We are thrilled to welcome Merlin Salamanca to the FreeFrom team. As Credit Program Director, Merlin will be creating, developing and scaling FreeFrom's credit repair and credit building services for survivors.
Merlin’s passion for spreading the message of financial literacy and protection among marginalized communities led her to receive a Master’s in Business Administration at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, where she focused on finance, marketing and organizational behavior. At Tepper, she was a Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) pre-MBA fellow, a Forté fellow, as well as a Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (CGSM) fellow. Upon graduation, she began a Financial Fitness Coaching certification through the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE).
Her family migrated to the U.S. when she was only 3 months old to escape the violence of El Salvador’s civil war. After years of observing many socioeconomic disparities in her community, Merlin used the tools available to her in order to create culturally competent tools for and promote financial stability in marginalized communities. She designed the QuinceDream app to provide Latino families with a way to budget and plan for Quinceañera celebrations while honoring the tradition.
As an undergrad at U.C. Berkeley, Merlin double majored in Ethnic Studies and Chicano/Latino and received a certificate from the Business for Arts, Engineering and Science (BASE) program at the Haas School of Business. After graduation, Merlin transitioned to Alameda Family Services (AFS), where she worked in various roles over 5 years, specifically for the Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS) federal preschool program, serving mostly low-income immigrant families. Beginning as an Administrative Coordinator in the Finance department, Merlin eventually became Business Analyst where she was responsible for the management of a $3M federal grant. Upon identifying a need for financial literacy among clients, she initiated workshops to provide the community with a way toward financial stability.