Independent Means Inc.


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IMI Team

Joline Godfrey

Families & Family Offices

Financial Institutions

Private Schools & Non-Profits

Rai$ing Financially Fit Kids

DollarDiva World





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IMI Team

The Independent Means staff and trainers are an experienced group who believe that financial literacy is a gateway to independence, character development, and life long well being.

We also share a belief that financial literacy is important to both poor and privileged kids and that financial literacy cuts across both race and class. Our programs and materials are as relevant to those who struggle to make ends meet as to those who are teaching their kids to shepherd wealth.

At the heart of the company is a set of values shared by team members:

---- Money is a tool for achieving and maintaining independence. Saving is good; accumulation for its own sake is not. Spending is best done wisely and within one’s means (though a bold purchase of investment may also be an act of wisdom); greed is not good. Giving generously is part of one’s responsibility to the human family; shepherding wealth is an act of respect – to the past and to the future. Money is an energy (not a commodity) that can be used for evil or for good. ----


Joline Godfrey, Founder and CEO
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Since 1992, Joline Godfrey has been a pioneer in financial education for children and parents. Originator of a unique developmental approach to financial education, her work gives families new tools for raising children growing up in the midst of abundance. Her company, Independent Means Inc. (IMI), offers custom services and programs for affluent families and the companies that serve them. IMI’s seminars for parents (Raising Financially Fit Kids), as well as their programs for young people (DollarDiva and MoneyGuys workshops; Camp $tart-Up and Summer$tock) offer unique and entertaining experiences in financial education for the whole family.

In addition to being the CEO of Independent Means, Godfrey is the author of Our Wildest Dreams: Women Making Money, Having Fun, Doing Good; No More Frogs To Kiss: 99 Ways to Give Economic Power to Girls; and Twenty $ecrets to Money and Independence: The DollarDiva’s Guide to Life, and Raising Financially Fit Kids.

Godfrey is a graduate of the University of Maine and Boston University (where she received an MSW), and was awarded an Honorary Degree in Business from Bentley College in 1995.

Godfrey was a Kellogg Fellow from 1989 to1992. She is the recipient of the Leavey Award for Excellence and the Beta Gamma Sigma Entrepreneurship Award. Recognized in features for the Today show, Oprah, Fortune, Business Week, The New York Times, and more, Godfrey is a frequent speaker and consultant worldwide.


Lynn Karlson, Vice President, Family Education Services
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Lynn Karlson recently rejoined IMI as Vice President of Family Education Services. Her relationship with Independent Means began in 1994, as a founding member. During her tenure, she was instrumental in the development and management of such core programs as Camp $tart-Up, An Income of Her Own conferences, and Train the Trainer workshops. Karlson also led the creation of some of the company’s most popular products, including Hot Company™ and Product in a Box™.

Taking a break from IMI for several years, Karlson continued to hone her leadership and management skills as an active community volunteer. Among her volunteer responsibilities she served two terms as chairperson of the Channel Islands YMCA board of directors, an association board that provides governance for seven Central Coast YMCAs. From 2003 to 2006, she also served as President of the Nonprofit Support Center board, a management services organization that helps other nonprofits do their good work even better. Karlson has also been an adjunct faculty member of Santa Barbara City College, where she taught an introductory course in business administration.

Before moving to Santa Barbara in 1989, Karlson was an Assistant Economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, first in the research department, and then in the public affairs department, where she was primarily involved with public outreach and education. She has an M.S. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from Colorado State University, and a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Colorado.


Lisë Funkhouser Paul, Vice President, Corporate Education Services
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Lisë Funkhouser Paul, Vice President of Corporate Financial Education Services, is responsible for developing new business among existing and new clients. She manages the company’s institutional relationships, and helps them define and implement financial education programs for their high-net-worth clients and wealth advisors. Paul provides strategic direction for new products and service offerings for IMI’s growing roster of institutional clients

She comes to IMI from Morgan Stanley, where she was a Financial Advisor/Retirement Planning Specialist. With more than 11 years experience in the financial industry, Paul helped her clients accumulate and preserve wealth through comprehensive portfolio management and financial, retirement, estate and charitable planning. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Paul developed and marketed educational and entertainment software for Mattel, Time Warner, and Vivendi Universal. During the 1980s, she worked at California Federal Bank as a Corporate Marketing Manager, Corporate Business Development Manager, and Vice President/Branch Manager in Century City.

