Seven of Fairfield County’s top financial executives were honored at the CFO of the Year Awards, an event presented by The Fairfield County Business Journal and RSM US LLP, the accounting firm formerly known as McGladrey.
“As we all know, companies can change rapidly as they grow and the economy churns through its various cycles,” said Steve Kirn, a partner at RSM. “One thing that remains constant is the importance of a CFO that can navigate through the many challenges a growing company faces and do so with integrity.”
Additional sponsors for the event, which was held at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk on Oct. 18, included Rakow Commercial Realty Group, Robert Half, Gilda Bonanno LLC and Val’s Putnam Wines and Liquors.
For its fifth year, the annual awards event recognized the leaders who grow their businesses and create economic opportunity in the region.
The winners, who were chosen by a panel of judges, included Mark Antonini, CFO and COO of The Center for Family Justice; Susan Bader, CFO of Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists; George Barrios, chief strategy and financial officer of WWE; John Gettings, CFO of Norwalk Community Health Center; Mike Lungariello, executive vice president and CFO of Intrepid Aviation; Lori Pasqualini, vice president and chief financial and administrative officer of Ability Beyond and Fred Rubin, CFO of Five Star Products Inc.
Keynote speaker and Connecticut state Comptroller Kevin Lembo opened the award ceremony by noting that Connecticut’s “assets far outweigh (its) challenges,” with its concentration of Fortune 500 companies and start-ups, the high number of doctorate degrees per capita and the strength of its workforce productivity.
“If we get our act together, then that can take off, and if we don’t, it probably won’t,” Lembo said. “We’re at a nexus. We’re at a moment in history in this state where we have an opportunity to set things right.”
Lembo also lauded the financiers in attendance for their contributions and hard work.
“It’s great to be in a room with people who sometimes turn nothing into something to help the rest of the economy move,” he said.
Many winners credited co-workers within their company for assisting them in their duties.
“No one person makes a successful team,” said Gettings. “It takes everyone to be committed to the goals that you set.”
Antonini, who spent the beginning of his career working for “corporations with pockets,” noted both the rewards and hardships of working for an organization that advocates for victims of domestic violence and abuse.
“It is extremely difficult to manage revenue and cash flow in the nonprofit world when there are continued cuts to funding, many of them at the state level,” Antonini said before thanking the The Center of Family Justice’s donors and supporters for their generosity.
Barrios said he was thankful to be among the group of other CFOs awarded at the event.
“For a Cuban kid who grew up in Flushing, to now be in this distinguished group, it’s really humbling,” he said.