Los Alamos County CFO Earns National Kudos

Florida’s Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel, left, presents Los Alamos County Chief Financial Officer Helen Perraglio with the Distinguished Local Government Leadership Award during the Association of Governmental Accountants award ceremony in February. Courtesy photo

Los Alamos Daily Post

Los Alamos County Chief Financial Officer Helen Perraglio’s department produces award-winning work, but it also contains award-winning leaders.

For instance, in February, Perraglio traveled to Washington, D.C. to receive the Distinguished Local Government Leadership Award from the Association of Governmental Accountants (AGA).

The letter from AGA that Perraglio received notifying her that she won, stated the award, “recognizes local government professionals who exemplify and promote excellence in government financial management and who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in enhancing sound financial management legislation, regulations, practices, policies, and systems within the past year.”

Perhaps what makes this award a little sweeter than the rest is that Perraglio’s team, including Deputy Chief Financial Officer Melissa Dadzie, nominated her for the award.

“I was pleasantly surprised and humbled that my staff, my team, my extended family, nominated me for the Distinguished Local Government Leadership Award,” Perraglio said. “It was something they wanted to do just to recognize all the extreme efforts that we’ve done and that I led everyone through over the last 18 months.”

There were a number of accomplishments that helped earn her this award, Perraglio said. She pointed out that there was “an amazing feat to bring the whole financial system conversion, which went live in July ’18 … it really allowed us to do telework during the pandemic.”

“We adapted instantaneously (and there was) so much that was changing so rapidly,” Perraglio added. “But I think the biggest thing is that we were able to weather the storm because we put so much into the system. I’ve just been on top of making sure we have procedures in place, we can adapt quickly and overseeing the team during the teleworking time really brought us closer together. I think we found that we were even more collaborative and we were just a power team and we have done some amazing things.”

Another major feat was responding to the Cerro Pelado Fire and successfully working with FEMA to close out the claim.

“They were so impressed and they asked that I write a best practice SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to share with our neighbors because they are struggling to get through the FEMA claim process,” Perraglio said.

Plus, she said her team was able to pull together mid-year compensation adjustments that were approved by Los Alamos County Council to help with County employee recruitment and retention. The work, which was done over the course of four months, lead to four budget amendments to collective bargaining agreements with County union workers and adjustments for non-union employees.

Perraglio herself served dual roles in the last 18 months as CFO and as Administrative Services Director, which included oversight of the Information Management Division in addition to Finance and Procurement. During this time, Perraglio said she focused on cyber security and helped her team to prioritize dual factor authentication, set up a disaster recovery site and develop a continuity of operations plan with the Emergency Manager.

All of this required “a lot of hours worked, a lot of time, and a lot of dedication but I think there are a lot of concrete success stories to tell from it,” Perraglio said. “And now we are really looking at adapting the entire work model. It is not just a telework pilot – we are looking at these as some things that are non-monetary ways for us to recruit and retain our amazing talent and we just want to continue on that path. We are even looking at other things … what are other non-monetary things we can be doing.”

Some of these options include flexible schedules and investment in trainings, she said.

Receiving the Distinguished Local Government Leadership Award put all of Perraglio’s and her team’s efforts and accomplishments in the national spotlight.

Perraglio pointed out that AGA is a national organization that includes federal, state and local governments. Her fellow award recipient was Guam’s Director of Taxation and Revenue Department Dafne Mansapit-Shimizu. Additionally, the person who presented Perraglio with her award was Florida’s Chief Inspector General, Melinda Miguel.

What made the event even more special for Perraglio was that she got to share it with her oldest daughters.

“I felt very honored, very humbled,” she said. “The experience was so neat, so wonderful. I brought my oldest daughters with me to experience it and that was super important me. I just want them to see you can come from a really small town and you can have a really big impact and you can make it with the big shots.”

“I try to lead by example and show them – make an impact on people’s lives, be amazing to others, show kindness and humility and gratitude and amazing things come your way when you work really hard and do all those things,” Perraglio added. “And that’s really what this embodies to me – appreciation for the reciprocal team effort …”

Perraglio has worked for Los Alamos County for 10 years. She has served as CFO for almost seven years. Previously, she worked for the County of Santa Fe in its accounting and oversight and prior to that, Perraglio was in the private sector, working as a certified public accountant. She and her family live in Ojo Caliente.


ladailypost.com website support locally by OviNuppi Systems