Countless leaders in the world of finance espouse the cause of financial literacy. But none has done more about it than Muriel Siebert.

Best known as a Wall Street trailblazer and head of the brokerage firm bearing her name, Siebert has spent several years and a small fortune developing a personal finance course and persuading high schools to adopt it.

Siebert became aware of the yawning financial literacy deficit during a stint as New York State banking superintendent in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Her courses, which cover everything from credit cards and mortgages to spending and saving, are taught in more than 100 schools in New York City. And she's working relentlesslyto expand thecurriculum across the nation.

It would be hard to find a more credible or influential standard-bearer for such a campaign.

Smart and friendly, but incredibly tough, Siebert famously crashed the old boys' club in 1967 to become the first female member of the New York Stock Exchange.

Following her service as banking superintendent, Siebert ran, unsuccessfully, for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination.

Siebert, who started her career as a $65-per-week research trainee at Bache & Co., says she's honored that young women now wait in line just to shake her hand.

But the pioneer is focused on the future-specifically that of young people preparing to navigate the often-treacherous waters of personal finance.

"I think we can change people's lives," she says.

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