Bethany Montgomery, Staff Writer
After over a year of searching for a person worthy to fill the shoes of former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Ed Barton, Saint Martin’s welcomes new Vice President of Finance and CFO, Sarah Saavedra to the university. Before coming to work at Saint Martin’s, Saavedra began her career in finance at a CPA firm in Portland, Ore. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from Pacific University, she earned both her Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license in 2009, as well as her master’s degree in Business Administration from Western Governors University.
Saavedra has previously served as an assistant audit manager for the Washington State Auditor’s office, supervising staff on each of her audits. During her time as assistant manager, she compiled numerous financial and compliance audits for Thurston County, including: the City of Lacey, the City of Tumwater, the Port of Olympia, and the Skamania County Public Utility District. Additionally, Saavedra served the Washington State Auditor’s Office as the financial audit manager and higher education manager, supervising the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for Washington, while also presenting to various higher education institutions.
During this time, she took on the task of coordinating audit tasks for all the community colleges, and six four-year universities in the state. When reflecting on her past work experience, Saavedra described in an email,
“…my main job was to turn around a culture, and inspire and impact as many people as possible. I have worked in my career with over 200 different audit clients all who had various levels of expertise and knowledge. I’ve found that there is always an opportunity to teach and mentor and grow no matter what the size of the client.” She emphasizes her desire to strengthen working relations here at Saint Martin’s.
“I want to see our faculty, staff’s well-being made which will have a direct linkage to ensuring our students are supported and happy. In my last role, I lead through service and served a large team of employees as well as many clients. My goal here is to do the same. I want to serve both our students, faculty, and our staff through small little changes every day.”
Saavedra’s current position places her in charge of monitoring contracts between Saint Martin’s and other organizations, helps with the auditing process, and serves as liaison to the finance committees on the Board of Trustees. When asked about any goals or changes she is planning on implementing, Saavedra says,
“As I was in my previous roles and experiences, I’m extremely flexible and solution oriented. Having gone through many changes at my last organization, I know that change is usually a good thing, though people fear it. The one thing I really want to do while I’m here is help our university with our goals of growing our endowment.”
Saavedra expressed her excitement for her new job at Saint Martin’s and has great ambitions for this school year and those following.
“As a leader, I feel that students will be directly impacted through the support services provided for students, that our team wants to increase. Through our analysis of different processes at the University we will be able to help better identify where things need to change to make it a better student experience.”
The president and other members of the Saint Martin’s campus have expressed their excitement about having Saavedra join the Saint Martin’s community to both create and implement the strategic financial plans for the university.
“My goal wherever I go is to leave wherever I start a better place. I want to make sure there is support for all here as that will create even more support for our students. I want to listen. I want to hear what is going well, what you like, what you want differently. I learned through my past experience that as you step into leadership roles, people want you to hear more than you speak,” Saavedra said.