(This blog post originally appeared as a We Are UNCW feature on March 26.)
Gina Goodenow ’99, ’00M maintains a precise and businesslike image in her role as senior vice president and chief financial officer of a major nonprofit organization. But in her spare time, she likes to let her hair down.
“I love all kinds of music, especially heavy metal and hard rock,” the UNCW alumna said. “When people see me in my business environment, they would never know! I spent my Mother’s Day at a Metallica concert, and I made sure my kids’ first concert was something cool – I took them to see Judas Priest.”
Goodenow became the first woman to hold the title of senior VP and CFO of the United Way of New York City by working her way up, practicing public accounting in the private sector for 10 years and then fulfilling a long-held personal goal to use her skills in the nonprofit world to help people break out of the cycle of poverty.
“I grew up poor in North Carolina and Virginia, and through scholarships I was able to attend college. I truly believe that education is the path toward self-sufficiency,” she said, noting that UNCW afforded her opportunities to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees with a concentration in accountancy, and helped her find work in her field.
She credits faculty mentors for helping her balance work and school, and for providing opportunities that fit within her busy schedule.
“To support myself, I was working full-time when I was going through the master’s program. I wasn’t able to attend all of the networking events with public accounting firms and didn’t have a job offer,” Goodenow said. “[Retired associate professor] Bob Appleton told me of a company that had reached out. Because of him, I was able to get an interview and land my first professional job in public accounting.”
To this day, she reaches back to many of the lessons she learned during her years at UNCW, including the importance of putting together diverse teams. “There was lots of teamwork, and the groups were selected by the professors,” she said. “In my group, I had an Army veteran and a surfer – such opposite personalities! They did this to teach us how to work with different types of people and to add to the team dynamic.”
--Tricia Vance, OUR