BEST EFFORT, HIGH STANDARDS: Richard Voccio internalized his family’s core values and applies them to his work handling the financial challenges at the United Way of Rhode Island.
PBN PHOTO/STEPHANIE ALVAREZ EWENS
By Alli-Michelle Conti
From the time he was in middle school through his undergraduate years at Providence College, Richard Voccio worked for his father and three uncles in the costume jewelry manufacturing business. The business, Torino Creations, started small in the early 1960s and quickly grew into a multimillion dollar operation. Along the way his father and uncles demonstrated the importance of a strong work ethic.
“Bring your best to the job every day, be humble, and never forget your middle-class roots,” was the family motto, Voccio said.
After graduating from Providence College with a degree in business management and, later, earning an MBA with a concentration in finance, Voccio embarked on a varied career path that led eight years ago to his current post as chief financial officer at United Way of Rhode Island.
Today at UWRI Voccio oversees internal operations, which collectively includes pledge processing, financial reporting, information systems, pension and insurance, and facilities management. Voccio is also responsible for UWRI’s compliance with United Way of America membership standards and regulatory reporting requirements for federal and state government.
“Rich Voccio is an example of what a top nonprofit CFO should be,” according to the nominating form for the 2014 CFO Awards program. “UWRI aspires to the highest standards of accountability and transparency. Rich came to us with great focus and drive to make us the best of both.” He was nominated for the award by Jonathan D. Fain, treasurer of the UWRI board of directors of the community fundraising organization with a budget of $18.2 million in 2013.
Colleagues say Voccio’s professional trustworthiness also is part of his personal character.
“Many other staff here at United Way go to him for guidance and advice, even in matters that have nothing to do with finances or accounting. They respect his knowledge and willingness to assist all who come to his door,” said Angelo Miccoli, vice president of internal operations and director of administration.
Eileen Garcia, controller for UWRI, added, “Rich also shows appreciation for contributions and achievements and is quick to recognize the individual or team and will share his appreciation personally as well as to our fellow associates.”
In his eight-year tenure at UWRI, Voccio has accomplished many initiatives. He oversaw the move of headquarters from Providence’s East Side to a mill building in Olneyville, which required a negotiated lease with a purchase option and a $2.5 million office space construction. The move finished on time and on budget.
Even as that project was underway, Voccio also brought UWRI into compliance with Internal Revenue Service and United Way worldwide standards of financial accountability excellence. This involved separating the finance and audit committees into two entities, and adding new board members and volunteers to those committees.
Voccio’s other accomplishments have included revamping and clarifying the budget process; developing investment policies to achieve the highest return on cash; establishing a money-saving bid process for audit services; posting financial information on the UWRI website to promote transparency; planning and executing an IT upgrade that included new hardware and software and back-up protections. Voccio also moved the United Way 2-1-1 telephone assistance and The Point operational call centers that had been managed by a subcontractor into UWRI, achieving a seamless transition.
These accomplishments strengthened the overall transparency of the financial reporting and audit functions of UWRI. The organization’s rating for accounting and transparency in Charity Navigator – an independent national organization that evaluates charities – has been a perfect score, thanks to Voccio’s management of fiscal and compliance reporting.
Voccio has served since 2009 on the United Way of America Financial Issues Committee. These 20 professionals represent the 1,250 United Way membership organizations in all fiscal matters and acts as a liaison to United Way Worldwide executive management. He has served as vice-chairman and chairman of the committee.
Voccio’s youthful transition from his family’s business and his college years began with a six-month management-training program with CVS Corp. He then returned to the familiar: a job at L.G. Balfour Co., sellers of class rings. There, he performed more than 40 audits, including several that disclosed fraud and misappropriation of company funds.
It was the start of a 30-year career of unearthing financial abuse, developing of sales plans and operational budgets, and earning a reputation for trustworthiness. His work experience includes leadership positions for corporate giants such as CVS and MetLife, as well as nonprofits such as the ARC of Northern Bristol County and the Newport County chapter of RIARC.
“I moved from one job opportunity to another every two years,” Voccio said. “In those days, that kind of movement was taboo, a sign of being impatient. I did it as a means to learn.”
The birth of his first daughter proved to be a turning point. “When Leah came into our life, we were faced with the challenges of being new parents, and I was looking for work flexibility,” Voccio said. “A lot has changed since the early 1990s in the corporate world, but in those days work flexibility was not offered as readily as it is today.”
Voccio continues to embark on a strategic plan through fiscal 2020. He leads an initiative that is researching ways technology can improve how UWRI connects with the community. The goal is to help the community – business, government, and the social sector – engage with UWRI more easily.
With the technology improvements, UWRI hopes to be more effective in rallying audiences around specific issues, fundraising and grant-making. How Voccio and UWRI connect with donors, advocates, volunteers, large corporations, small businesses and social service organizations will be more personal, he hopes.
“I am excited about the work ahead to further build that engagement. We believe that working together, change can happen, and we can make Rhode Island a better place to live,” he said.