Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Valentine Gives Back in Every Way

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of profiles highlighting the diverse interests and careers of VSCPA members. Know a member (including yourself) who would make for an interesting profile? Email VSCPA Communications Specialist Chip Knighton.

The VSCPA is filled with high achievers, but Monique Valentine, CPA (right) has been remarkably active even among that group. She chaired the VSCPA Board of Directors in 2007–2008 and has held leadership positions with the VSCPA Educational Foundation and the VSCPA PAC. As it turns out, that love of service bled into her non-VSCPA work.

After starting in public accounting, Valentine transitioned into the nonprofit sector in 2000 and has worked for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), where she is now chief financial officer (CFO), and has been for 11 years.

“My first job in my nonprofit career was with a [501(c)(3)] organization that raised money for international relief and development organizations, and knowing that the money we raised went to help people in under-developed countries was very rewarding,” Valentine said. “We worked hard to keep overhead expenses to a minimum so that the majority of the money we raised was used to fulfill our mission.  It gave me a great sense of purpose knowing that the work I did was benefitting many other individuals.”

Valentine made partner in a Springfield CPA firm the same year she got married and began a lengthy commute from Front Royal around the same time. It didn’t take long before she realized that spending four hours a day in the car wasn’t conducive to a successful marriage.

“The thought of an increased commute and the long hours I was working helped me to decide that I either needed to divorce my job or my husband,” she said. “I chose to divorce my job.”

While work-life balance played a role in her move to the nonprofit world, the sense of working for a greater good let her know she made the right decision.

I love working for an organization where I believe and support the mission and know that my work benefits more than just the owners of the business,” she said.

It’s that same sense of working for something bigger than herself that has driven much of Valentine’s volunteer work with the VSCPA and other organizations. In addition to the long list of roles she’s held with the Society, she’s given her time to the George Mason University Accounting Advisory Council, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and Manassas Presbyterian Church. She started as a VSCPA volunteer with the Young CPAs Committee before taking on a greater role with the Society’s Northern chapter.

“The firm I worked for was a strong advocate for giving back to the profession and encouraged all staff to get involved with the local chapter and the VSCPA,” she said. “…I have grown tremendously personally and professionally through my involvement with the VSCPA. I never thought that I would have a leadership role at the VSCPA, but by getting involved early on and taking on a little more each year, I eventually felt that I had the knowledge and ability to serve in a leadership capacity. 

“The VSCPA has helped me to grow in my current position as the CFO for a large trade association and has introduced me to so many great CPAs that I would never have had the opportunity to work with without my involvement at the VSCPA.”

Becoming a volunteer has helped Valentine in her day job, too.

“By volunteering with the VSCPA and other organizations, I have had to become more efficient at managing my time, which is a skill we can all continually improve upon,” she said. “My volunteer work has also helped me to improve my communication skills, and has given me the ability to work in teams with fellow professionals with diverse and varying backgrounds. But most of all, I think my volunteer work has helped to build my confidence and to not be afraid to try new things by taking on new opportunities and challenges. The roles I have had with the VSCPA have helped me to improve all of these skills, which has led to my becoming a more efficient, productive CFO.”

Going into the nonprofit world after “divorcing her job” helped Valentine refocus on her family life. She has two children, Sara (15) and Ben (13) and enjoys taking them to the beach, on camping trips and to Washington Nationals games.

“My kids keep me sane and are my reality check in life,” she said.

Even that sanity check hasn’t stopped her from scratching the volunteer itch. In addition to her work with her church, she serves as the treasurer for Ben’s middle school.

“I am always volunteering my time because I love it,” she said. “The word ‘no’ is not part of my vocabulary.”

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