Finance and Investing is pleased to announce The Top 25 CFOs of Connecticut for 2023. Connecticut began to earn its reputation as the “Insurance State” more than 180 years ago; however, since then, its economy has thrived thanks to a diverse number of companies headquartered in the region. From major financial industry employers — including Aetna, Cigna, and GE Capital — and the real estate industry to gaming, aerospace, gun manufacturing, and the arts. This year’s awardees are among some of these industries, while others helm the financial operations of disruptive companies like WeWork and NewRocket, as well as local mainstays like Avon Old Farm Schools and Mystic Aquarium.
Among our awardees is Cindy Paul, EVP and Chief Financial Officer of Octagon, who has helped to grow and further strengthen the organization’s expansive network and continue to position OSEN as the global leader in sports and entertainment. Awardee Andre Fernandez is the Chief Financial Officer of WeWork and has held multiple leadership roles at companies like NCR Corporation, CBS Radio, and General Electric. Also awarded is James Elmers, Chief Financial Officer of InGenius Prep, who's eclectic career has seen him practice law, work in finance and delve into psychology.
Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 25 CFOs of Connecticut for 2023.
1. Andre Fernandez
Chief Financial Officer, WeWork
Andre Fernandez is the Chief Financial Officer of WeWork. He brings more than thirty years of experience in financial and executive leadership roles. Fernandez is responsible for global finance functions at WeWork, including accounting, internal audit, financial planning & analysis, reporting, treasury, tax, and investor relations. Fernandez currently serves on the boards of Givewith, Sachem Acquisition Corp., and Bankroll Club LLC.
Previously, Fernandez served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of NCR Corporation. Prior to NCR Corporation, he held executive positions as President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Radio and President and Chief Operating Officer of Journal Communications. Before this, he was the CFO at Journal Communications and held a variety of global financial leadership roles at the General Electric Company. Fernandez received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University.
2. Michael Trafecante
Vice President of Finance, Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer, Fairfield University
Michael Trafecante is the Vice President for Finance and Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer of Fairfield University. Trafecante has more than 20 years of financial management experience spanning the areas of public accounting, information technology, transportation, and investment management.
Previously, he was the Treasury Lead of Corporate Finance at Bridgewater Associates, Senior Vice President and Corporate Controller of Velocity Express, and Senior Manager at KPMG. He began his career as an audit Manager at Deloitte & Touche. Trafecante is a Fairfield alumnus, earning his MBA in finance. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in accounting from Assumption College.
3. Cindy Paul
EVP and Chief Financial Officer, Octagon
Cindy Paul is Executive Vice President and Global Chief Financial Officer for Octagon Marketing. In her role, Paul oversees financial performance, strategy, and long-range planning. She oversees Octagon’s worldwide marketing practices and Octagon Sports and Entertainment Network agencies R&C PMK and ITB. Paul is also responsible for oversight of human resources, business affairs, legal services, and IT across the collection of agencies. Since joining Octagon in 2006, Paul has helped to grow and further strengthen the organization’s expansive network and continue to position OSEN as the global leader in sports and entertainment. In addition, Paul is an active member of IPG’s Women’s Leadership Network and serves as a mentor to staff across Octagon, R&CPMK, and the sports and entertainment industry.
She previously served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Octagon Marketing and Events, where she was responsible for all financial planning, operations, and reporting of Octagon’s global marketing divisions, as well as Octagon’s owned and operated professional golf events. Earlier in her career, Paul spent more than a decade helping lead financial services for some of the world’s largest marketing, advertising, and financial accounting agencies, including PricewaterhouseCoopers. Paul graduated from Bryant University with a Bachelor of Arts in accounting.
4. Jim Engelhart
Chief Financial Officer, Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company
Jim Engelhart is the Chief Financial Officer of Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company. He provides strategic leadership for Biohaven's finance organization, commercial finance strategy, and equity capitalization. He also establishes the company's internal controls and business processes.
Before joining Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company, Engelhart was an Executive Director of Finances at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Before that, he was the Finance Director of Global Financial Planning and Analysis at Energizer. Earlier in his career, he worked as a Senior Financial Auditor with Coopers and Lybrand. Engelhart graduated from Villanova University with an undergraduate degree in accounting.
5. Eric Johnson
Chief Financial Officer, NewRocket
Eric Johnson is the Chief Financial Officer of NewRocket. He has 15 years of financial leadership experience in diverse businesses ranging from start-ups to Fortune 50 companies. He’s currently a Member of Financial Executives International and a Member of the Institute of Management Accountants.
