Innovative Initiatives to Address the Growing Crisis of Consumer Debt


Consumer Debt is growing at an unprecedented rate. This, in turn, creates a myriad of other social issues. What does this mean to the asset-building movement and what should we as economic justice advocates do? Community Financial Resources (CFR), Credit Builders Alliance (CBA), and Housing and Economics Rights Advocates (HERA) will examine the whys behind consumer debt and discuss current work developing initiatives geared toward fair credit practices, better credit products, debt prevention and resolution, as well as, implications for Policy. We will be discussing programmatic solutions that are being pursued by various organizations, the policy approaches that would complement our collective work, and other structural interventions on which we should focus.


Maeve Elise Brown, Executive Director, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA)

Maeve Elise Brown, Executive Director and a founder of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), a unique, California statewide non-profit law office with a broad, economic justice/anti-discrimination mission. She applies her creative, outside-the-box thinking to her management and guidance of HERA’s operations and growth. A graduate of UCLA Law School, Ms. Brown’s experience as a public interest attorney includes litigation and administrative advocacy on behalf of tenants and homeowners, public benefits advocacy, community organizing, fair housing advocacy, community workshops, and trainings and technical assistance for professionals across a range of topics. Ms. Brown has organized and opened a community development credit union, and has designed and taught a course on mortgage lending and homeownership at UC Berkeley School of Law. For 5 years, she served on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) which she chaired in her final year. She has worked on local, state and federal policy initiatives and has driven critically important policy forward, including most recently, the Survivors’ Bill of Rights legislation for which she was the primary drafter. She has published various articles on affordable housing issues, authored a chapter in the American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Affordable Housing Development (first edition and updated), is bilingual in Spanish and conversant in Japanese, Farsi, French, Italian and German.
Talia Kahn-Kravis, Manager of Program Innovations, Credit Builders Alliance

As Manager of Program Innovations, Talia supports the development and leads efforts to advance and implement program innovations that further CBA’s mission to move people from poverty to prosperity through credit building. Prior to joining CBA, Talia researched and provided technical assistance to government social service agencies seeking to improve services for individuals with low incomes. Before that, she managed the financial education and asset building programs at a community development financial institution in Portland, Oregon (where she lives). Talia has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.
Lauren Leimbach, Executive Director, Community Financial Resources (CFR)

Lauren spent over 20 years in the traditional financial services industry working for Bank of America, the Federal Reserve, and Providian Financial. She has a wide ranging background in new financial product/service development, automation and payment systems, marketing strategy, operational implementation, production management, and organizational planning. She also provides consulting support on management tools, program implementation and organizational development strategies to non-profit organizations. Lauren has a BA in Economics and an MBA in Finance from the University of Michigan.