How one CPA continues to use his financial skills in retirement

Written on Jan 02, 2020

By Nicole Fracasso, OSCPA communications intern

Don Hayes, CPA, views retirement as his time to help “change the world one person at a time.”

Hayes is a 1983 graduate of The Ohio State University where he studied Business Administration with a focus on accounting. While he was there, he landed an internship with American Electric Power and eventually joined the company full time after graduation.

In May of 2010, Hayes made the decision to retire from AEP, and then spent three years working in smaller CPA firms doing consulting, book keeping and tax preparation. He now works as the chief financial officer at International Friendships, Inc, a nonprofit Christian community organization that partners with universities to “promote friendship and hospitality for international students, scholars and family members.”

Hayes said when students arrive, they often have only two suitcases in hand. IFI helps them adjust to life in America and provides them with the resources they need. According to Hayes, there are more than one million international students in the U.S., and most will return home never having made an American friend or even visiting an American home.

“If we can make friends with them while they are here, then the rest of their lives they’ll remember their friend in America,” Hayes said. “That’s really what we do in a nutshell, just try to change the world one person at a time by befriending them.”

He says one of his favorite aspects of working for IFI is meeting the international students and residents who bring him a new perspective.

“It’s different than how I was raised and so I’m learning about different cultures every day in my job,” he said.

Hayes’ decision to work for IFI in retirement was sparked by his desire to “follow God’s plan.” He said IFI allows him to combine his financial skills with his faith-based passion for “communicating God’s love.”

“Imagine if you could communicate God’s love to everyone,” he said. “That would change the world.”

Throughout his career at AEP and in retirement, Hayes’ said his motivation comes not from his own achievements, but by the accomplishments of those around him.

“Don’t worry about your career advancement,” he said. “Just work to make the people around you successful; your boss, your subordinates, your peers and your customers. Work to make these people successful, and your success will follow.”


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  1. Mike Smith (Smitty) | Jan 05, 2020
    I was a teammate of Don’s when he wrestled with me at the University of South West Louisiana. He was a good guy down there he turned out to be a great man. All your teammates are proud of you Don
  2. Jack Willer | Jan 04, 2020
    Great testimony for those Christians who go into "the business world".
  3. Megann Zeigler | Jan 03, 2020
    This man is amazing. Have known him all my life and would trust him with anything I had. His high standards and commitment not only to the his clients, family and community but to his faith is well...You would be so blessed to have him work with you....
  4. Mary Phillips Hada | Jan 03, 2020
    Thank you for doing God’s work.
  5. Mike Liu, CPA (WI) | Jan 03, 2020
    I love this. 
  6. Greg Witt | Jan 03, 2020
    Thanks for making it a priority to share such a positive story. I know Don, and he is a great example of all your article summarized.
  7. Steven Wolfe | Jan 03, 2020
    Don is a first class person. This is a great retirement plan. Well done. 

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