Santa Monica College (SMC) Fiscal Services Director Chris Bonvenuto, who has worked at the college for six years, has been named 2010 Manager of the Year.

Bonvenuto will receive his award Thursday, June 17th at the annual Recognition Program.

“Chris Bonvenuto is a remarkable leader who has built an office of budget and finance that has served the college exceptionally well,” SMC President Chui Tsang said. “He particularly shines when it comes to communicating the budget with the college community and making it completely transparent. And it’s rare that a college can pass its annual audits with flying colors, and yet that is what has happened under Chris.”

Bonvenuto, 34, of Van Nuys, oversees a staff of 23 in finance, accounting, accounts payable and auditing. He also serves on the college-wide Budget Committee.

Among his primary duties is drafting a nearly half-billion-dollar college budget that is dependent largely on state funds.

Bonvenuto, who grew up mostly in Venice and went to St. Monica High school, started at SMC as accounting manager in 2004, at a time when the college was facing a fiscal crisis and had only $1.8 million in reserves, about two percent of its entire budget, SMC officials note. That number had swelled to $19.4 million by the end of the 2008-09 fiscal year.

Beloved by his staff and popular throughout the college, Bonvenuto attributes his success to his staff.

“My guiding philosophy is we’re all in this together,” he said. “I’m not a vertical kind of guy in terms of an organizational chart.”

Bonvenuto has received high points for making the budget transparent. “It’s been a personal mission of mine,” he said. “If people don’t believe the numbers, you can’t move forward as a college.”

He has also been credited with annual independent audit reports that have found essentially no issues with SMC’s financial practices, officials said.

Before coming to SMC, he worked as the accounting manager for the Los Angeles City College Foundation. At SMC, he also served for one year as the interim associate vice president of business and administration.

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