2023 Scholarship Winners
GFOA has announced the recipients of its 2023 scholarships. GFOA’s mission is to advance excellence in government finance to build thriving communities. Awarding of scholarships is an important way GFOA accomplishes its mission.
The recipient of the $25,000 Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship is Kelly Diaz.
- Kelly Diaz is a longtime resident of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Kelly was hired as an accountant for the County of Delaware Controller’s Office in November 2018 and was promoted to a deputy position in March 2022. Kelly holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature with a Minor in Business and Technical Writing from West Chester University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Maryland Global Campus. She is currently attending Villanova University to earn a Master of Public Administration degree and expects to graduate in August 2024. Kelly enjoys spending time with her husband and two children and plans to use her degree to continue improving the local community where her family resides.
The recipients of the two awards for the Frank L. Greathouse Government Accounting Scholarship are Kimber Eden and Matthew Williams. Each will receive $10,000.
- Kimber Eden began her career in governmental accounting in November 2020 when she was hired by Liberty County, Georgia, to work in Accounts Payable. In March 2022 she was promoted and now handles fixed assets, capital projects, and purchasing. She also completed her Level I Finance Officer certification from University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government in September 2022. Kimber is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and expects to graduate in Spring 2024. Her goals are to advance in her career while continuing to serve her growing community.
- Matthew Williams is a senior, majoring in Accounting at Drake University, and is originally from the Chicago area. He has Cerebral Palsy Spastic Dysplasia, which creates challenges in fine and gross motor skills. Matthew’s challenges heightened his desire to be an advocate for those with disabilities. He serves as an ambassador for Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley and is currently the Chair of Drake’s Residence Hall Association Disability Inclusion task force. Additionally at school Matthew is a member of the band and treasurer of the Residence Hall Association. He is a member of the board of directors at his local church. Matthew was recognized as the 2022 Zimpleman College of Business Junior of the Year and was one of three hundred students nationwide selected as a Bank of America Student Leader for his community involvements.
The recipient of the $10,000 Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship is Jesus Gimenez.
- Jesus Gimenez was born in Venezuela. He arrived in the U.S. in May 2001. After graduating high school, he started working for a small family-owned company that offered vehicle and commercial insurance, income tax preparation, payroll, and bookkeeping services. After six years, he took an opportunity to work for the Tax Office of Mecklenburg County in May 2013. Working at Mecklenburg County expanded his experience, knowledge, career, and education, allowing him to pursue an Accounting Associate degree and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. Throughout his career in the public sector, he has worked at four departments: The Tax Office, Finance, Park and Recreation, and Criminal Justice Services. In each of his roles, he learned a different area of governmental accounting, reporting, monitoring, auditing, and the importance of local government to serve the public and maintain proper stewardship of public funds.
The recipients of the four awards for the Government Finance Professional Development Scholarship are Claria Cabrera, Joshua Diaz, Jennifer Jamison, and Koby Starman. Each will receive $10,000.
- Claria Cabrera is Budget Analyst at the City of Inglewood in Southern California. She started as Senior Accounting Clerk and moved from Payroll Technician and Program Specialist before her current role. This year her goal is to become Senior Budget Analyst. She received a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology from the University of California, Irvine, and an Associate of Science degree in Accounting from Santa Monica College. She is working on her Master of Science in Professional Accountancy degree at California State University, Northridge. She plans to get a CPA license and work in an executive position at the City of Inglewood. She will use her knowledge to lead by example and serve the community's citizens and leaders. She values efficiency, transparency, and accuracy and believes that accountability and sustainability are essential pillars of government.
- Joshua Diaz is originally from the island of Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He is a Chamorro, one of the indigenous cultures of the CNMI. He currently resides on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii. In his free time, he loves to go to the beach, work out, travel, and spend time with his family. He is attending the University of Texas Permian Basin’s Accounting program and working full-time as Auditor II with the City and County of Honolulu.
- Jennifer Jamison is Chief Financial Officer and Board Secretary/Treasurer for the Ankeny Community School District in Ankeny, Iowa. She previously worked as the district’s Director of Business Services. Her school finance experience includes working at two smaller Iowa districts serving as a School Business Official and as a Staff Accountant at Des Moines Public Schools. She began her career at the Polk-Des Moines Taxpayers Association. Jennifer holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from Central Missouri State University, where she graduated cum laude. She also earned an Accounting Certificate from Simpson College and is a graduate of the Iowa School Business Management Academy. She is currently attending the University of Iowa’s MBA program, where she is pursuing certificates in Business Analytics and Leadership.
- Koby Starman has worked a variety of jobs within state and local government. He currently works as Senior Accountant in the Auditor’s Office for Ada County, Idaho. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from California State University Sacramento in 2016, and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Administration at Boise State University and expects to graduate in May 2024. He wants to work in management positions within local government finance and to serve his community.
The recipients of three awards for the Jeffrey L. Esser Career Development Scholarship are Mariana O’Neill, Heather Kelly, and Frank Magneri. Each will receive $8,000.
- Mariana O'Neill has been employed with state and local agencies for most of her career. She works as Chief Financial Officer for Teton County Fire Protection District in Teton Valley, Idaho. At work, she is known for her integrity, creativity, and dedication to achieving results. Her ability to problem-solve and think outside the box has been invaluable in the position. Currently, she is finishing her third year of studies at the University of Wyoming, working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. When not working or volunteering, she enjoys spending time outdoors and traveling with her family. Originally from Moldova, she returns regularly to where she was born to visit, spend time with family, and give back to the community.
- Heather Kelly received an Associate of Arts degree from Palm Beach State College and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University. She decided to pursue an Accounting degree at Florida Atlantic University once she started working at the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County and plans to graduate within the next two years. Heather resides in South Florida with her husband and pet beagle.
- Frank Magneri was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He graduated from SUNY Albany with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics/Public Administration in 2015 and received a Master of Public Administration degree from the Rockefeller School of Public Affairs and Policy. He began his career at the New York State Division of the Budget and currently serves as Budget Director for the Town of Fairfield. He is pursuing an Accounting degree at Fairfield University to bolster his background as a government finance professional.