Arkansas Government Finance Officers Association Since 1978
Arkansas Government Finance Officers Association                                 Since 1978

44th Annual Conference - Speaker Bios

Thank you to our speakers for helping to communicate best practices and for sharing their experiences. We are so appreciative because we would be unable to provide quality CPE to our members without their dedicated time and effort.

 

                                                                                                         - AGFOA Board

 

LEIGH ANN BIERNAT, CPA, Senior Vice President, Public Finance, Stephens, Inc. - Ms. Biernat has worked in public finance and with municipal bonds for almost 25 years. Since joining Stephens in 2015 as a Senior Vice President, she has managed and structured numerous tax-exempt and taxable financings for a variety of issuers, including the State of Arkansas, municipalities, utilities, and higher education institutions. Notably, she initiated the State of Arkansas’s first “cross-over refunding” of Build America Bonds and enjoys working with issuers to develop unique financing transactions to maximize their objectives.

 

Ms. Biernat came to Stephens after spending more than 15 years working as a bond issuer and as senior management in both state and local government. While serving as Vice President for Finance and Administration at the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, she led the agency’s efforts to be the first statewide issuer to enter the municipal bond market with single family housing bonds after Congress permanently eliminated the alternative minimum tax designation on qualified mortgage revenue bonds in 2008. This action led to the State of Arkansas reducing their overall interest cost when compared to other states. Moreover, she guided the financing team in successfully developing an interim financing tool for the single-family “first time home buyer” program. This financing mechanism resulted in Arkansas receiving a national award for program excellence from the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

 

Ms. Biernat is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in Arkansas. She is also a member of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program, Class IX, serves as Board Treasurer for the Rotary Club of Little Rock (Club 99), and holds various municipal securities licenses.

 

JOY BLACK has been a member of AGFOA and GFOA since 2007 when she moved back to Arkansas from Texas. In Texas she had graduated from the University of Texas in Austin and received her CPA. She went to work in public accounting/audit for Deloitte. When she moved back to Arkansas she became the Accounting/Purchasing Manager for the City of Hot Springs. In 2014 she accepted the position as Director of Finance for the City of Bryant. She continues in that position today. She also has a husband named Edward, a three year old named Camber and a cat named Bullet.

 

JARRON BRADY As Policy Analyst of GFOA's Federal Liaison Center, Jarron works with coalitions and partner organizations to analyze policies relevant to GFOA members and advocate for their advancement through Congress. Additionally, Jarron supports the FLC's Director on legislative and regulatory advocacy related to municipal bonds, infrastructure, and federal appropriations. Jarron also serves as staff on GFOA's Debt Management Committee. Prior to joining GFOA, Jarron was a Project Coordinator with the Southern Poverty Law Center, spent time in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, and developed policy as a Legislative Aide in the California State Assembly.

 

Jarron has a BA in Politics from Occidental College and a Masters of Public Administration from George Washington University.

 

WHITNEE V. BULLERWELL is the deputy director for the Arkansas Municipal League. Her primary responsibilities are League operations, administering the voluntary certification program for municipal officials and personnel, along with meeting planning for the League’s Conventions and Conferences. Hired in August of 2000, Whitnee has been employed with the League for 22 years. Prior to becoming deputy director, she worked as communications director, overseeing League communications, publications, social media and meeting planning. Prior to her work with the League, Whitnee served as the corporate trainer for Ace Hardware Corporation based out of Oak Brook, Illinois.

 

She received her undergraduate degree in interpersonal and organizational communication from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) in 1997 and her graduate degree in organizational development from UALR in 1999.

 

Whitnee has been married to Mike Bullerwell for 23 years and has a nine-year-old daughter, Emilee. Originally from Lake Village, Whitnee has lived in central Arkansas for the last 27 years. While Whitnee loved growing up in the delta region of the state, Whitnee considers the 499 cities and towns of Arkansas her hometown.

 

DEBBIE CARREIRO, CPA, is the Comptroller for the City of Little Rock. Debbie has been a member of GFOA and AGFOA since coming to the city in 2011.In 2019, she served on the GFOA Ethics Committee helping to develop a revised Ethics Policy and has aided in the facilitation of “Giving Voice to Values” pre-conference sessions at the 2019 and 2022 GFOA conferences. During what she now considers her “encore career” with the City of Little Rock she served as the Internal Audit Manager and Grants Coordinator.

 

Debbie began her career as an auditor with the public accounting firm KMPG Peat Marwick specializing in the insurance industry. She also served as both Senior Financial Tax and Statutory Analyst for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and as a Federal subcontractor for Pinnacle Business Solutions in the Medicare Audit and Reimbursement Division. She is a graduate of Arkansas State University and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Arkansas State Society of Certified Public Accountants, the Government Finance Officers Association, the Arkansas Government Finance Officers Association, and the American Government Accountants Association. She also holds a Chartered Global Management Accountant designation from the AICPA.

