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Our Accounting Spotlights highlight inspirational leaders in the profession who are making a difference for their clients and community. Know someone who deserves to be featured? Submit a nomination.

In this installment of our Accountant Spotlight Series, we're pleased to introduce Nancy Durham, a senior, CNAP-certified accountant at Pocketbook Strategies.

Nancy's journey in accounting is a story of resilience, adaptability, and a deep commitment to the nonprofit sector. Let’s dive in.

An unconventional path to three decades of accounting dedication

Nancy's entry into the world of accounting was anything but traditional. At 16, feeling out of place in a new city and a new school, she decided to drop out of high school and attend a local community college. While browsing through degree options, accounting caught her eye as a practical choice. However, the initial complexity of the subject led her to drop out and explore other paths, including waitressing. 

During this time, while seizing an opportunity to gain more hours, Nancy helped update books for the restaurant and reignited her passion for accounting's practical application. As she shared, “Thirteen years later, I went back to school and graduated with my accounting degree. After I walked across the stage and was handed my diploma, I jumped up and down and exclaimed in long-overdue triumph, “I’m an accountant!”

With nearly 30 years in bookkeeping and accounting, Nancy became an official accountant seven years ago. Her career has been a rich tapestry of experiences, from working in small local businesses to her current role at Pocketbook Strategies.

"Pocketbook Strategies is more than a consulting firm; it's a beacon for ambitious nonprofits seeking to change the world," Nancy explains. With a focus on full-service CFO/COO advisory, outsourced accounting, and finance operations, Nancy and her team at Pocketbook Strategies empower a wide array of political, civic, and charitable organizations to achieve their missions efficiently and effectively.

A heart for nonprofits

Nancy's commitment to nonprofits is personal. Her defining moment came when she joined an education-focused foundation, where she first discovered her passion for nonprofit accounting. Their focus on encouraging children in underserved areas to go to college helped inspire Nancy’s own experience with continued education to pursue accounting. She shared, “I remember thinking, ‘if they can do it, I can do it’ so I went back to college. I will always be grateful for that inspiration, experience , and perspective.”  Nancy’s passion for making a difference through nonprofit accounting has aided her career success, as she’s progressed from data entry clerk to senior accountant.

In her current role, Nancy supports nonprofit organizations in navigating financial literacy, funding challenges, and compliance issues, often working with organizations that lack the necessary financial background or bandwidth to navigate such situations on their own. Nancy's patience and ability to explain complex financial concepts in simple terms have been invaluable to her clients.

Nancy's passion for the nonprofit sector is deeply rooted in her belief in the transformative power of these organizations. "Working with nonprofits like 501 c3 and c4 organizations that focus on community organizing, issue advocacy, and progressive political work is incredibly rewarding," she shares. This dedication to service is what drives her to provide the best possible financial guidance.

Partnering for success and greater impact

Nancy believes that correctly partnering with her clients is the most significant value she adds. She tailors her approach to each nonprofit's unique needs, whether compliance, financial literacy, or navigating the rules of different entities. She aims to ensure nonprofits can focus on their mission while knowing their finances are in her capable hands.

In today's fast-evolving accounting landscape, Nancy is at the forefront of integrating AI and machine learning to enhance her services. "We use AI to craft narratives around financial statements and scrutinize transactions for any irregularities," Nancy states, highlighting her proactive approach to ensuring compliance and accuracy. Ramp's seamless integration with QuickBooks has been particularly transformative for Nancy.

Moments of personal and professional fulfillment 

Some of Nancy's most rewarding moments come from seeing the growth and success of nonprofits she's worked with in their early stages. Watching these organizations flourish, secure grants, and make a tangible impact in their communities brings her immense satisfaction.

Outside of her professional life, Nancy's adventurous spirit shines through. Whether it's embarking on a solo trip across Canada or finding solace in coloring books and video games, Nancy's diverse interests outside of work reflect her multifaceted personality. "Traveling to new places like Italy and embracing solo adventures have been some of my most cherished experiences," she reflects.

In summary

Nancy Durham's career is a testament to the profound impact that dedication, passion, and a willingness to embrace innovative technology can have in the nonprofit sector. 

Her journey underscores the significant role accountants play in not just managing finances but in fueling missions that change the world. There are many paths to becoming an accountant and we’re inspired to share Nancy’s story as one incredible example.  

If you know an accountant who provides exceptional customer service and would like to nominate them for our Spotlight Series, please do so.

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Head of Accounting Partner Channel, Ramp
Brad Gustafson leads the Accounting Partnerships Channel at Ramp. He has spent the past decade advising and consulting thousands of accounting firms across the United States, including managing Top 100 accounting firm partnerships as an Enterprise Account Director at Xero. He is motivated to help build a community of accountants around Ramp who are passionate about new technologies and the opportunities they provide the accounting profession.
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