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Perusing the latest round of statistics about women in high-ranking corporate finance jobs can be somewhat discouraging. There were just 44 women CFOs at Fortune 500 companies in 2010, unchanged from 2009. That disparity isn’t limited to finance jobs at the top, of course. A recent study from research institute Catalyst shows women are underrepresented in the C-suite overall, holding 14.4% of executive officer positions in 2010. And the gap between the sexes in the business world starts early: in 2009-10, women made up just 38% of MBA graduates, according to AACSB International. However, the accomplishments of the outstanding women financial leaders, annually recognized by Treasury & Risk, serve as an inspiration and a reminder that perseverance and execution count. From issuing debt, negotiating new credit facilities and integrating acquisitions, to de-risking a pension plan and designing a new commodity hedging facility, these women in finance are doing the work that will make a difference to their companies, and to the economy as a whole.

Valentine Yien

Valentine Yien Treasurer & VP Abbott Laboratories Before Yien was named treasurer last year, she served as controller of a former Abbott unit, Hospira. When it was spun off as a public company in 2004, she headed the finance group’s work to establish it as an independent entity.

Nancy Cooper

Nancy Cooper CFO & EVP CA Technologies As CFO since 2006, Cooper has led the finance team’s effort to pull the software company out of the doldrums, returning it to investment-grade status and boosting its operating margins from 21% to 34%. Now she is figuring out how CA can profit from technology shifts like cloud computing and virtualization.

Suzy Riesterer

Suzy Riesterer EVP, finance and administration Carlson Hotels Riesterer is working on Carlson’s effort to upgrade its more than 1,000 hotels in 77 countries–to which the company is committing $500 million in new investment–as well as its goal of expanding its portfolio to 1,500 hotels by 2015.

Kathleen Gallagher

Kathleen Gallagher Director of asset management Ford Motor Co. Gallagher led Ford’s effort, beginning in 2007, to reduce the risk in funding its sizable defined-benefit pension plan by moving more assets into bonds. Without that change, plan assets would have suffered in the downturn, costing Ford $7 billion in additional pension funding.

Frances Vallejo

Frances Vallejo Treasurer & VP ConocoPhillips Vallejo took an unusual path to her current position, starting her career at ConocoPhillips in 1987 as a geophysicist working in its seismic processing and interpretation groups. After earning an MBA, she joined the treasury group in 1996 and was named treasurer in 2008.

Beth Bombara

Beth Bombara Controller & SVP Hartford Financial Services Group As the life and property and casualty insurer focuses on paring its losses from the financial crisis, Bombara’s responsibilities include corporate finance, corporate expense, accounting policy, IT spending and the finances of investment unit Hartford Investment Management.

Elyse Douglas

Elyse Douglas CFO & EVP Hertz Corp. Douglas has led efforts to increase operating efficiency and manage costs that saved Hertz $760 million in 2009. She has also helped manage several acquisitions, including Eileo and Advantage, and refinanced the company’s ?$5.5 billion of fleet debt.

Elena Doom

Elena Doom VP of investor relations Honeywell International Doom’s efforts, such as communicating the pension management approach the company detailed last year, have helped Honeywell strengthen its relationship with analysts and investors. Since joining in 2002 from Arthur Andersen, she has also worked in treasury and M&A.

Kathy Lancaster

Kathy Lancaster CFO & EVP of strategic planning Kaiser Permanente Lancaster has played an integral role in planning 15 new hospitals and implementing electronic medical records for all Kaiser Permanente members. She has also maintained better-than-industry expense trends at one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans.

Sue Carter

Sue Carter CFO & EVP KBR Since joining the construction and engineering company as CFO in 2009, Carter has focused on upgrading and developing KBR’s financial talent. She’s also concentrating on controls and compliance, cost and working capital. Earlier, Carter was CFO at Lennox International.

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