Johnson was previously the Vice President of Finance at Jive Software. At Jive, he helped lead the company through its IPO and built exceptional finance and sales operations organizations that supported the company’s rapid growth. Prior to Jive, Johnson spent seven years at Serena Software, where he served as Director of Finance and Accounting for the Americas and Asia Pacific and, most recently, as Vice President of Worldwide Sales Operations. Earlier in his career, he held finance positions with Merant, Infocus, and Sequent Computer Systems, which was acquired by IBM. Johnson earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration in finance, maxima cum laude, from the University of Portland.
6. Rick Trowbridge
CFO, Treasurer and SVP of GIK Operations, AmeriCares
Rick Trowbridge is the Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Operations of AmeriCares. Trowbridge oversees finance, logistics, and gift-in-kind distribution operations for the company. He brings more than 23 years of experience in the nonprofit financial sector.
Prior to joining Americares, Trowbridge served as the Chief Financial Officer, Vice President of Finance, and Treasurer at Save the Children Federation, Inc. Here he oversaw significant revenue and asset growth for the organization. Trowbridge earned a CPA from the University of Illinois, an MBA with a concentration in accounting from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University.
7. Doug Magazu
Chief Financial Officer, Cornell Scott
Douglas Magazu is the Chief Financial Officer of Cornell Scott. He’s responsible for the company’s financial operations, including accounts payable, reporting, tax audit, patient accounts, and treasury functions. Magazu is also responsible for third-party payer relationships, vendor contract management, and grant management.
Prior to joining Cornell Scott, Magazu was the Vice President of Network Development for ProHealth Physicians, part of OptumCare (OC NCT). He was responsible for network management of the risk-bearing IPA in addition to the alignment of high-performing providers. During his tenure, Magazu contracted over 4,000 providers and acquired and recruited over 100 providers into ProHealth. Before working at ProHealth, Magazu spent 11 years at Western Connecticut Health System, served as the CFO and COO for Western Connecticut Medical Group, and handled all financial matters. Before this, he was the former Strategic Financial Planner for Danbury Hospital. Magazu has a Master of Science degree from Springfield College, an MBA from the University of New Haven, and a bachelor’s degree from Central Connecticut State University.
8. Peter Szemenyei
Chief Financial Officer, Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits
Peter Szemenyei is the Chief Financial Officer of Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits. He first joined the company in 2012.
Previously, Szemenyei was at Pernod Ricard USA, where he served as SVP of Commercial Planning and Analysis and, before that, CFO. Prior to this, he was at Seagram for over five years, where he held multiple roles, including Director of Finance for North America Manufacturing and Director of Financial Planning and Analytics for Europe and Africa. He joined the company in 1996 as Senior Manager of Payroll Services. Szemenyei earned an MBA from McGill University.
9. James Eimers
Chief Financial Officer, InGenius Prep
James Eimers is the Chief Financial Officer of InGenius Prep. He originally joined the company in 2018 as the Director of Finance and Legal. Elmers has had an eclectic career. Before InGenius Prep, Elmers was the Co-Managing Partner of Topliff Peak Enterprises for over seven years. Previously, he was the President and Founder of Omega Editing, an MWD Engineer at Schlumberger, and an Associate Consultant at Bain & Company. He graduated from Yale Law School with a JD and a BA in economics, cognitive science, and psychology from the University of Virginia.
10. Michael Wilbur
Chief Financial Officer, MBI
Michael Wilbur is the Chief Financial Officer of MBI. MBI is a privately owned consumer products marketing company with over $300 million in annual sales. With ever-changing merchandise developed in response to trends, consumer demands, and headline sensations, MBI nimbly responds to market influences as they evolve. He first joined the company in 1988. Wilbur earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in accounting from Kansas State University.
11. Adam Malinowski
Vice President of Finance & Chief Financial Officer, Gemma Power
Adam Malinowski is Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer. He is responsible for financial planning and reporting, accounting, employee benefits, internal controls, and risk management.
Prior to joining Gemma Power, Malinowski was a Manager at CohnReznick, a nationally certified public accounting firm, providing accounting, tax planning, and business advisory services to construction companies. Malinowski is a Certified Public Accountant and holds memberships in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants. He earned an MBA and a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and York College of Pennsylvania.
12. Koray Gurz
Chief Operating & Financial Officer, Mystic Aquarium
Koray Gurz is the Chief Operating and Financial Officer of Mystic Aquarium. As the Aquarium’s CFO, Gurz directs, coordinates, and evaluates various financial functions operated by his team of banking and finance professionals. He is responsible for the organization's financial management, including budget development, oversight of financial control, and collaboration with lenders and other stakeholders, all while participating in strategic and operational management processes of the organization.
