Key federation executive recognized for outstanding work

Key federation executive recognized for outstanding work

Greenfield says CFOs 'wear a lot of hats'

We spend our lives working hard, says Robin Greenfield of Englewood, chief financial officer of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

“We get up each morning and try to do our job, not only to completion but to the best of our abilities,” she said. “We try to enhance our surroundings, and we don’t normally get acknowledged.”

Sometimes, however, we do – and that, she said, is a “very satisfying and very affirming experience.”

Greenfield, recipient of NJBIZ’s CFO of the Year award in the area of small nonprofits, said “there were a lot of very big companies” represented in the statewide contest, run by the New Jersey weekly business journal.

Robin Greenfield

“The NJBIZ CFO of the Year Awards program was created to honor New Jersey’s financial executives at all levels who contribute to the success of New Jersey’s economic growth and stability,” according to a statement in the group’s publication that lists winners. Once nominations are collected, panels from around the state review and score each nomination based on career achievements, impact of the nominee’s contributions, and leadership in other areas of management.

Greenfield – who soon will participate in a television interview on what it means to be a CFO – said she shared the stage “with some really impressive people,” including the CFO of Avis rental cars. She was the only woman among the winners, she noted.

Greenfield joined the Jewish Federation in 2007 after 15 years in the for-profit sector. She began her career in 1992 with Deloitte & Touche. After three years in public accounting, she became controller and then CFO of a chemical company.

At the federation, Greenfield oversees a $60 million investment portfolio, assists with annual fundraising efforts, and implements a variety of policies and procedures. She also oversees human resources and often makes recommendations to the board’s personnel committee. In addition, she consults with the board in developing strategic plans.

Greenfield said that “the culture of a nonprofit is different. That’s one of the things that attracted me to federation. In a for-profit, everything is about return on investment and the bottom line. In a nonprofit, there are a lot of intangibles.”

“It’s very rewarding on a personal level, using corporate and professional skills to help schools, synagogues, and JCCs,” she said. “I get a lot of personal satisfaction.”

Greenfield noted that “CFOs have to wear a lot of hats and are involved in many different aspects of the company, both on the financial and the business side.” She said she is most proud of having brought something of the corporate culture to the work of the federation.

“Number one [among my achievements] would be the corporate environment I’ve brought to the federation, in terms of being very systematic, efficient, having regular reporting, and recognizing that the role of a CFO has changed drastically,” she said.

When she first came, “everything was about getting things done in a smart way and on time. Now it’s about directing a company into its future.”

Greenfield also is proud of the personnel changes she has made.

“When I came on board, the economy tanked,” she said. “That gave me an opportunity to change a lot of personnel. I’m proud of the team I have today.”

The CFO noted that one of the reasons she won the NJBIZ award was the success of the Kehillah Cooperative, which “brings the mindset of corporate culture to a nonprofit.”

The venture, now almost three years old, was created “during difficult times, when we had to think out of the box,” she said. “The whole concept is very basic, but it had never been done before – bringing Jewish nonprofits in northern New Jersey together to purchase goods and services cooperatively.”

Now, about 97 local Jewish organizations participate in the project, and “they have saved some $1.6 million has a result,” Greenfield said.

Among other things, participating groups join to buy gas and electricity from a vendor other than PSE&G. They also buy office supplies, telecommunications equipment, and janitorial services, and cooperate in the areas of waste removal and credit card processing.

“I’m looking forward to seeing it grow in terms of initiatives put forth and bringing more groups on board to participate,” Greenfield said. She also noted that she recently introduced a program involving financing arrangements for capital projects; a local Jewish high school is now trying it out.

Miriam Allenson, the federation’s director of marketing services, pointed out that the professionalism Greenfield brings to the table “makes federation able to provide services in a more cohesive way. Only federation has the wherewithal to provide this service to the community.”

“And it’s not just about savings,” Greenfield said. “It’s also about being part of a bigger organization and getting better services.”

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