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CFO of the Year Awards

CFO Of The Year Awards 2011 Finalists And Winners

The CFO of the Year Awards are given to professionals for outstanding performance in their roles as corporate financial stewards. This program provides many benefits to the business community by highlighting the important roles that financial executives play within the region. In addition to the awards, we’ll publish a special report that will accompany the November issue of Arizona Business Magazine.

Here are the CFO of the Year 2011 Finalists:

Karen M. Abraham

Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011Karen Abraham is responsible for providing direction and accountability regarding all financial matters at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. That was evident as she helped the company’s revenue grow from $313 million when she took over as vice president of finance in 1997 to $1.5 billion as CFO today.
In addition to the revenue boost, Abraham provided the vision and leadership to partner with other BCBS plans to decentralize the infrastructure necessary to process transactions, which will save the company millions of dollars.
Along with her many achievements, Abraham was responsible for getting the BCBS Association requirement to obtain a rating from S&P. Because of this rating, Abraham implemented a change in how the organization is managed, specifically providing an additional discipline in the budgeting, forecasting and rating of its products.
Abraham is a member of the Ethics and Compliance Committee that wrote the book for the organization’s policies for the finance and purchasing departments and other parts of the organization. She sits on several community boards, including the YMCA Town Hall Board and the W.P. Carey School Finance Advisory Board.


Darryl Baker

Chief Financial Officer
iGo, Inc.

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011Through his role as CFO, Darryl Baker has been instrumental in the revenue growth of iGo, Inc., a technology and consumer products company.
In the past year, Baker has boosted iGo’s product diversity by adding three new product categories, and has been instrumental in the acquisitions of Adapt Mobile and Aerial7, and teaming up with Pure Energy.
Baker is the driving force behind the iGo Code of Business Conduct and Ethics document, which he adheres to. In addition to this code, Baker leads iGo in an ethical manner and ensures that the financial reporting process is carried out smoothly to ensure the safeguarding of company assets.
As CFO, Baker is responsible for safeguarding company assets, maintaining its balance sheet, providing timely and accurate financial and operating performance reporting, implementing cost controls and reducing unnecessary expense, and forecasting and planning to ensure appropriate financing for the company’s business objectives.


Dan Behrendt

Chief Financial Officer
TASER International, Inc.

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011Since 2004, Dan Behrendt has been revamping TASER International, Inc. in order to ensure success.
Behrendt successfully redesigned TASER’s warranty programs, leading to a $25 million increase in revenue. In addition to this redesign, he created key performance indicators for each company department. This process measures growth and ensures that the company is moving toward its goals.
During a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, Behrendt made the decision to use an open door policy when others were against the idea. Because of his decision, after a 30 percent drop in revenue, TASER witnessed revenue growths of 42 percent and 47 percent the next two years.
In addition to his achievements, Behrendt oversees all aspects of corporate finance to make sure TASER is performing at the highest possible degree for its shareholders. He also runs the information technology department to ensure the company is being provided with the highest level of support and service.
In addition to building the company, Behrendt created the TASER Foundation for Fallen Officers as a way to give back to the community.


Karen Bretz

Vice President Finance
Fresh Start Women’s Foundation

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011Karen Bretz relies on her unique ability of blending her analytical and creative mind to financially manage and grow Fresh Start Women’s Foundation.
Bretz refinanced the foundation’s main building, expanded a second site, and developed the thrift store initiative with ease. Since she became CFO, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation has received a clean audit. In addition, Bretz’s financial leadership led to the foundation’s first profitable year from operations since 2003.
She revised the employee handbook to make the company’s policies and practices more clear. Bretz also created an internal grievance committee to implement processes to identify and resolve client complaints and grievances.
Bretz is responsible for the management of foundation finances, along with support for the Finance Committee and the Board of Directors. She manages strategic initiatives, including job placement services, the development of a thrift store, and managing the facilities of both of the Women’s Resource Center buildings.


