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Mission Possible Speakers

Thank you to all of our wonderful speakers and panelists who share their time and expertise with us for this year's WABC Conference, Mission Possible: Increasing Equity & Opportunity through New Approaches to Asset Building

Welcoming Address

Paul Knox

Paul Knox is a social entrepreneur with a passion and life-long commitment to creating better communities and connections between people.  He has 35 years of leadership experience and innovation in policy, operations and advocacy in economic, community and workforce development as well as asset building and community organizing. He most recently served as senior policy advisory to WA state’s Child Care Collaborative Task Force.  He served as executive director of the United Way of Thurston County for eight years enacting collaborative models in private-public funding and collective impact.  Prior to that he was the founding executive of the Washington Asset Building Coalition and spent 20 years as a state government leader starting up and directing programs in economic, community and workforce development.


KnoxWorks is his latest platform for focusing his attention on critical social issues such as affordable housing and homelessness, poverty and child care/early learning.  He also loves building projects, creating sculptural art, growing and making food and beverages, traveling and bringing together friends and family. 

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Opening Keynote

Dr. Elisabeth Babcock



Elisabeth Babcock (Beth) is the President and CEO of Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath), an international charitable organization dedicated to creating new pathways to economic independencefor low-income families. EMPath uses its unique “action-tank” business model to design, build, and test new approaches for creating economic mobility and then shares them with other organizations and governments. Beth’s role as CEO is to lead EMPath in its strategy to be a research and innovations powerhouse consistently delivering new approaches that expedite pathways out of poverty.

EMPath’s applied research led to the development of its groundbreaking Mobility Mentoring® platform. Since its release in 2009, Mobility Mentoring has been internationally recognized for creating significantly improved outcomes in earnings, educational attainment, and family stability in extremely low-income families. Because of this, Mobility Mentoring is being used by federal, state, and local governments and in a community of practice of more than 120 organizations serving more than two million participants across the US and abroad.  In 2019, EMPath won the Schmidt Futures/JFF $1 Billion Wage Gain Challenge- a first-time award for US organizations raising the annual earnings of 100,000 citizens each by $10,000 or more.

Beth received her Master’s Degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and her Ph.D. in non-profit strategy from Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She has taught non-profit strategy and implementation for more than two decades at Harvard and Brandeis Universities, written and published widely on economic mobility strategies, and has served as an advisor to such organizations as the European Commission, World Bank, and Gates Foundation’s US Partnership for Mobility from Poverty. She has received numerous awards including the Sesame Street Hero Award, and the International Alliance for Women’s World of Difference Award.

Building a Financial Foundation: 

Financial Education in K-12

Rebecca Maxcy

Rebecca Maxcy is the Director and Principal Investigator at the University of Chicago Financial Education Initiative. She led the research and development of finEDge, a single-semester financial education course for high school students and Talking Cents, conversation cards developed to engage people in conversations about money. Rebecca does extensive advocacy work on access to objective, high-quality financial education. She is also an author of Everyday Mathematics. Rebecca earned a Master’s in Education from Lesley University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bates College.


Nancy Pappas

Nancy Pappas spent 15 years in leadership as Director of Corporate Communications and Public Relations; 11 years at Horizon Air/Alaska Airlines and four years at The Bon Marche. In 2001, she joined Highline Public Schools, and after seven years as their Human Resources Director, she left the district administration to work in the classroom. She received a Career & Technical Education (CTE) teaching certificate and taught various CTE classes, developed specialized curricula, introduced mentoring programs, built business partnerships, designed, and launched a Trades Academy, and managed Work-Based Learning Programs. Nancy is delighted to join Junior Achievement of WA and use her specialized knowledge and years of experience in support of JA’s mission to inspire and prepare young people to succeed.

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Barbara Scully

Barbara Scully, 9-12 High School, Family, and Consumer Sciences educator. Barbara teaches Financial Literacy where Students learn about the principles of personal money management including budgeting, managing accounts, and the role of credit and its impacts on personal finance. Along with Foods and Nutrition, and Interior Design 1 & 2 at Chiawana High School in Pasco, Washington. 
Barbara is also a podcast host and the creator of the Connect FCS Ed which is about recruiting, supporting, and retaining family and consumer science (FCS) educators in the modern-day home economics class. Be sure to join her weekly podcast where she has candid conversations and shares insightful stories and valuable resources that help all FCS educators succeed in the classroom. Together, we are better at leading the way to student success with FCS!

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Financial Foundations
Opportunitie to Save

Equitable Opportunities to Save

Gosia Tomaszewska

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Gosia Tomaszewska is a Director at Commonwealth where she leads the Lab team, which focuses on design and testing of new and useful human-centered solutions to lead the transformation of the financial services field to create a stronger and more prosperous society where everyone has financial opportunity.  Gosia brings over 10 years of experience in the field with specific expertise in cross-sector partnership development, capacity building, project management, and stakeholder engagement. She is passionate about developing successful collaborations to change and improve systems. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Gosia worked at the state and municipal levels in the financial empowerment and asset building field to create innovative programs, solutions, and policies to improve existing systems. Most recently she scaled the City of Boston’s children’s savings program, Boston Saves, to include all of the Boston public schools. She holds a graduate certificate in Politics and Public Policy from University of Massachusetts, Boston, a Masters in European Studies from Jagiellonian University, and Psychology and History from Douglass College of Rutgers University.

Holly McGuire

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Holly McGuire is the Director of Economic Opportunity at Neighborhood Partnerships, where she has worked supporting the Oregon Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative for over five years. Prior to that she occupied many different work roles: retail, banking, nonprofits, as hourly and salaried staff, as consultant, small business person, contractor, as student and teacher. This experience taught her many things, not least that capitalism is an economic system focused on profit not people, and that individuals, families, and communities pay the price for that priority. She is a queer white woman, solo parent to a teenager, living in Portland, Oregon, on tribal territory of the Multnomah, Cowlitz, and Confederated Tribes of the Siletz and the Grand Ronde. She believes in Land Back and that Black Lives Matter and that we must work to make reparations for systemic and historical harms to Black and Indigenous people and communities, and to the Earth which requires all our efforts to return to a sustainable and livable climate equilibrium. Holly works toward a racially and economically just world where everyone has sufficient resources—money, housing, healthcare, healthy food, safety, education—to thrive.

Washington Treasurer
Mike Pelliccotti

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Mike Pellicciotti was elected Washington’s 24th State Treasurer in 2020.

As Washington’s chief financial officer, Mike is dedicated to financial transparency, protecting Washington’s financial health, and advancing policies that best serve our state’s working families and retirees.

Before becoming Treasurer, he served two terms in the Washington House of Representatives, where he served on House fiscal committees, including the Capital Budget Committee. In the legislature, Mike fought for more equitable and open government, passing laws to get “dark money” out of politics and requiring that the legislature provide its public records.

Before representing the 30th Legislative District of South King and North Pierce Counties, Mike was an assistant attorney general who managed a state unit that combatted economic fraud in Washington.

He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, and he received his Master’s in Rural Development as a United States Fulbright Scholar, where he studied economic development. His Juris Doctor is from Gonzaga University and is a lifelong fan of Gonzaga Basketball.

Changing Systems Impacting Financial Stability

Carlos David Garcia

Carlos joined Neighborhood Partnerships as Director of Economic Opportunity in October 2018 and became Executive Director in September 2020. In his role, Carlos will be leading our work to build assets and financial vitality in communities across Oregon. He’ll be supporting the success of the Oregon Individual Development Account Initiative, as well as working to advance policy changes and secure resources—including a doubling of the funding for the IDA Initiative.

With over 10 years of experience in the asset building field, Carlos brings expertise in direct client service, program development and administration, and leadership in policy initiatives. Carlos is passionate about supporting social and economic justice and hopes to continue advocating for programs and policies that help promote family economic success throughout Oregon. Carlos holds a degree in International Business from Oregon State University where he worked throughout his undergraduate career on issues of access and retention for Chicano/Latino students. On his own time, Carlos enjoys traveling, playing basketball, biking, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends. He is originally from Hermiston, Oregon.


Mele Miller

Best described as an authentic leader, financial equity advocate, and talent activator. Mele is a dynamic financial service executive & community engagement professional with 25 years of experience implementing successful growth & risk management strategies across Washington State. Mele is proud to serve Seattle Credit Union as the Chief Operating Officer committed to protecting and improving the financial security of households and businesses that have not historically been supported by the financial services industry at-large. 


Mele earned her BA in Studio Art and Mathematics from the University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, WA) and graduate degree from the Pacific Coast Banking School, a nationally acclaimed executive leadership and banking graduate program supported by the University of Washington - Foster School of Business.  Mele graduated with honors from both programs and was recognized nationally with the publication of her research on the Affordable Housing Crisis in Seattle in 2019.  Although Mele is originally from Oahu, Hawaii, she has made her home in Seattle, Washington since 1997.  She is a wife and mother of three boys, ages 8, 10, and 11.


