The National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) is the national leader for enlarging the influence of minority professionals entering the accounting, finance, business, information technology, and other management fields. As a non-profit membership organization, the main objective of NABA is to bridge the opportunity gap for people of color who are interested in pursuing a rewarding career in accounting. Currently, the association is led by Chairman of the Board Kenneth E. Cooke, President and CEO Angela Avant, Vice Chair Veda Stanley, and National Treasurer Sheila Taylor-Clark. The motto of the NABA is “Lifting as we Climb,” which is displayed in its two interlocked hands with one pulling the other upwards. Not only does the motto demonstrate the struggles for African Americans entering the profession, it showcases the association’s main model of veteran professionals mentoring students entering the field.
The association aims to address the student or professional needs of its members in order to build accounting leaders that will help shape the future of the profession with a persistent dedication to inspire people of color. The National Association of Black Accountants works tirelessly to promote the professional skills of members, encourage minority students to enter the accounting field, offer opportunities for members to fulfill civil responsibilities, develop confidence in members, encourage cooperative relationships among member professionals, represent the interests of all minority accounting professionals, and ensure adequate resources through chapter, regional, or national programs. Therefore, many of the NABA programs consist of professional development workshops, networking events, job placements, continuing education courses, technical training, conferences, and community service initiatives.
History of NABA
First established in 1969 by the collaboration of nine African American accountants within the heart of New York City, the National Association of Black Accountants has more than forty years of legacy overcoming the obstacles faced by minority professionals in the accounting field. Although there were nearly 100,000 individuals in 1969 that held the credential as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), only 150 of them were African American. Inspired by the lack of diversity within the profession, Ronald Benjamin, Earl Biggett, Bertram Gibson, and other founding members had created NABA to provide solutions and resources that broke down the barriers to accounting success for qualified professionals of color. From a humble beginning in New York City, NABA has grown to become a nationwide membership organization. Through the combined efforts of the NABA and AICPA, there are now more than 200,000 African American accountants and over 5,000 African American CPAs in the United States alone.
As one of the leading organizations in the business community, the National Association of Black Accountants has continued to expand the pipeline so that African Americans could make their way into every level of the accounting or finance fields. Through a first annual conference in June of 2007 known as the CPA Examination Summit, NABA convened accounting professionals to discuss why a growing number of African Americans were not taking or passing the CPA examination. Despite a spike in the number of black students enrolled in college degree programs, NABA unearthed that the heart of the problem lies in generational issues, lack of African American CPA role models, and the mechanics of the examination itself. Along with the financial support of accounting firms like Ernst & Young and Deloitte, the NABA made the break-through initiative to resolve these issues and help African Americans reach the top levels of the profession with sufficient resources.
Student and Professional NABA Membership
With NABA student groups on more than 150 college campuses from coast to coast, a student membership to the National Association of Black Accountants offers aspiring accountants the opportunity to be involved with the professional community, build their own connections, and develop leadership skill sets.
Student chapters of the NABA offer access to Accounting Careers Awareness Programs to increase the understanding of accounting, locate business career opportunities, and receive educational enrichment outside the classroom for underrepresented minority ethnic groups. The thousands of student members who have passed through the organization have been given the resources necessary to start their own accounting firms or assume high-level leadership roles in various major accounting firms.
Interview with Ancy Thomas, Temple University Accounting Major and NABA Member
Interview with Allona L Whittle, Temple University Accounting Major and NABA Member
Interview with Christina Smiley, Temple University Accounting Major and NABA Member
More than just for student members, the NABA has also successfully designed programs to assist with enhanced professional career development for individuals already in the field. With a strong emphasis on the up-to-date essential knowledge and skills needed for success, NABA has placed its efforts in helping professional members realize their career, economic, and personal goals through a combination of education, leadership training, and professional networking. Specifically as a professional NABA member, individuals receive member discounts on all NABA events, exclusive access to the NABA member-only LinkedIn group, subscription to Spectrum and NABA National magazines, recognition of leadership contributions, bi-monthly eBulletins, and access to the NABA Career Center to find job listings.
Current Programs, Initiatives, and Conferences
Along with the slew of professional opportunities granted from a membership to NABA, student members gain the chance to participate in a number of programs included within the Regional Student Conferences or Annual National Convention. Each June, the NABA convenes all general members for a large-scale networking session and student development opportunity, leadership training, and professional awards. The focal point of the Annual Convention stands primarily on career development and job placement, with students having the chance to interview for internships and permanent employment positions. Members can also attend interactive and active seminars on business topics, including Developing Dynamic Interviewing Skills, Transitioning from College Student to Business Professional, and even Dressing for Success in Accounting.
Since 1995, the Student Case Study Competition has been a growing presence at the Annual Convention for student involvement. Within the competition, student teams of four to six individuals are given an accounting-related issue that must be researched thoroughly to create a sound solution. After teams present findings to the judge panel of CPAs, the winning teams receive monetary awards from sponsors and recognition in NABA publications for the year. Other students have the opportunity to participate in the National Scholarship Program, which has provided more than $8 million in scholarship funds to deserving minority student members actively pursuing a degree in the accounting profession. Eligible candidates seeking to break through economic barriers may receive funds ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 each.
As a fundamental component of the motto for the National Association of Black Accountants, community service and outreach initiatives are among the highlights of the organization.NABA Cares is a national initiative that provides opportunities for members to give back to the community and work towards justice in underserved minority populations. On an annual basis, the NABA joins with a community organization located near the annual convention site to demonstrate a strong commitment to philanthropy by touching lives in the host city.
Major Metropolitan Chapters of the NABA
Around 50 professional chapters and 150 student chapters comprise the presence of the National Association of Black Accountants, connecting accounting professionals in their local areas at the national level. The NABA is divided into four main regional areas, which are the Eastern, Central, Southern, and Western regions. The following are links to the major metropolitan centers within each of the four regions of the NABA.
For more information about this organization or to sign up for membership, please contact the main national office of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) at: