Karen Smith is Vice President of Administration and Finance and CFO for Merit Network, Inc. She directs finance, legal, insurance, contracting, human resources, and facilities within Merit and is a key participant in helping the company determine its strategic direction.
In 2000, Karen joined Merit to transition the company from a cash method to an accrual method of accounting and institute an annual financial audit for the organization upon the request of the Merit Board of Directors. One year later the finance and administration staff successfully completed its first financial audit. Along with setting up the financial mechanisms for future audits, Karen and her team went on to restructure corporate processing, the financial architecture, tax preparation, and setting new administration and financial policy. Early in the restructuring process Karen worked with Merit’s programmers to develop financial tools that are still heavily utilized throughout the organization today. Karen’s team, besides financial transaction processing, now manages capital requests, budgeting, forecasting, fund investment, best practices deployment, development and monitoring of control systems, and regulatory requirements.
Karen co-directed both rounds of the ARRA NTIA/BTOP funded REACH-3MC project for Merit. Her team worked on both administrative and operational components of the project and was instrumental in the project’s successful completion with the building of over 2,287 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure across three states.
She has a broad range of experience in both the for-profit and non-profit arenas. Prior to joining Merit, she worked seven years for the Veterans Health Administration as a manager and budget analyst, developing a new system to track hospital narcotics usage and facilitated the implementation of a major hospital pharmacy cost reduction program. She also spent a number of years working in various financial management roles in for-profit health care corporations and in 1996 joined the University of Michigan.
Karen holds a B.B.A in accounting from Eastern Michigan University.