by Jessica Langdon
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The name and face of the chief financial officer are changing, but the approach to managing money for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas will likely continue in a similar spirit.
“The work we do is serious, but I don’t think we have to be grumpy about it all the time,” said
Jerry Mayne, the outgoing CFO who retired this summer after nearly 16 years.
“I do enjoy a good laugh, a good story, and I really like the interaction with employees,” he said.
Carla Mills, the new CFO who began working for the archdiocese in July, vows to maintain that fun-loving spirit while — like Mayne — wholly devoting herself to being a good steward of every dollar.
“We spend so much time at work — all of us do — that if you can’t get joy from it and give joy to others, then really, what’s the point?” said Mills.
That attitude has taken her through a career in both for-profit companies and the nonprofit world.
With a father in sales, Mills attended eight grade schools in three states — but she considered the Manhattan area home.
Mills earned her bachelor of science with an emphasis in accounting from Kansas State University in Manhattan. (She’s a huge K-State fan).
Her first Catholic school was Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo., where she went through the executive master’s in business administration program.
Mills worked for 20th Century Investors, which later became American Century Investors, and was vice president of finance when she moved on after 17 years.
She next went to work in finance at Teva Pharmaceuticals.
After a couple of years, a friend sent her a job posting about a position with Catholic Charities in Kansas City, Mo.
She didn’t think she’d get the job, but she landed it. And through her work there, she was recently named the nonprofit CFO of the year in the Kansas City Business Journal.
‘I just had to wait’
And then she learned that Mayne was retiring.
Mills, a parishioner of St. Pius X Church in Mission, knew Mayne from the time she and his wife Julie, who died in 2009, served together on the parish finance council.
Mills first learned about this archdiocesan CFO position when Mayne took over in September 1997 — and had wanted it since then.
“I just had to wait for him to retire,” she said.
She views her new position as an opportunity to further the church’s mission.
“Accountants — good accountants, anyway — don’t just think about accounting the numbers,” said Mills. “They think about the business and how they can impact and help the business grow toward its goals, whatever they may be.”
She has inserted that philosophy into every position she’s held, and in this post, it holds special meaning.
“Stewardship is just burned into my very being,” she said.
Colleagues have called her “tough, but fair” and “authentic,” and she’s known for her direct style — and her laugh.
Even before she decorated her new office, she had talked to some priests and was getting to know archdiocesan staff.
With the budget for the year already set, she looks forward to delving into medical insurance soon — a self-insured entity is new to her.
The archdiocese sets the policies, benefits and premiums, then subcontracts with Blue Cross Blue Shield to administer the plan.
“Carla is an excellent successor to Jerry,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann. “Her previous professional experience will provide the archdiocese with expertise in investment management, accounting practices and proper budgeting.”
He pointed to her work in corporate financial management — as well as her time with a Catholic agency — which provided insight into the church’s unique culture.
“Carla has a great love for the church,” said Archbishop Naumann. “Her enthusiasm to serve the church with her knowledge and professional experience is contagious.”
Holy Spirit working
Even as Mills settled into his old office, Mayne did what he had for decades in his early days of retirement this summer — showed up for work.
He’s committed to making the transition smooth for Mills and the archdiocese.
The two prepared together for the archdiocesan finance council meeting on Aug. 19.
Mayne, a certified public accountant, worked for a large national firm for about five years doing audits before moving into banking in the mid-1970s.
He spent more than 20 years working in banks and savings and loans.
He was still somewhat new to banking when Archbishop Ignatius J. Strecker looked to add fresh faces to the Archbishop’s Call to Share board.
Mayne was recommended and accepted the responsibility, and over the years got to know the leadership of the archdiocese.
As he neared his 50th birthday, his mother, who was very ill and died not long after, asked him if he still thought about making a career transition he had always envisioned: from corporate work into nonprofit.
Within a few days of that conversation, Archbishop James P. Keleher asked him if he’d ever consider working for the church. The current CFO was retiring.
“I think the Holy Spirit was working there a little bit on me,” said Mayne.
He brought to the archdiocese a unique set of gifts, said Archbishop Naumann.
“His knowledge and expertise in banking and investments are important,” said Archbishop Naumann. “He has a calm, deliberative and respectful communication style that was appreciated by priests and laity. It was a great blessing for me to have the advice and counsel of someone with a depth of experience in financial management coupled with unquestioned integrity.”
He added that under Mayne’s leadership, the finance council was expanded so the archdiocese could benefit from the input of well-qualified laity.
Mayne also instituted the position of an internal auditor for the archdiocese, he said.
Finances, family and
an eye on the future
These have been interesting financial times, said Mayne.
“Interest rates are historically lower than they’ve ever been,” he said.
It’s normal to experience hills and valleys in finance over time, he explained, but it’s really rare to dip into a valley for close to seven years, as we have recently.
“So that’s created some challenges not just for the church, but for everybody — to become accustomed to this new reality,” he said.
“On the positive side, we’ve financed a couple of churches or additions, and now they’re paying interest of three and a half percent, which is probably the lowest we’ve ever had for construction projects,” he noted.
As Mayne worked to ensure financial stability for the archdiocese, he also found himself surrounded by a work family of unforgettable people.
“In the years that I was here, I lost a daughter and I lost my wife,” he said. “I just can’t imagine having been in a better place to experience that, to have the support and love and caring of so many people who were so touched by all of that.”
Married since fall of 2011 to Julia Hiles, Mayne now anticipates a retirement filled with trips to visit his two daughters and four grandchildren, as well as some fishing and some golf.
Meanwhile, Mills will be navigating the financial terrain.
She’ll be watching the big financial picture, of course, monitoring the rise of interest rates or inflation, and working to best position the archdiocese to deal with the unexpected.
And whether it’s in the corporate world or a religious organization, she said, there’s never enough money to meet every want.
So that means planning into the future and working to be as good a steward as possible of every dollar.
“Every dollar that we spend at the archdiocese came from the pocket of a hardworking parishioner — and that’s something we all need to remember,” she said.