Served by The Right Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, Rhode Island’s 13th Bishop, the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island is a gathering of the 52 Episcopal Churches in the state. Bishop Knisely and his staff support congregations as they carry out their mission and ministries. They provide resources and educational opportunities to encourage spiritual development and outreach in the churches of this diocese, as well as in the greater community. Together, the Bishop and churches work to perform large-scale ministry no church could operate alone, such as the Camp@ECC summer camp, Hispanic Ministries, ministries on college and university campuses, and more.
The Diocese is seeking a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to assume the role in January 2022. The CFO is responsible for overseeing a broad array of business and financial operations of the Diocese. While it maintains a relatively modest budget and lean staff, the Diocese is quite complex in terms of systems and structure. Possessing excellent judgment, interpersonal communication, presentation and critical thinking skills, the CFO ranks as an Executive Staff team member. As such, the CFO plays a key role in strategic planning and exhibits an entrepreneurial and collaborative spirit in problem solving and opportunity management. The CFO reports directly to the Bishop of the Diocese.
Opportunities and Challenges
The next Chief Financial Officer of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island will report directly to Bishop Knisely and be a member of the Executive Staff of the Diocese. Charged with overseeing all financial operations of the Diocese, the CFO will also play a central role in building and property management and human resources. The new CFO needs to be a strategic thinker and a problem solver, dealing with complexity and historical context with any number of issues.
The successful candidate will succeed Dennis Burton, who is retiring. Dennis has been with the Diocese since 2014. The CFO oversees an operating budget of $4.8 million and an endowment of roughly $60 million, which holds many funds that are restricted. Forty-two percent of Diocesan revenues come from apportionments from the parishes (15% of parish revenues); other revenues come from investment income, rentals, and camp fees. Dennis initially turned his attention to cash management and creating a rolling five-year forecast. Subsequently, he has been a central figure in strategic planning, tracking risk, and shifting investments into more socially responsible equities.
Key issues for the Diocese and the CFO going forward include deciding how best to utilize the buildings located on the Diocesan Block in Providence, the solar farm project at the Episcopal Conference Center (ECC) in Pascoag, Rhode Island, and, to lesser extents, the future of the Center for Reconciliation and the Cathedral building itself. Additionally, there is a need to firm up the human resources function, and the Diocese recently retained an HR consultant to assist in this area.
The Diocesan Block includes the office building that houses the Bishop and his staff; Hallworth House, a nursing home that was liquidated during the COVID-19 pandemic; the Cathedral itself, which suspended operations in 2012 and has a significant amount of deferred maintenance; and the Edwards Homes, five houses located on the eastern side of the block that contains 20 low-income rental units. The solar farm project at the ECC is proceeding, albeit slowly due to regulatory considerations. The Center for Reconciliation has temporarily suspended its in person operations, but the Diocese will be looking to secure its proper niche within the state going forward.
Although leaving the Diocese, Dennis will continue to work on solutions for the Diocesan Block and its future as well as the solar farm that will become a key financial driver for the Episcopal Conference Center.
The next CFO will supervise a full-time Finance Director and part-time bookkeeper and collaborate with the Diocesan Treasurer in meeting all accounting and finance responsibilities. In addition to Bishop Knisely, the CFO will work closely with The Rev. Canon Dr. Dena Cleaver-Bartholomew, Canon to the Ordinary. The successful candidate must have a full commitment to the mission of the Diocese and a humble, systematic, and curious approach to the challenges at hand. In sum, the next CFO must be the ultimate multitasker, willing to get his or her hands dirty and take on, and solve, significant challenges.
Key Duties and Responsibilities
Diocesan Accounting and Finance
Building and Property Administration
Desired Qualities and Qualifications
Interested and qualified candidates are invited to contact the consultant in confidence. Candidates will ultimately need to submit the following materials as separate PDF documents: