis and taught women about financial empowerment. Read on to meet winners from the past five years to see how they built pro bono work into their own lives and careers.
The 2018 winners will be announced in early August.
What a single planning engagement can do
Judith Volkmann, an estate planning attorney who incorporated the New York FPA chapter in 2000, won the 2017 Pro Bono Award for her work bringing one-on-one planning to college students in New York.
Professors and students at the University of Georgia received the 2017 Pro Bono Runner-Up award for their unique outreach to the community through a free clinic that blends financial planning with therapy, as well as a local and popular NPR show co-hosted by two young planners.
Teaching students how to start their lives unburdened by debt
Robert Swift of TCI Wealth Advisors in Tucson, Arizona, received the 2016 Pro Bono award for helping local students build financial skills, especially when it comes to avoiding pitfalls like high student debt. He shared the award with FPA volunteer Joe Downs of Reality Financial Planning, who helps hundreds of low-income students every year make better financial decisions.
Karen Roberts, of Emerald Financial Group in Deerfield Beach, Florida, received the 2015 Pro Bono Award for her work helping prospective adoptive parents prepare to start families through a local nonprofit, Jewish Adoption and Family Care Options.
Larry Glazer, a managing partner at Mayflower Advisors in Boston, received the 2014 Pro Bono Award, for teaching financial literacy to young people through The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy in Washington D.C.
Planners from Valeo Financial Advisors won the team Pro Bono Award for helping people with low to moderate incomes become homeowners.
Two groups of planners shared the 2014 Pro Bono Team Runner-Up award. Planners from San Tan Financial, with offices in Phoenix and San Diego, won for their work advising families on how to affordably pay for their children's college expenses. They shared the award with two members of the FPA of Massachusetts, Brendan Sheehan and Austin Poirier, who devoted their volunteer hours to helping members of the military.
David Blaydes, the founder of Retirement Planners International in Naperville, Illinois, received the 2013 Pro Bono Award for helping thousands of cancer patients and their family members navigate financial challenges. He shared the award with Stacy Francis, the founder of Francis Financial in New York City, who was honored for her work helping women overcome the financial fears that stopped Francis' own grandmother in her tracks.
Volunteers from the FPA of Massachusetts won the 2013 Pro Bono Team award for their service to members of the military.