Alums Who Give Back: Meet TJPF’s Treasurer
Nicole Morson, TJ ’07, talks about how she ended up as the Treasurer of TJ’s non-profit foundation, what she gets out of giving back, and why it matters.
Q. What inspired you to volunteer at TJ?
A. When I graduated from Cornell in 2011 [with a BS in Applied Economics & Management, specializing in Accounting & Finance] and found myself back in the DC area, I wanted to get involved with TJ, since I was not as connected when I was away for school. At the same time, the Alumni Association (TJAA) was looking for some more volunteers and so the timing worked great!
I attended a TJPF board meeting as a TJAA representative and met Dan Bommer [Parent ’13], who had just been appointed TJPF Treasurer. I offered to help him with any accounting-related issues he might encounter. When Dan was ready to move on to a new position on the Board, he reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to take the Treasurer position. That was July 2013. The rest is history!
By the way, I’m thrilled that the TJAA has become fully integrated into the TJPF. As an all-volunteer organization, the TJAA has a limited bandwidth to assist with events like reunions and Alumni Day. Being a part of the TJPF gives alumni access to the knowledge and time of full-time employees, as well as aligns our organization with the set-up of college-level Alumni and Development Offices.
Q. What is your day job?
A. As an Audit Senior Associate for PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) I perform audits over mid-sized public companies in the Aerospace & Defense and Technology sectors. One of my clients is Orbital ATK, which has a ton of TJ grads, so that’s always exciting!
Q. What do you do as Treasurer?
A. My role is to make sure our financials are appropriately stated and usefully presented in our monthly/quarterly board reports so the TJPF Board can make important decisions about grants to the school and other spending decisions. I work closely with our bookkeeper to make sure the monthly activity gets recorded on our books correctly and reconciles to all of our donor information and bank account activity. I also review the actual spending against our detailed budget to identify any areas that we might need to discuss at our Board meetings. I typically do this review from home, but I visit the school every week to sign checks and so I can discuss any questions I have with Samantha Courtney, our Development Manager. As part of this weekly visit, I update Sam on where the TJ grant balances stand and if we need to provide any updates or feedback to the TJ finance team about grants that are close to being fully spent.
In addition, because TJPF accepts United Way funds, we are required to be audited every year. I coordinate our audit with our local audit firm, Renner & Company, including closing the books after our fiscal year ends in June, preparing reports and schedules the company needs to perform the audit, and reviewing the financial statements and Form 990 before they are finalized, and in the case of the 990, filed with the IRS. Most of that work is performed remotely, although I do work from TJ in the first part of the audit to make sure things go smoothly.
Q. What is most fulfilling about the role?
A. Despite being a small organization, we have some interesting and unique transactions, such as our international partnerships. I enjoy researching the relevant accounting guidance for these transactions to make sure they are recorded correctly, and it’s fulfilling to me to add value in this way. Since I’ve been the Treasurer, we have tightened up our books and internal controls to the point that our FY16 audit was the smoothest since I joined and had no findings for the second year in a row, which is fantastic!
Q. Why do you give back?
A. TJ is important to me because it was a place I could be excited to learn and be curious since everyone else was too. We worked hard, but I was completely prepared for college and the transition to my freshman year at Cornell could not have been easier. It’s important to me that we continue to cultivate the curiosity, because it’s a great life skill, and one that I think still helps me at PwC today.
I think that all alums should get involved! We all have such a unique experience in common, and so I think there’s no group better poised to help current students than alumni.