Chief Financial Officers Leadership Development Conference

October 31 – November 1, 2019

Member & Affiliates: $439 per person 
Non-Member: $639 per person 

  • Location: ABHE Weber Center for Leadership Development, Orlando, FL
  • Full two-day program
  • Three night’s lodging at the nearby SpringHill Suites by Marriott
  • Refreshments and 7 meals
  • Conference resources

Download Program Schedule

Conference Overview: Strong institutions are served by astute financial leaders who both accurately manage the financial operations of the organization and provide keen foresight for the financial planning of institutional leaders. Drill one level down and you are quickly immersed into the complex details of effective budgeting and reporting, financial ratios and key performance indicators, governance compliance, auditing standards, HR policy, risk assessment/management, and the list continues. Embark on this journey of excellence in financial leadership and take your service to your institution and the cause of Christ to a new level.

The Essential Roles and Responsibilities of the CFO
Presenter: Fred Johnson, CEO/CPA, Telecom Communications, Rainsville, AL
Overview: In the specific context of an institution of higher education, what are the most important duties and responsibilities of the CFO? What bucks unavoidably stop at their desks? How do distinguished CFO’s provide oversight and direction to the financial operations of the institution and discharge their fiduciary responsibilities to the board and public? What does integrity and efficiency look like in the financial department? Learn from a veteran CFO and former member of the ABHE Commission on Accreditation how wise CFO’s give prudent leadership from their vital role as CFO.

    • Grasping the essential functions and roles
    • Understanding the risks and fiduciary responsibilities
    • Tracking and interpreting key performance indicators and ratios
    • Giving wise financial counsel to the president, board, and executive team
    • Taking steps to keep your institution from making serious financial mistakes

Building & Managing the Institutional Budget
Presenter: Matt Kelly, CFO, ABHE, Orlando, FL
Overview: Building and managing a sound operational budget is at the financial heart of every great institution. How does a wise CFO effectively build the annual budget, secure the right input and buy in, protect the process from blue sky temptations, meet expectations . . . and then effectively manage this for sound financial operations? Walk through the process with a veteran CFO and financial leader – observing key principles that will build strength and wisdom into your financial leadership.

    • Setting up the process for building a good budget
    • Securing input and ownership from the right institutional leadership
    • Serving the executive team with crafting a balanced budget
    • Protecting the process from dangerous and typical mistakes
    • Managing the budget in partnership with the leadership team

Leading with Financial Key Performance Indicators & Dashboard Development
John Zeswitz, Executive Vice President, Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary & Grad School
Overview: What is the art and science of compiling the relevant financial data (Key Performance Indicators) into a meaningful financial dashboard? How do you move from historical data (lagging indicators) to projections (leading indicators)? Why is timing of the essence? Learn from a distinguished EVP how he serves his president and leadership team with the right information in a clear and timely manner.

    • Defining the right KPI’s – what’s important and why
    • Developing the process for timely data collection
    • Establishing meaningful dashboards for financial oversight and strategic decisions
    • Keeping your finger on the financial pulse of the academic enterprise
    • Knowing what doesn’t work and isn’t necessary or helpful

Understanding Key Financial Ratios and Indices
Presenter: Jeff Spear, CFO, Southeastern University; CEO & Founder, CFO Colleague
Overview: No one at the institution should have a better understanding of key financial ratios than the CFO. That’s also true for other relevant indices and financial scores that reflect the financial health of the institution. Learn what these mean and how to interpret these key ratios and indices for your board and leadership team – led by the CFO of one of the fastest growing members of ABHE and financial consultant with over 80 institutions of Christian higher education.

    • Unpacking the meaning and relevance of key financial ratios
    • Understanding how financial ratios contribute to the DOE Composite Score
    • Decoding insights from the Certified Financial Index
    • Grasping other important ratios and stats that unmask your financial reality
    • Interpreting ratios and indices for the benefit of the uninformed

Serving the Executive Team – Vital, Timely Information & Decisions
Jeff Spear
Overview: Financial planning and management is a team sport with the CFO serving the institution’s executive team with vital, timely information that empowers prudent decisions. What is the appropriate role of the CFO with each executive in the chief suite and how does the CFO coordinate their financial input and management resulting in a well-coordinated team approach to financial management?

