For this “Scene Maker” Spotlight, Esparza was honored to sit down with Jocelyn Black Hodes, Director of Outreach with the New Mexico Education Trust Board.

The Education Trust Board is the governing body for the New Mexico’s 529 college savings programs. A 529 college savings plan is a tax-advantaged account designed to help you pay for college expenses. The State of New Mexico sponsors two plans: a direct-sold plan (The Education Plan) and an advisor-sold plan (Scholars’ Edge).

Jocelyn is not only the Director of Outreach with the Education Trust Board, but an incredibly passionate advocate for education in the state of New Mexico overall.

Now our, interview with Jocelyn Black Hodes.

Jocelyn Black Hodes, Director of Outreach
with the New Mexico Education Trust Board

I believe that financial security and prosperity is not just for a privileged few, but for anyone who is willing to listen and learn.

. Can you give us a brief description of your position?

As the Outreach Director of the New Mexico Education Trust Board, my goal is to increase awareness of and enrollment in the state’s 529 education savings plan, AKA “The Education Plan.”

. What led you to the industry you are in now?

I have been in financial services on and off for 15-years now, mostly with a focus on retirement planning, and have developed a growing passion for empowering others through financial education.

. What do you think you’ve been able to offer in your field that is unique to you?

My undergraduate degree is in journalism, public relations and advertising, with a minor in theater. I think my training in communications, versus finance or economics, combined with my formal experience as a licensed financial advisor, has actually helped me be an even more successful professional… I also think being a mom of two kids with high hopes for their future allows me to relate well to the 529 plan mission and fuels my motivation to help more families take advantage of it.

. Who is an innovator in your field that you look to?

Alexa Von Tobel. She is a Harvard alumna, former trader at Morgan Stanley, and at only age 25, founded the company, LearnVest, which was an online platform designed to offer virtual financial planning to the masses at a fraction of the cost and now focuses on free financial education. She has recently raised $200 million in venture capital for her next round of investments in financial technology geared towards underserved populations.

. Do you have a work philosophy or personal mantra that helps you?

I believe that financial security and prosperity is not just for a privileged few, but for anyone who is willing to listen and learn.

. What does your industry need more of?

Women, and more investment in financial curricula and programming for primary and secondary schools around the country.

I appreciate Esparza’s faith in me, constant encouragement, and flexible support in my efforts to do things differently

. Can you share a time that unconventional thinking has helped you?

Every day I focus on helping others overcome conventional thinking when it comes to the 529 plan so that we break free of the stubborn stereotype and common belief that financial planning, investing and “higher education” are just for a privileged few. Explaining what 529 plans are not, rather than trying to explain what they are, has proven to be much more effective in gaining attention.

. Is there an Esparza project that has stood out to you, since we’ve been working together?

The latest, not-yet-released video ad showcasing an aspiring photographer who is able to eventually use her 529 plan savings to attend art school without having to borrow for it.

. What made that project special for you?

I am very excited to start shifting the 529 plan’s marketing focus away from the stereotypical narrative and towards “non-traditional” stories that are more relatable to a broader New Mexican audience and better highlight the surprising flexibility of the plan.

. How would you describe your partnership with Esparza?

My partnership with the Esparza team has been a learning process and evolving journey, with a lot of laughs and great ideas along the way. I appreciate Esparza’s faith in me, constant encouragement, and flexible support in my efforts to do things differently to help more New Mexicans benefit from the 529 plan. I am honored to be the inaugural “Scene Maker” and look forward to making an even bigger scene in the future!