Alfreda Barringer, CPA, was 19 when she was hired as a stockroom clerk in UNC Charlotte’s Chemistry Department. As she worked full time as laboratories manager and raised her family, Barringer pursued higher education. When her job in the Chemistry Department required more knowledge of accounting and budgeting, she took her first accounting classes and instantly found her major. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 1988. She has traveled the world as a past W.K. Kellogg Foundation National Leadership Fellow looking at women's leadership. Today, she uses her background and skills to provide training in nonprofit leadership and fiscal management.
What was the best part of your Belk College experience?
The focus on quality teaching and learning, the reputation of the accounting department, the students who encouraged me to take the CPA exam, and special applied-learning projects were the best parts.
What was your first job after graduation?
I joined a very small accounting firm that provided tax, compilation and audit services to mostly small, minority-owned businesses.
How did your work in accounting lead to a greater involvement with nonprofits?
For nearly 25 years I have worked as a paid professional in the nonprofit sector with Grassroots Leadership, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation and its grantees, French American Charitable Trust’s Management Assistance Program and Francis Marion University’s nonprofit leadership programs. Now through RoadMap, I train staff and board members about ethical leadership, stewardship and fiscal responsibilities. I help them understand the role of external auditors, to preserve assets, build infrastructures and internal systems and strengthen capacity to manage financial operations.
What have you gained from international travel?
Most of my international travel happened after I was selected in 1995 as a W.K. Kellogg Foundation National Leadership Fellow. I was one of 41 national leaders. Talk about a turning point in my life! Each fellow decided on a self-directed learning plan to pursue over a three-year period. My plan was to understand how women could show up completely as leaders in communities, families and the workplace. As a leadership fellow I visited South Africa, Scotland, Ghana, Hungary and Mexico.
Could you tell us more about the photo of you visiting Africa?
The photo was taken in March 1997 during a Kellogg Leadership Fellows’ small group visit to Tanzania to observe culture, economic and environmental conditions, and leadership. The tribal woman in the photograph was curious about me, as I was of her life and community. It is a favorite photo because it reminders me of the importance of community, gender equality, appreciation of differences. It symbolizes my curiosity and eagerness to learn by connecting face to face across geography and culture.
What advice do you have for current Belk College students?
I have worked in three sectors – government, for-profit and not-for-profit. Consider a career in the nonprofit sector. The jobs and opportunities are diverse. Your riches will likely not come from a huge salary, but knowing that you are giving back, paying forward your gifts and talents will enrich your life and others far beyond what you can imagine.