    • Building team synergy in financial leadership and literacy
    • Creating a process of information sharing that supports prudent financial decisions
    • Engaging the leadership team in financial management and budget ownership
    • Coaching for appropriate responses to financial adjustments/crises
    • Holding leaders accountable for financial oversight with firmness and grace

Understanding and Explaining the Institutional Financial Audit
Fred Johnson, Rainsville, AL
Overview: Every institution is required to secure an annual, independent financial audit. So, what information and insight should this provide and how does the CFO share this with the appropriate leaders? What are the most important numbers to watch and understand? How do these often get missed or misunderstood? What does a wise CFO ask their auditor during the review and what are common mistakes made by auditors? Consider sage advice from a financial leader who’s processed many audit reports, observing the good, bad, and ugly . . .

    • Understanding the basic structure and nature of a sound audit
    • Knowing key terms and definitions
    • Unpacking the audit – surveying the results
    • Asking the right questions, grasping the essential picture
    • Explaining the financial audit/position to the board, president and executive team

Navigating Complex HR Cultural Waters with Grace and Prudence
Mark Griffin, Chief Consultant, In HIS Name HR, Lancaster, PA
Overview: Issues of discrimination, harassment, compliance and risk assessment are all too familiar for today’s CFO’s. How do wise leaders stay ahead of these complex issues with careful policy development, staff training, and keen oversight? Learn from an industry expert what you should know about how to safely navigate you and your institution through the white water of these high-risk HR issues.

    • Surveying the current compliance and litigation waterfront
    • Knowing what policies should be part of your staff handbook
    • Proactive staff training to minimize risk exposure
    • Planning in advance for prudent response to allegations and law suites
    • Conducting a smart HR risk-assessment audit

Current Tax Regulations and Compliance Standards
Dave Moja, CEO, Moja & Company CPA, ABHE Senior Fellow, GA
Overview: Wise CFO’s steward institutional information to maintain steady compliance with the labyrinth of confusing and ever-changing tax regulations and reports along with accounting protocols. How can the CFO stay abreast of all of the relevant federal and state tax regulations and forms and maintain financial information in accordance with currently accepted accounting standards? Walk through a “virtual reality” audit of this compliance landscape with a regulations expert and check these insights against your current operations. Reduce your risk of government audits and citations. Prepare for what you can expect.

    • Overview of current federal and state tax regulations
    • Understanding and preparing the required tax forms
    • Common mistakes that are the most deadly
    • Staying abreast of what’s important – a no-surprise financial operation
    • Seizing opportunities within the regulations wilderness

Mark Griffin

Mark GriffinMark began his career serving in the United States Air Force while studying in the evening for his Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Administration from Saint Leo University, proudly finishing his degree at the same time as his four-year military commitment. After being discharged, Mark returned to his home state of Pennsylvania where he entered the MBA program at Bloomsburg University and interned for Congressmen Kanjorski as a military liaison during the first Gulf War.

Transitioning into positions at several Fortune 500 companies where he experienced a wonderful, impactful career, Mark ultimately landed the position he had aspired to his entire career: Vice President of Human Resources for an international company.Mark has had the pleasure to work with a number of Christian-owned organizations

Fred Johnson

Fred JohnsonFred Johnson is a national leader in the telecommunications field. Prior to assuming his duties in 2002 as the organization’s chief executive, Johnson served as its chief financial officer, having joined the company in that capacity in 1993.  Before that his career spanned senior financial posts in the rural electric cooperative industry and the field of public accounting. Outside of his responsibilities to the telecom industry, Fred has just completed service as a public member of the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Bible Higher Education.  He also chaired the Commission’s Committee on Financial Exigency.

Johnson is a 1982 graduate of Southern Wesleyan University of Central, South Carolina, from which he holds a Bachelor of Arts in both Accounting and Business Administration.  He holds an MBA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  He has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1984 and is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, the Alabama Society of CPAs, and the National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives.


Matt Kelly

Matt KellyMatt joined the ABHE team as our part-time CFO in 2013. He brings to our team an extraordinary depth of financial and executive leadership experience. He served for more than two decades in the accounting and real estate development branches of The Walt Disney Company here in Orlando, culminating in his role as Vice President for Real Estate Development in Florida and President of the Celebration Company. In this role, he oversaw the development and operations of the town of Celebration. Matt has also been a great friend to ABHE; an alumnus of one of our member colleges, and previously serving as a public member of the Commission on Accreditation. He has also served on the district leadership team of his denomination, the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Matt and his wife, Maxine, reside in Orlando, FL.

In addition to his responsibilities as the ABHE chief financial officer, Matt serves member institutions as senior financial consultant, interim CFO, financial operations assessment, and CFO coaching.

