Meet Government Finance Officers Association (GFOAz) President, Ben Ronquillo

Please tell us a little about your background.
I'm a third-generation Arizonan. A true Valley of the Sun native born in Phoenix and raised in the West Valley. This means that I'm pretty much immune to the summer heat! I've seen the entire Valley go through tremendous change over the years, and have seen many "small towns" on the edges of Phoenix grow into thriving, vibrant communities with strong commercial and industrial centers. I graduated from Carl Hayden High School in west Phoenix and went on to receive an accounting degree from ASU and an MBA from Western International University. I love Arizona and have settled into the West Valley with my wife and four kids. I started my finance career as a senior in high school when I was hired part-time at a local bank which led to positions in various administrative areas including their corporate accounting and financial analysis groups.

What prompted you to go into the government finance profession?
I spent all of my twenties working in the private sector. After a decade or so in the banking industry and a couple of short stints in finance positions with a national airline and a local university, I was looking for a change; for a new experience in finance administration. I ended up applying for a position with the City of Litchfield Park. I was hired and I haven't looked back since. I'll soon be completing my 14th year as the Litchfield Park finance director. Working in local government finance has been a great opportunity and the greatest experience of my career. My favorite part of local government is the collaboration with other local governments across the state.

Please tell us about your history and involvement with GFOAz.
I started attending GFOAz training sessions during my first year in Litchfield Park. When I first started in local government finance, GFOAz was invaluable in helping me shorten my learning curve with local government issues, rules, and regulations. After a while I began to volunteer on various GFOAz committees, including the membership and education committees. I started volunteering just to get an idea of how the organization worked and also because it was such a great organization. It led to serving on the GFOAz Executive Board over the last couple of years. I truly believe that GFOAz is the premier training organization for local government finance professionals. Personally, GFOAz has helped me to make connections with others, update my knowledge, and stay ahead of the ever-changing landscape of local government. It is still my go-to place to stay up to date on local government issues, rules, regulations and connect with those in the same government finance boat as me.

What do you hope to accomplish in your year as President of GFOAz?
We are already approaching the half-point of the year! As they say, time really flies when you're having fun! I have always loved that GFOAz has been a group led by its membership.The individuals volunteering on the executive board and committees are all regular GFOAz members working in local government. I believe this fact keeps the organization membership-centered; meaning the primary goal from year to year is to meet the needs of the membership. We are focused on helping the membership stay up to date on the many important issues, rules, and regulations we encounter in our everyday work in local government. As I continue my service to the organization throughout the rest of the year, my hope is for GFOAz to continue to be the premier ongoing resource for all of those working in local government - from the new hire to the seasoned finance director. Trying to meet the needs of this very wide audience is not an easy feat. We gather feedback from each and every training and conference that takes place through membership and sponsor surveys. This is very valuable information that is reviewed and considered as each session, event, and annual goal is planned. Frankly, not every single need will be met as we plan the various conferences and training sessions throughout the year. But my hope is that we bring some value to each and every member, in some way, as they work to make their local governments stronger.

Some specific goals that the executive board has set to accomplish in 2016 include:
  • Exploring opportunities to expand training - through partnerships, increased committee involvement, or alternative training methods
  • Expanding GFOAz membership - to those that have never been involved or may be new to local government
  • Develop a mentorship program - to help local governments that may need help in improving their fiscal processes
  • Increase student outreach - by reaching out to local colleges and universities regarding training opportunities and development of a student internship program
I hope to see more and more of the memberships take that first step to get involved in the organization by volunteering some time toward one of the committees during the year. I have learned that it really doesn't take much of my time to be involved and make a positive impact in GFOAz. It really has been a great experience for me because we have a really great group of both new and seasoned leaders working on the committees and the executive board from year to year. We always need new people to take that small step to get involved, plus it's always great to see new faces in the discussions, meetings, and planning sessions.

League of Arizona Cities and Towns
1820 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ  85007
Phone: 602-258-5786
Fax: 602-253-3874

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