This year, we virtually celebrate our annual Personal Financial Planning Awards. Hosts Brian Kozel, 2020 chair of the program’s Advisory Board, and Heather Liston, the program director, highlight a collection of outstanding students and instructors to reflect on their stories.
Brian: It is no secret that this is a time of great financial stress, when families and individuals in the Bay Area and beyond would benefit from wise counsel, blending the technical and personal skills needed to navigate financial decisions amidst the global health crisis and all of its impacts.
It is with this mission—cultivating and developing world-class financial planners—that we proudly move forward as a program. One of our key stakeholders in that mission is our sponsors, who generously support our efforts each year, and, more importantly, who employ and hire our students in meaningful, professional roles. We are grateful to these sponsors for their past support and look forward to a continued partnership in years to come.
2020 Outstanding Student: Jennifer Maneatis
Presented by Kurt Carrasquilla: In our program, we are fortunate to attract the best and the brightest, and this year’s Outstanding Student is no exception. Inside the classroom, she is excellent at leading discussion and commanding respect from her peers. Outside of the classroom, Jennifer works at a firm as a sought-after financial planner.
Accepted by Jennifer Maneatis
I want to extend my deepest thanks to the Personal Financial Planning Board. I am beyond honored to have been selected as the 2020 Outstanding Student. I've always strived to optimize my time spent in the classroom through my years of schooling by interacting with classmates and professors and always asking questions. If you've had me in a class, you know I am not shy if I need further clarification.
My experience through Berkeley's program has been nothing short of phenomenal. It has been the perfect environment to actively participate in and to create many meaningful professional relationships that will stretch beyond our time spent in this program.
As I wrap up my last two classes and look ahead to studying for the CFP® Exam, I look forward to putting everything into practice in my day-to-day role at First Republic as a dedicated planner.
To Kurt, thanks for ridding me of my fear of the complexities of investments, and to Heather for helping me to discover how much I truly do love the inner workings of our tax code—go figure. Thank you again.
2020 Outstanding Student Finalist: Sarah Sprague Gerber
Presented by Rich Arzaga: Sarah Sprague Gerber—better known to us as Sarah Sprague until she got married this past September—is an accomplished classmate and colleague. Voted this year by instructors as one of the top three students in our program, Sarah is thought of as someone who has worked hard while making it look effortless.
Accepted by Sarah Sprague Gerber
2020 Outstanding Student Finalist: Laura McDowell
Presented by Catherine Bradford: In class, Laura was never satisfied with just knowing the right answer, but always needed to understand the why behind the answer. This gave her the proper context to learn. In addition to her academic accomplishments, Laura was a leader in our Student Advisory Board, executing new events like the now annual Test Preparation Company Panel Discussion and the Speed Mentoring evening.
Accepted by Laura McDowell
2020 Professional Advisory Board Scholarship Winner: Patricia Johnson
Presented by Brian Kozel: Patricia came to financial planning through a cause near and dear to my own heart: financial literacy education. Patricia founded the nonprofit Game Theory Academy, which teaches strategic decision-making and financial skills to low-income and at-risk teens in the Bay Area. When Patricia began her formal path toward becoming a financial adviser, I was excited to see it come through our program, and we are excited to support her in that mission.
Accepted by Patricia Johnson
I started a financial education program 10 years ago that has been incredibly meaningful to me. And I've long felt that the biggest barrier to getting financial education in schools is teachers’ own financial education. If we created a financial planning program for teachers—priced for teachers—we could impact not just them, but all of their students.
2020 Paul Emery Scholarship Winner: Adrian Morris
Presented by Craig Kirkpatrick: As a child, Adrian navigated the foster-care system in the Bay Area. She's the first in her family to attend college, deciding on UCLA. She's also the first in her family to be interested in becoming a financial planner. Her commitment to learning and giving back to the community through financial planning is impressive.
Accepted by Adrian Morris
2020 Golden Bear Award Winner: Heather Liston
Presented by Brian Kozel: Heather came to our program as an instructor, and in 2018 became the program director. The major changes of converting all classes to virtual learning this year, as well as her organization, accountability and enthusiasm make our jobs easier with her excellent leadership. I take great confidence in knowing that Heather is a CFP® professional and knows the challenges of sitting across from a client, engaging in financial decision-making and navigating the complexities of the tax code.
Accepted by Heather Liston
I'm thrilled to accept this honor and to join the distinguished list of those who've won it previously. And I take it as a challenge to continue making the mission of personal financial planning, and the good it can do for so many, a central part of what I do every day. Thank you very much for this considerable honor.
2020 Honored Instructors
Many thanks to each of these instructors for their adaptability, resilience, professionalism and ongoing generosity.
- Kurt Carrasquilla
- Catherine Bradford
- Martin Brook
- Rich Arzaga
- Richard Lehman
- David Winkler
- Michael Fontanello
- Tim Kochis
- Daniel Lee
- Margaret Pierattini
- John Mullen
- Gregory Crofton
- Michael J. Lewis
- Michael Hansen
- Stuart Bronstein
- Walter Reinsdorf
- Andrew Kibbey