Three Questions: Brenda Hargett

Associations Now's Mark Athitakis asks Brenda Hargett, CPA, CAE of the American Academy of Otolaryngology what it's like to work as her association's CFO and COO.

What are the benefits to your organization of your dual role as a CFO and COO? Would you encourage other associations to create the role?

Given our size and my previous background, having me serve in the dual role of CFO and COO makes sense. There is no need to have two people in the “C” role when one person is capable of handling both areas. But the dual role isn’t possible if there aren’t qualified senior staff reporting to the COO-CFO.

What would make strategic plans more effective?

I actually believe it is important to do strategic planning without the constraints of finances. Once strategic planning is done, I think the financial aspects should be added. If a strategic plan is put together focusing on the financial aspects of activities, I feel the organization is not able to achieve as much as it otherwise would be able to.

Does the increasing complexity of tax law make it harder to be an association CFO today?

The world moves faster today than it did back when I first became a CFO. The tax area can be really complex for nonprofits these days, especially if your organization is involved in fundraising from members or others outside your registered state of business. Luckily, though, there are so many opportunities to readily obtain information. But you have to be willing to take the time to find what is important for your organization.

(photo by Joshua Roberts)

Mark Athitakis

By Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. MORE

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