In Service to Community – by Design
- January 11, 2021
- By: Greenpath Financial Wellness
This story is part of a series that spotlights our employees here at GreenPath. We hope these stories will give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their daily lives, and how they strive to make an impact by helping people improve their financial wellness. Today’s story is about Brad O’Brien, Manager of Education.
Positively making an impact on the community.
Understanding the needs of those looking to build financial resilience.
These are the threads that weave through Brad O’Brien’s career at GreenPath. Having directly served clients with counseling services for a decade out of the Milwaukee office, to now leading GreenPath’s efforts in designing educational resources that strengthen financial health, Brad O’Brien has done quite a bit for the company over the years.
It’s a career path that puts the focus on human behavior and human-centered design – first understanding people’s needs, then working to build resources to meet those needs.
For Brad, serving the community means understanding how to best connect with people. On any given day, Brad and the education teamwork on implementing new ways to provide financial education to GreenPath clients and the broader community by identifying unmet financial needs and finding solutions around them.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PEOPLE BEHIND GREENPATH
Our team members make GreenPath what it is. We would not be who we are without the creativity, passion, and dedication of these individuals. These are the stories of the people behind GreenPath who answer the phones when a client calls and who work behind the scenes.
Not Always Easy
Growing up Brad moved from place to place with his family due to his dad’s work until he eventually planted his roots in Milwaukee. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee and earned a degree in political science with a focus in Middle Eastern and North African studies. “My educational background exposed me to a lot of different ideas and people,” he said. “This has helped me in my time here at GreenPath.” Brad has a team of three which includes Omari Hall, Alexandra Cisneros, and Chris Dlugozima. He says they all share the vision of putting people at the center of all they do. “I am really proud of our team; they are all amazing at what they do.”
Although Brad and his team might make it seem easy, it wasn’t always.
After high school, Brad took a gap year before starting college. He accepted a full-time position, hoping to save money before pursuing his education. “I scraped by financially,” he admits. “I am grateful I did not have any major setbacks.” During this time, he remembers struggling to fill out grant paperwork, being unsure about choosing a major, and even having a daily three-hour commute to and from work. He adds, “I really learned a lot about myself during this time.”
Fully Present in the Moment
Brad met his wife, Traci, in college and they now have two kids, Maren, seven, and Roman, six. He enjoys playing sports with them, taking nature hikes, and spending quality time together. So…how exactly does he manage to balance it all? “I really believe your work and personal life need to ‘fit’ together rather than balance,” he says. He heard the idea from Civilla, a Detroit based non-profit design firm. It was an idea that stuck. “I work hard when I am working, but also make sure to prioritize myself and my family,” he said. “When I step away from my desk I try to avoid thinking about work and just try to be fully present.”
Brad is in the process of transitioning his city-sized Milwaukee yard into a native garden/ecosystem. Like many, Brad continues to work remotely where he sits at a home office with quotes above his desk. He notes his favorite from Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
“What do I want to do? I only want to do work that positively impacts people,” he states. “This is something I consistently think about.”