Awards honor CFOs' evolving role in business

The changing role of the chief financial office from bookkeeper to strategic corporate partner was showcased Tuesday evening during the third annual Daily Herald Business Ledger's CFO of the Year Awards.

Twelve local business executives were honored for their roles in building the foundation for success of their representative companies during the event at the Stonegate Banquet and Conference Center in Hoffman Estates.

The Daily Herald Business Ledger's CFO of the Year Awards program celebrates financial executives who contribute to the success of our region's economic growth and stability. The honorees were nominated by their peers and judged by the Daily Herald Business Ledger editorial staff.

Keynote speaker Bruce Jones, CPA and managing partner of Porte Brown LLC in Elk Grove Village, set the tone for the evening by noting that today's financial officers have become key figures in gathering and assessing the information needed to develop a business' strategy for success.

"In today's environment, it's very important to increase your odds for success by changing your course of action as the facts become available," Jones said. "It takes intelligence, hard work and taking advantage of opportunities."

That sentiment was echoed by Shawn Jeffers, executive director of Little City Foundation in Palatine, who accepted the award for honoree Linda LaPorte.

"I've seen this role as CFO evolve from a numbers counter to a true strategic partner in this organization," Jeffers said. "She is a person who I feel very comfortable bringing into the board room. She is a person who always tells me the truth, even though it's painful sometimes."

Honoree Mary Dankowski, chief financial officer for the village of Park Forest, also noted the CFO role has expanded more into helping determine the organization's long term goals.

"The best decisions are ones that look at long term benefits and sustainability of the organization and avoid short-term 'flavor of the month' choices," she said.

Honoree Rodney Petick of Ridgeworth Roofing Co. in Frankfort also pointed out the honorees' involvement in assuring their organization's survival during the recent economic downtown.

"Everybody deserves to be recognized because we were able to see the light through a difficult economic time," said Petirck. "We made our businesses take an opportunity to move forward to succeed."

Presenting sponsors for the event were Associated Bank, B. Gunther and Co. of Lisle, Focus Capital Advisors Inc of Downers Grove and NIU College of Business.

2014 CFO of the Year Awards

Companies • Paul Darling, Leapfrog Online, Evanston

• Sarah King, Brad's Deals, Chicago and suburbs

• John Lafferty, CFO-Pro, Naperville

• Jim Liakos, Transportation Solutions Enterprises, Chicago, Carol Stream, and Elgin

• Gina Pappa-Lyerla, COTG - A Xerox Company, Bolingbrook

• Rodney Petrick, Ridgeworth Roofing Co., Inc., Frankfort

• John Sullivan, Elfco, Mokena

Educational Institutions

• Allan Gozum, Benedictine University, Lisle


• Brad Caputo, city of Aurora

• Mary Dankowski, village of Park Forest

Not-For-Profit Organizations

• Linda LaPorte, Little City Foundation, Palatine

• Kristie Sams, Our Little Secret, Aurora, Elgin and Woodstock

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