About Sense & Centsibility
Welcome to Sense & Centsibility, the official blog for LSS Financial Counseling, where you can learn about financial topics and find tips and resources.
We specialize in financial wellness: how to make and stick to a budget, save for emergencies, get out of debt and achieve your financial goals. We also offer training in our local communities, stand up for people in a foreclosure crisis, and are thought leaders on topics such as medical debt and student loan debt.
Our goal is to provide accurate, practical information that you can use in real life. We post a few blogs every month.
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Meet Our Financial Counseling Bloggers
Shannon Doyle holds a BS in Social Work from St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, MN. She became a Certified Consumer Credit Counselor in March of 2007. Before that she worked as an Employment Coach and a Community Organizer. Her previous experience helped her build a strong knowledge of economic and employment issues, as well as advocacy skills. She cares deeply about economic justice, consumer rights, and guiding women towards financial success. As a single mom she has made many money mistakes in her life and credits her friend and “money mentor”, as well as her current job, for being able to turn it around. Her use of personal experience and humor in her counseling allows her clients to feel at ease, understood, and encouraged to take control of their finances. Shannon’s main area of focus is on budget and debt counseling: especially student loans and managing college costs. She provides financial counseling for students at two local universities as well as from her main office in St. Louis Park.
Certified Financial Counselor
Katie Eastman has been working as a Financial Counselor since December of 2014. Prior to that she worked at a credit union for just under 11 years, the later years as a loan officer. This experience gave her an inside look at the whole world of finance; Katie knows first-hand the criteria creditors are looking for, plus the rules and regulations they must follow. She has enjoyed the transition to helping people reach their goals of getting out of debt instead of putting them further into debt. Coming from a large family and now raising a large family of her own, Katie knows how difficult it can be to stretch every dollar and she loves sharing creative ways her family has reduced expenses in their household. Born and raised in the Brainerd Lakes area, Katie is happy she is able to work out of our Brainerd office and help people in the community create manageable, workable budgets, review their credit reports, and come up with a game plan to get out of debt.
Senior Program Manager
Ashley Hagelin supervises the counselors for Financial Services. She came to LSS Financial Counseling as an intern in January of 2005 as a graduate from UMD with a major in Sociology. In 2005 she became a financial counselor and in 2006 she became HECM certified to provide Reverse Mortgage Counseling. She has provided thousands of one-on-one counseling sessions on personal finance topics from reverse mortgage to foreclosure prevention. In addition, she has developed and implemented our financial counseling internship program.
Her current role includes supervising the Duluth and Virginia debt counselors along with our scheduling team. It is her goal to provide efficient, effective, and compassionate service to our clients from start to finish.
Program Director, Partnerships and Financial Education
Cherrish Holland has worked with thousands of individuals and families to increase their financial well-being since beginning her career with LSS Financial Counseling in 1996. She has had the honor of hearing their stories and walking with them on their financial journeys.
Cherrish is a passionate advocate for consumer protection and normalizing conversations about money. She has conducted financial education workshops nationwide for in-person and webinar audiences.
She has been a consultant to several denominations that are addressing economic challenges facing pastoral leaders. Cherrish serves on the Board of Directors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is a member of the New London-Spicer, Minnesota school board.
Elaina graduated from Hamline University (St. Paul, MN) with her B.A. in Latin American Studies and in 2015 received her M.A. in Management from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. She worked for two years as a Financial and Employment Planner, leading the Wisconsin Works program and provided comprehensive case management to low income parents. In 2008 Elaina decided she wanted to empower people financially so she began working for LSS as a Financial Counselor and provided debt, budget, and foreclosure prevention counseling. Since she started with LSS, Elaina has been involved in every function of financial counseling from counseling to supervising counselors and the Scheduling Team to her current role as Program Director of DMP Operations and Support.
