Women in Public Finance wants to recognize the
remarkable women who have broken down barriers and paved the way for other
women in our industry. Throughout the year, we are spotlighting a number of
these inspiring and impactful women.
Do you know someone that should be featured?
If you’d like to nominate someone for consideration, please access the entry form.
Director of Business DevelopmentIce Miller LLP
Jennifer is the Director of Business Development for Ice Miller, supporting national sales initiatives with a focus on the needs of public clients across the firm in practice areas such as traditional public finance, P3, housing, higher education, healthcare, cyber and cannabis. On the conference circuit as well as through social media, Jennifer can be found making connections around the country to expand the network of Ice Miller partners and matching the needs of clients and intermediaries with the depth of experience Ice Miller offers.
Prior to joining Ice Miller in August 2021, she was a Vice President of Business Development at BNY Mellon, where she led corporate trust business development efforts for the public finance sector in the Midwest and Northeast. She previously served as Regional President and Vice President of product program and retail operations for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. Previously, Jennifer worked in corporate escrow and commercial paper as an Assistant Vice President in JPMorgan Chase’s Worldwide Security Services Group.
Jennifer currently serves as Vice President of Conference and board member of national Women in Public Finance and the Miller Community Fund. She is a prior board member of Chicago Women in Public Finance and previously was the Chair of BNY Mellon’s Women’s Initiative Network. Jennifer also knits for several charitable organizations in need of hats, gloves and scarves, such as Knots of Love and Indiana Youth Group. Jennifer is also a member of Northeast Women in Public Finance, and was recognized as a 2021 Trailblazer, honoring women in public finance who are helping to define a new generation of leaders.
She is also an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Calumet College of Saint Joseph, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science. She earned her Master of Business Administration from Purdue University.
What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome during your career to get to where you are today?
I did not grow up in a family where college was the next logical step after high school, so much of my college experience was nights and weekends “catching up” with degrees required for the jobs I already had. By the time I earned each degree it never seemed something to celebrate as I felt I was behind. Through generous mentors and sponsors I found my way and eventually discovered the perfect role to maximize my network and abilities. Since then, I have also found my voice and do my best to speak up for nontraditional students and people finding their way in public finance… I will always use my network to help others find their next step.
What advice would you offer to your younger self or other women embarking on a career in public finance? Be confident in what you know and be clear in what you do not know. There is always something to learn in public finance and being curious is the key to success… curious about deal structures, people and parts of public finance outside your wheelhouse. Make time for people with more experience than you and bring people into the room who have less experience than you. Public finance is a careful balance of learning, teaching and collaborating to bring the most brilliant minds and ideas together to solve challenges for communities. Public finance is one of the most impactful ways to change the world.
WPF thanks Jennifer for her enthusiasm in supporting women in our industry in so many different ways and for all of her valuable contributions to our organization.
Executive Director Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico
On December 4, 2014, Natalie Jaresko received a Ukrainian passport and was sworn in as the first female finance minister of Ukraine.
Ukraine had recently been invaded by Russia, and it was struggling with a collapsing economy and a debt load that was impossible to repay. Ukraine needed to restructure the debt, build an army to defend itself against a nuclear power, and balance its budget. It was a monumental task: 7% of the territory was occupied and 20% of the GDP had been destroyed.
Natalie sat at the table with heavyweights like Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF at the time; Joe Biden, then Vice President of the U.S., and Angela Merkel, then German Chancellor, to negotiate a way forward for Ukraine.
She led the successful negotiation and implementation of a $40 billion balance of payments package, including the largest IMF program in the institution's history at the time.
She reduced the budget deficits while securing the funds to build a successful military that keeps defending Ukraine today, in addition to restructuring Ukraine's $18 billion of privately held government debt at a 20% haircut negotiated with some of the largest and toughest investors on Wall Street.
Natalie returned to the U.S. in 2017 to become executive director of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico. After decades of fiscal challenges, economic decline, and a dramatically shrinking population, Puerto Rico found itself with almost $130 billion of liabilities and unfunded pension obligations, which was unsustainable.
Congress created a legal path for Puerto Rico to restructure its debt, and created an Oversight Board with two mandates: (i) restore Puerto Rico's access to capital markets, and (ii) help achieve fiscal responsibility.
The seven Oversight Board members needed, as Chairman David Skeel likes to put it, a “quarterback” to ensure the legal mandates were fulfilled: “Smart, tireless, and creative,” Skeel said. Natalie Jaresko is all that.
In Puerto Rico, Natalie led the largest public sector bankruptcy in U.S. history, broke more than a decades-long cycle of deficit spending, and again forced budgetary transparency.
For Natalie, Puerto Rico was an opportunity to show what government can do for its people. She ensured balanced budgets while increasing funding for health and public safety.
She led negotiations with creditors that reduced $72 billion of debt to $34 billion, and she made sure a debt management policy existed to avoid the practices of the past. The agreement with creditors for the government debt alone, now confirmed by the U.S. District court and fully effective, provided fair payouts for creditors while saving Puerto Rico more than $50 billion in debt service.
Ending the Puerto Rico government's bankruptcy will allow the economy to grow and the people to prosper.
WPF thanks Natalie Jaresko for generously taking the time to share her inspirational story at our 2021 annual conference in Chicago.