Dave Moja

Dave MojaDave Moja is a CPA with Moja & Company, LLC, a firm focused upon meeting the financial needs of Bible colleges and Seminaries. His areas of expertise include tax and accounting; financial and UBIT consulting; Audit Data Analytics and higher education metrics/reporting; and development of alternative revenue sources. With over 30 years of accounting experience, Dave has worked both inside nonprofit organizations and for public accounting firms, including PriceWaterhouseCoopers, BKD LLP, and RSM.

Jeff Spear

Jeff SpearJeff Spear is a seasoned higher education executive with more than 20 years of experience as a CFO for small, private institutions. In addition to his primary responsibilities, Jeff has also served as a finance specialist on visitation teams for the Middle States Accreditation Association and taken on various roles for NACUBO and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Commission on CFOs. Prior to academia, Jeff was co-owner of an Eastman Kodak spinoff, CFO of a public company and Controller of an investment banking firm—a diverse background responsible for the unique perspective he brings to the challenges facing higher education today.

A frequent presenter on financial modeling and quantitative analysis at higher educational conferences, Jeff recognized that many of the concepts he once used to account for activity in the manufacturing world could be transformational when applied to schools. Beginning with a handful of pioneering clients, Jeff launched CFO Colleague in 2013. Just five years later, the practice has grown to include engagements at more than 80 institutions. His current post at Southeastern University is the result of one such interim leadership engagement that evolved into a permanent position in 2017. With Southeastern’s encouragement and support, Jeff continues to lead CFO Colleague while serving the University, an arrangement that allows him to stay current while continuing to learn in a constantly changing environment.

Outside the office, Jeff has served on numerous nonprofit and community development committees and councils, including service as treasurer and a program volunteer for the Winter Sanctuary, a shelter for homeless persons in his previous home of Mount Vernon, Ohio. He currently lives in Lakeland, Florida and shares seven precious grandchildren with his wife Janine.

John Zeswitz

John ZeswitzJohn Zeswitz serves as Executive Vice President Lancaster Bible College since 2014. John has also served as a consultant in the private sector with expertise in brand development, organizational development and crisis communication strategy. John is a graduate of Millersville University, Millersville, PA.

SpringHill Suites by Marriott – Orlando Airport
5828 Hazeltine National Dr,
Orlando, FL 32822
(407) 816-5533
SpringHill Suites Orlando Airport is an all-suite hotel offering you first class service, located minutes away from the Orlando International Airport (MCO), and features amenities, including free Internet access and on-site dining. The ABHE staff will make your hotel reservations for you.  Please indicate your room type/preference when you register for the conference.

Complimentary shuttle service is available from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) to the SpringHill Suites. To request the complimentary shuttle from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) to the SpringHill Suites:

  • Call the hotel for shuttle pickup – (407) 816-5533
  • Take airport elevator to level 1 – ground transportation
  • Go through the sliding doors
  • Stand at either A4 (A Side) or B4 (B Side) for pickup

Conference Staff

David Medders
Executive Vice President



Carol Dibble
Director of Communications & Events


Frequently Asked Questions

Is lodging included in the registration fee?

YES, 3 nights, including arrival the evening before the conference begins.

Can I request for additional hotel nights?

YES The ABHE group rate is $115/night.  You can qualify for our group rate three days prior and three days post conference.  You can request and pay for your additional hotel nights during the registration process.  All reservations must be made and managed by the ABHE office as it is part of a group reservation.  This includes changes to existing reservations.  Email with any questions or updates to existing reservations.

Are meals included in the registration fee?

YES, including 7 meals and all snacks/beverages.

Are scholarships available?

YES, limited scholarships are available.  Please email your request to with an explanation of your financial need.

Is airport shuttle service available?

YES! Complimentary shuttle service is available from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) to the SpringHill Suites. To request the complimentary shuttle from the Orlando International Airport (MCO) to the SpringHill Suites:

  • Call the hotel for shuttle pickup – 407-816-5533
  • Take airport elevator to level 1 – ground transportation
  • Go through the sliding doors
  • Stand at either A4 (A Side) or B4 (B Side) for pickup
Where is the hotel located in relation to the ABHE Conference Center?

The ABHE Weber Center is located in the Citadel I Building, less than a mile away from the Orlando International Airport and a short walk from the SpringHill Suites by Marriott. Complimentary shuttle service is available from the hotel to the conference center.

How do I CANCEL a person on my registration?

You may log back into your registration form at any time with your confirmation number to make any cancellations, etc.

What is your Cancellation Policy?

In the event of registration cancellation, fees paid in advance are refundable – less a $50.00 service charge per person, provided written notice is received by ABHE no later than three weeks prior to the event. No refunds will be granted after that date. E-mail notification will suffice. Please e-mail to notify us of cancellation. There are no refunds for no-shows.