I often hear from nonprofit boards that they believe it is critical to have certain "professional" types as board members. There is a common perception that these professionals will bring their critical lens to matters the board must regularly address AND, as often happens in un-staffed nonprofits, they will also volunteer their expertise to address a variety of specific and related needs. The two most common "types" on the list: accountants and lawyers. One should note of course that what is pretty much true in most professions is true in these two professions: lawyers and accountants frequently possess "sub-sector" expertise and experience and may not always be familiar with nonprofit policies and practices so there will be a learning curve.
But the following Accounting News article is about a different challenge. According to OngoingConcern:
CPAs, especially those who work at accounting firms, are encouraged to give back to their communities in one way or another. One of the ways that many give back is by serving on nonprofit boards. Many times when boards find out that a prospective member is a CPA, they are eager to make him or her the treasurer because no one else really wants to deal with money and numbers and stuff. When that person gets a reputation as someone willing to serve as treasurer, then other boards want them to serve as treasurer as well.
Such is the case with Kara Myers, a CPA and former Warren Averett audit manager who is in a bit of trouble at the moment:
Court records show that Myers is accused of stealing money from the Duncan Bridge Resort Condominium Owner's Association, Inc.; the Vestavia Vipers All-Star Team; and the Vestavia Hills Girls Softball Association. According to a recent filing, she was responsible for "a series of thefts" from the organizations' bank accounts.
Police seized a bunch of Myers and her husband's assets "including a bank account, a boat and two vehicles – a Mercedes-Benz and a Lexus." It's reported that Myers also served "as the past president and past finance VP for the Junior League of Birmingham and past treasurer and second VP of the Vestavia Hills Elementary PTO Board." Those organizations might want to double check their books and every nonprofit in the Birmingham area should try a little harder when looking for their next treasurer.
A great cautionary tale!