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Lauren Garner is a seasoned marketing executive with over two decades of experience in cultivating and leading high-performing teams. Currently, she serves as the VP of Demand Generation & Partnerships at Ascent Funding, where she leverages her creativity, passion, and analytical skills to drive innovative solutions that expand educational opportunities for students. Lauren’s expertise in building inspiring brands and nurturing customer relationships has been instrumental in driving profitable integrated marketing strategies that enhance user experiences, establish trust, and build loyal customer bases.

Prior to her current role, Lauren was the Vice President of Marketing at Trinity Packaging Supply, where she revolutionized the industry by creating a comprehensive digital marketing blueprint that significantly increased site traffic and revenue. Her leadership in digital marketing, SEO, and advertising helped Trinity Packaging Supply to unseat competitors. Lauren’s strategic vision and ability to generate exponential growth have been a consistent theme throughout her career.

Lauren’s career is marked by a deep commitment to personal and professional development. Her tenure at Goal Structured Solutions, Inc., and Heritage Golf Group further exemplifies her capability to drive high-impact marketing initiatives and forge strategic partnerships. Known for her dedication to learning and mentorship, Lauren continues to inspire her teams and the broader marketing community, consistently delivering results that change lives and shape the future of the industries she serves.

Ascent is dedicated to ensuring that student loans expand possibilities rather than limit them. By creating a unique private student loan program, Ascent enables more students to qualify for loans, with or without a cosigner, promoting transparency and financial wellness through integrated financial education. With loans originated by Richland State Bank, Ascent offers numerous benefits such as cash back, scholarships, and free financial resources, all aimed at driving student success and providing innovative solutions for educational access.

Susan: Hello and welcome to the Women’s Roundtable podcast, powered by the Think Factory, where we learn how women think big and grow their business. My name is Susan Kleiner. I’m a partner with Outside General Counsel Solutions, and I’m the host of today’s episode and I am so happy to have with me here today Lauren Garner. Lauren currently serves as the Vice President of Demand Generation and Partnerships at Ascent Funding, where she applies her growth oriented mindset to drive transformative change within the nearly $2 trillion student loan industry. Lauren leads a marketing team that is dedicated to student success and changing the way students pay for higher education. Over the past 20 years of her career, Lauren has found that strategic partnerships, affiliates and acquisitions are the fastest way to grow and scale a company. She has led successful partnership campaigns with established brands like Nike, Puma, Essex, Adidas and Tony Robbins and helps emerging brands like Ascent Scale to fund over $1 billion. She has spearheaded multimillion dollar partnerships and relationships with over 5000 affiliates by fostering a culture of collaboration and strategic alignment. She not only amplifies campaign reach, but also fosters enduring partnerships that yield substantial results. While working for Tony Robbins, Lauren developed a passion for personal and professional growth. She was a founding member of Lead at Ascent and is a mentor in her spare time for college students at San Diego State University. And I want to welcome Lauren to today’s episode.

Lauren: Thank you, Susan. I’m so grateful to be here today.

Susan: So, first off, I want to hear some more about ascent landing. And let’s set the record straight. Ascent is a lender, but it does so much more. Can you explain?

Lauren: Absolutely. Ascent at its core, we’re a student success company and we help college students plan, pay and prosper throughout their journey. We’re almost like a venture capital firm that invests in student success. We’re actually the only lender, including the federal government, that allows us student loans to be dischargeable in bankruptcy. So it is in our best interest to make sure that students are successful and get great careers after college and are able to pay back their loans. We lend ethically and transparently and we’re really standout in the market for several reasons. So on that plan side that I mentioned, Ascent offers this ROIC calculator, and it really helps students understand the cost of their education relative to their major and what they would be able to earn after graduating from that institution. So we help them make smarter decisions before they’ve even decided what college to attend. We also just launched our Ultimate Guide to Paying for College, which is this amazing free tool that helps students and their parents figure out ways to save and not overpay for college. And we also own a college confidential dot com, which is the world’s largest forum and community people engaging in helping one another to make smarter decisions in choosing where to go to college. On that, the pay side, as you mentioned, we do offer student loans. We offer very innovative student loans in the industry. That is really changing the way that people pay for college. We offer non cosigned loans that enable students to get a loan without a cosigner and we really look at the outcomes. So what school they’re attending, what’s their GPA and major and then we lend to them based on their future potential. So that’s very, very innovative and something that we’re very proud of.

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