Gurz began his career at a public accounting firm. Throughout his career, he has performed financial statement audits and reviews of companies in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). He specialized in the non-profit industry before transferring his skills to the financial management of a non-profit educational organization overseeing all financials, departmental budgets, general accounting, and legal agreements. Gurz has an MBA from the University of Hartford and a BS in business administration from Dokuz Eylul University in Turkey.
13. Hank Hague
Chief Financial Officer, Clever Leaves
Hank Hague is the Chief Financial Officer of Clever Leaves. In this role, Hague utilizes his extensive experience in providing financial leadership to various public and private entities in the pharmaceutical, biomedical, and cannabis industries.
Previously, Hague served as CEO at Aidance Scientific, an FDA-registered manufacturer of branded and private-label OTC topical medications. Prior to this, he was the CFO of Abacus Health Products, Inc., where he led the company’s public listing and the acquisition and integration of Harmony Hemp. Hague also managed the due diligence and sale process of Abacus to hemp-derived wellness product producer and distributor Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. Additionally, at Abacus, Hague assisted with the strategy that placed one of the first OTC CBD products sold at a national retailer and assisted with brand development for Abacus’ brand, CBDMedic. Hague has also held CFO roles at Foster Corporation and Scott Brass. He graduated from Bentley University with a BS in finance.
14. Jake Odden
Chief Financial Officer, The Taft School
Jake Odden is the Chief Financial Officer of The Taft School. He spent the prior twenty years helping build and manage Aberdare Ventures, a leading San Francisco-based healthcare-focused venture capital firm. As a Partner and COO at Aberdare, he assumed leadership responsibility across a broad spectrum of activities. This includes helping establish investment focus and strategy, serving on company boards, overseeing marketing and fundraising activities, and helping build a highly complementary and collaborative team. Earlier in his career, Odden worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and in strategic planning at The Walt Disney Company. Odden has an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth and a BA from Bowdoin College.
15. Carlos Dragonetti
Global Group Chief Financial Officer, GrainPro
Carlos Dragonetti is the Global Group Chief Financial Officer of GrainPro. Dragonetti is responsible for the entity restructuring process, consolidation, benchmarks, and financial analysis for GrainPro globally. He’s a seasoned executive with over 25 years of accounting, management, business services, agribusiness, and international accounting experience in a variety of industries. Dragonetti specializes in international business, consumer products, pharmaceuticals, research and development, health, manufacturing, and consumer products industries.
He was previously at Oatly as a Controller and the North American Interim Financial Controller at Upfield. He's also worked at internationally renowned companies like Voss of Norway, Pat McGrath Cosmetics, and American Express. Dragonetti has a CPA from Buenos Aires University as well as an MBA in Finance from IAE Business School.
16. Scott Szilagyi
Vice President of Finance, BioXcel Therapeutics
Scott Szilagyi is the Vice President of Finance of BioXcel Therapeutics Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing transformative medicines in neuroscience and immuno-oncology utilizing artificial intelligence techniques. His areas of expertise span business planning and analysis, financial reporting, budgeting, forecasting, commercial operations, GAAP compliance, tax, and treasury.
Szilagyi first got his start as an Accounting Manager at Lilian Vernon. From there, he went on to Laura Ashley before becoming a Business Advisor at Reynolds and Rowell, LLP, his most recent position before joining BioXcel Therapeutics. Szilagyi graduated from Pace University with an MBA in business and managerial economics and an undergraduate degree in accounting from Iona University.
17. James Nichols
Vice President of Finance, Underwater Construction
James Nichols is the Vice President of Finance of Underwater Construction. Underwater Construction Corporation is driven to provide the best possible commercial diving services, including inspection, maintenance and repair, construction and rehabilitation, and technical support services. Nichols is currently responsible for managing PR, AP, AR, HR, and all estimating and contracts in all UCC divisions.
He first joined the company in 1986 as a Commercial Diver. He's since held various positions at the company during his 27-year tenure, including International Operations Manager and Business Development Manager. Nichols earned an undergraduate degree in ocean science from the Florida Institute of Technology.
18. Paul Desantis
Chief Financial Officer, Jefferson Radiology
Paul Desantis began his professional career 12 years ago. Today, he is the Chief Financial Officer of Jefferson Radiology. Established in 1963, Jefferson Radiology is proud to be Connecticut's largest radiology private practice group. With 10 private offices in central Connecticut and affiliations with 7 regional hospitals, Jefferson Radiology offers a breadth of services and a level of diagnostic and therapeutic radiology expertise unparalleled in the region. Fellowship-trained physicians and highly trained staff are committed to providing exceptional patient care and responsive service. Jefferson Radiology offers the full spectrum of imaging services to its patients. Desantis graduated from Gannon University.
