After a long and successful career with CUCS, Joanne Karnik, the Controller with our Fiscal Department, will be retiring in July. We sat down with Joanne to discuss her career, successes and what she is looking forward to the most in retirement. We wish her all the best, and a very happy retirement!
Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to work at CUCS.
Over the course of my career I have worked at small businesses, big businesses and nonprofits, which is something I really appreciate and value. I worked at Sysco Foods as their New York controller, and at an international steel company. I also worked overseas with the Baha’i International Community in Haifa, Israel and right before coming to CUCS, I worked for the International Rescue Committee.
I loved my time at the International Rescue Committee, but decided I wanted to do something a bit more local. I wanted to have an impact on the lives of the people in my community, so I started as the Controller here at CUCS ten years ago, overseeing all of CUCS’s finance, accounting and reporting activities.
What have you enjoyed the most about your role and working at CUCS?
Professionally, I have enjoyed the challenging nature of my role. There is always something that I have to be on top of, which makes the work really enjoyable. Through all of the different facets of the department, we impact every program, department and staff member at CUCS. We are at the center of everything, which is really exciting!
On a personal level, I have really enjoyed working with everyone at CUCS and being part of the organization’s mission. I value that when I walk home, I get to see people I am helping in my own way. I have worked in corporate accounting and you don’t get that feeling at the end of the day.
What are some of your fondest memories from your time here?
Some of my best memories are from our Pizza and Programs sessions. Five or six years ago I started Pizza and Programs as a way to get our staff out to our sites. It is easy when you are part of such a large organization to lose sight of the mission. It is important to stay in touch and remind yourself why we are here and what we are working towards. It helps everyone get the focus they need.
During Pizza and Programs sessions, we meet with staff from different programs and learn about their work in the field. These are some of my fondest memories, sitting there with our whole department and feeling the excitement and interest that they have about everything that’s happening at CUCS. That’s a really good time for me. It is also really great to watch something I put in place work and have an impact.
What are you most proud of about your time at CUCS?
I am most proud of the development of my staff. You can change a procedure, but when you leave someone can always go back and change it. Helping somebody develop their own talents is something that lives on after you. We brought on many new people in my time here and the entire staff has really increased in their abilities and has progressed immensely. They’re such a devoted staff — everything we ask them to do, they step up and do it.
I am also proud to be part of an organization that is really at the forefront of a lot of things. CUCS has grown and changed so much in my time here. I really credit the senior management, particularly Tony Hannigan with his vision of what’s coming next and of what’s needed now. It has been really neat to talk to funders from the City and see the respect they have for the work we do. A lot of people don’t get to see that but if you’re in the Fiscal Department you get to see these other moving pieces that are in the background but still very important.
What are your plans for retirement?
My husband is retiring right after I do. We will be in the area till the fall and then we plan on moving to Florida, at least for the winter time. I have looked into some volunteer activities there that I am really interested in and am looking forward to working on. Other than that, there is so much family to see, so many hikes I haven’t gone on yet, and a ton of books I can’t wait to read and catch up on!
Is there anything you would like to share with your staff in closing?
I am more of a numbers person than words, but I do have a quote I would like to share:
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.” – Helen Keller.