Biographical Q&A with Valerie Clarizio
1. Tell us about your background.
I was born and raised in Door County. I attended Lakeland College where I earned a bachelor degree in Accounting. Years later, I went back to Lakeland and earned an MBA. Before I worked for the City of Sturgeon Bay I worked at a manufacturing plant. I also teach part time at NWTC–accounting and business classes.
2. How long have you been a treasurer and where (include your municipality’s website)?
This coming June I will celebrate my eighteen year anniversary at the City of Sturgeon Bay.
3. How did you get where you are today in governmental treasury/finance work?
I was working in accounting at a manufacturing plant during the weekdays and waitressing on the weekends. One of my restaurant customers came in on a Saturday morning and asked if I had seen the advertisement for a Deputy Clerk/Treasurer. This customer was an alderperson who knew I had an accounting degree. I applied and now here I am, the Finance Director for the city.
4. What do you enjoy most in your position?
Mostly, I like the actual hands-on financial work like running analyses.
5. What do you enjoy least in your position?
I can’t please everyone no matter how hard I try.
6. Describe the funniest thing that has happened to you as a treasurer?
Nothing is coming to mind.
7. What is your best asset?
The staff – on all levels.
8. What is your greatest accomplishment as a Treasurer? (most proud of)
Obtaining the CPFO designation from the GFOA. I studied long and hard for those exams.
9. Explain a work-related innovative process or procedure you initiated that may benefit other municipalities?
At the City of Sturgeon Bay we eventually grew to the point where we needed an IS Department but could not afford one. After some negotiating, the City contracted with the County of Door for IS services. The County already had experienced and trained staff in place and with our financial assistance they were able to hire a helpdesk operator. I think it turned out to be a win for both entities.
10. Describe the most important lesson you have learned from your position.
Think before you speak and don’t be afraid to tell the Council you’ll have to get back to them when you can’t exactly remember what they are asking you for during a meeting.
11. What is the work-related website you visit most frequently? Leisure/entertainment website?
For work, I would have to go with our banking provider. For leisure, I will go with Facebook since I tend to get hooked on all those cat and dog videos.
12. Describe, in any manner you select, your office/work station environment (view too – if you have a window).
I have two windows in my office overlooking one of our main roads in town. It’s not very exciting. As for my desk area, I like to keep it tidy but that doesn’t always work. Luckily, we moved into a new City Hall almost ten years ago and everything is still clean and fresh. It’s nice.
13. How do you spend the first 30 minutes of a ‘typical’ day?
Checking email, putting out fires, and catching up with staff on outstanding projects.
14. What advice/tips do you have for new treasurers?
Join organization such as the Municipal Treasurers Association and the Government Finance Officers Association. Not only will you benefit from their learning opportunities but the networking opportunities are phenomenal as well.
15. How long have you been a MTAW member and what have you gained from your membership?
If memory serves me, I have been a MTAW member since I began working for the city, so about eighteen years. In addition to being educated in the many areas of municipal treasury management, one of the biggest benefits I’ve received from being a MTAW member is meeting and networking with other treasurers, and municipal service providers, who have helped me every step of the way. Countless times, I’ve picked up the phone and called other treasurers for advice and help, and countless times these folks have gone above and beyond to help me.
16. Any special MTAW memories you would like to share?
I really enjoy going to the conferences and each one lends a little something special.
17. Anything unique about your municipality?
Nope. I think we are just like everyone else. We try to do a good job serving our public.
18. Any family info you wish to share?
My husband and I recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We have two cats who allow us to share their house.
19. What hobbies/interests do you have?
My husband and I enjoy the outdoors so we do a little fishing, hunting, and hiking.
20. What is your favorite food – is it available here – do you have it on vacation?
I love pepperoni pizza and chocolate.
21. What is your favorite vacation destination? Why?
In 2009 I had the privilege to travel to Alaska and I would love to go back someday. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, and the wildlife we saw was amazing.
22. Tell us something about yourself that most people do not know or would never suspect, i.e. took tap dance lessons, does sign language at a deaf institute, whatever.
I write novels. When I first told people that I wrote a book they assumed it was an Accounting textbook.
23. Anything else you would like to add?
As I’ve mentioned before, it is a privilege to serve the members of MTAW. THANK YOU!