As a fierce advocate for young professionals, Mele has mentored girls through Big Brothers Big Sisters for 15 years and leads health and fitness education programs throughout the Seattle and South-Sound community. She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Leadership Council for the United Negro College Fund – Pacific Northwest, member of the Northwest Credit Union Association – Government Affairs Council, as well as a member of Seattle Credit Union’s Black Banker Network.


Lori Pfingst

Dr. Lori Pfingst is a national expert on child and family well-being, currently leading Washington state’s nationally recognized economic justice and inclusion efforts as a Senior Director in the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

A research scientist and lifelong advocate for social and economic justice, Lori’s body of work has spanned a broad range of issues, including poverty, income inequality, labor markets, early learning, human services, criminology, and epidemiology. She is a published author and storyteller, using the power of data paired with community voice to foster long-term, systems-level change for children, families, and communities.

Lori is a recipient of the Aspen Institute’s prestigious Ascend Fellowship, an American Public Human Services Association Racial Equity Champion, and a recent nominee for the Governor’s Distinguished Manager Award.  Prior to joining DSHS, Lori served in leadership roles at the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, Public Health-Seattle & King County, and the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. 


James Taylor

James has been the director of financial counseling for two and a half years. Sound Outreach provides free, professional, and confidential financial and employment coaching to residents of Pierce County and portions of King County. Prior to his work with Sound Outreach, he spent a decade working in international development, specializing in access to financial services in rural areas and small holder agribusiness. He holds a master’s in public administration and will soon be starting a JD program at Seattle University School of Law.


Moderated by

Annette Case

Annette Case serves as the Pacific Northwest Program Officer for Asset Funders Network (AFN). Annette is an experienced advocate, policy researcher and analyst, leader with over 20 years dedicated to advancing economic justice. In her role, Annette engages funders, community organizations, and policy makers to co-create and advance strategies that support systems of abundance for communities of color so that all people thrive. Strategies include fundamental issues and their intersections such as wages, jobs, housing, health care, education, racial and gender equity, budget and taxes to end policies that strip wealth and which support equitable wealth building. She works in partnership with local, state, and national organizations to deepen capacity for action, develop policy solutions, inform public debate, and advance change in the Puget Sound and Oregon regions.

Previously, Annette served as an independent consultant since 2005 completing projects for the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, the University of Washington West Coast Poverty Center, The Northwest Area Foundation, Strategies to Eliminate Poverty Project, the Seattle Foundation, FutureWorks, The Working Poor Families Project, City of Seattle, and the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities in Nevada. Prior to her time as a consultant, Annette focused on job quality and workforce development initiatives with the Seattle Jobs Initiative and with the Economic Opportunity Institute.

Annette holds a Masters of Public Administration from the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs. She resides in Seattle, Washington.

Changing Systems

Equitable & Inclusive Financial Services

Jennifer Quiróz

Jennifer Quiroz is the Executive Director of the Financial Empowerment Network in Washington State. Jennifer has over 20 years’ experience in nonprofit programming, focused on gender-based violence, immigrant communities and financial empowerment. Prior to taking this role in 2021, Jennifer was previously involved with the Network as a partner organization while managing the Economic Resilience Initiative at the YWCA of Seattle | King | Snohomish, where she worked as and supported a team of financial educators and coaches. Jennifer co-developed financial education classes for survivors of domestic violence in 2006 and facilitated classes in English and Spanish for 10 years with partners throughout King County. The YWCA ERI also included a secured credit card program and small dollar matched savings program, and coordinated with the local United Way annual campaign for free tax preparation services. 

Jennifer received her BA in Human Services from Western Washington University and is a candidate for the Master of Nonprofit Leadership from Seattle University in 2022.

Sandhya Nakasi

Sandhya is based in Seattle as Executive Director at Community Credit Lab (CCL). Prior to CCL, she was the Investment Manager at a private foundation where she led the design and implementation of both direct and indirect impact investing

strategies. In her career to date, she has worked at public, private, and non-profit financial institutions including Freddie Mac, Capital One, and Coastal Enterprises, Inc. where she developed her expertise in credit analysis, portfolio risk management, and portfolio operations.
After gaining her MBA, she used her professional expertise to build out underwriting and portfolio-management systems and processes that enabled data-driven decisions at Lighter Capital, a financial technology start-up focused on small business lending. Sandhya has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics from New York University and a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Michigan.