Thomas R. Castellanos

Chief Financial Officer
Valle del Sol Inc.

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011In tough times for nonprofits and state-funded service providers, Valle del Sol is lucky to have Thomas Castellanos improving its finances.
By forming a Multiple Employer Welfare Association as a strategic cost reduction, Castellanos saved more than $600,000 in the group’s first year. Castellanos has been a change agent for Valle del Sol in order to achieve its goal of providing services to the underserved community. He focuses on the finance, accounting, facilities, and information technology side of the business. In the past year, four new clinics have opened and become licensed in Maricopa County with Castellanos’ assistance.
Castellanos created the idea of a chair of the board fund to address shortfalls in funding, given Arizona state budget cuts. This would allow services to be provided for AHCCCS recipients for a limited time until they could find coverage.
In addition to these achievements, Castellanos has increased Valle del Sol’s accountability by instituting internal controls within finance.


Mark D. Cavanaugh – Winner, Small Private Company

CFO of the YearSenior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Firetrace USA, LLC

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011It’s been said that “without Mark Cavanaugh, Firetrace would cease to function.”
When Cavanaugh began working at Firetrace in 20005, the aerospace and defense business had $189,000 in revenue. In 2010, that amount rocketed to more than $64 million. Focusing on the industrial commercial markets, Cavanaugh has strategically grown operations to India, Dubai, Singapore, Australia, and, in 2011, Brazil.
Using his public policy efforts, Cavanaugh secured more than $100 million for fuel tank fire suppression and got fire suppression mandated for all military vehicles.
Leading the Firetrace team in the adoption of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and UK Bribery Act, Cavanaugh is safeguarding the company’s financial assets.
Cavanaugh has been instrumental in the growth of the aerospace and defense team by using the philosophy, “Hire the best people and get out of their way.”
Cavanaugh is active in the community, coaching youth soccer, baseball, softball and basketball.


Thomas B. Fischer

Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer
Express Messenger Systems, Inc. dba OnTrac

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011Thomas Fischer provides leadership and coordination in OnTrac’s financial, business planning, accounting and budgeting efforts.
During Fisher’s tenure, revenues at the overnight package delivery company have increased more than 200 percent, stockholders’ equity has increased 200 percent, and long-term debt has decreased from 75 percent to 10 percent.
Fischer also has played a crucial role in defining and executing the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP.) The ESOP currently is worth more than $15 million for 550 active participants.
Fischer’s aptitude for budgeting, cost control principles and managing resources is critical to the company’s success. His abilities in contracting and negotiating have allowed OnTrac to grow and expand.
Fischer works with the regional management team to foster healthy relationships within the company. He also exhibits leadership by encouraging his team to think critically and promote an enriched personal and work atmosphere.
He is an avid runner and a member of a Tucson running club.


William “Bill” McClung – Winner, Non-Profit

CFO of the YearChief Financial Officer
Southwest Human Development, Inc.

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011After just three years at Southwest Human Development, Bill McClung has helped the agency grow and improve. In the past three years, the company has seen a positive gain in net assets of more than $1.5 million.
This can be attributed to changes McClung made to budgeting, financial reporting and cost containment systems. In fiscal 2011. Southwest Human Development reported revenue in excess of $45 million. Budgeted revenue for fiscal 2012 is $53 million.
In preparation for the tri-annual federal review of Southwest Human Development’s largest program, Head Start, McClung and his team completely rewrote agency policies and procedures to meet federal requirements.
McClung has developed a top-of-the-line board of directors financial oversight committee and has made technological improvements, acting as the organization’s chief information officer. He has proven to be adept in preparing internal financial statements for management and the board of directors that enable them to better understand and manage finances at all levels.
Under his method of “leading by example,” the company has experienced almost no turnover in staff.


