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ABLE Savings & Ice Baths: Meet Mary Rubenis, Vestwell's VP of Client Relationships

ABLE Savings & Ice Baths: Meet Mary Rubenis, Vestwell's VP of Client Relationships

Earlier this year, Vestwell had the pleasure of welcoming Mary Rubenis to the team as our VP of Client Relationships for the Vestwell State Savings team. With a career spanning from working in state government to being a small business owner, Mary’s unique perspective and unbridled enthusiasm have helped Vestwell maintain high standards of ownership and accountability. Her specialized knowledge of ABLE plans, which are tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families, has also been an important asset to the Vestwell team.

In sitting down with Mary, we had the opportunity to ask her about her career, passions, and what she sees happening in the ABLE space moving forward.

To start: Tell us about your journey to get here. What did your career look like before Vestwell?

“Prior to coming here, I worked at the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA), where I did outreach and partnership building for the Massachusetts ABLE savings program, which is available nationwide and not just for Massachusetts residents. I was there for five years, and it was incredibly rewarding. They are a great resource for families with a mission to help people plan, save, and pay for college. As part of that, they offer both 529 College Saving plans as well as ABLE plans.”

How did you come into 529 ABLE plans as a specialization?

“I had taken a career break after my daughter was born and was doing a little bit of freelance work. Around this time, it became apparent that someone in my family had challenges with a disability, so I became super familiar with resources and local organizations for helping people with disabilities. Then, when this position opened up, with my communications background and personal experience, it felt like a perfect fit. It was a meshing of the two worlds I walked in. So I am super excited about helping families and individuals who struggle to find resources because the journey is very challenging.”

“I’d also say I’m incredibly passionate about this work because of how important it is. On the mental health side, even with insurance, there’s so much that isn’t covered. However, if you have an ABLE account, you can actually use that to pay for these often uncovered qualified disability expenses. That includes appointments you might have with a provider that doesn’t take your particular insurance.”

What is it about the Vestwell opportunity that got you interested? When you saw the job posting, what were you considering?

“I thought it was a great opportunity, and I was drawn to the mission: Closing the savings gap in retirement, education, and in the disability space with ABLE accounts. A mission that touches on those three pathways is really powerful. It’s always been my passion to help people in any way I can. It’s definitely personal for me, and I feel like in the ABLE space that’s really important. If you can reach someone who has a personal connection to someone with a disability, that can go a long way toward increasing adoption.”

What recent developments in this field are you the most excited about?

“I’d definitely say the ABLE Age Adjustment Act, which is a piece of legislation that would expand the age of eligibility. Right now, it cuts off at age 26, so people who have a disability occurring later in life are excluded from ABLE, which is common among veterans, for example. This legislation would expand the use of ABLE for people up to age 46, which is a huge window. I believe it could open it up to as many as six million additional individuals.”

“The other development that I think is fantastic is from NAST, the National Association of State Treasurers. They just launched a site called ABLE Today, and they are putting a ton of content on the site. They came up with these learning modules that help people understand what ABLE is and what it can offer. They are really digging down on financial wellness, which is an important angle. I think it’s a wonderful resource.”

Outside of your experience working with state programs, what do you uniquely bring to the Vestwell team?

“I guess I would say that I’m a big proponent of wellness. I think self-care is important and you should holistically take care of yourself. It’s why I love wellness benefits, like companies that offer a financial wellness benefit such as an ABLE or 529 benefit—that’s fantastic. I’d love to increase the participation of those here. Other wellness builds who you are outside of work, and that’s a key component to staying well, whether it’s physical exercise or other forms like meditation, etc.”

“On that note, I just started doing cold immersion therapy. My favorite podcast is the Huberman Lab, where they talk a lot about overall health, and he talks frequently about cold immersion. It’s kind of like cryotherapy for athletes, but an example would be people going into the ocean year-round. There are huge health benefits to it. You try to stay in for more than a few minutes because there’s research around getting a dopamine boost, metabolism benefits, and decreased inflammation. I do it a few times a week—there’s a group of women North of Boston who all meet and we do it together.”

Lastly, how do you like to unwind when you have some free time?

“Besides the cold immersion, I just love the outdoors. I have a golden retriever puppy who is six months old, so she’s awesome. I take her in the woods and explore different places or take her to the park.”

“I also love art. Sometimes I’ll do different art classes. I just did an encaustic painting, which is painting with wax. I’m a big believer in the idea that ‘people should do physical stuff,’ like exercise, but everyone should have a creative thing too. It enhances who you are and feeds your creativity.”

Join Mary (And Others!) as Part of the Vestwell Team

Vestwell is hiring in roles all across our organization! Whether you're interested in reinventing the retirement space or just want to surround yourself with intelligent, affable, and driven people like Mary Rubenis, we'd love to count you as part of the team.

Learn more about the opportunities available at Vestwell by checking our careers page, here.