CPFO Spotlight: Catherine McClary

Catherine McClary, CPFO, is Treasurer for Washtenaw County, Michigan.

Photo of Catherine McClary

1. Why did you want to become a CPFO? 

I was a brand new Treasurer and first time GFOA member in 1997 when the CPFO program started. I wanted to understand finance officials better and gain more accounting education. My background had been both in County government (Commissioner for 14 years and Chair of the Board) and in the private sector. I was an investment banker and sold securities – so the cash and treasury management and  retirement plans tests were easy for me.  And I’d prepared a number of budgets.

2. What did you learn going through the process? 

I had to study for the GAAP and Debt Management portions. And I’ve used every bit of the information over the years I’ve served as Treasurer – I can’t imagine handling delinquent tax note issuance annually without the education I gained studying for the CPFO!

3. How has becoming a CPFO made an impact on you in your profession?  

I finished with the first cohort as a CPFO. I’ve been able to use my certification as a positive example for the pursuit of continuing education for colleagues, staff, people I’ve mentored, and treasurers throughout the state.

4. What would you say to others thinking about becoming a CPFO? 

Just do it!! Sign up for one test; read the test materials. After the first plunge, it gets easier and you feel accomplished. In Michigan, we offer training to assist members taking advantage of the CPFO opportunity.

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