Her path to forming the nonprofit started in 2016, when she received what she calls a blessing in disguise. After a decades-long career at various financial firms in New York City, she was laid off from Neuberger Berman, an employee-owned investment management firm.
She asked herself what she would do next. “In my heart, I’ve always wanted to … get more women involved in technology or finance, and especially women of color, because I never saw anybody that looked like me—or not enough of it,” Gomes-Gregory said.
She kicked off Heels and Higher Achievement (HHA) in 2018, determined to make financial literacy fun while giving a voice to those in her community who are empowering young women in tech, finance, STEM, media, or “whatever it is that they want to do,” she said. “I wanted to create a forum so that people can speak, but mainly speak about financial education.”
That first year, she conducted in-person workshops at schools, churches, and “anywhere anyone would hear me,” Gomes-Gregory said. She’d speak about basic financial literacy concepts and invite people to schedule a complimentary financial review—a kind of “GPS of your money,” she said, “to make sure you can stop working for money at some point and [let]money work for you.”
She also launched an ambassador program to give young girls opportunities to network with professionals and serve their communities through volunteer work. But COVID-19 meant pivoting to online events and workshops in 2020.
In April, HHA sponsored its second annual series of online workshops for Financial Literacy Month, including, for the first time, programming for men. “[Because] of all of the things that were happening in the Black community— between George Floyd, the social issues, COVID—men need to talk, too,” she said.
The digital programming has gone well, she said. She’s hoping to launch a YouTube channel and resume in-person events soon.
“I’m learning that self-care and self-preservation— from a financial, physical, mental, and spiritual [standpoint]—are so very important,” she said. “And I didn’t learn this until I was 50. So, now I’m teaching all of the young ’uns. ‘Take care of yourself first. You’re important.’”