One of four girls in a low-income family, Peg had her future changed by her eighth-grade math teacher. “She asked who would go to college, ‘Raise your hand,’ and I didn’t raise my hand, because my mother told me we were too poor for me to go to college. The teacher said, ‘Peggy Downey, raise your hand! Anybody who wants to go to college can find a way to pay for it.’” Peg worked her way through college with the help of scholarships and loans, inspiring her sisters to do the same.
At the American Association of University Women (AAUW), she created programs on women’s issues, including a two-year financial education program. In 1980 she and Denise Leish founded Money Plans to provide financial advice primarily to women. “Keep in mind,” she notes, “that this was a time when it was very difficult for women to obtain credit, mortgages, or loans in their own name.”
Since then, Money Plans’ primary marketing strategy has been Peg’s hundreds of presentations to women’s groups and her writings on women and finances. She served on NAPFA’s Board from 1989-93 and was Chair of NAPFA in 1992-93.
Her links with the other two Direction$ partners developed while she was Dean of NAPFA University’s School of Communication, a position she’s held for the past five years. Peg explains, “When Eleanor Blayney came to speak to our Women’s Initiative, people told her she needed to talk to me, since we shared a similar passion for addressing women in new and creative ways.”
Eleanor had also been contacted by Elizabeth, whom Peg had met while doing training for George Kinder’s Seven Stages of Money Maturity program. Peg says, “I remembered Elizabeth as being extremely impressive, so I encouraged Eleanor to follow up and get her to come and meet with us.”
Return to “Majority Report: A New Approach to Advising Women.”