Steven L. Ortega

Chief Financial Officer
Leslie’s Poolmart LLC

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011For the past six years, Steven Ortega has kept Leslie’s Poolmart functioning swimmingly.
Leading the company through the national economic downturn, Ortega has helped it achieve 47 straight years of sales growth and 47 quarters of consecutive operating profitability.
During Ortega’s tenure, the company has developed a comprehensive five-year strategic growth plan. This plan was created as a roadmap to achieve the company’s goal of growing to $1  billion in annual sales revenues.
Ortega was instrumental in a financial transaction with CVC Capital Partners to invest in the company, which helped provide capital structure. Since 2005, Ortega has opened 172 retail stores, 17 new commercial service centers, relocated 12 retail stores, and remodeled more than 200 stores. In addition, Ortega was a key part in two strategic company acquisitions that led to market growth in both Texas and Arizona.
Ortega provides strategic leadership in which he revamped the new store development process, enhanced the company’s compensation plans, and enhanced the review and approval process for all contracts and agreements.


Tanya Perry

Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Goodwill of Central Arizona

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011Respected for her leadership, Perry has led Goodwill of Central Arizona to a new level of growth and success.
During her four-year tenure, Goodwill of Central Arizona has grown from 37 retail locations to 46. Along with retail growth, revenue has grown from $60.1 million to a projected $87 million.
Perry has been responsible for the stability, credibility, and overall effectiveness of the financial operations of the organization. Goodwill’s balance sheet has greatly improved, and debt balances have decreased from $22.3 million to $13.9 million.
Perry has created a financial culture that is focused on transparency, credibility (internally and externally), integrity, and a culture that is consultative, synergistic, supportive and advisory.
She was instrumental to the development of an innovative campaign called “Band Together to Spread Goodwill,” which features “Giving Bands” that are being sold at all Goodwill locations. Proceeds benefit nine different charities.


Kellie S. Pruitt

Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Secretary
Healthcare Trust of America, Inc.

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011Healthcare Trust of America (HTA) has been in business for just four years, and its seasoned leader, Kellie Pruitt, is steering it in the right direction.
During Pruitt’s tenure, the company increased its financial flexibility by obtaining a $575 million unsecured credit facility, and was assigned an investment grade credit rating by Moody’s and S&P. In the past two years, Pruitt and efforts by the management team have led to a $1.6 billion increase in equity. As CFO, Pruitt is responsible for managing HTA’s accounting, tax, and finance, treasury and investor relations functions. She established the company’s corporate headquarters and closed over $1.2 billion of acquisitions   has helped hire and train all the company’s employees with the CEO.
Pruitt is involved in all strategic operating and financial decisions, but also actively drives and monitors the results. Her leadership has been essential to leading the company through the recession, always with HTA’s financial health and the best interest of the company’s investors in mind.
Displaying the highest level of ethics, integrity and trust, Pruitt believes in transparency with employees, the board of directors, and investors. She always believes in doing the right thing, even if it isn’t the most popular decision.


Dena L. Richter

Chief Financial Officer
SynCardia Systems, Inc.

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011By overseeing all financial activities of SynCardia, Dena Richter leads the company that manufactures the Total Artificial Heart that helps people who suffer from heart failure. Her roles as both CFO and HR Director allow her to utilize her talents as a financial director and employee mentor. Financial reporting, cash management and five regulatory audits per year are just a few of Richter’s extensive responsibilities. Her leadership ability resulted in the vertical integration of a supply chain with an $800,000 purchase of a supplier’s Segmented Polyurethane Solution (SPUS) reactor. Trinity Capital Investment’s confidence in Richter led to their approval of an additional leasing capacity of $2 million along with a $1 million investment in SynCardia’s Series E equity round. These are just a few of her financial accomplishments. Her fiscal management of the company has resulted in explosive growth and sales. SynCardia’s success through Richter’s example has increased product manufacturing, allowing a great number of people to receive the care their lives depend on.


