University of Maryland Extension

2013 Speakers

2013 Speaker List

Peter Franchot

Peter Franchot was elected Maryland's 33rd Comptroller on November 7, 2006, and re-elected on November 2, 2010. Prior to his election to statewide office, Comptroller Franchot served 20 years in the General Assembly, representing in the House of Delegates the residents of Silver Spring and Takoma Park. In the House of Delegates, Mr. Franchot served on the Appropriations Committee and chaired the transportation and the environment subcommittee. Throughout his career, he has been a strong advocate for education, health care, transportation and environmental protection initiatives. As Comptroller, Mr. Franchot has pledged to be a fiscal watchdog for the taxpayers of Maryland and an independent voice on the powerful, three-member Board of Public Works, which approves millions of dollars in State contracts each year. Comptroller Franchot has worked tirelessly to keep Maryland competitive in the knowledge-based economy, assisting working families and protecting the State's natural resources.

Adam Davidson

International business and economic expert Adam Davidson writes the “It’s the Economy” weekly column forThe New York Times Magazine.  He is also the co-founder and co-host ofPlanet Money, a co-production of NPR and This American Life. His work has won every major award in broadcast journalism, including the Peabody, DuPont-Columbia, and the Polk.

Dr. Barbara Chamberlin

Barbara Chamberlin is the Extension Instructional Design and Educational Media Specialist. Dr. Chamberlin directs the NMSU Learning Games Lab, where she researches games preferences and use, as well as new trends in computer games for education. She leads research on game development at the lab, and serves as an instructional designer on new educational projects. In addition she submits several grants each year, seeking funding for the development of educational media in many content areas. NMSU just launched the "Exergames Unlocked" Website,, a resource to help others use exergames in programs and classrooms.

Don Blandin

Don Blandin, president and CEO of the Investor Protection Trust (IPT) and the Investor Protection Institute (IPI), has worked in and with a wide variety of public and private-sectors, including business and industry; nonprofit associations; academia and philanthropic foundations; and federal, state and local government, both in the U.S. and globally. Don has been building national and international coalitions and partnerships for more than four decades. Don’s achievements at the Trust include: the Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program; the Investor Education in Your Community® program; the national MoneyTrack public television series; The Campaign for Wise and Safe Investing®, and The Basics of Saving and Investing educators’ guide. Awards received by Don include the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ International Torch Award for Consumer Leadership and the Financial Planning Association’s Heart of Financial Planning Award.

Michelle Thornhill

Michelle Thornhill is the SVP & Diversity and Inclusion Integration/Strategy Manager at Wells Fargo. In this position, she is responsible for providing proactive and strategic leadership consulting to our key stakeholder groups to support the development of a diversity and inclusion strategy and execution model that is supported by all lines of business. Michelle previously served as the African American segment manager for Enterprise Marketing Diverse Segments and has extensive experience in navigating and influencing multiple stakeholders to gain alignment.  She has over 15 years of experience developing consumer initiatives for diverse audiences in the financial services and non-profit sector, and has traveled extensively, both domestically and internationally, in support of these goals. She firmly grasps the multi-faceted nature of the African American segment from her work with the NAACP, teaching at a Historically Black College and University, developing and implementing financial education programs, and consulting with African American business owners.

Maxine Sweet

Maxine Sweet is vice president of Experian North America's Public Education organization and leads Experian's consumer education, community involvement and corporate responsibility teams. She represents Experian in such national education programs as the JumpStart Coalition for Financial Literacy and LifeSmarts, both of which have the goal of reaching students with critical knowledge and empowering them to live credit smart.

Michal Grinstein-Weiss

Professor Grinstein-Weiss is a national and international expert in social and economic mobility; asset development research and policy; and international comparative social policy, especially in Israel. She is the Founding Director of the Assets-Building Research Group at UNC, a Research Associate with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and was the recipient of the 2011 Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award by the Society for Social Work and Research. Michal Grinstein-Weiss is an associate Professor at The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Her research interests focus on public policies related to issues of economic inequality and social development. Specifically, she is interested in policies and programs that promote the well-being of low-income families and their communities.

