Katherine Sauer speaking into a microphone Katherine Sauer hiking in Death Valley, CA Katherine Sauer serving on a panel Katherine Sauer doing a headstand in a rice field in Bali Katherine Sauer gesturing during a presentation

a graphic of a yellow lemon slice

Sauer is pronounced "sour", like a lemon.


Katherine M. Sauer, Ph.D. is the Principal at Ardent Acumen, a coaching, consulting, and educational services firm focused on workday vitality. Prior leadership roles include Vice President of Research and Programs at National Endowment for Financial Education, Vice President at Innovest Portfolio Solutions, and Director of Financial Wellness, Education, and Research at University of Colorado System Administration Office. Academic appointments include faculty positions at Metropolitan State College of Denver and University of Southern Indiana, graduate faculty at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and part-time instructor status at University of Colorado, Boulder. Additionally, she served for many years as a faculty presenter and content expert for Economic Literacy Colorado, providing professional development to hundreds of Colorado teachers. In 2016, she contributed multiple articles for the launch of Arianna Huffington's website on stress and burnout, Thrive Global, and continues to publish there from time to time. She began consulting in 2004.

At NEFE, she oversaw the organization’s research presence including monitoring grantmaking, through original thought leadership and national presentations, and service on external advisory committees. She represented the organization in the field at research conferences, meetings with key state and national organizations such as AFCPE, Jump$tart, and Economic Literacy Colorado, and to federal government entities such as the U.S. Treasury Department, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Defense, and Congress. She was responsible for strategy and execution for NEFE’s educational offerings including CashCourse, Smart About Money, Financial Education Evaluation Toolkit, Financial Workshop Kits, and the award-winning High School Financial Planning Program. Additionally, she served on NEFE’s leadership team and co-authored the organization’s first strategic plan. She oversaw execution of the strategic plan across all of NEFE and directed its application in the Research and Programs function. Before a reorganization of NEFE's internal functions, she additionally oversaw the technology operations team.

At Innovest, she was responsible for educational outreach, writing white papers, and speaking locally, regionally, and nationally. A member of the Retirement Plan Practice Group, she provided professional consulting services to retirement plan clients and identified best practices and implemented process improvements to maximize efficiencies for plans. She oversaw the firm’s team of retirement plan analysts. This included supervising the creation, administration, and analysis of custom RFPs for recordkeeper searches and facilitating finalist presentations. Additionally, she was a member of the Capital Markets Research Group, which assesses the economic and market outlook and oversees clients’ asset allocation studies and portfolio construction.

As CU’s first Director of Financial Wellness, Education, and Research, reporting to the university system’s chief human resources officer, her primary role was to establish and execute comprehensive financial wellness programming, with an emphasis on engagement, for the university’s employees. She was invited to speak nationally at events such as providing framing remarks at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's field hearing on workplace financial wellness. The Financial Wellness division is housed within Employee Services, a collaborative HR service center, at the university’s system administration (corporate) office. She served on the Employee Services leadership team and provided strategic support to her Director peers and the Chief Human Resources Officer. She was named a TIAA-CREF Institute Fellow and was a scholar in the CU Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making in the Leeds School of Business (Boulder campus). She was an invited Fellow of the university’s Excellence in Leadership Program class of 2015.

At Metropolitan State University of Denver and University of Southern Indiana, she was economics faculty. Her research agenda focused on health economics and economic and personal finance education. Her teaching portfolio included: introduction to economics, the principles series, intermediate microeconomics, survey of global economic issues, math (algebra, linear algebra, calculus) and statistics for economics, health economics, and public finance. At MSU Denver, she was the co-director of the Center for Economic Education. She has also held graduate faculty status at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs for the K-12 teacher professional development courses she taught for Economic Literacy Colorado.

Highlighted consulting work includes: a report to Congress via the International Trade Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce, external review of a university's economics degree program for reaccreditation, development and implementation of a faculty development program for undergraduate faculty in China, and curriculum development/review for a variety of education providers.

As a life-long learner, she has pursued credentials and training in multiple areas including:

  • Professional coach training from Co-Active;
  • Certificate in Change Leadership from Cornell University;
  • Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Weight Management Specialist, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant from American Fitness Professionals & Associates;
  • Certified Yoga Teacher from YogaPod (a Yoga Alliance accredited program);
  • Nonprofit leadership executive education from Center for Nonprofit Management, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University;
  • Mental Health First Aid USA from National Council for Behavioral Health;
  • Doctorate in Economics from University of Colorado, Boulder.

Katherine grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota but you'll have to listen closely to hear any trace of that accent. Colorado is where she's called home for the past two decades. She enjoys creative pursuits like painting and dancing and loves to travel. Puns are her preferred style of humor. Her last name is pronounced "sour", like a lemon.