Meet the DreamSmart Academy Team

Jeff Morris is the Founder of The SpendSmart Nation and Co-Founder of The SpendSmart Companies, (The SpendSmart Nation, Inc. and SpendSmart, Inc. – dba SpendSmart.org, and DreamSmart Academy).

The journey to serve the community and families started in 2009 when Jeff and Gregory Spencer, created SpendSmart.org, a 501c (3) Nonprofit. This organization was established to provide customized and unbiased financial literacy and wellness educational workshops, webinars, and coaching in the areas of: Spending, Saving, Debt, Credit, Investing, Behavioral Economics, Leadership, and Character Development. To serve a larger and more diverse population, Jeff’s vision lead to the creation of The SpendSmart Nation. Jeff leads a team of experts that are seeking to impact the millions of underbanked, underserved, and disenfranchised individuals, families, and small businesses that are experiencing economic and relational challenges. Jeff is skilled as a Certified Master Money Coach, Certified Credit Expert, Life Coach, and Speaker. Morris is considered one of the nation’s thought leaders on Neuro-Behavioral Finance.

Karen Brake Barge: Director, Graphics and Website Design for SpendSmart and DreamSmart Academy

Karen Barge is an award-winning website designer. She has over 20 years of experience as a graphic and web designer, specializing in the fields of corporate identity, UI design, print design, and branding. Before she started her own business, she worked in the video game division of GTE Entertainment and then for Verizon as the lead UI and website designer for over ten years. Karen will oversee the design, UI and graphic representation and branding of the SpendSmart companies and The DreamSmart Academy's message. She has worked with Jeff for the past ten years creating the DreamSmart brand. Karen also works behind the scene at the SpendSmart and DreamSmart workshops taking pictures and creating video.

Ted Mclyman: Director, Behavioral Finance

Ted McLyman has over 25 years experience as a leader, educator, financial advisor, business owner, and triathlon competitor. He is the author of the bestselling book Money Makes Me Crazy, and the creator of the industry-renowned Quick Scan System of behavioral finance resources - a suite of tools that helps financial professionals and their clients make better decisions in planning for their financial future. This system includes the highly-regarded Money Temperament™ assessments which uncover how clients’ predispositions influence money decision making.

Terry T. Hawkins DreamSmart Academy - Chief Operations Officer

The journey to serve the community and families started in 2007 when Terry began working with the Houston Hospice as a volunteer serving the needs of others with an understanding that each life is precious from beginning to end. In 2013, he started serving as a volunteer with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department mentor program where he engages with young men to help transform lives for long-term success and self-efficacy. In 2014, he started serving in the Texas Department of Corrections volunteer program through the prison ministry in his church where he engages men and women on the journey of reflective thinking and transformation. In 2014, he began serving in the Fort Bend Juvenile Probation Office engaging with youth to inspire them to dream and have the courage to live life in full purpose. In 2015, he began serving as a volunteer with the Harris County Juvenile Justice Probation Office transforming the lives of young men challenging and inspiring them to go beyond the edge and pursue purpose each day. He has served as mentor, youth coach, educator, spiritual leader and business owner over the past 25 years.

Terry T. Hawkins is a diverse and well-experienced Architect, Developer and Construction Project Management Professional with over 20 years of financial, real estate development, construction and project management accountability. He has substantial financial experience managing millions of capital construction and real estate development projects for corporations such as; CB Richard Ellis $1.2M Capital Improvements, Hartford Insurance Company throughout the US $2.7M Capital Improvements, Memorial Hermann Hospital $1.5M Capital Improvements, MD Anderson Cancer Center $5.1M Capital Improvements, Cobalt Capital Companies $42M Capital Improvements and Real Estate Development Portfolio Houston, TX. and Miami, Fl., Shell Oil $5M, Methodist Hospital $7.2M Capital Improvements and currently University of Houston $100M Capital Improvement projects.

