In two short years serving as the Chief Financial Officer for the city of Minneapolis, Concordia College alumnus Mark Ruff ’87, is already receiving praise and top honors for his ability to create consensus and ignite change and growth.
The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal named Ruff the 2017 CFO of the Year for the government sector.
According to the business journal, this honor was earned in large part due to Ruff’s success in bringing elected bodies together toward a common goal: $800 million in new funding over 20 years to support street repairs, park renovations and maintenance for the city.
“We have a strong local government,” Ruff said. “They definitely disagree but know they still need to come together for the public good. They proved that by unanimously voting for this long-term funding plan even though many of them had earlier staked out radically different approaches to solving the problem of deferred maintenance.”
This begs the question: how does someone so new to the position broker such a large deal?
Ruff answers that, in a way, the church and Concordia College prepared him for the challenge.
“I grew up in the Lutheran Church, my brother is a pastor, and my mother worked in the church,” he said. “I feel very rooted in it. The sense of community, welcoming and forgiveness were reinforced at Concordia. And now in my professional life, I see these qualities among my colleagues. I’m humbled and grateful for all of the experiences I’ve had here at the city and throughout my life.”
Raised in Fargo, N.D., Ruff’s decision to attend Concordia College was a winding road. He transferred from Augustana College to Concordia his junior year and jumped right into life as a Cobber.
“My time at Concordia has certainly served me well,” Ruff said. “My writing and history classes were very beneficial as was working in student government. Clyde Allen taught a class on how political campaigns are run and I was an intern for a congressman while at Concordia. I will also always remember the May Seminar through Greece, Italy, France and England tracing the roots of political philosophy.”
Other fond memories for Ruff include his role as the student speaker at the baccalaureate service that prayerfully ushered him out of college and into the world of finance and politics.
Before starting his CFO position for the city, Ruff earned his Master of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota and worked in public finance consulting for more than 25 years. He and his wife, Lisa (Jeffers) ’86, have two daughters and currently enjoy being the parents of a Cobber. Their daughter Kaiya, just completed her junior year and is a member of The Concordia Choir and is captain of the club lacrosse team.
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