Linda Williams

Linda Williams joined the Consumer Action Los Angeles Office Outreach and Training Team in September 2006. Since that time, she has aggressively pursued the team’s mission to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their income level, are able to learn about their rights as consumers. She has carried out this mission by networking, coalition building, and training case managers, counselors, social workers, educators, librarians, and front-line advocates who serve low-income and hard-to-reach consumers from coast to coast in the fundamentals of financial literacy.

John Breyault

John joined the National Consumers League in September 2008. John’s focus at NCL is on advocating for stronger consumer protections before Congress and federal agencies on issues related to telecommunications, fraud, technology, and other consumer concerns. In addition, John manages NCL’s Fraud Center and coordinates the Alliance Against Fraud coalition. John is also Research Director for the Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC), a project of NCL. In his role with TRAC, John advocates on behalf of residential consumers of wireline, wireless, VoIP, and other IP-enabled communications services.

Linda Sherry

Consumer Action’s director of national priorities and one of the organization’s chief spokespersons, joined the San Francisco-based national consumer education and advocacy group in 1994 from a background as a weekly newspaper reporter. She is NewsCertified by NewsCertified Exchange. Sherry is an expert on credit card pricing and practices. She is regularly called upon for interviews and background information by the national and local media (TV, radio and print), Congress and federal regulators to provide information about consumers and credit cards.

Julie Nepveu

Julie Nepveu is a senior staff attorney at AARP Foundation Litigation. She practices on behalf of older people in the areas of consumer, fair housing, and disability law. Her work includes litigating cases, filing amicus briefs, and commenting on federal regulation and legislation. Of particular relevance is her work on the garnishment of exempt funds in the collection of debt. Ms. Nepveu previously served as a staff attorney at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and at Legal Services of Northern Virginia and as a judicial clerk at the U.S. Claims Court for Judge Thomas J. Lydon.

Janet Benavente

Ms. Benavente graduated from Oklahoma State University with a BS degree in Vocational Home Economics Education. Her Master’s Degree in Human Relations is from The University of Oklahoma.  Since 1985, Janet has worked in the Cooperative Extension system in Minnesota, Guam, Missouri, and Colorado. From 2006-2011 she was the Principal Investigator and Program Director of the $2.3 million Family Success in Adams County Healthy Marriage Demonstration Grant (90FE0028). Janet’s current role in the Colorado State University Extension Office in Adams County is to design and deliver family strengthening programming and professional development training in financial literacy, workforce readiness, community leadership, interpersonal communication, and parenting.  

James Marshall

Dr. James P. Marshall is an Associate Professor of Family Life with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service in Little Rock, AR. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a clinical fellow and approved supervisor of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. He is co-author of a well-respected book on healthy marriage and couple relationships entitled The Marriage Garden. He conducts research and develops programs on personal well-being, marriage and couple relationships, and parenting. His work focuses on helping people create and maintain quality relationships.

Jeanne Hogarth

As Vice President of Policy for the Center for Financial Services Innovation, Jeanne Hogarth works to strengthen research programs and engagement efforts with government and other key stakeholders. Prior to joining CFSI, Jeanne was manager of the Consumer Research section at the Federal Reserve Board, where she led research projects on consumer financial decision-making, financial services access and inclusion, and household economic stability. She was also a faculty member in consumer economics at Cornell University. She has authored numerous scholarly research articles as well as consumer publications.  She received a B.S. in Education from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. and PhD from The Ohio State University.

Michael Pierce

Michael Pierce is a policy analyst in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Office for Students.  Office for Students works to help students and their families make smarter choices about consumer financial products and services-- identifying emerging challenges for young consumers and developing programs and products that seek to improve student decision-making through education and engagement. Prior to joining the staff at CFPB, Mike served as a policy advisor to Congressman John Sarbanes, repressenting the Third District of Maryland. Mike is an attorney and a member of the Maryland Bar.

Peter Holland

Peter Holland is a Visiting Law School Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Law. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from Bard College, M.A. in Liberal Arts from St. John's College of Annapolis, and J.D. from University of Maryland School of Law, from which he received the Public Service Award. He concentrates on Consumer Rights cases such as Auto Dealer Fraud, Wrongful Repossessions, Mortgage Fraud, Predatory Lending, Foreclosure Rescue Scams, Debt Collection Harassment and Consumer Class Actions. For the years 2008, 2009 and 2010, he was voted by his peers to be a "Maryland Super Lawyer" in the field of Consumer Law.


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