Being the chief financial officer at a nonprofit organization means stretching every dollar and doing a lot more than number-crunching and reporting.
But Lynne Malone, chief financial officer of the private, nonprofit Meeting Street child-development and education organization in Providence, thrives on the balancing act her job requires; she has her hands in facilities management, information technology hardware and software-upgrade decisions, administration and operational structuring and much more.
“Nonprofits typically have to do more with less, so each person’s responsibilities are very diverse, which makes the work very interesting,” Malone said.
Malone, a Pawtucket native who earned a bachelor’s degree at Providence College, decided nonprofits were the place for her after working for a CPA doing accounting and auditing for nonprofit organizations.
“I always enjoyed my time at nonprofits doing audits. Unfortunately, no one likes auditors; you get there, and everyone counts the minutes until you are gone,” Malone said. “But I was invigorated by the positive energy that nonprofit employees bring to their work every day, where there is a mission to serve others in a direct, personal way.”
So, Malone joined The Providence Center, a behavioral health care organization in Providence, as director of finance under “inspirational leader” and CEO, Charles E. Maynard, she said. She guided that organization from 200 employees when she started in 1992 to 450 employees in 2005, when Malone left for Meeting Street.
The position at Meeting Street became available shortly after Maynard retired from The Providence Center, and the school was evolving, so Malone made her move. “It was a great opportunity to join Meeting Street at that time, as it was on the brink of huge growth and change,” she said.
Meeting Street isn’t just a learning facility, but a place where children receive outpatient therapy and early-intervention services. Infants, preschoolers and children of all ages and abilities – from severely challenged to those with minor delays – learn, play and work together in classrooms but receive individualized attention from educators, therapists and staff.
When Malone joined Meeting Street, the organization had a good backbone, but it needed new IT systems to support growth and processes needed streamlining, she said.
For example, the school’s support staff reported to various, disconnected supervisors. Employees often received different answers from the people they reported too, causing communication issues and inefficiencies. Malone helped reorganize the reporting structure, so there is one point person for administrative support staff.
Malone also reorganized the “discipline areas” so that an occupational therapist (OT) now reports to a senior OT, fostering good clinical conversations, she said. She’s also in the process of revamping the organizational chart, so that directors will be responsible for their complete line of business.