Paul has been extremely active in philanthropy by and for women. She is Program Chair of the Donor’s Circle of Los Angeles (Women’s Foundation of California), for which she helps raise grants for economic empowerment programs for girls at risk. As a banker and financial advisor, she specialized in empowering women to manage their money. She has also helped women of all ages overcome gender stereotypes about math and finance, giving them tools to become women of independent means.

Paul graduated with a B.A. in History with honors from Mount Holyoke College. She has her Series 7, 66, and California Life Agent licenses.


Melinda Little, Vice President
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Melinda Little is one of the founding members and a principal of IMI, and has worn many hats over the past 11 years. In her current role as Vice President, she acts as liaison with IMI's intellectual property attorneys; and she oversees Camp $tart-Up, the DollarDiva Business Plan Competition and various special projects.
IMI is Little's second entrepreneurial venture. In 1987, she co-founded The Company of Women, a pioneering mail-order catalog company that marketed inspirational/whimsical products celebrating women’s achievements. As CEO, she particularly enjoyed directing the merchandising and product development, and overseeing the production and mailing of the catalogs.

Little has an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.A. from Wellesley College.


Ellen Sklarz, Managing Editor
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Ellen Sklarz is IMI’s Managing Editor, overseeing all IMI publications (MoneyWise, Dollar Diva and Advisor newsletters), as well as press strategy and public relations. As a journalist, she was a feature writer, columnist, and editor for the Los Angeles Times.  She was founding editor and columnist for L.A. Style magazine, as well as author and editor for numerous magazines and books. After completing a variety of public-relations projects, Sklarz then co-founded Threshold Productions, Inc., an independent film production company that donated a significant percentage of its producing fees to the individual or organization whose life and/or work was the basis for such projects. Most notably, Threshold produced In the Line of Fire: The Morris Dees Story.

Recently, Sklarz was Admissions Director at Oak Grove School in Ojai, CA. Founded by world-renowned educator, writer and speaker J. Krishnamurti, the accredited private school serves students from preschool through 12th grade. At Oak Grove, she was also responsible for writing and/or editing much of the written materials sent out by the school.

A native of New York, Sklarz received her B.A. in speech communication and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the State University of New York at Buffalo. While completing her M.A. from the University of New Mexico, also in speech communication, she taught the university courses, Fundamentals of Speech Communication and Interpersonal Communication. She received Dean’s List Honors throughout her academic career, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.


Amanda Bridgers, Executive Assistant
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Amanda Bridgers recently joined Independent Means Inc. (IMI) as Executive Assistant for CEO Joline Godfrey, and is the general office manager. In those capacities, she arranges all workshops and speaking engagements as well as travel requirements; maintains customer service; helps in product development; and oversees all shipping and receiving.

Prepared for everything that comes across her desk, Bridgers learned her multitasking skills and great flexibility as an administrative assistant/bookkeeper for a construction firm in Santa Barbara, where she simultaneously scheduled jobs, managed all customer-related issues, maintained and reconciled all bank and credit statements, and composed and edited all business correspondence.

Bridgers received her B.A. in English Literature at California State University Channel Islands.


Kristen Koch, Technology and Product Strategy Manager
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Kristen Koch is guiding IMI’s website and technology development as well as product strategy. Since 2002, she has been an independent financial advisor at Tremblay Financial Services with her Series 7, 66, and California Life Agent licenses, and she obtained Certified Financial Planner™ certification in 2005. Koch works with clients who need comprehensive planning, as well as those who have specific needs, including retirement planning, education expense planning, insurance protection, and investing to accumulate capital. She also addresses tax and estate planning needs.

An avid sports enthusiast, Koch played basketball on a full scholarship for the Green Wave at Tulane University in New Orleans. She won four Conference U.S.A. championships, and participated in the NCAA Tournament all four years. After graduating, she moved to Santa Barbara, California, where she worked as an assistant coach and camp director for the University of California at Santa Barbara women’s basketball team. Today – in addition to her career as financial advisor and her work with IMI – Koch directs Nike-sponsored basketball tournaments for girls’ high school and club teams to showcase their skills to college coaches.

Koch received a B.S.M. in Marketing from Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School of Business.

Book Joline Godfrey for a speaking engagement:

Contact us at (805) 965-0475

The book: Raising Financially Fit Kids

Buy It Now

(click on book for chapter listing and excerpts )


June 21-28
Camp $tart-Up for Girls, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

July 19-27
Camp $tart-Up for Boys & Girls, Clark University, Worcester, MA

July 27–August 2
Summer$tock for Boys & Girls, Clark University, Worcester, MA

More events in the Calendar