Cindy Conger, chief financial officer for Fermilab, will retire after 27 years. Her last day at the laboratory is Dec. 21.
Appointed the lab’s first CFO in 2006, Conger was an instrumental member of the team for the newly formed Fermi Research Alliance, which competed for and attained the $1 billion five-year contract for FRA in 2007. Prior to that she was chief accounting officer from 2002 to 2006 and assistant chief accounting officer from 1989 to 2002. Before joining Fermilab, Cindy was a senior manager at Ernst & Young, where one of their audit clients was Fermilab.
As CFO, Conger built a talented and dedicated team of financial, procurement and travel professionals who have kept the lab running, achieving 20-plus years of clean audits, strong financial controls and success.
During her tenure at the lab, she led or sponsored many successful financial system implementation projects that have transformed the lab’s “back office,” resulting in a reduced month-end close cycle, streamlining and meeting DOE requirements — all accomplished with a small but able staff, allowing more of the lab’s funds to be used for science. The new budget and planning system, which will go live after she retires, will be a lasting success as well.
“The CFO runs a set of infamous and grueling budget meetings with Fermilab division heads and chiefs,” said Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer. “Budget pain was mitigated only by Cindy’s omnipresent unhealthy energy snacks.”
The CFO is a close laboratory partner to the DOE Office of High Energy Physics. Michael Procario, facilities director at DOE HEP, has said that during Conger’s tenure, Fermilab’s budget transparency greatly increased, which has been vital to obtaining support for Fermilab-related P5 projects.
“Cindy has had a wonderful career at Fermilab where she reached the highest possible level in her field,” Lockyer said. “She garnered high confidence from DOE, the FRA and senior management. I thank her sincerely for her professional service to Fermilab.”
Having repeatedly listened to the Broadway cast recording of Hamilton, Conger was reminded of George Washington’s farewell address in reflecting on her time at Fermilab. Parts of that address (page 31 in particular), she said, resonate with how she feels about her 27 years here: She has been sincerely dedicated to the laboratory’s service and trusts that those who come after her will understand her decisions in that light.
After retiring from Fermilab, Conger plans to play more with her grandson and visit her mother in Kentucky. She’ll also do the kinds of things that long stretches of free time afford: exercise more, read long books from cover to cover and go see Hamilton (finally!). She’ll also look for volunteer opportunities, including at Fermilab.
“I’m inexplicably attached to this place, and I don’t expect that to change with retirement,” Conger said.
Wish Conger well at her retirement reception on Wednesday, Dec. 21, from 2-4 p.m. on the Wilson Hall second-floor crossover.