Empowering Individuals, Enriching Communities

Empowering Individuals, Enriching Communities

Insights from Leesandra Merced, Financial Empowerment Program Director at IBA

Rooted in the concept that economic wellness creates a stronger community, IBA’s Financial Empowerment program is a proven model that changes lives and builds better futures.Leesandra Merced, Program Director, develops and implements accessible, bilingual financial education programming and personalized financial coaching. With seven years of experience in personal banking, Leesandra has dedicated her career to helping individuals and families achieve financial stability and socio-economic mobility.

But for her, financial empowerment is more than a profession – it’s a calling. In a recent interview, Leesandra shared more about how the program is a game-changer that transforms the lives of families and has a ripple effect on the entire community.

Financial Empowerment Starts with Families

Leesandra’s passion for financial empowerment has been a constant throughout her career. After graduating from the University of California, San Diego, Leesandra turned to the banking industry as an opportunity to help individuals achieve their life goals.

While working with major financial institutions, Leesandra emphasized education as the best way to gain economic stability. Through personalized programs and dynamic group workshops, she empowered clients from all walks of life to build credit, create budgets, and take control of their personal finances.

To support the next generation, Leesandra also developed a youth financial literacy program that helped children learn more about banking tools and money matters. From homeownership to debt relief, covered topics that would support middle and high school students in their personal financial journey and help them achieve their dreams.

Community Development and Growth

In her role as Director of IBA’s Financial Empowerment program, Leesandra continues to focus on the connection between individual financial empowerment and community growth. “Being able to help one family at a time is the most gratifying experience I can have,” she shares. “IBA’s mission aligns with my passion to help our society improve their financial lives,” and it gives Leesandra an opportunity to be part of the community’s development.

Starting with an initial interview, the process includes a series of meetings to create a personal financial strategy. With four coaching services available, Leesandra offers advice to help participants focus on budgeting, goal-setting, credit, or banking.

In addition to one-on-one sessions, IBA also offers group education that covers a wide range of topics. These include:

  • Budgeting for your household

  • Preparing for unexpected expenses

  • Managing your loans

  • Eliminating debt

  • Building credit

  • Improving your credit score

  • Opening bank accounts

  • Understanding financial tools

  • Starting a savings program

  • Setting goals for the future

  • Creating a pathway to homeownership

In addition to measurable results, Leesandra’s goal is to take the program beyond classes and individual sessions. For her and the rest of IBA’s leadership team, financial empowerment is also about connecting with the community and building relationships that help individuals thrive.

Financial Literacy for Future Generations

Financial empowerment is only one of the many ways in which IBA is making a difference in the community. To support the organization’s ongoing efforts, Leesandra also collaborates with the Youth Development Program to offer financial literacy for young members of the community.

Through initiatives such as The Lemonade Stand Project, IBA helps our teens prepare for the future and supports entrepreneurship. By working together, the youth who participate in these programs strengthen their teamwork skills in a creative environment where they also learn valuable money lessons.

A Shared Journey to Economic Growth

By providing resources and education to help families reach their financial goals, Leesandra and the IBA team contribute to the development of the community as a whole. Since launching the Financial Empowerment program in 2017, IBA has assisted over 350 participants and remains committed to raising awareness on the importance of financial literacy. We are proud to offer high-quality financial coaching in a safe space that serves your unique needs.

Are you ready to join the hundreds of success stories and kickstart your financial journey? Schedule a consultation today to learn more about how the Financial Empowerment program can help you gain confidence and achieve financial prosperity.