NEFE Director of Grants and Research Retires

Canfield Concludes 11 Years of Service with NEFE

Date: June 1, 2010

Contact: Paul Golden 303-224-3514, [email protected]

DENVER—When Marilyn Canfield joined the National Endowment for Financial Education in 1999, the organization’s grants program was in its infancy. On the eve of her retirement 11 years later, the NEFE grants program is known for its high-quality research in behavioral economics and contributions to the field through interactive salons and symposia.

“Mare has done an incredible job of building NEFE’s innovative thinking and grants program,” says Ted Beck, president and CEO of NEFE. “She is highly respected within the academic community where she has represented NEFE exceptionally well.”

Dr. William Anthes, former NEFE president and CEO, agrees. “Mare is responsible for making NEFE’s research and grant-making efforts what they are today.”

Following is a Q&A with Canfield on her years with NEFE.

How has the grants program evolved under your leadership?

Canfield: When we first started, the grants program focused mostly on content development. But around the fifth year of NEFE grant-making, we had a revelation: grants needs to be the research arm of NEFE, contributing not only to NEFE, but also to the field. Being embedded in the innovative thinking action area of NEFE, the grants program has positioned itself to be in contact with the latest research and to identify threads of ideas that, if nurtured, challenge us to let go of education behaviors that are not meeting the needs of the public we hope to help.

“Mare’s strong analytical skills coupled with her curiosity have totally transformed the grants program at NEFE,” says former NEFE board member Jackie Booth. “Her contributions are invaluable in raising the level of sophistication of the research NEFE has been involved with and the development of great partners with universities and individual researchers who can help us advance the knowledge in this field.”

What are you most proud of?

Canfield: I’ve tried to challenge people to think differently about what it means to be financially literate and capable. I’ve pushed people to ask the right questions instead of just finding the answers. Being part of such a new field at NEFE, I’ve been fortunate to get to know some of the best researchers in the field, the people who really live and have a passion for it.

“In her work with the NEFE Board of Trustees, Mare has always brought innovative thinking to the forefront of not only the grants process from inquiry to fulfillment but also in guiding us to evaluate programs, seminars, institutes, think tanks, and salons with fresh eyes,” says Booth.

How does your time at NEFE stand out compared to the rest of your career?

Canfield: NEFE is the only place I ever worked where I felt I was paid to think. Every day I walked into the office felt like I was putting on a white lab coat. It was like being in a “reality lab” every day, not knowing what discovery I’d get to make. I’m really glad to be able to work with NEFE because we have the opportunity to nudge things forward and push thinking differently. We’ve started several ideas out there just because we’ve started a discussion with a critical mass of people and gotten the conversation going in ways it wouldn’t have before.

What do you plan to do during retirement?

Canfield: The only matter I hope to give discipline to is to write every day. I have had several stories, essays, nonfiction and fiction books, and a play dancing in my head for years but have repressed them in the name of delayed gratification. I plan to end the delay.

When Canfield retired at the end of February, one of her retirement gifts from NEFE was a sweatshirt that read, “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.”



  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]

  • Patricia (Pat) Seaman

    Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

    Direct: 303-224-3538
    [email protected]