November 17, 2017
    TRENDS Attends: 2017 CFO of the Year Awards Ceremony

    From left, Emily Howard, head of the associations team for CBIS; Allison Ingram, Association CFO of the Year; Guy Sheetz, Nonprofit CFO of the Year; Jim Thomasell, Philanthropic CFO of the Year; Mark Hornby, Nonprofit CFO Rising Star; Brittany Carter, CBIS president; and keynote speaker Rob Scheer, founder of Comfort Cases. Photo by Jenny Lehman for Chuck Fazio Photography.

    For the 2017 CFO of the Year Awards, Oct. 24 in Washington, it was the largest-attended ceremony in the program’s history, and one of, if not the most emotional days in the program's history, too. 

    More than 300 registrants packed the ballroom at the Grand Hyatt in Washington to fete this year’s winners: Nonprofit CFO of the Year Guy Sheets, chief finance and administrative officer of the Futures Industry Association; Association CFO of the Year Allison Ingram, finance, administration and operations director of the Society of Military Engineers; Philanthropic CFO of the Year Jim Thomasell, CFO of the National PTA; and CFO Rising Star Mark Hornby, operations director of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

    The day began with a first-time panel discussion on best practices, featuring, from left, Don Miller, chief financial and administrative officer for Meals on Wheels; Kim McKinnish, CFO of the National Beer Wholesalers Association;  James Lum, CFO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition; and Tom Tepper, finance & administration VP of The Wilderness Society. All the panelists are past honorees in the CFO of the Year Awards. The panel was moderated by Charles Tate of Tate & Tryon, who is a past TRENDS Association Partner of the Year.

    The discussion, which was offered for CPE credit, included topics such as for whom does the CFO work, the CEO or the board; advice for those professionals looking to become a CFO, and compensation for finance directors and controllers. (See video above.)

    The luncheon began with the introduction of sponsors by Eric West of West, Lane & Schlager. WLS and Tate & Tryon are founding sponsors of the CFO of the Year Awards.

    One of the highlights of the program came from the keynote speaker, Rob Scheer, at right. In introducing Scheer, Columbia Books president Brittany Carter “apologized” in advance that people will cry, and most in the audience did. Scheer led attendees on a rollercoaster of emotions, but mostly pulled at their heart strings. He discussed how and why he started Comfort Cases, a charity that supplies foster children with back packs for their things as well as outfitted with other sundries the children might need when moving to a new home. (Photo by Jenny Lehman for Chuck Fazio Photography)

    Scheer recalled how as a teen in foster care, he went “home” after school on his 18th birthday to find that his things were left in a plastic trash bag on the stoop. He had aged out of the system and was left homeless for his senior year of high school. When he and his husband took in their first foster children, they arrived with their things also in trash bags. That nothing had changed in 30 years in the foster care system, and the uncertainty and inhumanity that the bags represent caused Scheer to start Comfort Cases. The charity is based in the DC area, but is gaining popularity across the country and around the world.

    While most of his address was inspiring yet heart-wrenching, Scheer also managed to inject some levity as well as heart-warming humility. He said that he felt he had arrived, addressing his local community of important financial officers. In addition to being the founder of Comfort Cases, he is chief strategy officer for Landmark Network. 

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