As a Financial Advisor, I was highly attuned to the lack of overall financial literacy amongst investors. Particularly disturbing was the lack of literacy amongst women investors and creative types. These two areas represent a huge portion of the population at large, not to mention the fact that women now control the majority of our nation’s wealth. Under the governing rules of FINRA, as a holder of the Series 7, 63 and 65 licenses, I was not allowed to write articles or books about personal finance, without jumping through the numerous and wildly prohibitive hoops of both the internal compliance of the broker-dealer where I held my licenses, as well as the external compliance of the governing boards.
Now that I have left Wall Street, I have re-gained the personal sovereignty needed to pursue writing projects where I can deliver, without penalty, information about personal finance to this audience which is so deserving. Through my book project, What Color is Your Purse? I hope to have more impact on the financial literacy of our country. I hope you will be patient until this book comes to market.
A trip to the outreaches of Rwanda in June of 2012 served as a pivotal point in my professional, personal and philanthropic development. Being driven through the countryside, alone, I became literally shattered by beauty. I could not get over the natural beauty of the vistas all around me, in this “land of a thousand hills,” juxtaposed to the virtual lack of man-made beauty, despite the talent by its millions of citizens. I had met a couple of prominent painters, working tirelessly in Kigali, the capital, but there were otherwise few people producing art. And art education was non-existent, except through the efforts of these two individual artists.
Over the next couple of years, an evolving vision of how I might have impact on arts advocacy in developing economies has taken shape. I desire to teach art to those children and adults who might otherwise never have the opportunity to create; and I desire to impart beauty to those parts of the world that had been hit by catastrophe or widespread tragedy. Rwanda was recovering from a national genocide; its effects were mind-numbing. Its children did not know beauty; they could not create beauty. Its government, while re-building, opted to spend its resources on “STEM,” or science, technology, engineering and math. No resources were devoted to the arts, and its children had not so much as seen a crayon.
It’s been written that every philanthropic work starts as a pain point. And my pain point was palpable. I could not bear the thought that children in this breathtakingly beautiful land might never feel the joy of creating something of beauty. I needed to do something to change that. In November of 2014, I was able to return to Rwanda to teach painting to schoolchildren in the rural village of Save. About two-to-three hours from Kigali, this tiny village lined in clay roads with little connection to the largest city twenty minutes away, had pricked my heart earlier, and I could not wait to get back to it. The two artists from Kigali have since become my friends, and we traveled to Save together, along with my husband, who remains my biggest supporter. Thirty kids held, for the first time, a paintbrush. They colored with crayons. And pastel sticks. Their creations were spectacular.
I am an arts advocate. I want to ensure that people everywhere have access to making things of beauty. To working with their hands and using their imaginations to create paintings or sculptures or murals….tangible pieces that speak to their realities. If you happen to also be moved to create, or to help others create, I would love to hear from you. For I believe that art changes everyone. Art offers hope. Art heals. Art expands people and it expands nations. My desire is to see its transformational power at work in areas around the globe.