Mayor Ed Gainey Appoints Sharon Watkins as Financial Empowerment Manager

Mayor Ed Gainey Appoints Sharon Watkins as Financial Empowerment Manager

PITTSBURGH – Mayor Ed Gainey announced today his appointment of Sharon Watkins as financial empowerment manager. In this role, Watkins will launch and lead the City’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE). Watkins joins a cohort with four peers from cities across the country who are also launching Offices of Financial Empowerment in their respective cities. The Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE), a national nonprofit organization, will support the cohort with funding and intensive technical assistance as part of a new two-year Financial Empowerment Fellowship training program.

Upon entering office, Mayor Gainey established financial empowerment as a key component to Pittsburgh’s Pathways to Prosperity initiative. As manager of the OFE, Watkins will work with City leaders and CFE Fund staff to institutionalize and catalyze the Administration’s ongoing efforts to expand financial empowerment throughout the City. She will also bring a financial stability lens to a range of related issues, and work to ensure financial empowerment is central to local anti-poverty efforts.

“I am honored to appoint Sharon Watkins as our new Financial Empowerment Manager,” said Mayor Gainey. “Sharon brings a wealth of financial strategy experience to this role and I know that our City will benefit greatly from her leadership. To truly become a Pittsburgh for all, we must lead with a focus on equity and improve resident economic security and mobility through proven programs and policies. The Office of Financial Empowerment is a significant step forward in achieving these goals.”

The Office of Financial Empowerment will center its work on improving the financial resilience and well-being of residents through financial empowerment initiatives such as:

  • Expanding access to safe and affordable credit and banking products
  • Increasing access to one on one financial counseling and coaching services
  • Expanding community wealth-building strategies
  • Identifying policy and programmatic barriers to improving financial stability

Watkins holds more than 20 years of strategic financial leadership and operations consulting experience. She previously served as community engagement and diversity manager for Partner4Work where she led efforts to connect job seekers with quality training and jobs. She also served as MUS compliance manager where she managed and oversaw the execution of a multi-city Department of Labor grant and lead the compliance team responsible for all monitoring and technical assistance to the workforce boards. Watkins is a Pittsburgh native and holds a MS in Non-Profit Management from Robert Morris University.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has only underscored the critical role that local government can – and must –play in building residents’ financial stability,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “An Office of Financial Empowerment, with dedicated leadership, is more than the sum of important individual programs – it’s a catalyst for truly embedding financial empowerment work across government. The Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund congratulates the City of Pittsburgh, and is thrilled to partner with Mayor Ed Gainey and Sharon Watkins to launch and lead this new Office.”

Watkins began her role as financial empowerment manager on Monday September 26th.



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Maria Montano
Communications Director
Mayor's Office