Jack Seaver

Chief Financial Officer/Human Resources Manager
CCS Presentation Systems

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011Jack Seaver’s fiscal actions help the company provide quality audio and video systems for clients such as Intel, Arizona State University and Ratheon. With 13 years of experience, Seaver plays an essential role in making CCS one of the largest A/V integrators in the United States. His collection policies put the company’s current accounts receivable percentage at 90.4 percent based on approximately $5 million in receivables. Due to his initiation of the American Express “Plum” Credit Card, CCS receives 2 percent cash credit for all payments made accordingly. Seaver’s unparalleled leadership style has the company recognized for having one of the best operational practices in the industry. Known as the “rock” of the company, his generosity always shines through. Whether making a personal donation to a struggling employee or raising money for the Red Cross and local charities, Seaver goes above and beyond his written responsibilities through selfless acts of kindness.


Andrew A. Stevens

Chief Financial Officer
Liberty Distribution Company, LLC

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011As CFO and board member, Andrew Stevens is responsible for all financial aspects of Liberty Distribution, including financial reporting, treasury and risk management, investor relations, planning and analysis. As a crucial member of the company’s board, Stevens sets the strategic direction of the business while providing valuable feedback to the group. He works with sales to competitively price new account acquisition proposals, and significantly contributed to the acquisition of a competitor’s assets in 2008. Stevens seeks “balance” between risk and reward when analyzing opportunities, and is known by co-workers as both a leader and team player. His dedication to the success of Liberty Distribution does not hinder his commitment to service. Stevens has been an active member of organizations such as Childsplay, the America West Airlines Foundation and the University of Arizona Alumni Association. An active member of the church and the community, Stevens strives to bring people together through his discipline learned as a CPA.


Brian Swartz

Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Apollo Group, Inc.

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011After previously joining the Apollo Group as vice president, corporate controller and chief accounting officer in 2007, Brian Swartz was appointed CFO two years later.
Swartz is recognized by the company for his influence on goals and performance. Despite a 40 percent decline in new enrollment, he helped Apollo maintain its fiscal strength. His review of the company’s cost structure resulted in the identification and reduction of more than $100 million in costs through operational initiatives. With the help of colleagues, Swartz spearheaded a comprehensive overhaul of the governance practices at Apollo after discovering a stock option backdating issue. His oversight of the “Apollo Excellence” program helps ensure business processes are streamlined and cost-efficient. These are just a few ways Swartz continues to contribute his expertise toward the company’s enormous success.
Stevens also is actively involved in the community through serving on the board of directors of the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.


Susan Sweeney

Chief Financial Officer
CyraCom International, Inc.

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011As CFO of CyraCom International, a provider of language services for people with limited English proficiency, Susan Sweeney executes an extensive array of financial duties.
During her four-year tenure, Sweeney has accomplished an incredible amount for CyraCom. Under her guidance, the company doubled revenues to $37.4 million, and increased the earnings per share by 180 percent. The company also met all cost and revenue budgets for 41 of the past 42 months, with a staff that expanded from 248 employees to 600. Sweeney’s leadership helped increase CyraCom’s borrowing capacity from $1.5 million to $18 million, enabling its first acquisition. As a result of these successes, CyraCom was honored as the second-fastest growing company in Southern Arizona by the Arizona Daily Star, as well as listed in the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing companies for 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Sweeney’s grasp of cost-control and decision management has made her an admirable part of CyraCom’s team. Her personal interest in the well-being of employees has them continuing to hold a full suite of benefits.


Dan Urness – Winner, Public Company

CFO of the YearChief Financial Officer, Vice President and Treasurer
Cavco Industries, Inc.

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011Dan Urness has led Cavco Industries to financial success.
He is responsible for IT functions, payroll, human resources oversight, corporate development work, as well as all financial affairs. More importantly, he has been highly influential in the company’s growth.
By providing innovative ideas into Fleetwood Homes’ and Palm Harbor Homes’ bid strategies, Cavco changed from a regional manufacturer to the second-largest national supplier, retailer, financier, and insurer of systems-built housing in the U.S.
During the 2008 economic market crisis, Urness demonstrated his valuable leadership by actively managing the company’s excess cash and investments to prevent that loss in value and liquidity that many other companies experienced. This proved critical when funding subsequent expansion.
By recognizing that the implementation of a company-wide enterprise resource planning IT system would be critical to future success, he worked closely with the IT department to identify and retain the chosen provider.
Urness volunteers as a youth leader in his free time.


