NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The FPA tapped an advisor with nearly 20 years' experience in financial services as its 2018 president-elect, choosing a career changer and military veteran, the association said Monday.

For Evelyn Zohlen, her ascension to the association's leadership is something of a career journey come full circle. The former Vanguard relationship manager joined the FPA shortly after deciding to open her own independent practice in 2003.

"I went to my first meeting and I was sitting in the back row, listening to the presentation, and thinking, 'This is it, this is where the best financial planners come,'" Zohlen tells Financial Planning on the sidelines of the FPA's annual conference.

Evelyn Zohlen, financial planner and 2018 FPA president-elect, credits the association with helping her find her feet when she joined the industry in 2003.

"I wanted to serve as president because I could not be the financial planner that I am today without the passionate planners here in this association," she adds. "The value we provide to our members allows them to improve their communities. I want to be part of the team that helps do that."

Zohlen says among the areas she wants to focus on are raising awareness of the profession, helping next gen advisors find career paths so they stay in the industry, and providing more resources to FPA chapters so that local leaders can focus on higher value-add projects and member services.

"I think part of the success of cultivating next gen planners is to also cultivate the older generation of financial planners — to help them create career paths," she says. "We can train and cultivate young planners, but if we don't have a career path, a place for them to go, then it's all for naught."

Zohlen's term as president-elect starts Jan 1, 2018. She'll succeed Frank Paré, who will become president of the 24,000-member association.

The FPA also unveiled the addition of three new board members: Kimberly Bridges, senior financial planner at the Commerce Trust Company in Kansas City, Missouri; Christopher Draughon, director of financial planning at First Coast Wealth Advisors in St. Augustine, Florida; and Dennis Moore, COO of Quest Capital Management in Dallas.

Zohlen joined Vanguard after serving nine years in the Air Force. She worked primarily with institutional clients. While she liked the company, she says she felt a desire to have more of an impact at the individual client level.

Today, her Huntington Beach, California-based practice – Inspired Financial – has four CFPs and an administrative assistant serving approximately 110 households. They specialize in servicing women in transitional periods, such as widows and divorcees.

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