It's a good time to be an accountant for North Las Vegas. At least, it is for CFO Darren Adair, who was named CFO of the Year Thursday night at an event at the Silverton. Hosted by the Las Vegas Chapter of Financial Executives International, the CFO of the Year Awards celebrate executives who have helped their companies reach new pinnacles of success and whose leadership stands out as exemplary.
Turning around the finances of a city is no easy task, but that’s what Adair and his team helped do for North Las Vegas. It was a successful effort that the judges for CFO of the Year found quite impressive, leading them to name Adair as the 2019 honoree.
Six years ago, North Las Vegas was struggling. On the verge of state takeover, the city was strapped with a $153 million long-term budget deficit, a $17 million short-term budget deficit, court orders requiring more than $30 million in judgments and a North Las Vegas bond rating of “junk” status.
Now in 2019, the city’s structural deficits have been erased, credit has returned to “investment grade” and the city is operating under a current balanced budget that's projected to stay that way.
Adair once described his role in a company as "deal prevention," he said to the crowd in the Veil Pavilion. "But I decided that what I wanted to do was see if I could push myself as far away from that title as I possibly could. And involve myself with people who went out and got deals done.
"And based on the individuals who are here being recognized tonight and the fact that I'm included as a nominee with them, I've accomplished that goal."
Kendall Tenney was emcee of the event, which was presented by City National Bank and sponsored by RSM, FCI & Design, KPMG and SIOR.
Read Adair's bio here. The other nominees for CFO of the Year were Bryan Coy, CFO of the Vegas Golden Knights, and Brian Kleven, CFO of Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals:
CFO of the Year Finalist
CFO | Vegas Golden Knights
Bryan Coy, CFO of the Vegas Golden Knights, is responsible for preparing and executing budgets for two dozen entities and believes that accounting and finance are the language of business. The language he speaks goes beyond hockey and the hockey group, owned by Bill Foley. There are also Foley Family Wines and its related vineyard entities; and Epic Wines and Spirits.
CFO of the Year Finalist
CFO | Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals — Siena and San Martin campuses
As the son of a registered nurse, Brian Kleven — CFO of Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals’ Siena and San Martín campuses — aspired to work in health care from early on. “I was not clinical in nature, but took to mathematics and finance very well, so decided to contribute the best way I could,” Kleven said.
Other financial executives also took home awards in industry-specific categories. They are:
Construction | Real Estate
Senior Vice President and CFO | Somerpointe Resorts
Jennifer LaFrance’s co-workers credit her commitment to the craft of accounting for many of her successes. Among recent accomplishments, LaFrance helped strategize her company's review of multigenerational estate and tax planning, and has led the company into new business lines.
Gaming | Hospitality
CFO and Executive Vice President of Finance | Westgate Las Vegas
Michael Pearse joined Westgate Las Vegas as CFO and executive vice president of finance in 2015. He is responsible for oversight of all accounting and finance operations as well as budgeting and planning for the property. Under Pearse’s financial direction, the Westgate’s EBITDAM (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) have a forecasted projection for 2020 of four times what the number was in 2014.
Vice President of Business and Finance/Treasurer | Roseman University of Health Sciences
Ken Wilkins brings a passion for health care and education to his role at Roseman University of Health Sciences, where he oversees accounting, finance and select business operations for the institution.
During Wilkins’ time at Roseman, the institution’s revenue and assets have quadrupled.
Manufacturing | Technology
SVP, Chief Accounting Officer | Everi Holdings
Todd Valli considers himself a driven, goal-oriented, critical thinker with a passion for numbers. The chief accounting officer and senior vice president of Everi Holdings is also an optimist.
“Focus on what you can do with what you do have, as the glass is half full,” he said.