Citizen of the Osage Nation
ONAC Executive Director
Christy Finsel is the ONAC Executive Director. She is also an independent consultant and researcher focused on asset building in American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities. Beginning in 2003, she conducted research with the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies and then with the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis. She has continued Native asset building research since that time. From 2006 to present, Ms. Finsel has provided training and/or technical assistance (TA) to thirty-two Native communities who were designing and implementing Individual Development Accounts (IDA) or financial education programs.
Mrs. Finsel's past consultant work prepared her for her role directing ONAC. In 2010, she facilitated a First Nations Development Institute Native Asset-Building Partnership Project between Four Bands Community Fund, Inc. and the Entrepreneurial Centers, a collaborative effort of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Sitting Bull College. Also in 2010, Ms. Finsel prepared the Native-specific training content for the Assets for Independence (AFI) Native Initiative Project Design and Application Development Workshops, a collaboration between the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) and the U.S. Office of Community Services. She conducted eleven of those workshops for Native communities. In late 2010, Ms. Finsel was contracted to be the Region VII AFI Regional Consultant to assist the Administration for Children and Families with their AFI outreach under the ASSET Initiative. In this role, she worked with ACF Regional Program Managers, serving Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa, to embed asset building into their programs. She provided technical assistance to those designing the Child Support Children's Savings Account (CSA) program launched by the state of Kansas. She has also conducted Native-specific outreach with ACF staff in various regions through the ASSET Initiative. In May 2013, she prepared and presented webinars about the Native Asset Building Initiative for AFI and ANA. More recently, as a consultant working with First Nations Development Institute, she completed managing a pilot Native Youth Savings Account Program in McKinley County, New Mexico, and provided technical assistance to Chief Dull Knife College as they implemented a CSA program. She also provided technical assistance to the Meskwaki Nation and Wai’anae Community Redevelopment Corporation related to their Individual Development Account (IDA) programs. From December 2011 to December 2015, she coordinated the Missouri Asset Builder calls. In October 2014, she was named a National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development "40 under 40" award recipient.
Since 2011, she has directed the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition (ONAC), created to work with tribes on asset building efforts.
She holds a MA in Theology from St. Louis University and a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. Ms. Finsel is a Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies Faculty Associate. She is tribal citizen of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma.
Patricia (Patsy) Schramm
Citizen of the Cherokee Nation
ONAC Native EITC/VITA Network Coordinator
In 2006, Patsy retired as a senior level manager in the Wage and Investment Division of the Internal Revenue Service where she promoted the Earned Income Tax Credit, free tax preparation, and related linkages to asset building to Native communities. She continued that work after retirement, facilitating the Native Financial Education Coalition EITC Committee and Network, working with Native VITA sites to fulfill grant requirements, presenting at national conferences, and contributing to various publications. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Patsy devotes her free time to promoting and preserving Cherokee history and culture. She is an emeritus member of the Board of Trustees of the Cherokee National Historical Society, which manages the Cherokee Heritage Center. She also chairs the Society’s Cherokee Heritage Press Review Subcommittee. She is secretary of the Trail of Tears Association and served as the founding president of the Georgia chapter. She holds B. S. and M.Ed. degrees from Georgia Southwestern State University. Patsy has been working with Native communities for over nineteen years.
ONAC hosts the Native EITC/VITA Network which is comprised of Native VITA site coordinators and advocates. The purpose of the network is to share resources and opportunities, to provide a platform for interaction among Native site coordinators, and to bring concerns from Native VITA sites to appropriate parties. Those interested in joining the network may contact Patsy Schramm, ONAC Native EITC/VITA Coordinator, at email@example.com.
Citizen of the Choctaw Nation
ONAC Bank On Manager
Karen Edwards, as an employee of ONAC, is the Manager of Native Bank On ONAC. Ms. Edwards works principally with ONAC to establish a Bank On initiative that serves Native communities across the United States by encouraging tribal citizens that are not banked or underbanked to open Bank On certified accounts. As part of this effort, Native Bank On ONAC also encourages financial institutions to create low-cost and safe transactional accounts with features that meet the National Account Standards of the national Bank On program. She then works with tribal partners to encourage their citizens to open these certified accounts, to their financial benefit.
