2019 GFOA Scholarship Winners

Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) has announced the recipients of its 2018 scholarships. GFOA’s mission is to promote excellence in state and local government financial management and the awarding of scholarships is one of the ways GFOA accomplishes its mission.

The recipient of the $15,000 Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship is Julie A. Wons, she is Managing Director of Accounting and Grant Compliance at Elgin Community College, Illinois, where she leads accounting and management of the annual audit and budget for the college. Julie is currently a full-time student in the Masters of Business Administration-Organizational Leadership program at Judson University in Elgin, Illinois, and will graduate in February 2020. Funded by the Girard Miller Foundation.

The recipients of the two awards for the Frank L. Greathouse Government Accounting Scholarship are Carmen Coniglio and Svetlana Ries. Each will receive $10,000Funded by Government Finance Officers Association.

  • Carmen Coniglio serves as Senior Director of Fiscal Services for Palomar Community College District in San Marcos, California. Her responsibilities for the district include financial strategy, overseeing the budget, and management and implementation of bond construction projects. Carmen has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting from San Diego State University. She is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree from Louisiana State University–Shreveport, and will graduate in December 2019
  • Svetlana Ries is an Accountant for the County of Volusia, Florida, where she started working as an intern in 2014. She first studied Audit and Economic Development in Latvia and after moving to the United States, obtained an Associate’s degree in Science and Business Administration from Daytona State College in Daytona Beach, Florida. Svetlana continued her studies at St. Leo University in St. Leo, Florida, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Accounting and upon graduation plans to take the CPA exam.    

The recipient of the $10,000 Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship is Vania Brown, she is the Finance Director for Norway-Vulcan Public Schools in Dickinson County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Previously, she worked in the accounting department at the Illinois Fire Service Institute and as an account clerk at Iron Mountain Public Schools in Iron Mountain, Michigan. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Northern Michigan University. Vania is pursuing a Master’s degree in Accounting from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and will graduate in May 2020. Upon graduation, she plans to continue working in the public school system. Funded by Government Finance Officers Association.

The recipients of the four awards for the Government Finance Professional Development Scholarship are Susana Arroyo, Teresa Emrich, Natalie Simon, and Stacey Wilkes Each will receive $10,000Funded by the Government Finance Officers Association Scholarship Reserve.

  • Susana Arroyo servesasAccountant II for the Village of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, where she has been working since 2013. Her responsibilities include assisting with the preparation of the annual operating budget and annual financial audit; preparing journal entries, financial reports, and bank reconciliations; and grant management. She will graduate in December 2021 with a Master’s degree in Business Administration, from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. Her goal is to take the CPA exam and to continue working in local government.
  • Teresa Emrich isActing Administrative Services Director for the City of Farmington, New Mexico, where she started working as a Staff Accountant I in 2008. She is pursuing a Master’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance or Accounting at Highlands University in New Mexico. Teresa is President-Elect for the New Mexico GFOA.
  • Natalie Simon isAssistant Grants Accounting Manager for the City of Miramar, Florida. She will graduate with a Master’s degree in Business Administration in July 2019 from Florida International University. Her goals include obtaining a senior managerial position with the City of Miramar and to become a Certified Public Finance Officer (CGFO) and Certified Grant Management Specialist (CGMS).
  • Stacey Wilkes is a CPA and Finance Director for Amherst County, Virginia. Her previous positions include fund accountant and town treasurer. She is a graduate of Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Administration at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  

The recipients of the three awards for the Jeffrey L. Esser Career Development Scholarship are Jill Bauer, Vickie Blackden, and Melissa Dunbar. Each will receive $5,000Funded by Government Finance Officers Association.

  • Jill Bauer is an Administrative Analyst for the Ingham County Budget Office in Mason, Michigan. Jill’s responsibilities include coordination, preparation, and administration of the annual budget. She is currently pursuing an Associate’s degree in Accounting/Business Administration at Lansing Community College.
  • Vickie Blackden has served as Accountant I for the City of Dover, New Hampshire, since 2014. In her position, she oversees daily receipts; prepares journal entries; and assists with preparation of the City’s annual budget and comprehensive annual financial report. Previously, she worked as a finance officer for the Town of New Durham, New Hampshire. Vickie is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Accounting at Southern New Hampshire University and will graduate in 2019. Her goal is to obtain a position in finance.
  • Melissa Dunbar is an Accounting Specialist at Rockford Public School District #205 in Rockford, Illinois, where she has worked since 2009. Her responsibilities include preparing journal entries, balancing cash and investment accounts monthly, assisting in preparing quarterly financial reports, and processing biweekly payroll.  She will graduate in December 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Upper Iowa University in Rockford, Illinois. Her career goal is to become chief financial officer for a public school district.

full list of past scholarship winners is also available.

For more information about GFOA’s scholarships, please contact Chloe Belczak, Program Associate, or Gen Carter, Consultant/Analyst.