Paying It Forward

Joy Avedesian exudes a sensitivity you might not expect from someone whose life revolves around the stresses of finance. As an insurance and investments representative with Northwestern Mutual, she’s looking to learn as much from her clients (and everyone else she encounters) as she hopes to teach them. “Every day, I’m still learning,” she says.

“It’s very important to have open communication with my clients,” Avedesian says. “You need compassion when you’re talking about finances, because it’s not black and white. Some real thought needs to go into planning your financial future.”

The 33-year-old’s thirst for knowledge started when she was growing up in Los Angeles. It followed her through the University of California, Irvine—where she majored in criminology, law and society—and shadowed her all the way to the White House, where she served as an intern during the Clinton administration.

There, she worked in the Office of National Drug Control Policy. She testified before Congress on the topic of anti-doping laws in the Olympics, sharing her perspective as a collegiate athlete (she played Division I soccer). It was a formative experience for Avedesian, who at age 21 worked with Clinton, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

“I think that with so much experience, you grow quickly,” she says. “So age becomes less relevant and experience becomes more relevant. The experience I got and the people I met gave me focus and drive. It helped me want to make a difference in people’s lives forever.”

Now, she makes that difference not only through her work with clients, but also through community work. Avedesian is the president of the Young Professional Women’s Club, a group that began a little more than a year ago and aims to help women get a jump-start on their careers, whether it’s through suit drives (collecting new and gently used suits for women in need) or other community events.

She also volunteers at youth soccer camps and hopes to travel the world building children’s confidence through soccer.

“I just think it’s really important for young people to have positive role models,” she says. “I feel like I can be that, and I can help. Why wouldn’t I?”