Jeremy W. Hegle, a native Missourian, began helping on his grandfather’s farm at the age of 12. Eventually he served in the Army National Guard, launched a thriving business support organization and now works as a senior community development advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. In all of these endeavors, he's tapped into his passion for helping others.
“I love my job and feel very fortunate to be able to do the work I do,” Jeremy said. “Shortly after I joined the Bank, I heard President Esther George speak to a community group and stress that the economy should work for everyone; I’ve internalized this as being at the core of all of our community development initiatives.
Jeremy implements community development investment, small business and workforce development initiatives in Kansas and western Missouri. He also leads the Bank’s financial stability efforts across the seven-state Tenth District and much of the Bank’s communication efforts about community development.
In 2016, he piloted a financial capability program designed for social-service professionals. The initiative stems from the notion that when a family is sitting across from a social worker and needs assistance with health care, child welfare, housing or emergency assistance, a financial issue almost always is involved. And because financial education largely is absent from most social-service degree programs, many social workers are ill-equipped to fully address clients’ needs.
The pilot program provided 127 social workers with training and resources on a variety of issues their clients face—such as understanding credit, budgeting, consumer protection and saving. “The goal wasn’t to make them financial gurus,” Jeremy said, “but to better equip them in addressing their client’s needs.”
The feedback from participants was extremely positive. In a follow-up survey, 94 percent of participants indicated they had used the training in client interactions. “It’s extremely gratifying knowing that we are making a difference in the lives of low and moderate-income families,” he added. In 2017, the program expanded from Kansas City to Denver, Oklahoma City and Omaha.
Jeremy, who has worked in community development for 15 years, has been at the KC Fed for almost three years. Previously, he helped launch KCSourceLink, a small-business support organization that links thousands of entrepreneurs with resources to start, grow and accelerate their businesses. Jeremy also expanded the business model to other regions and consulted with nonprofits and national and international government agencies on how to make entrepreneurship easier. In that role, he began working with the KC Fed’s community development staff to co-host entrepreneurship programs and eventually joined the team.
He also spends his downtime helping the community, serving on the Good Samaritan Project's Advisory Board and the Prosperity Center's Community Advisory Board. Additionally, three years ago, he started a running program for residing kids at Cornerstones of Care’s Gillis Campus. In the spring and fall, he coaches and runs three days a week with the children, building them up to run 5K road races. The kids are often facing tough issues at home and the runs give them a healthy outlet to release their energy.
“Finishing the 5K races gives them a great sense of accomplishment,” he said. “It’s a very rewarding experience to be part of.”