In her prior roles, she has managed a $40 million portfolio of loans to small businesses and was directly responsible for servicing, internal and investor reporting, work-outs, and defaults. She also has experience directly underwriting and funding loans totaling $4.5 million to small businesses. Finally, she was
responsible for analyzing the financial strength of a portfolio of 40 financial institutions to manage $5.5 billion in counterparty credit exposure resulting from various capital markets transactions.

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Elizabeth Escobar

Elizabeth Escobar has 10 years of experience at Express CU, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and Low-income Designated Credit Union. As Chief Business Officer, she oversees Business Development, Marketing, Communications and Partnership for the Credit Union. She loves hearing member stories and working with community groups to identify needs then create products and services that meet them. Prior to Express CU, Elizabeth worked at a Savings and Loan Cooperative in Paraguay as a Rural Economic Development Volunteer with the Peace Corps. Elizabeth also serves as the Board Chair for a nonprofit based in South Park Seattle, a neighborhood she also calls home.

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Financial Services

State Program Updates

Cathy McCaul

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Cathleen “Cathy” MacCaul is the Advocacy Director for AARP Washington State where she manages government relations and legislative affairs to support policies serving the 50+ population. AARP has 900,000 members in the state and she has worked on a variety of policies related to long term care, consumer protections, prescription drugs, health care, housing, retirement savings and property taxes.

She has worked for some of the leading nonprofit organizations including World Vision and YWCA addressing global and domestic health, poverty and social justice issues. She also worked for Microsoft to advance information access and digital inclusion to underserved and underrepresented communities. 

She has a Master’s in Policy Studies from the University of Washington – Bothell.

Benjamin Veghte


Benjamin W. Veghte is Director of the WA Cares Fund, the nation's first universal long-term care insurance program in Washington State. He is also an MIT CoLab Mel King Community Fellow, a member of the Care Guild, a group of 125 innovators redesigning care for the 21st century, and an expert on German and OECD social policy. His work focuses on developing policies that improve the economic security of workers and help them balance the responsibilities of work and family caregiving. Veghte studied the history of European social policy during his Ph.D. studies at the University of Chicago, to gain a deeper understanding of how other capitalist democracies have come to terms with issues of social inequality. While doing his field work in Germany he took a position at the University of Bremen, where he taught comparative social policy as an Assistant Professor of Political Science until 2008. He also worked as a Social Policy consultant for the European Union, working on projects which advised EU accession countries on how to harmonize their social policies with EU standards. His research and teaching have focused on social insurance, antipoverty and housing policy in the U.S. and Western Europe. In 2008/9 he earned a Mid-Career MPA at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, focusing on antipoverty policy research and community empowerment, and statistics. In 2009 he joined the National Academy of Social Insurance, conducting research on social insurance issues. In 2011/12 he helped launch the Scholars Strategy Network at Harvard University, an initiative seeking to leverage the expertise of leading progressive scholars around the country to better inform public policy and enhance our democratic process. He directed research and policy at Social Security Works from 2012-15 and led all policy work at the National Academy of Social Insurance from 2015-18. From 2018-2020, he led the research portfolio at Caring Across Generations, where he led design of Universal Family Care policy, an integrated program of long-term care, childcare, and paid family and medical leave.

Karen Dunn


Karen Dunn has been employed with the Washington State Department of Commerce for over 29 years.  For the past 15 years, Karen has been the Community Services Block Grant and Asset Building Program manager, administering both federal and state funds to grantees.  

Karen works with a team of grant managers and program specialists that always put clients and community need first and foremost.  They recognize the strength of collaborative partnerships working together for the success of community action and the people we serve. 

In addition to managing CSBG and Asset Building, Karen is managing the newly awarded Working Families Tax Credit Community Outreach project.  This project works in coordination with the WA State Department of Revenue to administer and manage community grants across the state.  With a focus on rural and underserved communities, the purpose of this project is to ensure WA Residents are aware of their eligibility for the new state tax credit effective in 2023. 

Karen spent her early childhood on a family farm in rural Arkansas, moved to the Los Angeles when she was 7, and ultimately relocated to her current home in Washington State in 1991.  Prior to her employment with the state of Washington, Karen worked as a hydraulics inspector for C-17 military aircraft and was a wildland forest firefighter in Southern California for over 10 years.  Karen holds an M.B.A. and Bachelors in Fire Science from California State University Fullerton.  Karen has a passion for adopting rescue animals with special needs and especially loves to share photos of her 41 lb. orange tabby cat, fondly named “Speed Bump”.   

Network Updates
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