Inaugural SmartHER Money Conference for Iowans Is Aug. 19 in Cedar Falls

The SmartHER Money women’s financial empowerment conference, presented by the Iowa Department of Insurance and Financial Services, features a nationally renowned keynote speaker, expert panelists, engaging exercises and all the tips and tools to boost money smarts, improve financial wellness and secure a financial future. Reservations are now open for this free brunch and conference. SmartHER Money is not paid for by tax dollars and nothing will be sold except money confidence.


Designed to provide Iowans with much-needed tools, tips and expert knowledge in making the best decisions for their financial future, the inaugural SmartHER Money Conference, presented by the Iowa Department of Insurance and Financial Services (IID), is ready to empower women on Aug. 19 at the Bien VenU Event Center, 7400 Hudson Rd., Cedar Falls, Iowa.

The fun, fact-filled, five-hour event kicks off at 8:30 a.m. and includes brunch. Best of all, it’s complimentary for Iowans. Advance registration by Aug. 16 is required and capacity is limited.

This new financial wisdom and empowerment conference focuses on female Iowans and was developed this year following concerning results from the “2020 SmartHER Money Financial Literacy Research” survey, commissioned by the Iowa Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

Some 56% of Iowa women participating in the survey acknowledged a lack of confidence in making wise financial decisions in retirement planning. In addition, roughly 50% of Iowa women live in financially insecure households, and 60% of participants said they lacked sufficient knowledge about investments and investment products.

IID announced its new SmartHER Money program earlier this year to enhance female financial literacy.

“Sometimes things happen that we have no control over, such as the death of a spouse or divorce, and we need to make sure that we know about our finances, how to manage our finances and how to ensure a solid financial future,” said Sonya Sellmeyer, IID’s consumer advocacy officer. “Having financial literacy adds to overall wellness too, because it has the potential to reduce a person’s stress level.”

“The only thing that will be sold to our attendees is money confidence.”

Sonya Sellmeyer, Consumer Advocate

A highlight of the conference is keynote speaker Manisha Thakor, founder of MoneyZen. She’s a nationally renowned speaker and women’s financial literacy advocate. When it comes to personal finance, Thakor shares that her parents impressed upon her early in life that “a man is not a plan” and that financial literacy is essential for women.

Emceed by Joanne Kuster, a longtime investor and entrepreneur who’s known as “The Money Godmother,” the conference will deliver financial wisdom from top-notch speakers and panelists.

With an MBA from Harvard Business School, Thakor has authored two critically acclaimed personal finance books for women and is currently writing her third book. She serves on the board of The National Foundation for Financial Education and is a faculty member at the Omega Institute’s Women’s Leadership Center. Thakor has been featured on national media shows such as “The Today Show” and “Dr. Oz” and in publications like Real Simple and the Wall Street Journal.

“I’m thrilled for our attendees to hear from a speaker of the caliber of Manisha Thakor, not only because of her stellar educational credentials, publishing success and national media appearances, but because she is a wonderful, down-to-earth and approachable woman who can simplify the most complicated investment scenarios for anyone to understand,” said Sellmeyer.

Thakor said she’s excited to be presenting in Iowa and sums up her appearance this way: “When a woman incorporates financial well-being into her overall definition of personal well-being, a whole new world of possibilities and choices opens up for her. For this reason, I am passionately committed to helping as many women as possible to ‘Own Your Finances & Own Your Life,’ during this inaugural SmartHER Money Conference.”

In addition, Thakor will join a power pack of top-notch panelists to impart knowledge, tips, experiences and know-how to help women enhance their financial literacy and ensure a better financial future and retirement for themselves.

Plan & Earn Panel

  • Rebecca Guinn, factory manager, John Deere Waterloo Works
  • Stephanie Seekins, attorney, The Biker Lawyers, The Emily Program, Project Diva
  • ReShonda Young, community advocate and founder of Popcorn Heaven chain

Save & Retire Panel

  • Doug Ommen, Iowa insurance commissioner, Iowa Department of Insurance and Financial Services                
  • LeKeisha Veasley, community inclusion strategist, Veridian Credit Union
  • Amy Wienands, business owner, Amy Wienands Real Estate

“The Iowa Department of Insurance and Financial Services encourages Iowa women to join us at this first-ever SmartHER Money Conference on Aug. 19,” Sellmeyer said. “In fact, we’re also hoping you will bring your moms, sisters, teen and adult daughters, and friends. We invite you to brunch with us as we serve up financial wisdom to help you fine-tune your money smarts, improve your financial wellness and secure your financial future.”

This free conference is not paid for by taxes but from fines and settlements levied on investment scammers as restitution. IID uses these Investor Education Fund dollars to educate Iowans about the risks and rewards of investing.     

“The SmartHER Money Conference is designed for women of all backgrounds and ages and every socio-economic status and stage of their financial journey — whether that’s basic budgeting to paying for student loans, saving for a house, investing for a secure retirement or making retirement dollars last,” said Sellmeyer. “It’s about understanding your finances and discovering the appropriate financial path and retirement that’s right for you. Your retirement most likely won’t look like your parents’ retirement. Many women are completely redefining retirement and some are launching fun encore careers.”

It is important to also recognize that women’s financial needs are often different from that of men. Women may be financially responsible for both their children and aging parents and need more retirement savings because statistically they live longer than men.

Attendees will learn how to become more comfortable speaking with their spouse, partner, children or parents about money. In addition, they will participate in individual and/or group exercises to better understand their individual relationship with money and the psychology behind it. That’s important, Sellmeyer said, as many of the closely held beliefs people have about money are rooted in childhood.

No financial or investment products will be sold at this conference. “The only thing that will be sold to our attendees is money confidence,” said Sellmeyer. “And while this conference is geared toward women and their financial needs, all genders are welcome to attend.”

Registration for this free event is required, so attendees must RSVP by Aug.16 at

About the Iowa Department of Insurance and Financial Services
The Iowa Department of Insurance and Financial Services has general control, supervision and direction over all insurance and securities business transacted in the state and enforces Iowa’s laws and regulations. The IID investigates consumer complaints and prosecutes companies, agents and brokers engaging in unfair trade practices. Consumers with insurance or investment questions or complaints may contact the IID toll-free at 877-955-1212 or visit

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