By Erin Pesut ’10

This story was published in the 2022 Owl & Spade Magazine

Erin Hadary ’03 takes matters into her own hands. But when Joel Adams reached out his hand to offer her an opportunity outside of her comfort zone, the course of her career changed dramatically, and she found an invaluable mentor.

As a Warren Wilson student, Hadary majored in Environmental Studies and started out on the Science Building Crew. While she mopped floors and took out the trash, she listened to books on tape and perused the bulletin boards. One day she came across an advertised Manager position for the College Farm. The next day, she walked down to the Farm Office and said, “I hear you’re hiring. I’d like to be your Farm Manager.”

“When I reflect on it still, I’m not sure that they were looking for a student,” she remembered, laughing. “I think they may have been looking for a more senior person.”

But she had learned that if you prove you’re a hard worker, opportunities open up. That’s how, as a second-year student, Hadary got the Farm Manager job.

A few years after Hadary graduated, Joel Adams—then a Warren Wilson College Trustee and a Certified Private Wealth Advisor with Raymond James Financial Services in downtown Asheville—was looking to mentor a young professional with potential. He called Dale Roberts, who worked in Career Services at Warren Wilson, and asked, “Who’s one of the brightest minds to graduate in the last five years?” The first name out of Roberts’ mouth: Erin Hadary.

So, Adams called Hadary with an offer. “I have a wealth management firm. I’m looking for help. I’ll teach you the business. Are you interested?”

“Erin didn’t know a thing about our business,” Adams remembered. “But that’s kind of the way I like to hire people. No preconceived notions.”

The way Hadary remembers it, it was a visual of someone literally reaching out a hand. She did not hesitate. She accepted the opportunity.

Adams has a long history of being a natural pollinator: connecting people, linking organizations, and making opportunities happen. He’s generous with his time and has served on numerous boards, including Meals on Wheels, The Nature Conservancy, and the Southern Environmental Law Center.

He is also deeply connected to Warren Wilson College. Both of his children are alumni, and he served on the Board of Trustees from 1994 to 2015, including terms as Board Chair from 2003 to 2007 and 2011 to 2012. In 2016 he received the Warren Wilson College Distinguished Service Award, and in 2021 he was named Trustee Emeritus. The Joel B. Adams, Jr., Sustainability Scholarship, in his honor, offers scholarships to Warren Wilson students who major in Environmental Studies or have made outstanding efforts in the field of sustainability.

After Adams hired Hadary, she stepped in as a Client Services Manager. Since financial advising is such a regulated business, there were a variety of security exams Erin had to take—and pass— to move up.
“I showed up as green as you could be,” Hadary recalled. “I just had no financial vocabulary. It was all like learning a foreign language.”

During the exams, Hadary was a woman in a room of mostly men⁠—most of whom had studied finance. But she didn’t back down from the challenge, and Adams’ support never wavered. Hadary went on to become a financial advisor, and, with Adams’ encouragement, later secured her Certified Financial Planner designation.

Adams’ mentorship extended beyond business hours. He taught Hadary the importance of worldwide travel, how understanding economic context on a global scale matters, and how easily philanthropy can become a part of day-to-day living.

Today, Hadary is a Partner with Moneta Group, one of the top 10 independent registered investment advisors in the country. Not only is she a Certified Financial Planner professional, she’s also a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy.
She is proud of the progress she has made. “It wasn’t that long ago that women could only be teachers or nurses. I don’t know how many female advisors and partners and owners Joel ever saw, and yet, I am one now.”

Adams’ mentorship set Hadary on a completely different career path than she had imagined for herself. “I’m incredibly grateful to Joel,” she said. “I didn’t have family who showed me that wealth management was a career path. And he didn’t just explain it to me in one 45-minute conversation. He taught me the business over five years. He gave me his time and he gave me his knowledge. There’s really no greater gift.”

This story was published in the 2022 Owl & Spade Magazine