Partnerships, Empathy, and Financial Health Intersections at Financial Health Network’s 20th Annual EMERGE

Jun 17, 2024

Last week, some of the SpringFour team attended Financial Health Network’s 20th Annual EMERGE conference, hosted this year in our home city of Chicago!

“The Power of Partnerships:” A panel featuring SpringFour and its partners OppFi, Patelco, and Self

On the first day of the event, SpringFour’s CEO and Founder, Rochelle Nawrocki Gorey joined a panel alongside financial health leaders at SpringFour’s partner organizations including Rania Zakaria, Senior Analyst, Corporate Strategy at OppFi; Jennifer Mink, Director of Member Experience and Financial Wellbeing at Patelco Credit Union; and Julie Szudarek, CEO of Self. The panel was called “The Power of Partnerships.”

It was exciting to share the stage with some of our clients to discuss the power and strength of partnerships between innovative, like-minded organizations looking to support their consumers’ financial health with impactful business strategies.

No One Organization Can Do It All: Strategic Partnerships are Key

A common theme throughout the conference was recognizing that no one organization can, or should, do it alone when it comes to financial health. Working together through strategic, mission-aligned partnerships enables all of us to achieve more for our organizations and consumers. 

 Julie Szudarek, CEO of Self, touched on this when discussing Self’s partnership with SpringFour during the panel discussion:

“While Self can help customers with some aspects of their credit building journey, we can’t help with everything. To date, we’ve passed 3 million referrals to SpringFour’s resources through our marketplace. And it’s things that our customers need: food insecurity, information on utilities, information on apartments and how to get affordable rentals. It’s been a great way to round out Self’s products in other ways to get them what they need.”

Empathy is Essential to Success

During sessions and in conversations among attendees, there was a major focus on empathy as a key component of successful financial health strategies. EMERGE made it clear — incorporating empathy into every component of your organization results in positive outcomes. 

Jennifer Mink, Director of Member Experience and Financial Wellbeing from Patelco Credit Union, a SpringFour partner, expressed Patelco’s shared focus on empathy and how partnering with SpringFour helps them better understand their customers’ needs and support their financial health.

“SpringFour has been an amazing contribution to what we are all probably seeing in the financial industry, which is, people are struggling. The economy is struggling. People are struggling to pay their bills. And this is where our partnership with SpringFour has been so instrumental in how we serve our members. When we’re talking to our members about how we can support them during these ups and downs, we bring up SpringFour. And we get a lot of positive feedback about the resources.”

Pictured above: Erin Mendez, President & CEO of Patelco Credit Union, and Rochelle Nawrocki Gorey, CEO & Founder of SpringFour

The Real-Life Impact of a SpringFour Partnership

Jennifer also shared a member experience story where SpringFour helped connect a Patelco Credit Union member to much-needed resources that made a tangible difference in their life.

“We had a member recently who came into one of our branches and she had just lost her job, and she was looking to have fees reversed. As one of our reps was talking to her, we learned more that there was food insecurity, there was inability to pay utility bills, and she was also fighting discrimination at her work. All three of those resources we were able to get from SpringFour for her, and she was brought to tears in our branch. Amazing, amazing resource, and we’re implementing it wherever we can within our membership base.”

Intersectionality Across Barriers to Financial Health

The SpringFour team at EMERGE, pictured from left to right: Phylicia Clifton, Senior Manager, Client Success & Impact; Morgan Pierce, Communications & Impact Manager; Yasmine Anavi, EVP Business Development & Strategic Partnerships; Rochelle Nawrocki Gorey, CEO & Founder; Missy Hansen, Business Development Specialist

So many sessions throughout the 3-day experience discussed the many financial health challenges that consumers are faced with today — especially challenges that are often overlooked. 

We heard stories of people with disabilities, each of whom faces even greater financial challenges than the typical American due to laws and regulations that restrict access to financial means, including income level caps and the inability to build wealth. 

We learned how natural disasters can affect people’s ability to access basic needs like food, water, and shelter; especially for those in rural or underserved communities. 

At SpringFour, keeping a finger on the pulse of current needs and researching how we can better support consumers remains a top priority. EMERGE provided an opportunity for our team to learn about unique financial health intersections, expanding our perspectives to be more inclusive, informed, and understanding of the compounding challenges that impact a person’s ability to succeed financially. This event shed light on the innovative strategies our industry is adopting to address these challenges and make a real difference for consumers’ financial health.

What Makes a Successful Partnership

When asked what advice she would give to organizations that are interested in forming partnerships to advance financial health, SpringFour’s Rochelle Nawrocki Gorey said this:

“Build trust with your partners, and really make certain that you are delivering what you say you’re going to deliver. And communication. Keep in touch, be talking throughout the journey. Sometimes things can take a winding road to get to where you wanted to be at the beginning, and I think as long as you’re communicating, and sharing, and building that trust and rapport, you’re going to have a great partnership.”

Time Well Spent with Financial Health Leaders

Our team had such a wonderful time together, attending exciting sessions at the event, networking with so many leaders focused on and passionate about financial health, and so much more.

“We are so appreciative when our clients, our partners, will share the journey that they have taken with SpringFour,” said Gorey. “When they share why they chose to work with us and what it’s doing for their business and their clients, I think that’s good for our company, it’s good for the movement. Yes, this is a movement for financial health, and really for the industry that has brought us all here today. I started in this work almost 30 years ago and there was not a conference like this. We did not have the term ‘financial health.’ It’s so exciting and I think it can only grow and improve and have better outcomes if we’re all willing to talk about the partnerships and the way that we’ve changed people’s lives. Each of these companies plays a part in changing people’s lives, and that’s really what it’s about.”

Pictured above: Jennifer Tescher, Founder & CEO of Financial Health Network, and Rochelle Nawrocki Gorey, CEO & Founder of SpringFour

The SpringFour team at EMERGE, pictured from left to right: Yasmine Anavi, EVP Business Development & Strategic Partnerships; Missy Hansen, Business Development Specialist; Rochelle Nawrocki Gorey, CEO & Founder; Morgan Pierce, Communications & Impact Manager; Phylicia Clifton, Senior Manager, Client Success & Impact

Connect with Us

If we met you at EMERGE but haven’t yet connected virtually, please reach out to us on the Contact Us page of the website or by emailing

Thank you to the Financial Health Network for hosting such a wonderful event. We can’t wait for next year!

Morgan Pierce

Impact and Communications Manager, SpringFour

Awards and Recognition












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