Empowering Financial Wellness Program
What We Do
Our mission is to empower women, limited income households, and community educators across Utah to make informed financial decisions to serve their own life goals and improve financial wellness through (1) developing innovative resources, (2) offering timely educational opportunities, and (3) increasing awareness of personal finance best-practices.
We see a future of increased personal financial wellness for all Utahan’s, one where residents are not limited by resources, but are capable of making smart, day-to-day money decisions through planning, saving, and reducing debt to achieve better financial outcomes.
Meet the team!
Amanda Christensen - AFC
Amanda H. Christensen is an Accredited Financial Counselor and Extension Professor specializing in personal finance educational outreach based in Morgan County, Utah. She co-authored and serves as principal investigator on the statewide, Empowering Financial Wellness grant to enable individuals to make smart money decisions. Amanda is editor of the Utah Money Moms blog and social media platforms and co-author of the PowerPay Money Master Online Course. She regularly contributes finance content to KSL’s Studio 5 television show and Utah Public Radio. In her 11 years with Extension she has authored numerous national award-winning materials and resources for teaching personal finance and was the recipient of the 2020 USU Extension Innovator Award and the 2022 Spirit of Extension Award.
Melanie D. Jewkes is an Extension Professor with Utah State University, based in Salt Lake County-- the largest populated county in Utah. She earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Family Finance and completed thesis research in consumer housing affordability. She has worked 13 years in Family and Consumer Sciences educational programs with oversight in foods and nutrition programming, including SNAP-Ed county implementation with limited income and diverse audiences, food preservation and safety, as well as family relationship programming. Recently, she began programming in personal and family finance programs and serves as Co-PI on the statewide Empowering Financial Wellness grant. She also oversees the USU Extension HUD and USDA-approved online homebuyer education course. She has presented at many national conferences and successfully received more than $2.6 million collectively in external and internal grants for her Extension programs.
Andrea T. Schmutz is an Extension Assistant Professor with Utah State University based in Washington County. She oversees family and consumer sciences educational programming with a strong focus on building sustainable skills for families. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge of frugal living and resourcefulness with people of all ages and backgrounds. Andrea co-authored and serves as co-principal investigator on the statewide Empowering Financial Wellness grant, providing educational resources to assist individuals to make informed financial decisions. She has presented at many national conferences and also writes regularly for the Utah Money Moms blog. Andrea earned a master’s degree from Brigham Young University but credits some of her most valuable education to her parents who raised 10 children in a middle class, single income household.
Vincenza Vicari-Bentley - AFC
Vincenza Vicari-Bentley is an Accredited Financial Counselor and Program Coordinator for the Empowering Financial Wellness program with Utah State University-Extension, based in Salt Lake County. Vincenza is a proud military spouse, and she also earned her MBA with a focus on Marketing and Finance. Since 2015, she has been working with individuals and families providing financial counseling as well as teaching a variety of personal finance topics. She is passionate about helping others and empowering them to understand and improve their finances.
Kelan Combe is a Program Coordinator for the Empowering Financial Wellness Program, based in Salt Lake County. He has earned his BA in Family Sciences and Spanish from Brigham Young University and has been working in the financial industry helping people better manage their finances for 3 years. He is an experienced trainer and teacher in both English and Spanish and has a passion for helping others learn. He is also an avid enjoyer of Nintendo games, guitar, and the Great British Baking Show together with his wife and kids.
Lauren Olsen is the Project Coordinator for the Empowering Financial Wellness Program and is based in Salt Lake County. She received her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with a specialization in Family Finance from Utah State University. She has over 10 years of experience working in private and public event coordination and education. Lauren is driven by a deep conviction to enhance the quality of life for her fellow Utahns.
Rochelle Allen is a Program Coordinator for the Empowering Financial Wellness program at Utah State University-Extension, based in Washington County. She is an active member of the American Quarter Horse Association, and holds a bachelor's degree in animal science from USU. Through her extensive involvement in the competitive animal show circuit, Rochelle has garnered profound and invaluable experience in managing the financial challenges of balancing home finance and travel and care for herself and her animals related to the circuit. This experience has honed her skills in budgeting and planning the many aspects of business, leisure and home life. With a fervent passion for financial wellness, Rochelle is committed to assisting others in mastering their finances to achieve their personal aspirations.