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Education CFO Winner: Kimberly Hadley, John Brown University

2 min read

There are hands-on CFOs and then there is Kimberly Hadley.

Hadley takes her job at John Brown University to heart. Whether it is a student-run coffee shop on campus or an auxiliary campus in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Hadley jumps into the issue with both feet and a full heart.

“I just love students a lot,” Hadley said. “I do try to make my first answer not be ‘no.’ I do try to find the ‘yes’ instead of defaulting to ‘no.’”

Hadley joined JBU as an adjunct business professor 24 years ago and was asked to apply for the vice president of finance and administration position that she has held since 2009. Hadley said her time as a professor has given her “street credibility” with the university’s faculty because she knows what it is like to grade papers at 1 a.m.

One of Hadley’s proudest moments was when she arranged a partnership between JBU and a local day care provider to lease an unused building on campus as a child care center. Hadley had heard from faculty that finding day care was their biggest stressor, and some professors told day care providers they were pregnant before they told their parents in order to reserve a spot.

The university grants an affordable lease rate and maintains the building in return for faculty and staff having dibs on available openings. “When it was announced, one of our most talented faculty burst into tears out of happiness,” Hadley said. “That is really moving the needle for me.”

Hadley said JBU has always been financially conservative so it has been able to handle the COVID-19 pandemic well. She recounts how a dean once expressed amazement that she and the school president cared about even a relatively small, $2,000 expenditure.

“We’ve been conservative for a long time,” Hadley said. “We’ve cared about it for a long time.”

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