Lourdes Zuniga paves a path toward financial literacy.


By Chandler Maloney, Photos courtesy of Financial Health Pathways

Financial literacy advocate Lourdes Zuniga was raised in a family of writers who instilled philanthropic values. Her parents taught her at a young age that not everyone has the same access to resources. “Naturally, I broke into nonprofits because that is something my family has always been passionate about,” Zuniga says. “I was brought up to look at people and consider how I could open doors for them.” After graduating from university with a communications degree, Zuniga left her home country of Peru for the unfamiliar city of Austin. She worked in restaurants and hospitals before partnering with Financial Health Pathways (FHP). Her organization helps vulnerable communities navigate societal hurdles.

Honored for her leadership, Zuniga has dedicated her life to serving low-income communities. She helps people overcome obstacles she learned from personal experience when she first arrived in the United States 20 years ago. Although originally employed in the hospitality industry, she transitioned her energy toward nonprofits half a decade ago. As the executive director of Financial Health Pathways, she has helped more than 15,000 people build financial literacy and confidence through various outreach programs.


FHP is a nonprofit organization that teaches money management to underserved and neglected communities. Originally an organization focused on content delivery, Zuniga “recently rebranded the organization to add an arm of advocacy and awareness of critical issues in the financial space.” As the visionary behind the operation, she creates service opportunities, initiates fundraising events and develops relationships with policymakers. She invests her energy toward “helping communities have better services that are fair and not based on assumptions.” Zuniga fights for systemic changes that will aid future generations in achieving financial security.

She recently collaborated with Sen. Carol Alvarado to create a bill that established a financial education class for Texas public high school students. “For me, personally, as a Latina immigrant, being able to move legislation is something that I am very proud of,” Zuniga says. “It was an honor that the senator learned about my work and wanted to write a bill with me.” Although Senate Bill 1063 was approved, her work is far from over. Zuniga now advocates to various state school boards to implement the course into their core curriculum.
Not only does she encourage children to prepare for their financial future, but she also assists adults through the award-winning Financial Justice Program, a project that she refers to as her “pride and joy.” This court-mandated program educates individuals about the importance of having insurance and a driver’s license. After two years, the program has led to the dismissal of over 2,000 cases and over half a million dollars in fines. “The true issue is that we need to change policies and we need to change systems,” Zuniga says.

She has been awarded numerous accolades for her involvement with the local community and efforts to improve the livelihoods of others. Last year, she won the Austin Business Journal’s Profiles in Power award, an honor that recognizes women based on their leadership and community engagement. She was also part of the exclusive group to be inducted into the Presidential Leadership Scholar program. “If somebody told me 20 years ago that I would be sitting with President Bill Clinton and President George Bush, I would not have believed them,” Zuniga admits.

While she is proud of her leadership and what she has accomplished, her goal is “to open doors for others and young people that need to see role models that look like them,” Zuniga says. “If you look at the demographics, Hispanics are not enrolling in college because they don’t see successful Hispanics in the media.” Her mission is to act as a catalyst for others like herself to build their own wealth and happiness by providing them with the necessary tools. “Hopefully, they can go higher than I have,” Zuniga says. “If I can do that, my purpose in life has been fulfilled.”



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