August 2, 2023 | Spotlight

Finance professionals build leadership skills and connections through PFLA

Finance professionals build leadership skills and connections through PFLA

Writer: Rhiannon Eades

Applications now open for UGA Institute of Government’s 2023-2024 Public Finance Leadership Academy

When Teri Noble enrolled in the UGA Institute of Government’s Public Finance Leadership Academy (PFLA) last fall, she did not realize how quickly she would apply her new knowledge in her role with the DeKalb County School District.

Noble, a 15-year DeKalb County School District employee, was promoted from payroll analyst to position control specialist shortly before the spring 2023 PFLA graduation. Noble says she learned information vital to her new position, including a deep dive into millage rates.

“The biggest thing that stuck out to me was the property tax class,” Noble said. “About a month before we graduated, I got promoted. The budget millage rate class came right after that, which was perfect. It tied into one of the daily processes within my current department.”

PFLA is a signature program presented by the UGA Institute of Government in partnership with the Georgia Government Finance Officers Association (GGFOA).

Applications are open through Sept. 1 for the upcoming 2023-2024 PFLA cohort. The six-month series kicks off Oct. 16 at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel in Athens.

The series expands upon the curriculum in the institute’s Level I and Level II Finance Officer Certification programs with a focus on leadership. Participants gain the skills and confidence they need to build and inspire teams, according to faculty member and finance expert John Hulsey.

Hulsey, a 2023 recipient of the University of Georgia’s Walter Barnard Hill Award for Distinguished Achievement in Public Service and Outreach, designed the PFLA curriculum for finance professionals who want to hone their soft skills in preparation for leadership roles in local governments and other public organizations.

“We are trying to build capacity in the public finance profession. A finance director is a key leadership position. There’s so much more you need to know when you become the finance director,” Hulsey explained. “You certainly need to understand debits and credits, but you've also got to be able to build a team.”

Marsha Klecan, the finance director for the city of St. Marys, said she especially appreciates the connections she made with other finance professionals around the state as part of the recent PFLA cohort. She has encouraged the city’s assistant finance director to apply for the upcoming series this fall.

“This program helps you become a stronger leader and understand your employees that you are tasked to lead. It gives you resources so when something comes up that you don't know how to handle, you can reach out to someone who can help you figure it out. It's just a very, very valuable tool,” Klecan said.

Participants graduate from PFLA with the advanced skills required to lead financial operations and communicate at all levels of government and with the public. Putnam County Finance Director Linda Cook, a PFLA graduate and GGFOA’s second vice president, recommends the program for professionals at every stage of their career.

“PFLA will help you develop and sharpen skills to make a positive difference in your community and yourself. I enjoyed the myriad of sessions which were spot on with relevant information taught by experts,” Cook said. “And meeting new friends and networking was a bonus!”

The 2023-2024 cohort begins Oct. 16 with graduation set for May 3, 2024. Space is limited, and students are selected through a competitive application process. The application deadline is Sept. 1. To learn more and download an application, visit cviog.uga.edu/pfla.