Kathy Zelnik

Kathy has been the Chief Risk Officer for the Department of Education office of Federal Student Aid since 2018. Prior to this role, Kathy was a consultant in PwC’s Public Sector Risk Consulting Practice, specializes in delivering solutions to help clients embed a proactive and dynamic risk management capability and mindset into business practices, starting from the onset of strategic planning and extending throughout strategy implementation and execution. She brings over 23 years of experience in the many facets of risk management, strategic planning and program management, including over 12 years in the C-suite. Kathy has extensive experience addressing comprehensive risk and strategic management using an approach that exploits process views, fact-based analytical thinking, detailed documentation, tactical deployment, and a collaborative work style.

Specifically, Kathy is a part of the core team that has rewritten the COSO framework on Enterprise Risk Management (ERM): Enterprise Risk Management Aligning Risk with Strategy and Performance.

She has worked to stand up ERM programs in both the private and public sectors, including integration of strategy setting, performance management and risk management processes. This includes the evaluation of risk at various altitudes, including evaluation of risk amongst various strategic options and the evaluation of risk in executing a chosen strategic option. She has supported executive leadership in efforts to define risk appetite to ensure an accurate description of the client’s overall target risk profile.

She has extensive experience in the design and implementation of risk identification, assessment, aggregation, response, monitoring and reporting approaches that align risk with strategic objectives and embed risk into decision-making. She has also created alignment with the performance management system linking specific performance goals and risk, as well as recognizing risks to achieving performance goals.

She has designed and executed extensive risk metrics and reporting to create business intelligence to support a multi-layered view into risk, strategy and performance. This reporting includes establishing Key Performance Indicators and Key Risk Indicators to promote proactive responses and agility within programs.

Her experience also includes extensive work with internal controls including: ensuring the infrastructure is institutionalized for a sustainable risk culture by incorporating results into policies and procedures, creating control tests for continued monitoring, and ensuring programs are flexible and dynamic in order to be responsive to ever-changing business environments. She also has extensive experience in the credit risk space having built and supported credit risk modelling.

Kathy is a Six Sigma Black Belt and a Professional Project Manager (PMP) who holds an MBA in finance from Mercer University and a BS in business management from the University of Maryland.

Kathy has 2 children and 1 stepdaughter, and 2 GRANDchildren! She is an avid Capitals fan but loves all sorts of sports, shows, festivals, and other activities in and around the District.