Mary Ellen Kaluza
Certified Financial Counselor
Mary Ellen Kaluza is a full-time financial counselor with LSS Financial Counseling in the Minneapolis office. She focuses on budget, debt, and credit counseling, along with financial education. When Mary Ellen isn’t working, she is a major home gardener, tending a plot the size of a city lot. Fortunately for Mary Ellen, she lives in a world-class biking city because she bikes all season long. Her most-cited accomplishment was acing Statistics at age 56 and loving it. Who knew? Bonus: She finally got a college degree after 37 years of fits and starts in her college career and a mountain of credits. Mother to a 24 year old Stanford graduate, Mary Ellen is happy the Bay Area didn’t hold its grasp on her daughter who now lives within biking distance.
Mei Lin Kroll
Certified Financial Counselor and Student Loan Counselor
Mei Lin Kroll graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in Speech Communication. She has been with LSS Financial Counseling since May 2018 and was recently certified as a student loan counselor. She knows how finances are woven into our daily routines and lives, and she prefers to approach client’s financial situation holistically and realistically. As a mother and wife, she knows what it is like to juggle life and finances and how to be realistic about one’s financial situation.
Certified Financial and Student Loan Counselor
Ray holds a B.A in Sociology from Augsburg University and a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Community/Economic Development from Penn State University. As an undergrad, he volunteered with Lutheran Social Service’s (LSS) housing services in South Minneapolis. He was a foreclosure mitigation counselor during the height of the Great Recession, then worked for the next nine years in areas such as recruitment, outreach and employment services. In November 2017, he returned to LSS as a Financial Counselor and became a Student Loan Counselor the following year.
As someone who has personally experienced financial hardships, Ray can relate to the experiences of the individuals he supports. He knows the importance of establishing a solid rapport and providing individuals with the best information and resources to achieve financial stability. Outside of work he finds joy in roller skating, cooking, watching documentaries and educating himself on investing and trading.
Kim was drawn to LSS Financial Counseling in 2004 because of her passion for financial education and helping people manage their budgets. She graduated from Bethel University with a B.A. in business and finance. She became a Certified Financial Counselor and later became a certified HUD Reverse Mortgage Counselor right before the housing crisis in 2007 until 2011. In her years as a financial counselor, Kim has worked for various non-profit agencies in different parts of the United States. She has listened to and worked with many wonderful people of all different backgrounds as they figured out their next steps to move their financial life forward.
Kim rejoined LSS Financial Counseling in 2020 after returning to Minnesota. Her goal is to provide financial wellness encouragement in a holistic manner.
Certified Financial and Student Loan Counselor
Dan Park works full-time as a financial counselor at the LSS Eustis location in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He has over 10 years housing and financial counseling experience in the nonprofit sector and is certified to offer Student Loan Counseling as well. Dan likes to take an honest approach to counseling and enjoys helping all members of the community meet their financial and credit goals. He is a lifelong Minneapolis resident and enjoys spending time outdoors with his family. Dan holds a B.A. in Sociology from Hamline University.
Certified Financial Counselor
April came to LSS Financial Counseling in 2008 with a background in helping homeless youth regain stable financial footing. While working with the youth she found a love of helping people achieve their financial goals, so the move to Financial Counseling fit her personal mission perfectly. April is a member of the Student Loan, Partner Relations, Financial Education, and Blog Teams.
A few years ago April helped a single mother develop a budget that she could feel comfortable with and confident in knowing that everything balanced. “Felicia” called her a few months after the appointment to let April know that she was still sticking to the budget and was able to put away and KEEP money in savings. “Felicia” said she was going to make sure her kids knew how to do this so they never had to feel lost and hopeless like she did with their finances. When the people April serves pay off their debts through a DMP she calls to congratulate them every time. April says: “It’s a great feeling to be able to tell someone that all their hard work paid off and to hear the pride in people’s voices when they acknowledge they made that choice to take action and conquer their debt.”
Maria started with LSS Financial Counseling in 2019 when she received her certification in financial counseling from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Her primary areas of focus are budgeting, debt and credit counseling. She joined the Financial Choice Team as a Partner Relations Specialist in January 2020. Prior to LSS she served 17 years as an assistant manager in the collections department at one of the top local credit unions. Maria has firsthand knowledge of how that world works and brings that expertise to her clients. When she isn’t working, she is on the sideline of a basketball court cheering on her daughter during varsity season or traveling around the U.S. for Amateur Athletic Union games.