Trending 40: Top Association CFOs
SVP, finance and administration, National Cable & Telecommunications Association
Bruce Carnes has a Ph.D. in English and worked as an English professor until 1976. Then he moved to DC to work in the federal government doing planning and budgeting. Some of his career highlights include being confirmed as CFO of the Education Department under the Reagan administration. He’s also served as CFO of Homeland Security and COO and deputy director of the Defense Accounting and Finance Service, which at one point had 15,000 employees. At the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, he’s leading an effort to roll out a commercial payments system that will fully integrate with the accounting systems and the electronic expense claim system.
Best lesson: Loyalty goes two ways—up the chain and down the chain.
Grew up: Xenia, OH
Current home: Fairfax, VA
Family: Married; two daughters and four grandchildren.
Summer highlight: Moved next door to daughter and her three sons.
Most people don’t know: He was a competitive ballroom dancer with his wife for 20 years. They competed in Florida, Las Vegas, New York and Venice, Italy.
CFO, National Beer Wholesalers Association
When it came time for Kim McKinnish to declare a college major, she chose accounting. She did well in her high school accounting class after all. But she soon realized what she had taken in high school was bookkeeping. Regardless, she had a knack for accounting. Seven years ago, Kim became the National Beer Wholesalers Association’s first CFO, overseeing a staff of three. She came to NBWA from the industry, having worked in audit and tax for Budweiser distributors. At NBWA, she’s been able to play a role in several non-financial initiatives, including the organization’s next gen group for young professionals, which has grown to over 300 members in the last four years. She’s also helped launch two new membership services products.
Best lesson: Build and maintain key relationships. As said in the beer business, "Making friends is our business."
Hometown: Richmond, VA
Current home: Herndon, VA
Family: Married 21 years; two daughters (14 and 17); one mini dachshund.
Recent vacations: Annual summer trip to Holden Beach, NC; and college tours with oldest daughter.
Free time: Nats games and anything with her daughters.
Bucket list: World Series for the Nats, adding another Virginia Tech Hokie to the family and study abroad.
Most people don’t know: She saw Elvis in concert twice.
James Lum learned to view financial management holistically as an ecosystem through his biology training and early career as an environmental engineer. He’s been at GuideStar, an information source on the nonprofit industry, four years. He came in as CFO, but has added fundraising and membership and launched the product development group. He even served as interim CEO at one point. Some of his other career highlights have included building Howard Stern’s studio as head of engineering at SiriusXM Radio; launching the Wall Street Journal's Weekend Edition; getting egged by GuideStar staff after losing a bet about year-end results; and getting GuideStar from turnaround mode to 50% growth in staff. These days he’s working on increasing transparency in the nonprofit world and promoting the idea of impact calls, much like earnings calls in the for-profit world.
Best lesson: Numbers don’t move people, people move the numbers. Metrics are not as motivating as stories and images. Improving financials is often more about managing EQ rather than ROI.
Hometown: Charlottesville, VA
Current home: McLean, VA
Family: Married 16 years; son (14)
Recent vacation: Family trip to China.
Free time: Camping with son, who’s a Boy Scout.
Bucket list: Retiring on the beach with his wife and running a bed and breakfast.
Most people don’t know: He’s been involved with hundreds of concerts as a producer and other roles, ranging from Run DMC to Dave Matthews Band.
VP, finance and administration, corporate secretary and treasurer, Aluminum Association
Karen Bowden started at the Aluminum Association as a manager of accounting and IT in March 2006 and was promoted to run finance and administration a year later. She has always enjoyed working with numbers and budgets. Some of the highlights of her career include her eight-year stint in the British Royal Navy and getting chosen to compete in the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race for four weeks. She’s also worked for Donor Alliance, an organ procurement organization in Colorado. One of the highlights of her time at the Aluminum Association was leading the effort to relocate offices this summer from Rosslyn to Crystal City. She’s now catching up on work she put aside during the relocation, as well as benefit renewals and strategic planning for 2016.
Best lesson: Build and develop a strong team to ensure success.
Hometown: Warwickshire, England
Current home: Ashburn, VA
Family: Married 16 years to Richard; one cat named Oscar.
Free time: Golf, hiking, skiing, gardening and spa time.
Future vacation: Going to Thailand over Thanksgiving.
Bucket list: Sailing around the Mediterranean.
Most people don’t know: She got married in a hot air balloon over Colorado Springs.
VP, administration, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
Mac Bryan started his career at ABC News. He enjoys finding out why things are the way they are, so finance and accounting was a natural direction. When Mac came to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, accounting was not well established, so he installed an updated accounting system. It was such a success, he installed a management information system for financial projections and forecasts for more informed decisions. He also led an effort to purchase the association’s HQ in Reston. He’s now on a team that's working to change the culture at RVIA, making it more collaborative and responsive to members.
Best lesson: Be patient—know your targets and plan carefully.
Grew up: Arlington, VA (graduated from Wakefield HS)
Current home: Reston, VA
Family: Married high school sweetheart Carole 44 years ago; four children and 11 grandchildren; and two black Labs.
Summer highlights: Visited Savannah, GA, and Myrtle Beach, where he has a condo.
Free time: Golf, reading history and visiting historical sites.
Bucket list: Take a slow cruise on the Rhine River with Carole.
CFO, Association for Financial Professionals
Joe DeSalvio realized a love for numbers when he worked as an analyst. He also realized he could have more significant influence in an organization through higher level finance roles. Previously, he’s worked as CFO of a private company that was four years behind on tax filings, in cash distress and virtually un-auditable. He hired a new team, got new software systems in place and eventually dug out. He also worked through the dot-com craze as VP of finance for a venture-backed startup. Long hours and crazy fun that ended up being a great learning experience, he says. He’s now working on realigning the Association for Financial Professionals to support a new product rollout. It’s required IT support system changes, personnel skill swap-outs and some cultural change.
Best lessons: You can’t accomplish much by yourself. You need talented people working with you who are also dedicated to achieving your goals. And never take your eye off the sales channels.
Grew up: On a small farm in Charlton, MA
Current home: Potomac, MD
Family: Married 15 years; three sons (14, 11 and 7)
Summer trips: Family time on the Delaware seashore swimming and sailing. Sons are also active in junior lifeguard program.
Free time: Learning tennis
Bucket list: A CEO role, a two-week trip to Italy with wife, scuba diving with sons in Caribbean, take wife to Wimbledon, and 30 pull-ups.
Most people don’t know: He was an officer in the US Coast Guard and spent several years doing drug enforcement in and around the Caribbean.
VP, administration and CFO, American Forest & Paper Association
Sam Kerns joined the American Forest & Paper Association four years ago as CFO. He pursued a finance career because numbers come easy to him and he likes money. One of the highlights of his career was leading and collaborating with the association’s entire staff and contractors on a new office design when the organization moved to 1101 K St NW two years ago. Another highlight was switching from the for-profit sector to nonprofits 20 years ago. He says it’s more rewarding to be part of a mission that helps an industry and its members make a difference. He's just finishing an extensive budget development for 2016 (a three-month process) and is preparing to present it to the AF&PA board.
Best lesson: Foster collaborative relationships across many levels—departments, colleagues, peers and members.
Hometown/current home: Silver Spring, MD
Family: Married 28 years; son and daughter.
Summer trip: Took mother-in-law, a huge tennis fan, to the US Open in New York.
Free time: Nats and Caps games.
Bucket list: To play in (and win) the World Series of Poker.
Most people don’t know: He’s a Master Pumpkin Carver and spends several hours each year carving for Halloween.