19. Stacie Lambert
Chief Financial Officer, American Ambulance Service
Stacie Lambert is the Chief Financial Officer of American Ambulance Service. She first joined the company in 2001. American Ambulance Service, Inc. is Eastern Connecticut’s premier Emergency Medical Service and has been since 1972. It’s also the exclusive EMS provider for the City of Norwich, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Foxwoods Resort Casino, and MGM Grand at Foxwoods.
Previously, Lambert was a Comptroller at Mitchell College. Lambert earned an MS in business administration and management from Albertus Magnus College.
20. Bob Orenstein
Chief Financial Officer, Avon Old Farms School
Bob Orenstein is the Chief Financial Officer of Avon Old Farms School. He’s been with the school for over 10 years. Avon Old Farms is an all-boys boarding and day school in Connecticut. It’s best known for its rigorous academics, supportive faculty, exuberant school spirit, and a friendly sense of community with strong athletic, music, and arts programs.
Previously, Orenstein was the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of BKM Enterprises, where he was for 18 years. He graduated from the University of Hartford with a master's degree in taxation and a bachelor's degree in accounting from Boston College.
21. Dan Surette
Chief Financial Officer, Malk Partner
Dan Surette is the Chief Financial Officer of Malk Partners. He is responsible for managing all planning, forecasting, and accounting. He has deep finance and operations experience in leading omnichannel media and tech companies with a broad range of domestic and international responsibilities. He is known for driving organic, and acquisition growth as industries are transforming through digital capabilities and strategic partnerships.
He was previously the Chief Financial Officer of PandoLogic, the leading programmatic job advertising, and vendor management platform. Surette previously led both finance and operations for The Economist (Americas) group, helping drive profitable growth and digital conversion. Before the Economist, he spent over 10 years at Thomson Reuters in a range of finance positions, including mergers & acquisitions, corporate planning, commercial finance, and strategy, to name a few. He started his career as an auditor with the US Treasury Department. Surette graduated from NYU Stern School of Business with an MBA in finance and international business administration and from London Business School with an undergraduate degree in finance and international business.
22. David Stanland
Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Dime Bank
David Stanland is the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Dime Bank, originally known as the Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh. He’s responsible for accounting, finance, treasury, risk management, information technology, and information security. Additionally, he’s Dime’s chief risk assessment officer and serves on the executive committee.
Stanland first got his start as a Chief Investment Officer and Treasurer at NewAlliance Bank. His 25 years of experience in finance includes managing the investment portfolio of New Haven Savings Bank. Stanland graduated from New York University with an undergraduate degree in finance.
23. Lorraine Sullivan
Chief Financial Officer, Furnished Quarters
Lorraine Sullivan is the Chief Financial Officer of Furnished Quarters. Furnished Quarters is the premier supplier of short-term housing and an accredited LGBTQ+ diverse, privately owned and operated company. The company is in its 25th year of business and has built an all-inclusive housing solution centered around innovative technology, operational excellence, a service-first approach, and a remarkable variety of housing inventory.
She was previously the director of Operations at The Castle at Tarrytown. Sullivan earned an undergraduate degree in accounting and finance from Pace University.
24. Joseph Pesticci
Chief Financial Officer and Chief Strategy Officer, Meyer
Joseph Pesticci is the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Strategy Office of Meyer. He manages the accounting and benefits group and continues to specialize in establishing internal controls and revamping work process flow across all company lines. His ability to incorporate new technologies while understanding the company's diverse operations has enabled ownership to gather greater business insights through improved management and financial reporting.
He originally joined Meyer as Controller of the Transportation Services Group. He has a BS in accounting and an MBA in finance from Quinnipiac University. He obtained his C.P.A. while working at KPMG Peat Marwick.
25. Kurt Wiesel
Chief Financial Officer, The Kinsley Group
Kurt Wiesel is the Chief Financial Officer at The Kinsley Group. He is responsible for all financial and information technology matters for the company. Wiesel has over 20 years of progressive financial leadership experience in Fortune 500 companies in the industrial and aerospace industries.
He was previously the Director of Finance, Engineered Components at Barnes Group. Before this, he was the Global Supply Chain controller at Pratt & Whitney and the AMS Operations Controller at United Technologies. Wiesel started his career as an FP&A Manager at Hamilton Sundstrand. He has a BS in management and technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with concentrations in finance. Wiesel also has an MIS and an MBA from the University of Massachusetts.