Chris Jones said it was a smooth transition, moving from chief financial officer to the No. 2 spot of the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.
The agency, also known as GEFA, facilitates programs that conserve and protect the state’s energy, land and water resources – to the tune of more than $3 billion loans to date.
“It’s going well,” said Jones, who was appointed to the position in August. “I’m very familiar with the programs here at the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.
“The water and energy programs provide significant benefits to Georgia, so the focus is to continue to work with those programs to ensure they maintain the quality of services our customers expect.”
Jones, who is an advisory board member with the Center for State and Local Finance’s executive education program, previously served four years as GEFA’s chief financial officer. He has spent a total of about 20 years in Georgia state government, including his longest stint at the Department of Transportation, where he worked for 14 years.
“I’ve stayed with state government for a couple of reasons,” he said. “I have had the opportunity to work with some really great people, and that’s a key component to having job satisfaction, but I’ve also been able to see the fruits of my hard work.”
One of GEFA’s direct benefits is the ability to be a part of providing clean water to the citizens of Georgia. Jones said “we do that through our low-interest loans to local governments for water and sewer infrastructure.
“GEFA’s loan programs are set up to provide the same interest rate benefits of the state of Georgia’s AAA bond rating to all communities in Georgia that need funding for water, sewer and solid waste infrastructure.”
In addition to water resources, GEFA also has an energy resources division, which manages the state energy program that provides financial assistance and technical support for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
The energy resources division also manages the weatherization assistance, energy performance contracting, and fuel storage programs. He and his staff are always analyzing the programs to see if improvements can be made to more effectively and efficiently provide these needed services.
“We put in a lot of time and effort to provide the best possible services to all of our customers,” he added.
Read below for Jones’ thoughts on career development for public finance professionals.
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1. What benefit do you see in professional development?
We strongly support our staff’s pursuit of professional development opportunities. We see this as an investment in both the individuals and the organization. We have 47 staff members – small in numbers, but large in terms of what we accomplish. Continuing education is a key component of that.
[accordion] [item title=”CSLF’s executive education program”]
2. How are you involved with CSLF’s executive education program?
CSLF is not only preparing people for the CPFO exam, but also providing essential tools for tomorrow’s state and local finance leaders. GEFA’s primary customers are local government and there is a direct link between this training and the knowledge local government finance professionals need to be successful. Through my 20 years of government experience, I’m able to provide another perspective to ensure a well-rounded education program.
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3. What advice would you give to rising professionals in public finance?
Education is critical to having the skills needed to successfully navigate through your career. The CSLF is a great program to obtain these skills. The CPFO is also a nationally recognized certification that demonstrates the knowledge necessary to be an asset to any government organization. In addition to having the knowledge, it is critical to demonstrate that knowledge by performing well on the job. I would also add that rising professionals should volunteer for additional duties to expand their knowledge and build a good reputation. These things will pay off greatly throughout a career.