In 1969, out of a total 100,000 accountants in America, only 136 were African American. Because of those shocking statistics, in December of that same year, nine African Americans accountants met in New York to discuss the problems encountering people of color in their profession and what could be done to help them.
This event marked the creation of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) that, according to its website is, “a nonprofit membership association dedicated to bridging the opportunity gap for black professionals in the accounting, finance and related business professions.”
The organization’s motto is, “Lift as we climb,” and that is exactly what it does as minorities in America. NABA came to Plattsburgh in fall 2014, only being officially charted in the spring of the same academic year. NABA meets weekly on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Cardinal Lounge in the Angell College Center, with meetings normally chaired by the club’s recently appointed president, Cheyene Richards.
The club has different levels of membership. The school’s club accepts everyone who is free to attend its weekly meetings; however, NABA also has paid membership costing $35 per academic year, allowing access to scholarship and networking opportunities as well as discounts to NABA conferences and workshops around the country.
Plattsburgh State senior Jennifer Kuffour has been a part of NABA for four years and counting. One of Kuffour’s professors recommended her joining the club while she was a freshman, and she has been an active member of the club ever since. Kuffour was president of NABA last year and gained part of her inspiration from her older sister, who was part of NABA at the University of Albany.
Kuffour said, “NABA here transforms, more so, helps with professional development for the students.”
PSUC senior and current NABA vice-president Malika James-Vassell found NABA and Kouffer helpful.
James-Vassell said, “During her time, Kuffour was a great president!”
James-Vassell is serving her first semester as vice-president, having been chair of membership last semester. Current president Richards, a close friend of James-Vassell, recommended James-Vassell attend her first meeting in her sophomore year, and she has been attending diligently since then.
James-Vassell fully believes in the club’s motto and does her job with it in mind.
“We believe in helping others to be a part of group of like-minded individuals and develop interpersonal skills,” James-Vassell said.
NABA does charitable outreach to the local community.
Last year for Thanksgiving, NABA donated clothes and food to less privileged groups in Plattsburgh.
In its calendar, NABA has an annual banquet in the spring which is very well attended.
“The banquet is to celebrate those at NABA headquarters that made it possible for the PSUC chapter to be here and unrecognized minorities,” Kouffer said.
Last year, the banquet included a fashion show that showcased the latest styles for the business professional for both males and females.
PSUC junior Milka Eshetu, two-time attendee of the banquet, said, “If I didn’t know how to dress before, I did afterwards, and I’m grateful for that.”
The E-board for NABA is extremely passionate about the club and has no qualms about boasting it.
James-Vassell said, “ We are the greatest club on campus, I stand by that 100 percent.”
Email Munya Chimanye at firstname.lastname@example.org