NEFE Announces New Board Members

Appoints Chair, Vice Chair for 2012

Date: January 3, 2012

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

DENVER—The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) has selected two new members to join its 13-member board of trustees. Mary (Merrell) Bailey, managing partner of Bailey Zobel Pilcher, a Florida-based law firm practicing in the areas of probate, wills, trusts, and planning; and James Kooler, Ph.D., administrator of the California Friday Night Live Partnership and the California Center for Youth Development and Health Promotion, each will serve an initial three-year term with the financial education advisory group beginning January 2012.

“The expertise and backgrounds of our new trustees are an ideal fit to the other highly accomplished professionals that make up the leadership of our board,” says Ted Beck, president and CEO of NEFE. “We are fortunate to have such dedicated trustees to help us further advance our mission of helping Americans acquire the knowledge and tools necessary to take control of their finances.”

The NEFE Board of Trustees also announces that it has appointed Sara McHugh, chief operating officer of Oregon Catholic Press based in Portland, Ore., to serve as chairwoman for 2012. John Woerner of Minneapolis-based Ameriprise Financial has been named vice chair.

Mary (Merrell) Bailey

Bailey is a self-described “recovering certified public accountant (CPA) who crossed over to the dark side” to practice as an attorney in the areas of estate planning, transfer taxes and asset protection planning. The special needs of the elderly and unmarried couples are high priorities to Bailey, who has six college degrees, including a J.D. from Florida’s Barry University (valedictorian of graduating class, Law Review, Faculty Professionalism Award); and a M.S. Accounting, M.S. Taxation, a MBA, a B.S.B.A. Finance and a B.S.B.A. Accounting (all from the University of Central Florida). Bailey is licensed (inactive) as a CPA in Alabama.

“The goals of NEFE are very much aligned with my own firm’s work to educate and empower clients to take charge of their finances and achieve a sense of security about their decisions,” says Bailey. “With today’s volatile and increasingly complex economic climate, it never has been more important for an organization such as NEFE to take the lead in this educational effort.”

Bailey serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Central Florida’s School of Business Administration, lecturing at the graduate-level in the M.S. Taxation program. She is an officer for the American Association of Attorney–Certified Public Accountants (AAA-CPA), an alumna of the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women; and also is known nationwide in the Great Dane Rescue community.

Bailey has been recognized by Super Lawyers magazine as a Rising Star for 2010 and 2011, Orlando Home & Leisure magazine as a Five Star Wealth Manager in 2011 and Florida Trend magazine as a Legal Elite in 2010. She is an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Florida Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Orange County Bar Association, and WealthCounsel. Bailey began her career at the Orlando CPA firm of Graham, Cottrill, Jackson & Hostetter, LLP. Prior to practicing law, she worked as the CFO of high-tech and start-up corporations, specializing in streamlining them for liquidation events.

James Kooler, Ph.D.

As administrator of the California Friday Night Live Partnership, Kooler provides leadership and support to 54 county Friday Night Live programs. He also leads the California Center for Youth Development and Health Promotion. From his office at the Tulare County Office of Education, with support from the State Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs and the Office of Traffic Safety, Kooler leads the implementation of Friday Night Live, Club Live, Friday Night Live Kids, Friday Night Live Mentoring and the California Youth Council.

Kooler is the “creative wizard” for the Lifeplan Institute, director of the Be The Change Movement with Challenge Day and directs the creation of the California Mentoring Partnership. He also serves as a board member for the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

“In my work with young people, it is clear there is a need to build financial literacy, and I am excited to join the board of NEFE to assist in reaching out to youth across America,” says Kooler.

Kooler is a strong ally to young people and has worked in the prevention field for 27 years. He previously was director of the Governor’s Mentoring Partnership and deputy director for the Prevention Services Division at the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.

For more information on NEFE’s Board of Trustees, click here.




  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

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