The DreamSmart Academy Volunteer Advisory Board

​J. Alexander Martin Founder/VP & Creative Director of FUBU and Founder & CEO of FUBU Television DreamSmart Academy - - Director of Entrepreneurship

J. Alexander Martin, an accomplished designer, has successfully given the fashion industry a unique line of clothing through FUBU (For Us By Us), which currently reports over $6B in sales. J. is owner Vice President and Creative Director of FuBu The Collection and Crown Holder. He currently is the CEO of FUBU TV, CEO of J. Alexander Martin Men’s Accessories, Afashionmind Consulting & Founder/Exec. Vice President & Creative Director of FUBU. He serves as President of the New York State Black Chamber of Commerce (NYSBCC). Office:(212) 273-3300 jalexanderm@me.com He has held licenses & has worked with successful multi-million dollar brands such as Crown Holder, Kappa, Drunken Monkey, Ted Baker, Coogi, LRG Ladies, Under 2 Flags, Married to the Mob, and Heatherette. He has also consulted with other companies such as Posner/Loreal, Luster Hair Care Products, Echelon Indian Virgin Hair & Human Hair Mfr., Scunci, Camus Cognac, FashInvest, Vumee, Siemens, Samsung, Vertu, Black Chambers of Commerce NY/NJ, Van Heusin, Fabien Couture Group, Sean John, and Under 2 Flags. In recognition of J’s contributions to the fashion industry and his business management skills he has been honored with many prestigious awards including the Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2003); Crain’s Business of 40 Under 40 Award (2002). FuBu the Collection became the first recipient of the Essence Achievement Award given to a company, and in 2004, the FuBu partners/owners were the first to receive the Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship from Brandeis University. J. is an excellent public speaker Black Expo Colleges and high schools and has appeared on the Anada Show, Morning Shows Atlanta Chicago, Bloomberg TV, BET, TV One Lisa Ray Show Kendra & Hank Show and Montel Williams Show.

Lenny Comma Chairman & CEO Jack in the Box, Inc. SpendSmart Nation© Board Member

As Chairman& CEO of Jack in the Box, Inc., Lenny is responsible for the overall operations and growth of all company and franchised Jack in the Box® restaurants, as well as restaurant development. Comma joined Jack in the Box, Inc. in 2001 as Director of Convenience-store and fuel operations for the company’s proprietary chain of convenience stores called Quick Stuff®. Lenny serves as an advisor to SpendSmart and supports our outreach to corporations, organizations, and associations. Lenny provides his years of experience in working with SpendSmart and makes himself available to share the benefits of the resources can provide to leaders that desire to add value to their Human Resource offerings via SpendSmart’s services to employees and the community. Mr. Comma earned an MBA from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL., and a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. Lenny is an avid long distance runner and supports impacting At-Risk communities. Support Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiuqhzBwopA

Monica Pool Knox Head of Global Talent Management at Microsoft SpendSmart Nation© Board Member – Outreach Advocate

Monica Pool Knox is the Head of Global Talent Management at Microsoft where she develops Microsoft’s Talent Management strategy and executes key Talent Management priorities across the company’s 120,000 employee base. Prior to joining Microsoft, Monica led human resources for Global Sales and Brand Strategy in San Francisco at Twitter. She has also been honored by the San Diego Urban League with a President’s Diversity Award and the Diversity MBA’s Top 100 under 50 distinctions. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin in Marketing.

Gregory A. Spencer is the Co-Founder and President of SpendSmart.org. As President of SpendSmart.org, an award-winning 501 c (3) Nonprofit, Greg’s focus is on providing avenues of support to individuals, families, and small businesses seeking better relationships and financial outcomes.

SpendSmart.org is an emerging global social enterprise and servant leadership organization that also helps employers provide unique and sustainable HR benefits that will improve the morale of your workforce and impact your bottom line. SpendSmart also allows donors and benefactors to see evidence of their contributions to underserved communities, and we support families that are seeking a simple path to wellness.

