March 8th each year marks “International Women’s Day.”  Started in 1911, the day is supported by over one million people, and belongs to all groups collectively around the world.  It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It is not country, group or organization specific, but The CFO Leadership Council supports its annual campaign and call to action to collectively drive a more gender-balanced world.

In celebration of the day, The Orange County CFO Leadership Council is celebrating closer to home by congratulating Guita Sharifi, Ph.D., co-chair of the Orange County CFO Leadership Council for her recent win as “CFO of the Year” from the Orange County Business Journal.  This win comes off of Guita’s 6th consecutive-year nomination!   

The CFO Leadership Council is extremely proud of Guita, and appreciative of her contributions to the Orange County chapter,” stated Jack McCullough, founder and president, The CFO Leadership Council.  “Guita is thought of as a leader amongst leaders by her peers. She is a critical and well-respected voice on our Steering Committee which is filled with many of Orange County’s most high-powered financial leaders.”

Born in Iran, Guita is an international woman.  Guita speaks four languages and has attended school on three continents.  In her youth, she attended Institut Le Rosey near Rolle Switzerland, one of the oldest and most prestigious boarding schools in the world.  Immigrating to the United States, Guita earned her undergraduate degree at Eastern Michigan University before starting a family.

Never one to stay still, wife, mother and busy executive, Guita later attended the Pepperdine Presidents and Key Executives (PKE) program, earning her MBA, and additionally a Certificate in Healthcare Management and Leadership from the Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business.  

In 2019, Guita graduated from the nation’s oldest and largest graduate school devoted exclusively to psychology and related behavioral science, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology with a doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership.

Growing up, Guita thought that maybe she’d work for the U.N., but ended up in the for-profit sector.  This she says really made a difference in her thinking for non-profit.  “When your non-profit, funding is just as important.  If you don’t bring in the dollars, you don’t get to help anyone.  You must bring that for-profit creative approach to fund-raising and management.”

Orange County CFO Leadership Council co-chair Guita Sharifi is chief financial officer of Radiant Health Centers (formerly AIDS Services Foundation Orange County), and has over 15 years of CFO experience in the nonprofit healthcare sector. With extensive expertise in fiscal oversight and operations, she supports RHC’s board and CEO in meeting the agency’s vision and strategic goals through cost-saving insights and efficient financial and operational oversight.  

What makes Guita so different than other non-profit CFOs is that she treats her non-profit like a for-profit.  In the last five years, Guita has doubled revenue and cut costs for Radiant Health Centers by 35%.  Her idea is that if your profitable, you can provide more services to those you’re trying to serve. Makes sense.

Guita and Radiant have expansion plans for a news 10,000-square-foot center scheduled to open 2021 to expand programs to treat all categories of infectious diseases.  With help from the federal government, they just launched a $5 million campaign that may eventually cost $15 million.

Make no bones about it, the CFO Leadership Council recognizes that the financial field is male dominated.  But with best-in-class leaders like Guita as co-chair in Orange County, the CFOLC continues to encourage inclusivity for all local monetary executives.  The Orange County CFOLC strives to be THE place where ALL financial professionals can be a part of an open forum to learn, network, and help one another.  We are looking forward to our continued growth with you at the helm Guita!

About The CFO Leadership Council

The CFO Leadership Council offers both live & online programs that feature expert panels and interactive sessions that drive meaningful conversation and leadership development among our membership. Our collection of leadership development resources similar to this article contain pragmatic insights and advice sourced directly from our members and industry experts.  Recordings of CFOLC webcasts are made available to our current CFOLC Premium & Virtual members. To learn about our three-tiered membership options and CFO Week in May 2019, visit www.cfolc.com.

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