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In the running for CFO of the Year honor / July 17, 2014

Patty Nelson, Chief Financial and Operations Officer for the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, was nominated for the Virginia Business CFO of the Year and while she did not win, the SVHEC is proud to announce her nomination.

When asked why Nelson should be nominated for the honor this was the answer provided by the SVHEC: “There isn’t a CFO in the Commonwealth who works harder or is more dedicated than Patricia M. “Patty” Nelson. Patty came to the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) in 2006 when the organization was on the cusp of major change. It had just been made an independent state agency, and Patty was the first fulltime accountant hired to manage the organization’s fiscal health. At that time the staff was small, the budget smaller but the mission was, and remains, ambitious. Patty instituted needed policies and procedures, and standardized many agency processes that set the SVHEC on a solid road.

“Shortly after Patty became CFO, the agency embarked on a path of rich growth to bring new educational programs and opportunities to southern Virginia. Patty was a key member of the team that established new, innovative programs aimed at cultivating a skilled workforce in southern Virginia. With goals that far exceeded state appropriations, Patty’s diligence in securing grants and creating new revenue streams was a crucial element of the agency’s success. When others said “Give up…it can’t be done,” Patty said, “Let me work on it.” Without fail she came back with an elegant solution that moved the agency, and by extension the region, forward.

“Patty was instrumental in successfully guiding the SVHEC through the budget cuts and extremely tight budgetary times of 2008-2010 without laying off a single employee. She worked diligently to cut costs and increase efficiencies to protect the jobs of the employees whom she cares about so deeply. Patty brings this level of dedication and compassion with her everyday, and is a prime example of leadership in difficult times.

“Because of Patty’s leadership and fiscal management, the SVHEC has developed a reputation throughout the region for getting the job done with professionalism and sound financial practices. In a very real way, Patty’s work has impacted the lives of countless students and employers throughout southern Virginia, and because of her efforts the region is a stronger, more productive place to live, work, and play.”

Ms. Nelson, who is a certified public accountant, manages a staff of fourteen at the SVHEC, including the IT manager, network administrator, operations manager, institutional effectiveness specialist and operations personnel.

She is very active in the community, serving her church in a number of capacities. She is a former member of the South Boston City School Board and later was elected to the Halifax County School Board where she served as chairman for a number of years.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in accounting from James Madison University and a Master of Science in Accounting from Virginia Commonwealth University. She began her career as a staff accountant with Ernest & Whitney and then worked for seven years with Philip Morris, USA as a supervisor in the general accounting area before moving to the South Boston community.

She and husband Stewart have two grown children, Jessica an MBA student at Columbia University and Eric, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Announcement of the awards was made by Virginia Business, the monthly publication which focuses on business activities and companies that power the economy of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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