 

Debbie and her husband Jody are the proud parents of two daughters and she enjoys spending her free time with her 3-year-old grandson. She is looking forward to her upcoming retirement and future travels.

 

TRACEY L. CLINE-PEW, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is currently the Director of Human Resources for the Arkansas Municipal League and former Director of the Municipal Health Benefit Program. In addition to her work for the Arkansas Municipal League, Tracey has served as the Executive Director of the Arkansas Association of Defense Counsel since 1992.

 

Prior to joining the Arkansas Municipal League, Tracey worked as the Human Resources Director for the City of Russellville. She is currently the Vice President of Programs for the Arkansas Public Employers Human Resources Association, a member of the Society of Human Resource Management, Central Arkansas Human Resources Association, and the Defense Research Institute, as well as other professional associations.

 

Tracey resides in Maumelle, Arkansas with her husband, Mike.

DAVID M. COLEMAN, CPA, Partner, FORVIS - David is a member of FORVIS National Public Sector Group and leads the Public Sector and Not for Profit team in Arkansas. He has more than twenty years of experience providing audit and consulting services to a variety of governmental and nonprofit organizations, including municipalities and their component units, utilities and other service-related entities that receive federal and state assistance. He has engagement oversight and review responsibilities for numerous governmental and nonprofit organizations subject to Single Audit requirements.

 

David is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, Arkansas Society of CPAs and the National and local chapter of the Government Finance Officer Association. He is licensed in Arkansas and Texas. He is a graduate of Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, with a B.B.A. degree in accounting.

 

CARAN CURRY has been working with grants for over 40 years. She is an attorney and the former director of a state agency where she was the state administrator of several federal grants. She has lectured in over 30 states about grants and for many federal departments including the Department of Justice, Transportation, Health and Human Services, EPA and National Endowment for the Arts. She is currently the Grants Attorney for the Arkansas Municipal League.

 

KYLE L. ELMORE, CPA, Director, FORVIS - Kyle is a member of FORVIS National Public Sector Group. He has more than 12 years of accounting and audit experience, working primarily in the governmental sector with municipalities, utilities, airports and other entities that receive federal assistance. He has engagement oversight and review responsibilities for numerous governmental and nonprofit organizations subject to Single Audit requirements. He is also a key member of the FORVIS LeaseVision team, assisting clients with use of the tool and the implementation of GASB 87, Leases.

 

He is a member of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), Arkansas Society of CPAs and the Government Finance Officers Association.

 

He is active in the community and serves on the board of directors of Arkansas Literacy Councils, Inc. and is a charter member of a Little Rock Rotary Club.

 

Kyle is a graduate of University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, with a B.S. degree in finance, and an M.B.A. degree.

 

C.J. ENGEL is a native of Saline County, Arkansas and joins the Arkansas 911 Board as Executive Director. From 2015-2019, C.J. served in progressing roles within Saline County Emergency Management and Emergency Communications. As Director of three years, he was responsible for the county’s 911 Operations, 911 Administration, as well as the Emergency Management Program and Fire Services. In 2019, he joined Southwest Airlines in Dallas, Texas as Senior Analyst, Preparedness & Business Continuity where he managed several large projects including growth of the company’s Remote Operations Center and remote work capabilities for nearly 2,000 call center employees due to COVID-19.

 

C.J. served on the Arkansas 911 Strategic Planning Committee which began in November, 2017, and has been an active member of numerous public safety organizations including the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) where he previously served as the Regional Coordinator for Central Arkansas, Arkansas Emergency Management Association (AEMA) and International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM).

 

C.J. holds a BS in Emergency Management and Administration from Arkansas Tech University, a MS in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas, and CEM (Certified Emergency Manager) through the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM).

 

KATHERINE R. FLORES, CPA, Senior Associate II, FORVIS - Katie, a member of FORVIS National Public Sector Group, has more than four years of experience providing audit services, including Single Audits, to governmental and nonprofit organizations. She has worked on a variety of governmental and nonprofit audit engagements, including audits for municipalities, private colleges and other service-related entities that receive federal and state assistance. She started her career in FORVIS’ Dallas office, joining the assurance staff immediately after graduating from college.

 

She is a member of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), Arkansas Society of CPAs and the Government Finance Officers Association.

 

Katie is a graduate of University of Central Arkansas, Conway, with a B.B.A. degree in accounting and business administration.

