Equitable's Michael Steffan (left) and TASBO's Tracy Ginsburg (center), present the Commitment to Excellence Award to Randy McDowell at the Plano ISD board meeting. The award sponsor Equitable donated $3,000 to the Plano ISD Education Foundation on behalf of Randy McDowell for earning the award.
Plano ISD's Randy McDowell was recognized as the 2021 TASBO Commitment to Excellence Recipient during the Virtual TASBO Engage Conference in February. One of three members of the 2021 class, was selected as the recipient of the award for his contributions to TASBO, the school business profession, and public education.
Before serving as Chief Financial Officer for Plano ISD and Rockwall ISD (2015-17), Randy was the longtime Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Superintendent of Business & Operations for Canyon ISD. He's a Past Board Member and Officer for TASBO, serving as its Board President in 2017. Randy has also co-chaired the TEA's Accounting and Auditing Committee and was a member of the School Finance Council.
We recently interviewed Randy and asked him about his thoughts about TASBO, the award, and his career as a school finance and operations professional:
What challenges did you experience early on in your career?
When I started my first CFO position, my superintendent walked in on the first day and said, Randy, there's a few things I didn't tell you in the interview because I was afraid you wouldn't take the job. Then she handed me a letter from Dr. Ed Flathouse, who was the TEA Associate Commissioner at the time. And also Tom Canby, who was over the audit division. It said that the TEA was out a few weeks before and found some significant financial issues. And, that we had 14 days to respond to their lengthy corrective action plan. I quickly started calling my resources to get help with the long list of issues that the district had. Talk about trial by fire - that was it. After a few years of hard work, the district was in much better shape.
What accomplishments are you most proud of in your professional career and/or as a leader in TASBO?
One of the accomplishments that I'm most proud of is being elected by my peers to serve on the TASBO Board and then being elected as president. During that time, we helped to create the Center for School Finance, that is now the leading school finance resource in Texas and serves hundreds of school districts.
What does being a Commitment to Excellence Honoree mean to you?
Being a commitment to excellence honoree is very special to me because it's an award from the one organization that has meant more to me in my career than any other. I probably wouldn't have survived in this profession if it wasn't for what I've gained both professionally and personally through TASBO.. When I look at the list of previous award winners, it is so many of the people that I've learned from and looked up to during my career. It is truly a special honor, and I'm so proud to be selected as this year's recipient.
Do you have any words of wisdom for your peers?
You need to build a network and learn who to seek advice from on different topics. And that won't always be one person. Secondly, be a lifelong learner in the school of business. You will never learn it all. And it will continue to evolve and change. If you just commit to it, work hard, have high expectations, and always seek to learn something new, there's plenty to learn out there and I'll promise you, you will do great.
About the Award
Each year, we award our highest individual honor – the TASBO Commitment to Excellence Award – to the member who best distinguishes themselves within their profession, within their district and within TASBO. TASBO will recognize the recipient and two finalists at the TASBO Annual Conference Awards Luncheon. The three honorees make up the TASBO Commitment to Excellence Class of 2021.
On behalf of the recipient and finalists, each year TASBO donates to the TASBO Scholarship Fund. In addition, TASBO Strategic Partner Equitable will generously provide a donation of $3,000 to the recipient and $1,000 to each of the finalists for programs in their home district.