Funded by special grant from Cities for Financial Empowerment, Ortega will serve residents through Department of Social Services headquarters office at Civic Center

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh today announced Audriana Ortega has joined the Syracuse Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) team as a new full-time counselor. Ortega will provide free, professional, one-on-one financial counseling and coaching to residents receiving assistance through the Onondaga County’s Department of Social Services – Economic Security (DSS-ES).

“The Syracuse FEC counselors have served hundreds of clients over the last year, helping to eliminate more than half a million dollars in debt, so I have no doubt this addition will help to increase those numbers,” said Mayor Walsh. “With the support of Cities for Financial Empowerment, this is exactly the kind of collaboration that will help transform Syracuse by reducing poverty and creating sustainable financial futures for our residents.”

The new position was made possible by grant funding from the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund and will be administered by Home HeadQuarters, the non-profit partner of the Syracuse FEC. The direct access to expert, financial counseling for DSS-ES clients will offer cutting-edge support for families to achieve the goals of decreasing debt, increasing savings, improving credit scores and obtaining safe banking.

Ortega holds a B.S. from Syracuse University with a major in Business Management and a minor in Child & Family Policy Studies. As a bi-lingual financial educator, Ortega most recently worked as a Financial Relationship Specialist at ACMG Federal Credit Union, analyzing account lending prospects. In her previous role as District Leader at National Benefit Life Insurance Company, she managed insurance products while informing low income families about policy protection options.

In her new role as a dedicated Syracuse FEC Counselor working with DSS-ES clients, Ortega will:

  • conduct counseling sessions;
  • create individualized financial action plans;
  • track and report client outcomes; and,
  • determine appropriate referrals to integrate wrap-around support services.

“This direct access to free financial counseling is an amazing opportunity for those individuals and families working with County DSS-ES staff,” said Kerry Quaglia, Home HeadQuarters CEO. “The value of this partnership between the County and City will be seen in countless positive outcomes for participating families who live in our community.

While all Syracuse FEC counseling staff are typically located at various non-profit organizations and businesses throughout the city, including the Cooperative Federal Credit Union, NEHDA and Home HeadQuarters, counselors are currently providing financial counseling virtually using on-line and telephone platforms as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ortega will be located on site at the Civic Center within DSS-ES’s office space once access the public is restored.

As a passionate advocate for equitable opportunities, Ortega has experience working to determine the monetary needs for underprivileged families. Her financial knowledge will help equip clients with the resources needed to combat poverty and grow towards becoming economically secure.

The completion of a 45-hour training course, in addition to passing the exam to officially become a FEC Counselor, is required for each hire prior to working with clients. Ortega is scheduled to begin working directly with clients remotely in December 2020. Onondaga County residents receiving DSS-ES services can make an appointment with the Syracuse FEC by calling (315) 474-1939 ext. 5, emailing or by visiting

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