Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce  series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.
Guest blog post by George E. Jenkins, National Institute of Standards and Technology
I was born in Savannah, Georgia to parents whose myriad personal sacrifices, strong sense of excellence, and loving devotion to our family were tremendous examples for how to succeed to me and my brothers.
I was the valedictorian of my high school class, captain of three sports teams, a member of the Georgia Allstate Chorus for three consecutive years and a selected participant in the Governor’s Honors Program for Music. I subsequently received an undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Bridgeport and a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. I am also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Upon graduating from college, I was hired by the international accounting firm of Ernst & Ernst (now Ernst & Young). I was a senior accountant with responsibility for the audits of multibillion dollar Fortune 500 companies. Afterward, I joined the faculties of Cheney State University, Alabama State University and Alabama A&M University, where I taught accounting and finance courses. Teaching and mentoring students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) was an enriching and rewarding experience. In fact, I later hired several of my mentees within the CPA firm that my brother and I owned and operated in Montgomery, AL for many years.
Our CPA firm delivered accounting and auditing services to professional athletes in all of the major sports, as well as, to a variety of large private corporate and government clients.
I began my federal service with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). While working at CMS, I held the position of Deputy Director for the Financial Management Systems Group, which was responsible for over 40 financial management systems. I also played an integral part in the development and implementation of the Healthcare Integrated General Ledger Accounting System (HIGLAS), which was one of the largest Oracle implementations in the world at the time, processing approximately 5 million Medicare claims daily. I was an Associate Regional Administrator for Financial Management in Seattle, WA with oversight responsibilities for five western states. I received numerous awards such as the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award and the CMS Administrator’s Award on several occasions.
After I became a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES), I joined the Department of Health and Human Services as the Director of the Office of Program Management and Systems Policy. In that capacity, I was responsible for the strategic vision, design, oversight and implementation of all Department-wide enterprise financial management systems accounting for approximately $1 trillion of financial activity.
Currently, I am the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where I am responsible for the management of a $1 billion budget. My role includes budget formulation and execution, financial management, internal controls management, policy development and enterprise risk management activities. I am also a member of the Senior Executives Association and the Association of Government Accountants.
Throughout my career, I have enjoyed mentoring staff and encouraging qualified individuals to seek opportunities for advancement.
Outside of the workplace, I am an active member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., a principle figure in my church, Locust United Methodist in Columbia, MD and, for many years, I was a basketball and football coach in my community.
I have shared a wonderful life with my wife of many years and we have raised two sons who have also received a host of academic and athletic accolades. Undeniably, I have my parents to thank for early lessons and values that are now paid forward within my own family.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “no one can stand on your back if you are not bent over.” So, I am also so grateful to my forefathers for standing tall in the face of incredible adversity and suffering.
During Black History Month, I think it is important to remember that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Through their wisdom, perseverance and sacrifices – literally, their blood, sweat and tears – they have influenced and contributed to our lives in so many significant ways.