Toinette Rivas: Advisory Board Profile

Toinette Rivas is a founding member of Compass’ Advisory Board. She currently works in institutional equity sales at Bernstein, following several years in research and sales at Credit Suisse. Toinette is a native of Miami, Florida and a graduate of Colby College. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her family.

We recently sat down with Toinette to learn more about what drew her to get involved with Compass and what she wants others to know about the organization.

Compass: You’ve been involved with Compass in several different capacities for more than six years. What was it that initially attracted you to the organization?

Toinette: I first learned about Compass through a friend who was on the Board. I’m a big believer in nonprofits that focus on giving people the tools they need to succeed. Also, I grew up in Miami with a mother who is a social worker for the elderly. I’ve seen how much time she spends with her clients on finances and what they can afford. Through my mom’s work I have seen the gap that exists for people in terms of having the financial information they need to move forward. Solving this gap is at the heart of Compass’ mission.

I also really connect to Compass because of its focus on serving women and the Hispanic community. My grandparents came to this country from Cuba, and were able to get the tools and help they needed to succeed. Today in Massachusetts, that’s not the case for a lot of others, and I feel like Compass is helping to change that.

Compass: Can you tell us a little bit about the different ways you’ve supported Compass over the years?

Toinette: I’ve always been involved with the Annual Breakfast Benefit – inviting people in my network to attend, and giving Compass a chance to share its work with more people. Over the last couple years, I’ve been involved with the Advisory Board and the Board Program Committee. That’s given me the chance to really understand the work Compass does and its impact, such as the recent study by Abt Associates on the Compass model, or the opt-out pilot in Cambridge.

Compass: You mentioned having done a lot of work to introduce other people you know to Compass. What do you usually tell people about Compass to get them interested?

Toinette: It’s an easy story to sell. Everyone has their own personal experience of not understanding a credit card statement or mortgage statement and so on. And there’s the recognition that all of us have gotten help to get to where we are, so it’s important for us to provide that same support to others. I talk about how the program is really focused on supporting people and giving them the tools to reach their own goals. I also talk about the American Dream – Compass is helping people to build savings, to create a better life for themselves and their families.

Compass: Do you have any favorite memories from your involvement with Compass?

Toinette: My favorite part has been seeing Compass grow. When I met the Founder, Sherry, for coffee six years ago, Compass didn’t even have its own office in Boston. It’s incredible to have watched the organization grow from Cambridge and Lynn to across New England and the nation. The model is so scalable and there is truly such a big opportunity for Compass to change so many peoples’ lives. I also love seeing the individual client’s stories – Rosa’s video is my favorite.

Compass: Do you have any big goals or ideas that you'd like to bring to your work with Compass in the future?

Toinette: I know Compass is really focused on serving families, but I feel like there’s an opportunity to help more young people figure out a financial road map. Some of the basic financial education that Compass provides can help young people, too. My sister is a volunteer with a mentoring program and I was able to connect her mentee with a coach at Compass for some advice. It was great to see how that kind of connection was such a help to her, too.