Hello and Introduction from Communications and Development Associate Jenna Severson

Hello readers!

I’m thrilled to announce I have joined the Woodstock Institute as the new Communications and Development Associate.

I apologize for taking a while to introduce myself formally; my start at Woodstock has been action-packed! On my second day here, we held a press conference and then testified at a public hearing on a proposed rate increase for currency exchange check-cashing fees.(If you're curious, here's more on the Currency Exchange Rate Increase.) While the impact of the hearing may take a few months to unfold, my first week at Woodstock, my colleagues joked, was a “trial by fire.”

Worry not, readers; being thrust for the first time into the world of financial policy has proved an exciting challenge.

My prior experience lies in direct service at nonprofits in the Chicago area and in doing youth development, refugee resettlement, gender justice, and sexual health advocacy in sub-Saharan Africa. I earned my BA at Loyola University Chicago where I studied Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, English, and Peace and Conflict Studies.

Initially I was attracted to Woodstock’s mission and our focus on low-income folks, women, people with disabilities, and communities of color. In my first few weeks, I have seen firsthand how Woodstock is confronting systemic inequalities that target certain populations and threaten their financial security.

To promote its mission, Woodstock tackles a variety of issues. Among the issues on our current agenda are small business lending, defending the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), payday loans, debt collection, protecting consumers from mandatory arbitration, housing, aging in place, the fiduciary rule for retirement investment advice, and the disparate and destabilizing impact of fines and fees. From our allied consumer advocates at nonprofits around the country, to academics and researchers, to community organizations and their organizers, to elected officials and policymakers, to industry executives and bankers, even to ordinary consumers themselves, Woodstock works with a diverse group of actors to make our financial system more fair and equitable.

It is my job to ensure our audience has the most accurate and up-to-date understanding of our advocacy and research. I’m responsible for posting on our website, social media platforms --which reminds me: check us out on Twitter and Facebook if you haven’t already!

I am also involved in the fundraising and grant-writing side of operations. This work is vital for Woodstock to continue to be at the forefront of the progressive financial reform movement. Together with our President Dory Rand and my other colleagues, I hope we can increase Woodstock’s funding opportunities.

I feel passionate about the work we are doing here at Woodstock and feel honored to have joined the team.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any of your media needs or fundraising concerns.

-Jenna