CHICAGO – Women in Public Finance has chosen Carole Brown, a longtime Chicago-based public finance banker who became the city's chief financial officer this year, to receive its founders' award honoring lifetime achievement.
The award from the Chicago-based national organization recognizes a woman involved in the field for more than 10 years who has "consistently demonstrated skill, drive, integrity, and vision."
The organization chose Katie Koster, a managing director at Piper Jaffray in California, to receive its "She's our Hero" award that recognizes a woman for her management of career, self-development, family, and civil involvement.
The WPF's "Rising Star" award, honoring a woman involved in the field for 10 years or less whose work demonstrates skill and intelligence that will have a long-term impact in field, will go New York-based finance professional Natasha Holiday, a director at RBC Capital Markets.
The organization will present the awards at a reception on Jan. 19 at the Hotel Allegro in downtown Chicago. The group's founders – financial advisor Courtney Shea, former Chicago CFO and banker and financial advisor Lois Scott, Standard & Poor's senior managing director Sarah Eubanks, and consultant Nancy Remar - launched the awards a decade ago.
The aim is to recognize women with a range of experience for their contributions to the field. The four founders, along with past recipients of the awards, review new and past nominations to make their annual selections.
Brown's more than 25-year public finance career spans the private and political spectrum. She left her position as a managing director at Barclays Capital to replace Scott as Chicago's CFO in May.
She took the reins during a challenging time for the city as it grappled with near- and long-term distress posed by daunting unfunded pension challenges that have driven the city's steep credit deterioration.
Brown took over as the city sought to solve a potential $2.2 billion liquidity crisis after downgrades triggered termination events on swaps, lines of credit, and letters of credit. The city has resolved the potential crisis by shedding floating-rate debt and swaps through conversions, paying off short-term lines, and making termination payments. Along with the city's budget director, she was called upon to help sell the need this fall for a $543 million annual property tax hike to cover skyrocketing public safety pension payments.
At Barclays, she headed up the firm's Midwest and Southeast municipal practices. She previously worked at Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. LLC, the former Lehman Brothers, and Mesirow Financial.
Brown, a Baltimore native who landed in Chicago in 1986 to attend graduate school, was tapped by former Mayor Richard Daley to serve as chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority board. She held the post for six-and-a-half years until 2009. She served on current Mayor Rahm Emanuel's transition team after his 2011 election and as chairman of his tax-increment financing reform panel.
Brown also previously served as a commissioner on the Illinois Budget for Results Commission and is a member of numerous boards including the Metropolitan Planning Council.
Koster has worked in the field since 1994. Before joining the private sector, she served as an administrative manager for Riverside County, Calif.'s Land-Secured Finance Division. Her work extends beyond California issuers, covering also New Mexico, Hawaii, and Texas. She is vice president of WPF and is a founding board member of the California chapter.
Koster is a member of the public-private partnership council of the Urban Land Institute and the California Building Industry Association. She serves as treasurer on the executive committee of the Child Abuse Prevention Center for Orange County, works on preservation issues for Laguna Beach and has been involved with Habitat for Humanity.
Holiday has worked on municipal bond deals totaling $9 billion during her nine year career, including issues for New York City, the District of Columbia, New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York State.
Before joining RBC, she worked at Scott's former firm, Scott Balice Strategies, and Public Financial Management Inc. At both firms, she aided their expansions in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.
This year's awards come with WPF launching a strategic plan to broaden its mission as it heads into its third decade. The group, which has expanded from its Chicago base to include 12 chapters that serve more than 1,500 women across the country, will rotate the location of the annual conference, which has always been held in Chicago, require more board members to come from individual chapters, and make the Chicago community a chapter.
An executive director will be hired in the coming years and the organization will shift to a membership-based structure that requires a small annual fee. The organization intends to produce newsletters and improved networking directories and professional opportunities.