 

CHARLOTT JONES, CPA, Tax Manager, HCJ CPAs & Advisors, PLLC - Ms. Jones has an accounting degree from St. Louis University and an MBA in finance from Vanderbilt University. She is a certified public accountant with over 40 years of experience and is currently employed as a tax manager for HCJ CPAs & Advisors, PLLC. She previously taught accounting for the University of Maryland in both the European and Asian Divisions, worked as an auditor for Arthur Andersen, LLP and as a supervisor for the National Futures Association, the self-regulatory body for the commodity futures industry.

 

Her community activities include serving as Treasurer for the Jonesboro Church Health Center and Altrusa International of Jonesboro Arkansas Foundation; serving as a Chapter Development Coordinator for the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries (NAJA); and being a member of Altrusa International Inc. of Jonesboro, Junior Auxiliary of Jonesboro, Arkansas, St. Bernards Women’s Council, and Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce. She is a past President of NAJA and a past Chairman of the Arkansas Society of Certified Public Accountants (ASCPA).

 

Her professional activities include being a guest speaker in various classes at Arkansas State University, as well as a presenter at the ASU College of Agriculture Agribusiness Conference, Northeast Chapter meetings of the ASCPA, and various ASCPA conferences. Ms. Jones has also made numerous presentations to civic clubs on taxes and financial literacy.

 

MIKE KELLEY has worked in the technology and cybersecurity field for more than 35 years. He is an Account Executive with Business Communications Inc and services customers in The Southeast USA.

Mike has worked in several sectors including:

  • Financial - Including trading systems on the floors of Stock Exchanges, and design/implementation of high-speed trading systems
  • Banking – engineering and architecture for the majority of the top 50 banks
  • Manufacturing – including multiple Fortune 50 companies
  • Technology – Served 15 years as engineer and architect for one of the largest Silicon Valley Tech companies.
  • Public Sector- Mike has provided technical/consulting services to Local/State/Federal governments

He has worked with companies with locations across the globe as a solutions architect solving complex technical problems. Mike holds both a Cisco CCIE and a CISSP certification, and is the founder of Arkansas Cyber Professionals (a user group dedicated to IT professionals in the cybersecurity field).

 

He is very happily married and enjoys working on his hobby farm, woodworking, metalworking, cooking and inventing new ways to spoil his grandchildren.

 

REBECCA R. KISER, CPA, Manager, FORVIS - Becca is a member of FORVIS National Public Sector Group. Becca has approximately five years of accounting and audit experience, working primarily with governmental and nonprofit entities. She has engagement oversight and review responsibilities for numerous governmental and nonprofit organizations subject to Single Audit requirements. She is also a key member of the FORVIS Public Sector Reporting Solution team, assisting with the development of the tool and the implementation process for several clients.

 

She is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and Arkansas Society of Certified Public Accountants.

 

Becca is a 2016 summa cum laude graduate of Harding University, Searcy, Arkansas, with a B.B.A. degree in accounting.

 

Becca has been selected to participate in the GASB Practice Fellow Program. She will spend two years working at the GASB Headquarters before returning to FORVIS in Little Rock.

 

RACHEL ORMSBY, CPA, Director, FORVIS - Rachel has over 11 years of experience providing accounting and audit services to governmental and not-for-profit organizations, including extensive experience in Single Audits. As a member of FORVIS National Public Sector Group, she currently serves as the audit director for numerous clients across Texas, Arkansas, and Arizona.

 

As an audit director, she oversees the client engagement process, including the supervision and training of the audit team, review of audit workpapers, and communication with the client and audit partner.

 

In addition, Rachel has conducted presentations, providing continuing professional education for local roundtables and regional chapters of the Government Finance Officers Association of Texas (GFOAT).

 

Rachel is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, Texas Society of CPAs, Government Finance Officers Association and GFOAT. She serves on the GFOA’s Special Review Committee and GFOAT’s Scholarship and Fellowship Committee.

 

She was named a 2018 Rising Star by the Texas Society of CPAs.

 

Rachel is a 2010 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas, with B.B.A. and M.P.A degrees.

 

EMBER STRANGE is the Chief Financial Officer for the City of North Little Rock, Arkansas. She has over 15 years of experience in management and governmental accounting. Ember currently serves as the President of the Women’s Public Finance Network of the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA). Ember is the Vice Chair of GFOA’s Standing Committee on Accounting, Auditing and Financial Reporting. She is a past board member for the Arkansas GFOA. Ember also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Pension Management and OPEB Trusts through the Arkansas Municipal League. In 2017 Ember attended the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at the Harvard Kennedy School in Boston. She also attended GFOA’s Advanced Government Finance Institute at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Ember received her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and her Masters of Accountancy both from Arkansas State University.

 

Please feel free to contact the AGFOA board with any questions via email at arkansasgfoa@gmail.com

 

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