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Derek Cluse, CPA
Chief Financial Officer

Derek J. Cluse, CPA, is the Chief Financial Officer for Step Forward, the largest Community Action Agency in Ohio. 

Derek’s journey with Step Forward began in 2020 serving as the agency’s Chief Financial Officer. He advanced to the Chief of Staff position in 2022, where is oversees operations, finance, technology and organizational strategic planning.  

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Before joining Step Forward, Derek served as Deputy Chief Financial Officer for The Cleveland Metropolitan School District where he played a leadership role in transforming the finance organization to align with the strategies of the Cleveland Plan. He has also held C-Level positions in finance and operations for Hudson City School District in Hudson, Ohio, Ashland City School District in Ashland, Ohio, The Institute of Charter School Management and Resources in Dayton, Ohio, and Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio.

Derek is a seasoned executive whose accomplishments include successful business start-ups, mergers and acquisitions, and major enterprise resource planning system implementations. He has delivered measurable value everywhere he has been by focusing on business fundamentals, sustainability, and innovation.  

A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Derek graduated with honors from Southern University and A & M College with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant. He has served on several boards including the Urban League of Trumbull County, The Ohio Association of School Business Officials, The Ohio School Plan, and the Eaton Estate Community Association. Derek is a graduate of Leadership Hudson and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.  

In his spare time, Derek enjoys spending time with his family, coaching youth basketball, cooking, and listening to music. 

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