Dale Wanek

Chief Financial Officer
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011With 12 locations and growing, the Boy & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix relies on Dale Wanek to oversee the accounting, information technology, human resources, and facilities functions.
In his role, Wanek has worked with the organization to achieve many milestones. During his tenure, the organization has had yearly clean audits without discrepancies. His vendor negotiations have resulted in savings of $150,000 in the past year. The Boys & Girls Clubs also remodeled existing locations, and has undertaken an expansion plan for a dental clinic that is expected to be completed in 2012.
Wanek’s innovative approach to finance has helped establish new policies, such as fortifying the organization’s reserves to maintain a minimum of 90 days of cash on hand, and strengthening the business relationships in the community to solicit donations.
Wanek also helped secure a $10.8 million new construction loan to build three new clubhouses. The organization recognizes him as both an easygoing and engaging person with whom to work.


Steve Ward

Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer
Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011Steve Ward serves as both CFO and COO for the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, Arizona’s oldest and largest nonprofit AIDS organization.
Ward’s timely and effective tactics regarding finance have helped the agency excel during the economic crisis and beyond. By helping the agency with effective banking arrangements, it continues to have strong months of fundraising.
His ability to submit financial, operational, and qualitative program narrative data directly addresses grantor’s needs. The Southwest Center benefitted from Ward’s financial planning by receiving voter approval for $3.6 million in public funding to establish a community center.
He oversees a clinical trial program which previously lost $300,000 per year, but is now breaking even and growing in revenue thanks to his leadership.
Ward has been called an ambassador of collaborative, creative solutions among community partners. His popular “can-do” attitude and optimism have helped the agency become a critical outlet for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.


Margaret Wolford

Chief Financial Officer
Children’s Museum of Phoenix

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011Margaret Wolford has assembled financial reporting systems and procedures that have advanced the Children’s Museum of Phoenix to an unparalleled level.
When her fiscal management began, the organization was staffed with a small operational planning group that oversaw $22 million in multi-year charitable gifts. After her influence and leadership, Wolford converted the museum’s systems to sophisticated management software.
The reporting systems she established advanced the museum to a level of efficiency many mature organizations have not yet seen. As a brand new museum, Wolford increased operational staff members from 12 to 85 in three weeks. The budget also skyrocketed to $3 million.
Aside from her museum duties, she is an activist working on issues of human understanding and world peace. She models both peaceful and humane behavior in the workplace, and embeds the principles of ethical practices into everything she does.


Michael Zimmerman – Winner, Large Private Company

CFO of the YearChief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President
The Go Daddy Group, Inc.

CFO of the Year Awards 2011 Finalists - AB Magazine November/December 2011Under the financial supervision of Michael Zimmerman, the Go Daddy Group is the world’s No. 1 domain name registrar and largest Web hosting company.
Responsible for financial reporting, budgeting, forecasting, as well as daily financial affairs, Zimmerman has taken the initiative as a true leader over the past 10 years. He was instrumental in managing a financial deal with other investors worth more than $2 billion. Amid the economic recession, Go Daddy earned double-digit growth, thanks to Zimmerman’s relentless approach with financial tracking.
Under his leadership, Go Daddy also increased sales by 21 percent, added a new facility and hired 400 employees. Zimmerman also oversees Go Daddy Cares, which donated more than $4.7 million in 2011, surpassing previous contributions.
After negotiating a partnership with the “.co” domain name that resulted in a Super Bowl commercial, the marketing strategy generated more than a 500 percent spike in domain name sales.
Zimmerman shows commitment to doing the right thing with each decision he makes, and is known as a “down-to-Earth and appreciative person.”

Arizona Business Magazine November/December 2011