SDFM is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 National Essay Contest, recognizing accomplishments in the defense financial management community.

This year’s winners wrote essays on one of three current topics:

  1. Over the past 75 years, the financial management career field has benefitted from some exceptional leaders. In your experience, who has been the most influential leader in your financial management career? Please describe the characteristics that make/made them good leaders and how those characteristics impacted your career.
  2. There have been numerous technological advances in financial management since SDFM was established. What do you predict for the next change in technology and what impact do you anticipate the change(s) will have on defense financial management in the future?
  3. Policies, Directives, and Instructions tend to follow changes in law, novel technological enhancements, or other emerging risks that jeopardize the effective protection/use of taxpayer funds. As you reflect on the past and look to the future, what Policies, Directives or Instructions do you think should be modified to improve the effectiveness of financial management? In what way would you propose to modify it/them and to what effect?

First Place: Richard Lara, Alamo City Chapter

Richard J. Lara Serves as a Senior Program Analyst in the Program, Analysis, and Evaluation Division of the United States Army North (USARNORTH) G8, at Joint Base San Antonio, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In this role, he is a team lead with direct oversight of capturing Army Capability gaps and is responsible for the development and defense of the USARNORTH Program Objective Memorandum. He also serves as the Army’s Management Decision Package manager for the National Capital Region – Integrated Air Defense System. Mr. Lara holds a Bachelor of Arts in government from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and a master’s in public administration from the University of Texas at Arlington, Texas. He is an active member of the Alamo City Chapter and has served as the previous Vice-President for USARNORTH for three years.

Second Place: TSgt Tyler Trusty, Jersey Devil Chapter

Technical Sergeant Tyler Trusty is the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC), Financial Analysis, 87th Comptroller Squadron, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ. In this capacity he serves as a financial advisor for 4 Groups and 20 Squadrons executing an annual budget of $177 million. He has been in the Air Force for almost 12 years and has served at five bases across three continents. He is currently pursuing an MBA with a concentration in Finance from the University of Illinois.

Third Place: LTC Jill Cahill, CDFM, Ret. Washington Chapter

Jill Cahill is a retired Army Financial Management Lieutenant Colonel and a CDFM. During her Army career, she served in units from small tactical level all the way up to Headquarters Department of the Army, as well as spending a year as a Program Examiner in the Office of Management and Budget. After retiring, Jill spent eight years serving her community as a high school teacher where she taught Advanced Placement Economics, Accounting, Personal Finance, and Marketing. Currently she is a Financial Advisory Consultant with LMI.

Each year, SDFM recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of its chapters, membership and the defense financial management community through its awards program. This program encompasses individual and team achievement awards, scholarships, educational grants, an essay contest, chapter recognition, and a variety of other individual based awards.

Rules and submission forms are available for individual and team nominations, as well as many of the other award areas. Read about the individual and team programs and submit a nomination.