Barbara Roper, director of investor protection, Consumer Federation of America
Why she's a hero: An ex-reporter who started at the consumer advocacy nonprofit in 1986 with a report on abuses by financial planners, Roper -- working out of her Colorado home -- lobbies for safeguards on behalf of individual investors.
One hard-fought victory: post-Enron laws requiring greater independence of auditors from the companies whose books they police.
"We need to better regulate brokers so they act in investors' best interests," she says.
Her current passion: Roper, 57, wants to harness the Internet to transform the sometimes baffling disclosures investors receive into something more intelligible.
"There's no reason," she says, "why we can't get cost information in a personalized, interactive fashion, not as a 22-page document."
For these MONEY heroes, helping people in the workplace learn to manage their personal finances is an assignment they don't shirk.