Getting to know Michael Roush, MA, AFC®
Michael Roush, M.A., AFC® is the Director of the Center for Disability-Inclusive Community Development (CDICD) at National Disability Institute (NDI). His work is focused on building a better financial future for communities that are often left out of mainstream social, economic, and educational opportunities.
AFCPE: What does Pride mean to you?
Michael: To me, Pride means a celebration of equality, unity, acceptance. Pride has evolved over the years as acceptance has grown for the community. I can recall when Pride events were predominantly attended by gay and lesbian individuals but today, Pride events are attended by just as many allies as well. It is a celebration for all.
AFCPE: What do you want financial professionals to know about working with the LGBTQ+ community?
Michael: The LGBTQ+ community includes families, married couples, couples in long-term relationships, single parents, grandparents, etc. Financial professionals should recognize that the community has the same financial goals and financial challenges as those that do not identify as LGBTQ+.
AFCPE: From family planning, to medical expenses, to guardianship, the LGBTQ+ community regularly navigates a variety of financial challenges. What are some ways financial professionals can familiarize themselves with these issues?
Michael: If you live in an area that has a gay and lesbian community center, connect with them to learn more about the local resources and services that are available in the community. www.lgbtcenters.org.
Lambda Legal is the oldest and largest national legal organization that focuses on the civil rights of LGBTQ+ community. www.lambdalegal.org.
Human Rights Campaign has a variety of resources on healthcare, aging, laws, college, and workforce. www.hrc.org.
AFCPE: How can people help raise awareness about important issues impacting the LGBTQ community?
Michael: Become involved with groups like the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal but most importantly, get involved within your local community by visiting the LGBTQ+ center.
AFCPE: What advice would you give someone from the LGBTQ+ community who is thinking about working in personal finance and/or earning their AFC?
Michael: My advice for others within LGBTQ+ community who are interested in working in personal finance or earning their AFC is to just do it. There is a need within our community and also within other marginalized communities for financial coaches and financial counselors. Assisting individuals to achieve their financial goals is a rewarding career and you are needed.
AFCPE: You are actively involved with AFCPE’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force. Why are you passionate about this work?
Michael: I am passionate for two reasons. First, as a person with a disability who also happens to be gay – I want to assure these two communities are included in the conversation. Secondly, I want to learn from my colleagues and other AFC professionals about other communities so that I can be a stronger ally.
In 2020, NDI released a brief that looked at the intersectionality of race, ethnicity and disability. A data point that stood out was that the net worth of a person who is black with a disability is $1,282. I then began looking at the net worth based on other intersecting identities that I have not looked at before. Being a part of the DEI Task Force and that of AFCPE are creating intentional opportunities to learn about diversity, equity and inclusion more than any other organization that I am involved with.
AFCPE: What are you most excited about in your current work with National Disability Institute?
Michael: I am most excited about the diverse partnerships and collaborations that are taking place to increase the awareness that people with disabilities are a part of the diversity, equity and inclusion conversation. More often than not, the disability community is left out or an afterthought, but this is changing thanks, in part, to the leadership and example that AFCPE has created with other national and local organizations that inclusion and equity are meant for all.
Michael Answers the Friday 5:
- My Why: I believe in the Commandment – “Love Thy Neighbor as thyself” which fuels my passion to help build a better financial future for underrepresented communities.
- My Favorite Quote: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou
- My Hero: Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa
- My Favorite Resource: https://www.afcpe.org/diversity-and-inclusion-toolkit/
- My Best Advice:
- For someone starting the journey to financial well-being: Do not beat yourself up if your current financial situation is not ideal, there are simple steps to take to get on the path to financial freedom. The first step is to recognize you want to take the journey towards financial well-being and that it is acheivable.
- For a new professional: Build a network of others within the financial services profession and get involved with an AFCPE Task Force. Also, never stop learning – attend the educational offerings provided by AFCPE – symposium and webinar series. This will assure that you are up to date on the latest trends within the field.
*This blog originally ran on the AFCPE® website in observance of Pride Month: https://bit.ly/3wPColX
Michael Roush, M.A., AFC® is the Director of the Center for Disability-Inclusive Community Development (CDICD) at National Disability Institute (NDI) and serves as a subject matter expert on financial capability strategies for persons with disabilities. He provides training and technical assistance across the country on Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), financial education, financial coaching/counseling and other asset development strategies to empower individuals, organizations and other stakeholders on the importance of economic self-sufficiency for persons with disabilities. Michael is the co-author of multiple financial education/asset building curriculums for students and adults with disabilities and has trained more than 2,000 individuals on how to integrate the curriculums into their organization’s delivery of service. He is an Accredited Financial Counselor and a Community Partner Work Incentives Counselor. Michael has a Master’s degree in Human Behavior.