Alumni Spotlights
GGU alum Joaquin Wallace
January 26, 2023 |

Alumnus Joaquin Wallace Helps Black Communities Build Wealth


When Dr. Joaquin Wallace was growing up in Oakland, California with his parents—Emanuel, a laborer, and Dorothy Ann, a restaurant cook/hostess—he never envisioned a future in higher education.  

“Education isn’t pushed in some African-American communities,” commented Joaquin. “It’s important to see someone who looks like you in a classroom environment because then you realize, I can do that too.” 

Today, Joaquin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from San Francisco State University, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) from Golden Gate University.  

“Only 2.4% of Black men earn an advanced terminal degree and I’m proud to say that I’m part of that group,” reflected Joaquin. “What differentiates me from many is that I have practical experience from GGU.” 

Joaquin has dedicated his career—spanning professional sports, education, and community advocacy—to eradicating poverty and increasing generational wealth in Black and brown communities. He founded Project Transition, a welfare-to-work program that has benefited 1,000 individuals in Alameda County, and authored “Welfare to Work: A Practitioner’s Perspective on How to Develop and Implement a Successful Welfare to Work Program”. He’s worked in the financial advising area since 2014 and has served as a licensed financial advisor for Prudential since 2017. Currently, he’s a financial well-being coach with nonprofit Operation Hope in collaboration with Wells Fargo that provides financial coaching services to underserved individuals inside Wells Fargo bank branches.  

Joaquin pulls from his experience as a teacher and author as well as lessons he gleaned from mentors. 

“GGU instructor James Williams was the first Black teacher I ever had and the first instructor I met who looked like me and held an advanced degree,” recalls Joaquin. “He inspired me to do so much.” 

At GGU, Joaquin was taught the Harvard Case Study Analysis, a framework he used while serving as the head coach of San Francisco State Basketball when putting together his team going into the next season. He used that same framework to launch Project Transition and uses it today when formulating retirement plans with clients.  

“GGU was very influential in terms of starting my career and 20 years later I still practice what I’ve learned.” 

During his DBA program, Joaquin worked closely with tenured associate professor Dr. Marcia Ruben. 

“Marcia Ruben has been so instrumental in my growth,” reflects Joaquin. “She reached deep inside of me to pull out some stuff to get me where I am today in my career. Her feedback has catapulted me into getting out there with the confidence that I can do it.” 

Today, Joaquin is working on a book and podcast promoting a comprehensive model he has created that will allow financial advisors to provide science-backed coaching that transforms clients’ financial well-being. His model addresses unconscious attitudes toward money that impact financial decision-making and the financial education passed down to individuals through the generations. Joaquin believes that robust financial knowledge is essential to eliminating poverty in underserved communities of color. 

“Having the practical skill set plus the education places me into a completely different situation than I was in before,” reflects Joaquin. “Now that I have the doctorate, I know the theory and I can give you real-world case studies because of the clients I work with every day. That combination of theory and practical knowledge is what enables you to become a change agent.” 

Additionally, Joaquin recently received an offer to come back to GGU to teach undergraduate courses.

“It’s perfect timing and I look forward to giving back to the University.”

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