July 6, 2023

Contact: Molly Barrie
866.682.2729 x7075
[email protected]


ASBO International Awards District Leaders Highest Honor in School Business Profession

Ashburn, VA – The Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2023 Eagle Awards, which recognize K–12 business professionals for their exemplary leadership and service to their districts and the school business profession. The Eagle Awards are sponsored by Equitable.

"The Eagle Awards recognize school business professionals who are role models in every sense of the word, demonstrating outstanding leadership and commitment to the advancement of the school business profession," ASBO International Chief Operations Officer Siobhan McMahon says. "This year's recipients model service to the profession, the community, the district, and the students they serve. They exemplify the characteristics of true leadership through their dedication, ingenuity, and commitment to serving our educators and our youth.”

ASBO International's 2023 International Eagle Award recipient is Marvin Dereef Jr., SFO, chief financial officer for Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, Georgia.

As CFO of the 89,000-student school system, Dereef is respected for his exemplary leadership, thoughtful approach to stewardship of taxpayer dollars, and focus on students, staff, and the community. During his 14-year tenure at Fulton County Schools, he has helped the district receive a AAA credit rating from Moody’s as well as scores of awards from ASBO International and the Government Finance Officers Association. He led the leadership team in implementing the district’s Bridge to Success three-year comprehensive plan to utilize federal COVID-19 funds to help students recover from learning loss, develop leaders through high-quality professional learning, improve and expand existing programs, and ensure the continuity of district operations.

Dereef’s commitment to the profession is evident in his volunteerism. In addition to mentoring other school business professionals, he served on the ASBO International Board of Directors, is a frequent presenter for ASBO International conferences and workshops, has served on several ASBO committees, and has written for School Business Affairs magazine.

He will receive a $5,000 college scholarship to present to a high school student from his district.

ASBO International is also pleased to recognize three Distinguished Eagle Award recipients, who will each receive a $2,500 college scholarship to present to a high school student from their district:

Howard G. Barber, CPA, SFO, assistant superintendent of finance and operations for Old Rochester Regional School District and Massachusetts School Superintendency Union 55, Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. To say that school business officials juggle many hats is an understatement when considering Howard Barber. Barber serves four school districts with enrollments ranging from 410 to 1,100 students and reports to five school committees. He leads all budgeting and financial service processes, manages all non-academic departments, and serves as the chief procurement officer for all contracted services. He works toward aligning all district initiatives while communicating the financial/operational challenges and opportunities afforded to each, ensuring all members across all districts are supported equally.

Barber makes volunteering a priority. An active member of Massachusetts ASBO and ASBO International, Barber has served in various leadership positions, including MASBO president and as a member of ASBO’s Editorial Advisory Committee and Education Advisory Committee. He also is a frequent presenter at association conferences and has written for School Business Affairs magazine.

Tamara L. Mitchell, assistant superintendent for business and financial services/CSBO for Joliet Public Schools District 86 in Joliet, Illinois. Tamara Mitchell is in her eighth year with Joliet Public Schools District 86, the third largest PreK–8 elementary school district in the state, serving a diverse population of 10,000 students. Like many districts, Joliet PSD 86 is challenged by aging facilities and aging, inefficient mechanical systems. Mitchell works collaboratively with the director of facilities to address high-priority projects as quickly as possible and to take a proactive approach to facilities planning. With overwhelming community support, the district passed a referendum that will address many facility needs, including replacing two aging junior highs with brand new facilities.

Mitchell’s commitment to leadership is evident in her service to the profession. She is the president-elect of the Illinois ASBO and will assume the presidency for 2024-2025. She is an active member of ASBO International, serving as a member of the Editorial Advisory Committee, writing for ASBO publications, and presenting at the association’s annual conference.

Julie P. Novak, RTSBA, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, Fort Sam Houston Independent School District, San Antonio, Texas. Two of the Fort Sam Houston Independent School District’s core beliefs are centered on serving the military child and providing a safe and caring environment. Working with Joint Base San Antonio–Fort Sam Houston, Julie Novak coordinated the implementation of the school resource officer program, which has grown to two full-time officers serving the district’s 1,600 students. Novak also led the implementation of a safety app that allows any employee to initiate a lockdown and has focused on making the physical environment more secure.

Committed to giving back to the profession, Novak has served Texas ASBO in a variety of leadership positions, including as president. Her volunteer work with ASBO International includes as a presenter at several annual conferences, conference session reviewer, and author for professional publications.

"Equitable has proudly sponsored ASBO International's Eagle Awards for 17 years," says Fred Makonnen, Equitable Head of Group Retirement Sales & Distribution. "We stand in awe of the 2023 recipients for their commitment to education—especially during the challenges of the past few years—and thank them for their service and leadership in their school districts and communities."

All award recipients will be formally recognized at ASBO International's 2023 Annual Conference & Expo, October 19–22, in National Harbor, Maryland. Learn more about the ASBO International Eagle Awards at


About ASBO International
The Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) provides programs, resources, services, and a global network to school business professionals who are the finance and operations decision makers in school systems. Our members manage school budgeting, purchasing, facility operations and maintenance, human resources, technology, transportation, food service, healthcare, and other areas of education administration and operations. ASBO International promotes the highest standards of school business management, professional growth, and the effective use of educational resources.

About Equitable
Equitable, a principal franchise of Equitable Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: EQH), has been one of America’s leading financial services providers since 1859 and is the leading provider of 403(b) plans in K-12 schools.i With the mission to help clients secure their financial well-being, Equitable provides advice, protection and retirement strategies to individuals, families and small businesses. Equitable has more than 8,000 employees and Equitable Advisors financial professionals and serves 2.8 million clients across the country. Please visit for more information. Reference to the 1859 founding applies specifically and exclusively to Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company (Equitable Financial) (NY, NY). . GE-5784357.1(06/23)(exp.06/25)

1LIMRA, Not-For-Profit Survey, Q4 2022 results, based on 403(b) participants and contributions. Refers to Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company.