Harper College

Financial Wellness at All Ages

Meet the Panel


Valerie Anderson Jones photoValerie Anderson-Jones, CPA, JD, Winters and Co. LLC
Valerie has worked in the accounting field for over thirty years, primarily in public accounting and joined Winters LLC in December 2017. She has worked as a controller for a not-for-profit organization and as a third-party retirement plan administrator with a law firm. Valerie is passionate about estate planning and administration and excels in working through estate issues with clients. She understands how difficult it can be to deal with the loss of a loved one while moving forward with their financial affairs, as she had to do this with her parents’ estates. She also works with individuals and businesses to provide tax advice and preparation. Valerie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College and a Law degree from DePaul University. Outside of work, Valerie enjoys singing in her church choir, teaching Sunday School, and keeps active playing volleyball and softball.


Brenda Knox photoBrenda Knox, President and Owner, Financial Elements, Inc.

Brenda Knox, Founder and President of Financial Elements, Inc., has been a fee-only financial advisor for more than 22 years, and has helped hundreds of clients plan their financial lives.  Her passion is developing long-term relationships with her clients and tailoring her services to their individual needs, including investment management, retirement and social security planning, cash flow and savings, insurance, estate, and college planning.

Brenda is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional, having completed her course work through the College for Financial Planning.  She pursues continuing education on a regular basis and holds certification in the areas of employee and group benefits.  She is also an Accredited Investment Fiduciary®, having completed training at the Center for Fiduciary Studies to gain specialized knowledge of fiduciary standards of care and their application to the investment management process.  Additionally, Brenda is an Accredited Portfolio Management AdvisorSM and a Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM having taken specialized coursework through the College for Financial Planning. 

A graduate of Roosevelt University where she was a member of the Franklin Honor Society, Brenda holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a major in Accounting.  An active member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), she has served as both president and chair of the Midwest Regional Board, as well as chair of the membership and symposium committees.  Currently she is part of the Leadership Development Committee for NAPFA and on the board of the NAPFA Consumer Education Foundation (NCEF).  She has also served in an advisory capacity to the University of Illinois Extension Services, reviewing financial planning literature prior to publication.


Melanie Witt photoMelanie Witt, Attorney, Witt Law

Melanie Witt has been a well-known estate planning and business succession attorney for over 20 years. She represents corporate fiduciaries and individuals in estate planning, philanthropic planning, and trusts and estates. Melanie has extensive experience advising entrepreneurs on business succession planning and estate structuring. She also advises clients on premarital agreements as well as estate and tax issues raised by divorce or separation.

Prior to establishing her own firm, Melanie was a partner in a large Chicago law firm. Prior to that, she was Vice President and Trust Counsel at BMO Harris Bank, where she addressed trust and estate litigation, risk management, and fiduciary responsibilities.

Melanie earned her B.A., with high honors, from the University of Michigan, and her J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School. She was also awarded a Master of Law in Taxation from the DePaul University College of Law.

Melanie received Martindale-Hubbell’s AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating, its highest rating for ethical standards and legal ability. She has also been selected for inclusion in Martindale-Hubbell’s Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers each year since 2010. Melanie was named one of the 10 Best Estate Planning Attorneys in Illinois by the American Institute of Legal Counsel and by Attorney and Practice Magazine.

Melanie is a frequent speaker on various issues related to estate planning, business succession, legal ethics, and charitable giving.  Melanie is involved with the Notre Dame Club, Women’s Club of Inverness, and the Garden Club of Inverness. 

Melanie lives in Inverness with her husband, David Earnest.  She has five children and two stepchildren. 


Last Updated: 4/1/24