An IFB Circle Leader, Vanessa Lowe retired at age 56 by using lessons she learned about money and life from her parents. They met at Livingstone College, an HBCU, in the early 1960s, then left their southern roots, heading to New York City as part of the Great Migration. There, they built lives around three daughters, public service careers, and their faith community.
Vanessa’s appreciation for money came from allowances and talks with her parents about credit cards, interest rates, and investing. She recalls the pride of getting her first savings passbook before she could see over the teller counter. Basic wealth-building principles, like the power of small but regular saving and living within her means, were embedded early.
She followed her parents in building a career in the service sector, first spending 10 years in Philadelphia’s legal service agencies, then 21 years in federal service. After graduating with an MBA from the Wharton School, Vanessa vowed to pay off her $75,000 in student loan debt in 10 years. Making good use of 0% interest credit card transfers and moving from nonprofit wages to federal service salary and benefits were key factors in achieving that goal. Her mother’s continued counsel and guidance also helped.
Throughout her federal career, Vanessa worked in community development finance. She was – and remains – passionate about the need within underserved communities for equal and affordable access to capital.
Now retired, Vanessa pursues passion projects similar to her career focus. She serves on the boards of her denomination’s endowment and a local women’s foundation, helping each to move toward 100% mission alignment, particularly centered on racial justice. Since George Floyd’s murder, she’s revamped an old investing class, sharing examples of strategies and investment vehicles to answer the question so many people have asked – “What can I do to address systemic racism and the racial wealth gap?” A recent episode of a radio show she launched in 2018, focused on Reparations, particularly as a tool for faith institutions. You can stream episodes of her podcast at Vanessa’s Money Hour.
One of the strategies she covers in her class is joining learning communities like Invest for Better. Vanessa believes she found us at just the right time when access to her retirement funds allowed her to make her first private impact investment through Portfolia. “I loved that Invest for Better was a learning circle for women. I loved being a participant in my first circle, but really loved when I was able to create and co-lead a circle dedicated to Black women. The sharing went to a much deeper level because of the similar perspectives and experiences we had around money and wealth.”
We applaud Vanessa for her commitment to capital access, racial justice, and the movement to put women’s money to work for a better world.
If you would like to share a story about your money, your work, or your leadership with the Invest for Better community, please let us know. We would be happy to consider it for a future edition of the newsletter.