UMSL alums sweep nonprofit category in St. Louis Business Journal’s CFO of the Year Awards

by | Apr 27, 2018

Business graduates Benjamin Washington and Dwight Canning were recognized for their work at the Missouri Historical Society and St. Louis Community Foundation, respectively.

Benjamin Washington and Dwight Canning received CFO of the Year Awards from the St. Louis Business Journal. Both honorees are graduates of UMSL’s College of Business Administration. (Image by Wendy Allison)

If one takes a quick glimpse into the St. Louis nonprofit scene, it is usually easy to uncover a University of Missouri–St. Louis connection. This was evident Friday when the St. Louis Business Journal announced its picks for the 2018 CFO of the Year Awards.

The two nonprofit selections in the 2018 class are both graduates of UMSL’s College of Business Administration. The eight other regional chief financial officers who make up the class hold positions in education and health care as well as for large and small corporations.

Benjamin Washington, a 1980 accounting graduate, received the nomination as an executive for the Missouri Historical Society, and Dwight Canning, BSBA 1983, represents the St. Louis Community Foundation.

The Business Journal reports that both CFOs have made significant fiscal improvements in their respective organizations.

In the past five years alone, Canning has helped the St. Louis Community Foundation increase its assets by 200 percent and quadruple the number of grants it awards. The finance alumnus joined the organization in 2004 when it awarded $9.5 million in grants. In 2017, the foundation’s grant figure grew to $80 million, 85 percent of which stayed in the St. Louis region.

“It’s grown a lot,” Canning told Business Journal reporter Nathan Rubbelke when speaking about the foundation. “It’s been fun seeing the growth and facilitating the growth.”

After joining the Missouri Historical Society in 2014, Washington quickly made an impact, helping the museum increase its revenue by $8.8 million from 2015 to 2016.

“Ben has made many significant contributions to the museum,” Controller Matthew Dorian told reporter Steph Kukuljan. “He has led efforts to improve the infrastructure by upgrading the museum’s financial, budgeting and payroll systems to a more user-friendly tool. He has improved the reporting to the board to now include a dashboard with useful financial graphs and charts for the board to govern the museum. Ben is very organized and disciplined in his work and helps others to strive for excellence.”

Washington made the transition to nonprofit work after spending about 25 years of his career between Deloitte, Boeing, Emerson Electric and what is now ConocoPhillips. He said the move has decreased his travel time but not the complexity of his work.

“I don’t work at a slower pace, I still put the hours in,” Washington said. “But it’s mission driven – we’re providing specific experiences, services and a connection to the community.”

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St. Louis Business Journal

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