Ms. Edwards was employed by Washington University in St. Louis from 1984 to 2006. From 1995-2006, she worked as both Administrative Director and a Project Director for the Center for Social Development (CSD) at the Brown School of Social Work (she helped establish CSD in 1995). In 1995, Ms. Edwards began a body of work that sought to advance public policy at the state level in support of matched savings account and other inclusive asset-building policies. As part of those efforts, she worked with government and non-profit entities in forty-four states. She has led, or co-led, a number of research projects that sought to determine the effectiveness of asset-building policies established at state, tribal, and local levels.
In 2000, Ms. Edwards initiated an ongoing collaborative body of research between CSD and the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies, at Washington University, to determine the potential effectiveness of establishing asset-building policies and initiatives in Native American communities. In 2001, Ms. Edwards helped established the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition (ONAC) with Native asset building practitioners in Oklahoma, with support from CSD, and assistance from First Nations Development Institute.
In 2006, after retiring from Washington University, Ms. Edwards began her consulting business (KME Consulting, LLC). As a consultant, she continued to promote asset-building policies and practices with state governments, tribes, and non-profits. She conducted training and focus groups for over thirty tribes and non-profit entities, across the country, to document both the struggles and successes Native peoples experience when trying to build financial assets while living on low incomes.
Ms. Edwards has authored or co-authored over thirty publications. She is a tribal citizen of the Choctaw Nation.
Citizen of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation
ONAC Credit Counselor
Felecia Freeman is a Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN) tribal member who has worked for her Nation since 2006. She is a Commercial Loan Officer and a certified Credit Counselor for the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation (CPCDC), where she has assisted in making over $40 million in loans to Native American entrepreneurs. She is the CPCDC liaison for the Comanche Nation Revolving Loan Fund in Lawton, Oklahoma, and coordinates the credit-counseling program for CPN tribal members in the United States.
She is active in the Shawnee, Oklahoma, community serving as Secretary of the Oklahoma State Board of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce; Chair for Neighboring 101 Board, a local Bridges Out of Poverty initiative; and as an Ambassador for the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce. She holds a BS in Organizational Leadership from the University of Central Oklahoma.
Ms. Freeman is also a consultant. She owns Native Credit Building, LLC. Ms. Freeman is currently partnering with the Oklahoma Native Asset Coalition, Inc. (ONAC) to provide credit building, homeownership, and money management counseling to American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States.
ONAC Program Manager
Kristen Wagner is the Program Manager of ONAC’s Emergency Cash Assistance program. In this role, Kristen administers emergency cash assistance to tribal citizens across the U.S., including Alaska, as part of ONAC’s COVID-19 programmatic response effort.
Over the past 25 years, Kristen built her career with a commitment to addressing racial equity, social inclusion, community health, and empowering people to realize their full potential. She has served in a variety of non-profit organizational roles including middle and executive management positions. During her time as a University Professor, Kristen was engaged in research, teaching, and community engagement focused on program and policy interventions in three key areas: asset-based community development, culturally relevant capacity building, and participatory research and development strategies that promote community wealth-building. Throughout her career, Kristen has worked with numerous American Indian and Alaska Native communities across the United States and Indigenous tribes in Madagascar.
Kristen has served Indigenous communities in a variety of ways. She was a Research Coordinator in a joint position with the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies and the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, from 2005 – 2010. During that time, she led a study focused on the use of EITC among Native families and the impact of VITA sites in Native communities. Kristen also supported studies that documented Native definitions of assets and parent experiences with the SEED for Oklahoma Kids (SEED OK) college savings accounts. From 2007-2012, Kristen partnered with conservation teams in Madagascar to conduct research and design capacity-building efforts focused on micro-lending to women in agriculture, the development of community health and nutrition programs, and income alternatives that support community-based natural resource management.
In 2017, Kristen co-founded Hope Nation Consulting, LLC, and continues to provide capacity-building services to tribes and Native-led nonprofits in areas of community wealth building, program design, project management, strategic planning, and evaluation. Kristen holds a BA in Psychology from the University of North Dakota (1997), and a MSW (2005) and a PhD (2011) in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis.