Leadership changes strengthen university’s finance, risk offices

Seeking to enhance the efficiency and capabilities of its finance and risk management operations, the university has reorganized related offices and leadership positions reporting to Joanne DeStefano, MBA ’97, executive vice president and chief finance officer.

The Executive Committee of the Cornell Board of Trustees this month approved the changes, which will take effect Oct. 1.

DeStefano, who recently announced plans to retire in June 2023, said the moves would improve her team’s organizational structure, creating a new vice president and chief risk officer position and reestablishing a vice president for finance – a role common across peer institutions but last held at Cornell in 2018. Promotions to those positions resulted in two more promotions to lead the offices of the university auditor and university controller.

“These changes are designed to strengthen the university’s financial operations through better coordination of the financial functions, to better align us with peer institutions, and to elevate our approach to institutional risk management through a more structured and coordinated approach within the audit, risk and compliance framework,” DeStefano said.

To achieve those goals, DeStefano announced the following appointments:

  • Aditya Misra, MBA ’13, the university auditor, will become the inaugural vice president and chief risk officer. The position consolidates audit, enterprise risk and compliance positions into one organization and provides a single point of contact to the board’s Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee. The university’s chief compliance and privacy officer will move to the new risk organization. A certified public accountant and fraud examiner, Misra joined Cornell in January after 13 years at Johnson & Johnson, where he was director of audit and investigations.
  • Mark Perry will succeed Misra as university auditor and report to Misra, taking over responsibility for the internal audit function and information technology audit programs, and supporting risk management and compliance across the university. Currently the Ithaca audit director, Perry is a certified public accountant, internal auditor and fraud examiner. He joined Cornell more than seven years ago after serving as a senior auditor at Deloitte.
  • Simon Allen, currently associate vice president for asset management and financial strategy, will assume the role of vice president for finance. The restored position consolidates the financial operational functions of treasurer; controller; risk management and insurance; and asset management and financial strategy under one division. Before joining Cornell four years ago, Allen worked as a real estate investment professional for several asset management firms.
  • Karen Mahalo, currently interim university controller, is promoted to permanent university controller and will report to Allen. The controller provides leadership and direction for accounting services, general accounting, payroll, tax and financial reporting functions, and coordinates year-end auditing processes and the preparation of financial statements. A certified public accountant, Mahalo joined Cornell in 2021 after more than 15 years at the University of Rochester, where she earned an MBA.

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