To say that Matuschka Lindo Briggs is successful would be an understatement.
As Vice President and Regional Executive of the Little Rock Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Briggs has accomplished a phenomenal amount in her career.
Born in Panama City in Central America, Briggs shared that her first language is Spanish. She learned English in second grade and became a naturalized U.S. citizen during high school.
“My dad was in the Air Force, and I was raised a military brat,” Briggs explained. “Although we were military, we did not travel much.”
Briggs’ family lived in Panama, then Sacramento, then returned to Panama.
“We came back to the United States for good and landed in Enid, Oklahoma. I graduated from high school there before going to college at William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri. Back then, it was an all-girls school,” Briggs recalled. “I received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communications and minored in Political Science. I received my MBA at Washington University in St. Louis.”
Briggs has been married to her husband, Malcolm Briggs, for nearly 30 years. The two met working for NBC in St. Louis. They have two adult children, a son in Chicago and a daughter in Fort Worth, Texas.
Briggs’ began her career as a television reporter for NBC affiliate WHO13 in Des Moines, Iowa. From there, she went to St. Louis to work for KSDK-TV. When she chose to marry the sportscaster at the NBC station, the station’s owner, Gannett, had a nepotism clause at the time — meaning that one of them had to leave. Matuschka left the station and started freelancing.
“I did radio for local stations, including ESPN. I freelanced as a reporter for a few cable television stations, then took a few years off after my second child was born,” she shared.
When she jumped back into the workforce, Briggs continued to freelance as a reporter as well as dabble in acting, appearing in a few movies and many commercials. “Nothing that would win me an Emmy,” she said.
“I usually ended up on the cutting room floor when it came to acting. But, I met great people and had so much fun. Getting makeup done in the trailers and hearing behind-the-scenes scoops about the cast was my favorite part.
“Then, I dabbled in politics as a press secretary for a gubernatorial candidate. Though I loved the position, the 24-hour news cycle helped me decide that politics was not for me. I have a ringtone from those days that still makes me nauseous.”
The combination of working with politicians in Washington, D.C., and doing a host of political reporting, as well as having a strong communications background, brought a great opportunity for Briggs at the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis in 2015.
The U.S. Treasury then had a product called myRA, or My Retirement Account. Working through the St. Louis Fed, Briggs’ role was to help organizations provide a free way to save for their employees with myRA. The impact of providing a product that could help low-to-moderate income individuals and part-time employees who were not provided a 401(k) was inspiring to Briggs.
“I was making a difference in people’s lives, and not only could I see it, but they were also telling me how much they appreciated it. People who had never saved before were learning to ‘Set it and forget it.’ Some were saving as little as one dollar a week, but it was a start and very empowering for them,” she said.
That feeling of empowering others led Briggs to understand the importance of financial access for all. As she continued through various roles at the Fed, Briggs noticed they all revolved around relationship building, community development and helping in sharing in the transparency of all that the Federal Reserve Bank does.
This work caused Briggs to have a eureka moment.
“I realized how many people did not have access to save money and build assets — that they were not provided with safe and affordable banking options,” she said. “The chance to connect consumers with traditional banking and financial access for all grew to be an important mission for me. In my community development role, I began to work closely with Bank On.”
The Bank On movement is designed to improve the financial stability of America’s unbanked and underbanked by making safe, low-cost transaction accounts accessible to all. The St. Louis Fed and Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund established the Bank On National Data Hub (BOND Hub) to show metrics from financial institutions related to Bank On account openings, account usage and consistency, and online access.
It’s important to collect data to find out how the Bank On movement is doing, Briggs explained.
“We work closely with financial institutions to understand how these accounts bring customers into the financial mainstream through accounts that have few or no fees, desirable services like direct deposit, debit cards and online banking,” she said. “With these metrics, we can gauge how customers access their money in ways that help them avoid fees from check cashing and other alternative services. We will be releasing our 2021 BOND Hub report at the end of this year, with almost double the financial institutions we had last year.”
Briggs explained that the Federal Reserve relies on data and research, which reflects what has happened in the past.
“My role is to connect with leaders in the community, businesses, banks, government and nonprofits to gain real-time information on what is happening in Arkansas,” she said. “I then share what I learn with our president, Jim Bullard, so that he can inform monetary policy. He shares his views during meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets the federal funds rate.”
Briggs also works on projects geared towards helping the community.
“I also convene the people to promote what the Fed is here to do – promote stable prices and maximum employment,” she said. “I look forward to building relationships throughout the state to advance the economic well-being of the region, coupled with my own passion of focusing on workforce development in Arkansas.
“I am looking to work with other leaders to help high school students with options for post-secondary education. There are vocational occupation opportunities for those who do not want to go to a four-year college, but they don’t know what’s out there and what they might be good at if we don’t show them the various trades. We need to start earlier and provide events with hands-on learning, training and certification opportunities before students graduate from high school.”
Briggs shared that she loves her role because every day brings a new opportunity, as well as the hope and promise that comes with it.
“I am still very much like an investigative reporter trying to find out what is going on throughout the state,” she said. “Depending on where in the state I am working that day, I try to do some or all the following: Visit a Bank to review what bankers are seeing in their institution with lending and stakeholders as well as with their employees; stop and visit the mayor and the chamber to see what new economic developments they are working on or pain points happening in their town; make a presentation about what I do, the free resources available at the Fed, and exchange economic information.”
When Briggs has spare time in between helping the Fed and her community, her hobbies include reading, watching movies and going to the theatre. She loves to travel and learn about different cultures and countries as well as all the various attractions the United States has to offer.
“I also enjoy tennis and pickleball, but the pandemic slowed that down and forced me to go outdoors more and fish with my husband. Fishing is my new hobby, and I love it!”
But at the end of every day, Briggs likes to reflect on the progress the Fed has made and where she sees the Little Rock branch in the future.
“We need to grow and strengthen engagement so that leaders in Arkansas will trust me to help share their story. I hope that by working with the Fed and the Little Rock branch, we can help to maximize the quality of participation in our economy across the state and throughout our entire footprint of the Eighth District,” she said. “In five years, I look forward to many more people using the abundance of free economic resources, such as our free teaching materials at economiclowdown.org and our abundance of economic research at stlouisfed.org.”
Briggs shared that she is honored to be in Little Rock serving the majority of Arkansas.
“Right now, my focus is meeting people where they are across the state and listening and learning,” she said. “There is a lot of good stuff happening but some challenges as well. I enjoy touring various businesses, schools, hospitals, industries and manufacturing plants to learn about The Natural State. If you invite me, I will come, or you may just get a call from me inviting myself. I look forward to meeting everyone as my journey begins.”