Gary Yamamura – Chief Business Consultant

Gary Yamamura has over 35 years of experience as a banking and advanced payment technology specialist, having also consulted with Visa and American Express. Yamamura has proven capabilities in the establishment and management of support organizations in the electronic commerce/banking, financial services, mass transit, smart card and traditional magnetic stripe card industries. Specialties Include: Project Management, Program Management, Product Management, RFP/RFQ development and execution; Contract Negotiation; Technology-based Product Development and Introduction; PCI DSS Compliance; Smart Card Technology; Payment Systems; Payment System Operations; Customer Service Operations; Procedures and Policies Development. Having served as the President of Edept, LLC, Gary oversees SpendSmart’s financials, projections, and the forecasting of business partnerships.

Chris Badgett Cofounder and CEO of LifterLMS Senior Advisor, Education Platform Development and Student Engagement DreamSmart Academy - Chair of Online Student Success & Education Platform Innovation

Chris leads a global team of web professionals at LifterLMS on a mission to build tools that empower online educators around the world. His focus is helping education entrepreneurs build engaging high-impact learning experiences online that learners enjoy and complete with maximum results. Before Chris built a web development agency and software development company, he was an operations manager for a helicopter supported dog sled tour business on the Juneau Icefield in Alaska. Living and working with a team on remote glaciers he developed leadership, management, and logistics skills. Chris has a degree in Applied Anthropology with a Concentration in Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University. He is a graduate of the School for International Training in Nepal. He also completed to National Outdoor Leadership School programs in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.

Don Love Umoja Counselor/Coordinator

Don Love has worked at MiraCosta College since 2007 and served in the counseling department as an Associate Counselor 2008. He has served as the coordinator/Associate Counselor for the Umoja Program since its inception in 2012 and more recently was hired as a full-time counselor working for the Umoja Program and General Counseling. He also serves as a Regional Coordinator for the statewide Umoja Community. "Issues of equity were my primary reason for making the career switch to education as I watched members of my own family go through similar struggles that I went through as a first time college student twenty years earlier and I decided that a career in education would be the perfect move to position myself to affect change for African American and other underrepresented students." He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University in 2006 and his Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in Counseling from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2008.

Juvenile Education and Development Programs

Arturo “Art” Paz
Art Paz is a life-long educator with more than 25 years of experience in Alternative/Correctional Education and Special Education. He is committed to serving at-risk youth through education, motivation, and helping them to recognize their capacity for success. He has taught in a variety of settings including Community Schools, Juvenile Hall and Adult Correctional Facilities. He also coached multiple sports and piloted the life-changing Young Men as Father’s Program in partnership with the California Youth Authority. Art has been a member of CEA Correctional Educators Association, ACSA Association of California School Administration, The Center for Correctional Education at Cal State San Bernardino, CALSA California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators, and serves on the Platt College- Advisory Board for Paralegal Studies. Art has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from California State San Bernardino. He is currently a Principal with the Riverside County Office of Education.

Jennifer S. Mitchell is an educator in teacher preparation who is passionate about helping teachers and students create a collaborate learning environment that allows everybody to be valued. She earned her degree in elementary education, with a sheltered English immersion endorsement from Michigan State University in 1997. She had taught in the K-12 public school system for 15 + years where she enjoyed working with English language learners from many different countries and cultures, as well as teaching students with exceptional learning differences. Ms. Mitchell earned a master’s degree in education with a specialization in early literacy, to support her practice in better meeting the needs of underserved populations. She is currently a clinical assistant professor/site coordinator, at Arizona State University in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, working in the iTeach program. Her research and motivating interests include, but are not limited to: early literacy intervention, increasing student confidence, participation, and engagement, social and emotional learning with the Common Core Standards, and collaborative practice around academic discourse for all learners. She is currently working with a team of colleagues in implementing innovative instructional practices and curriculum to connect content standards to social emotional learning in both higher education and K-12 practices.