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Our Mission and Partnerships


The Coalition’s mission is to assist consumers, particularly vulnerable populations, in understanding and improving their ability to manage their financial affairs. We are also committed to empirical assessment, including our own programs, and to studying key issues affecting consumer finance.


The Coalition is a 16-year-old independent non-profit, housed at Fordham Law School. The Coalition presents classes to teens, working-age adults and seniors at non-profits, schools, churches, and other community groups in the city. We offer classes in English, Spanish and Chinese.Teaching financial education is at the core of the Coalition’s work. We rely on trained volunteers, many of whom have a financial services background. Our Train-the-Trainer workshop for volunteers provides the knowledge and materials that highlight the necessary methods needed to teach a wide range of vulnerable populations.
The Coalition’s method is what sets us apart. In addition to learning the topics’ content, our volunteers learn the best practices for adult pedagogy and understand the psychological and emotional aspects of money. We emphasize the need for insight, empathy and energy when teaching, in order to engage participants and maximize learning and retention of information. 


CDE has a history of projects and established relationships with  key organizations which has increased our productivity, efficiency and overall  results.

Office of the Manhattan Borough President, Bank On Manhattan

Bank Hapoalim, Community Organizations that support Jobs Development

Brooklyn Public Library, Growing Dollars and $ense 

Capital One Bank, NYC Summer Youth Employment Program (Since 2007)

Common Ground

Executive Office of the US Trustee, Approved Debtor Educator

Hudson Guild

NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) Student Loan Project: Know Before You Enroll

NYC Parks Department POP program

Non-Traditional Employment for Women (NEW)

Signature Bank,  High Schools Project

Victory State Bank, Staten Island Banking Development Districts Project

Amalgamated Bank, Banking Development Districts Project

The Coalition has produced empirical research studies on consumer financial topics:

1. Consumer Credit Card Use: The Roles of Creditor Disclosure and Anticipated Emotion

2. Debtor Education, Financial Literacy, and Pending Bankruptcy Legislation

3. Empty Mandate or Opportunity for Innovation? Pre-Petition Credit Counseling and Post-Petition
Financial Management Education

4. Financial Literacy Teacher Training: A Multiple-Measure Evaluation

5. Lessons from the Trenches

6. *425 Mandatory Protections as Veiled Punishments?

7. The Myth of the Rational Borrower

8. The Coalition: A Report on its Pilot Program

9. Psychology and BAPCPA

10. Unwrapping Assunptions: Applying Social Analytic Jurisprudence to Consumer Bankruptcy Education Requirements and Policy


The Coalition welcomes applicants for general internships that are eager to learn about a philanthropic organization as well as local economic development. Foreign language fluency (especially Spanish) would be helpful but is certainly not required. Any internship would be unpaid.
 There are opportunities for which you can take ownership and gain valuable experience:
•Wedit website
• Community outreach – establish relationships with community-based organizations and other non-profits for project partnerships

Social networking opportunities
• Devise educational games to teach personal finance to teens and adults
• Plan events/ conference for CLE credit on issues of consumer protection and financial literacy.
•  Create online and interactive teaching programs; develop formats for podcasts, webinars, web-access for power-point

You  will have the opportunity to make a true impact on the growth of the Coalition by ushering a project from conception to completion. You will also hone writing and editing skills, learn or improve presentation skills while working with an experienced former Wall St. executive/ financial planner.
And you will certainly learn more about how to better manage your own money!

About Our Executive Director

Carol O’Rourke, Executive Director, the Coalition for Debtor Education.   After a teaching high school in Providence RI, she joined Merrill Lynch’s stockbroker training program. Four years later, she moved to Smith Barney where she spent most of her career in retail investments sales and marketing.   Ms. O’Rourke taught a series of classes for new investors at The New School and has written financial information columns for women’s newspapers and for the NYCHA Journal.
In her current role, she prepares and teaches financial education classes throughout the five boroughs.  In addition to her work at the Coalition, she is a member of the Financial Planning Association Pro Bono Committee and  Treasurer of the Board for Encore Community Services, a non-profit that feeds and houses the elderly in the Times Sq area.  Ms O’Rourke holds an MA from Boston College, an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business and has passed the Certified Financial Planner examinations.

Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Susan Block-Lieb, General Counsel
Professor of Law
Fordham Univ. School of Law
140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY  10023
(212) 636-6782
(212) 636-6899 fax

Greg Bassuk
Chief Operating Officer, Index IQ
800 Westchester Avenue, Suite S-710
Rye Brook, NY 10573
Phone: (888) 934-0777

Tony Davis
Federal Reserve Bank of NY
Regional and Community Outreach
33 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10045

Karen Dealey
Managing Director, Principal Accounting Officer
Jefferies & Company
520 Madison Ave.
New York, NY 10022
212-284-2538 fax

Edward “Ted” J. Janger, Esq
Professor of Law
Brooklyn Law School
250 Joralemon Street, Room 813
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 780-7995
(917) 974-1053 cell

Barbara Kent, President
Coalition for Debtor Education
33 West 60th St
New York, NY 10013
212-636-6018 fax

Nancy A. Kistner, CFP ®
Senior Vice President - Wealth Strategist Team Leader
U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management
Wealth Planning Solutions Group
114 West 47th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10036
212.852.3548 Office
800.976.5962 Fax
Elizabeth McCaul
Promontory Financial Group
280 Park Avenue
33rd floor West
New York, NY 10017

Chrystin Ondersma
Rutgers University School of Law

Richard  “Rick” J. Roberto
President Emeritis, Neighborhood Housing Services
85 Piedmont Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10305

Erik P. Shumar, MPA, MSW, PhD candidate,
CRA Senior Analyst, SVP
Citi Community Development
One Court Square Floor 43, Long Island City, NY 11120
Tel: 718-248-6527
Fax: 646-502-6703

Donal Warde
Real Estate Capital Partners
 917 292 1044
Cathy Weintraub
Director of Research
New York State Department of Financial Services
One State St.
NY, NY 10004
(212) 709-1531
(212) 709-1542 fax

Former Board members within past three years:
Bernell Grier, Neighbood Housing Services, resigned Nov., 2013
Paul Hughes, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, moved , Jan., 2011
Karen McGuiness, JPM Chase, resigned due to illness,Jan 2012
Kishan Shah, Goldman Sachs, moved, October, 2013
Sean Dougherty, moved/resigned June, 2013
Rick Eschavarria, moved  Jan 2013

We are helping people and hopefully changing lives. Sign up and learn how YOU can help!

Contact Carol O'Rourke, Executive Director, or 212-636-775


Would you like to sponsor a financial education class at your community center, place of worship or school?

- Contact the Coalition to request a speaker. Topics include:
     - Setting Goals
     - Creating a Spending Plan that Works
     - Saving and Banking
     - Using Credit Wisely
     - Managing Debt, Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft, and other Money Scams

- There is no charge for this service. 
    - Email or call 212-636-7752.

- Thinking of becoming a Volunteer?
     - Contact the Coalition to learn more and sign up for a FREE Training Course

The Coalition for Debtor Education (CDE), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, which has involved Fordham and New York Law Schools and their staff, was established in 1998. Since then, the CDE has produced, published, revised and evaluated a financial literacy curriculum that emphasizes not only traditional knowledge, but also adult learning methods and the psychology of money. Throughout this 10-year period, the CDE has studied empirically the efficacy of our financial literacy classes and our train-the-trainer sessions. We have also participated in academic studies of the effects of emotion on disclosure regulation, and currently are involved in a study of the efficacy of various credit counseling initiatives.