Diane Browning manages WISER’s Rural Retirement Project. She has worked to increase the opportunities for retirement savings for low-wage workers, with a focus on rural Appalachians. The program recently completed a second two-year research and demonstration project, called the Appalachian Savings Project, with childcare providers, over 80% of whom who do not have access to any sponsored plans. Testing the idea that basic, easy-to-access savings vehicles combined with savings incentives can result in increased savings for lower-income workers, the project had significant results: participants’ total savings after one year, including the match, averaged $1,150, estimated to be 5.5% of their average annual incomes. Browning is a member of the national Savings Bond Coalition, which successfully advocated for putting the option to buy savings bonds through a tax refund on the tax form. She also represents WISER on the West Virginia Earned Income Tax Coalition.
Browning’s career has been focused on building financial assets for working people, particularly women, through entrepreneurship, savings opportunities and public policy advocacy. She has been recognized as a Corporation for Enterprise Development as one of their “Innovators”, by the SBA as the National Business Advocate of the Year and as a Benedum Foundation Fellow.
Currently in her role as Vice Chair of the Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation, she is working with a statewide coalition to introduce Children’s Savings Accounts; a proven asset development concept for increasing the number of college bound students, a need in a region with the lowest college graduation rates in the country. She is former Chair and current Treasurer of the Greenbrier County Farmland Protection Board, leading the effort to protect the valuable family and community asset of productive farmland.
Browning and her husband operate a family cattle farm. She has a B.A in political science from Trinity College.