Recently, Beyond Finance was represented on two important debt resolution panels — Woman of Debt Relief and Diversity in Debt Relief — by Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer Yolanda Schufford

The discussion took place on Nov. 6 at the Avenue of the Arts Hotel in Costa Mesa, CA, during the third annual Regulatory Workshop for Debt Relief Industry Professionals.

The conference focuses on equipping debt relief professionals with knowledge of industry models and regulatory issues. These matters continue evolving based on the needs of creditors and clients, which is why these debt resolution panels are vital to the growth of Beyond Finance and the industry as a whole.

In addition to managing Beyond Finance’s internal and external communications outreach, Yolanda oversees the company’s legislative activities. She works with lobbyists in crucial states to help bring awareness and legislative support in areas critical to debt settlement.

Along with sustaining the Beyond PAC, those conversations maintain a robust and imperative presence in government affairs. The more elected officials understand debt resolution, the more acceptable to move clients beyond debt.  

Women of Debt Relief

Women of Debt Relief panel
From L to R: Teresa Dodson of WODR, Yolanda Schufford of Beyond Finance, Carrie Brown of Debt Pay Inc., Stephanie Miranda of Americor

Women of Debt Relief (WODR) is an association focusing on women’s personal and professional growth within the financial services industry.

Organization founder Teresa Dodson moderated the panel, which included Yolanda (who also sits on the WODR Board of Directors), Carrie Brown of Debt Pay Inc., and Stephanie Miranda of Americor.

This panel discussed the organization and brought awareness to its mission. They also encourage men to share and promote the organization so women in their companies can join.

“We believe it takes both men and women to create a successful industry, and we often see great support from our male counterparts at our events. That support will render the best dividends of all when it comes to the strength, capacity, and longevity of the debt resolution for years to come.”

Yolanda Schufford

One of the panels’ goals was to amplify its mission statement: “to be collaborative and supportive, share ideas, and make women stronger in their professional and personal lives.”

WODR increases education and support access for women of all debt relief areas. Their efforts include debt settlement, credit counseling, collections, consumer financial education, lending, payment processors, and marketing. 

Diversity in Debt Relief

Another one of the debt resolution panels was called Diversity in Debt Relief
From L to R: Renauld Smith of IAPDA, Jennifer Woolf of Veritas Legal Plan Inc, Felix Shipkevich of Shipkevich PPLC, Jason Benion of Alleviate Financial Solutions, Yolanda Schufford of Beyond Finance, Timothy Hernandez of Debt Settlement Info-Bank

The Diversity in Debt Relief panel was a discussion so passionate that it went past the original time allotted! 

Panel moderator Renauld Smith, the Executive Director of IAPDA, led the discussion surrounding the lack of diversity within the industry. The panel also discussed possible solutions and raised awareness of this issue. 

Other panelists included: Jason Benion of Alleviate Financial Solutions, Jennifer Woolf of Veritas Legal Plan, Inc, and Timothy Hernandez of Debt Settlement Info-Bank.

Yolanda took a moment to address the industry’s lack of diversity among executive leadership.

“I’ve been in consumer finance since 2007, and I guess I’m just used to being the lone representative for both women and African Americans in top leadership roles. Fortunately, I’ve seen some progress, but we’ll stagnate until companies prioritize diversity. And that doesn’t necessarily mean a splash campaign. I’m looking for companies to just to do it, so when I look at the leadership on their website, I can visibly see change.”

Yolanda Schufford

Yolanda stressed that there’s an excellent utility to having a diverse leadership team, and not only tied to race. Diversity brings different experiences and viewpoints to the table. The debt resolution panels allow for audience questions and honest dialogue. In one exchange, real growth took place. 

“One leader in the audience expressed that talking about diversity could be ‘frightening’ because he wasn’t sure how to address issues correctly. That’s precisely why we wanted to start a discussion. We wanted people to get comfortable and feel free to talk about vulnerabilities and change.” 

Yolanda Schufford

Diversity is a pertinent topic in the workplace today. These conversations and panels should be taking place in companies across the country. Ultimately, these meaningful conversations regarding diversity present an opportunity for growth. Understanding that diversity is not one size fits all will help the industry excel.