Meet Debbie Gerlicher, Co-CEO, Chair of LiSA Initiative
First Financial Security Co-CEO Debbie Gerlicher has always been an advocate at heart. After obtaining a degree in Political Science from Oregon’s Willamette University, she went to work for a state senator. But the wheels of politics moved too slowly, and Debbie soon became disillusioned by how difficult it was to affect real change in people’s lives legislatively. She moved on, but never lost her passion to help others achieve their best life possible.
She found the perfect vehicle into which to channel her desire to help others – financial services and specifically, First Financial Security, the company owned by Debbie and her husband, Phil. From the company’s earliest days, Debbie gravitated toward the business model’s core principle – if you provide people with the knowledge, tools and opportunity, they can create lasting financial security for themselves and change their families’ future for years to come.
“What I like best about our organization is the ability to impact finances generationally,” Debbie says. “It gives me energy. Creating wealth is a long-term proposition, but with a clear understanding of finances and a simplified, strategic plan of action, it is achievable.”
In her role as Co-CEO, Debbie is able to focus her energy on Big Picture strategies and initiatives, such as the LiSA Initiative, a grass roots women’s movement that she chairs.
Debbie sees women as one of the most under-served market segments in the United States. This is in spite of the fact that it’s often women alone, who struggle to carry the financial burden for the family.
“Many women are the sole breadwinners for their families,” Debbie says. “And yet, they are ill-equipped to handle their finances. LiSA is designed to change that reality.”
Through education, skill development, mentoring and an entrepreneurial opportunity, LiSA empowers women to take control of their finances and build better lives for themselves and their families. To ensure that the educational component is in place, FFS has developed a Financial Literacy program that Debbie also is heading up.
“We are in the process of private labeling our curriculum,” Debbie explains, excitedly. “Many Americans find themselves ‘financially illiterate.’ Basic financial concepts are rarely taught in schools or discussed in the home. Our program is designed to make these concepts readily accessible to everyone. The curriculum will cover everything from creating a budget to meeting retirement needs and more.”
Teaching and education have always been important to Debbie. Born in Brazil – she has dual U.S. and Brazilian citizenship – she has traveled extensively which has given her the opportunity both to learn and teach several languages: English, Spanish, French, and Latin.
Developing a strong corporate culture for First Financial Security also is important to Debbie and a major part of her role as Co-CEO.
“Many people who work in business models similar to ours often feel the need to ‘start-over’ with new companies and products every three to five years,” Debbie says. “We believe strongly in our field force and want FFS to be their forever company.
“For this to happen we need to ensure that we develop a corporate culture where inclusivity, innovation, excellence, integrity, and goodwill abound. We want them to plant their flag with First Financial Security, a company that offers them stability, credibility and the opportunity to realize their dreams.”