Ashley Casey naturally has a mind for accounting. Beyond the numbers, though, she’s always seen opportunities to improve the world around her.
As Casey (Business, ’07) has taken on greater challenges in her career as an accountant—making a professional name for herself on the state and national levels—she has also developed a real love for giving back.
Recently, she worked with Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco, an organization serving at-risk youth. Her goal originally was to teach students about the basics of financial literacy, but she also found herself taking on the role of mentoring adult staff at the center about reorganizing debt and reestablishing credit. The added responsibility never fazed her, she said.
“I just always thought, ‘I came out here to do some educating. This is another opportunity to help point someone in the right direction,’” Casey recalled.
Her passion to improve others’ financial competency is also evident in her time as a Boy Scouts of America merit badge counselor and state chair for financial literacy for the California Society of CPAs (CalCPA).
“I am so proud to see how Ashley has progressed,” said Tim Kizirian, chair of the accounting department at Chico State. “I am particularly proud to see Ashley selflessly dedicating her time and energy. She is so highly skilled in her profession, and she holds such high respect for all.”
A standout accounting student in her four years at Chico State, Casey is the recent recipient of CalCPA’s “Women to Watch” Emerging Leader Award, a prestigious honor given to five women at the Women’s Leadership Forum in Los Angeles this spring. The awards were granted by a partnership of CalCPA and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
“Being recognized on the state level, not just locally, was not just really surprising but also really rewarding,” said Casey, a professional accounting veteran who is now a shareholder-in-training and prospective partner at Brown Armstrong Accountancy, a firm in Stockton. “There was definitely a feeling of, ‘Oh, wow, I didn’t know people really appreciated what I do this much.’ You realize that a lot of the little things and the efforts you make every day, they add up in the end.”
Make no mistake, though—Casey’s endeavors go far beyond “little things.” She’s the current vice president of the CalCPA San Joaquin chapter in Stockton, expecting to be president by next year, and she is a former winner of an Emerging Pro Award from that organization, too.
She also works across CalCPA’s 14 California chapters to educate citizens through public speaking events at university and high school campuses. And she is a leader in her chapter’s diversity inclusion initiative, in which she visits high schools to discuss higher education accounting opportunities and career pathways available to underrepresented students who might have never considered the field.
“I’m a problem-solver at heart, so I try to help do things the best I can to be a giver and a helper,” Casey said. “I’m motivated to be a part of solutions. Giving back is an opportunity we all have, but I also see it as my responsibility.”
On top of it all, Casey has taken on treasurer responsibilities at Love Unlocked, a nonprofit that raises financial support for causes that support children. In the next three years, she said, Love Unlocked plans to open a house to serve as a safe haven for sex trafficking victims and youth aging out of the foster care system.
Fundraising events include parties like the annual “Royal Tea Party,” where supporters dress up like princesses and princes, including some characters they might see at Disneyland, so foster children can join them for singalongs and dessert, and even get some autographs.
“We see it every year—they start to come out of their shells when they can be treated the same and given the same opportunities as other kids,” Casey said.
In addition to spearheading the nonprofit’s fundraising and financial responsibilities, Casey also is involved with supporting its communications and public relations. Casey began her path toward excellence in auditing and accounting at Chico State, where she said she picked up invaluable tools that suited her strengths and also rounded out her weaker areas.
“I was thinking that if I chose a career in numbers, I’d never have to do any writing,” Casey said. But as you move up in your career, all those supplemental skills, those soft skills you learn in college, they come back in writing reviews and reports, and that is still a surprise to me sometimes. I still lean on the communications classes I took at Chico for that just as much as I rely on my math skills.”
From the beginning of her college career, the Hayward native was committed to self-development, and the way to do that, she thought, was to participate as much as she could. As a student, she satiated the cravings for learning with constant activity, whether it was joining the Accounting Society, volunteering with Community Action Volunteers in Education, or working at Marketplace Café and being the only student supervisor to volunteer to open at 5 a.m.
The learning spirit and thirst for experience that drove her to get involved with as many programs as possible at Chico State have stuck with her.
“For me, the biggest thing lesson I’ve learned is that, with anything, you get out of it what you put in,” Casey said. “To me, even starting all the way back at Chico State, I have always seen the value in taking opportunities when they are there.”