Lori Dittmar, Chief Financial Officer, CPA**
As Chief Financial Officer, Lori Dittmar wears many hats. She oversees the Business Office (Billing and Collections), Environmental Services (Housekeeping), Information Systems (Medical Records), and the La Hacienda Store.
While her typical day may start by conferring with the Executive Team and owners regarding significant fiscal matters, it may conclude with Lori taking a turn managing the Store for the afternoon.
“I’m an out-of-the-box accountant,” she says. “I enjoy accounting, but I like to know more about the departments I oversee. For example, I want to know what cleaning a room looks like, what is involved.”
“I better understand things when I learn them myself and experience them personally.”
Accounting Came Naturally
Our hands-on CFO is a native of Fredericksburg, Texas, where she still lives. She had no specific career in mind when she enrolled in college as a business major. She had worked for a bank and enjoyed the experience but was still undecided.
“I took my first accounting class and was hooked,” she recalls. “It was the easiest course I had ever taken. I had a definite knack for it.”
Degree in hand, she went to work for the late John Givens, a Kerrville CPA who was also one of the co-owners of La Hacienda at the time.
“He saw that I picked up new tasks quickly and asked me to become an accountant for the treatment center.”
That was 1991, and she’s been with La Hacienda ever since. While her mentor is gone, his younger brother, Tom Givens, has served as her staff accountant and “right-hand man” for most of that time.
Arriving with no experience in the addiction treatment field, Lori learned by being a part of La Hacienda.
“I grew into the field here, but then I love to learn and to do different things. Just having status quo is boring to me.”
She rose to controller, a title and job with which she was happy. When Art Vandivier was named Executive Director in 2004, he asked Lori to become Chief Financial Officer. She didn’t initially want the new title, but, being a person open to change and new tasks, she accepted.
“Change challenges me and keeps me fresh in terms of enjoying my work,” she says. “I like not doing the same thing every day.”
A Foundation for Care
Patients have direct contact with only two of Lori’s departments, Housekeeping, and the Store. All of them, however, are essential to their well-being, she says.
“I feel like I am part of a foundation here. We’re not directly treating patients, but if my departments function well, they positively impact the quality-of-care patients receive. We’re important to the operation.”
“Keeping a room clean and supplied makes a patient feel safe there. If we don’t provide that basic function, nothing else that is done for them here will be as effective.”
Another example is Billing and Collection. “We’re going to fight like heck to get everything that the insurance company will pay for a patient’s treatment because we don’t want the patient to have to worry about it. We want them to focus on their recovery.”
Working to Change Lives
The most satisfying thing to Lori about her work is what La Hacienda achieves.
“We’re changing lives. People come here broken, and we give them a chance to start anew and move on.”
As a person of strong faith who is active in her church, Lori also appreciates witnessing the spiritual nature of our mission.
“I see God working out here. When I can see faith at work and lives changing, I see God at work.”
How employees do their work also matters, she says.
“I see the housekeepers go about their duties with joy as they interact with patients, and it’s infectious. Their attitude is a positive influence on the patients’ ability to heal and recover.”
Loves Family and Tennis
Lori is the mother of four grown children, two sons and two daughters, and the grandmother of one grandchild (with hopes for more).
Away from the office, she enjoys playing tennis (“It makes me tick”) and being involved in community activities in her native Fredericksburg.
She would like for folks to describe her as friendly and joyful. She says she is “not colorful and somewhat boring—I don’t have to be the speckled egg in the bunch.”
Most of all, Lori feels lucky to be fulfilled by her work because it is part of a healing mission.