Marie Garvin, NACAC’s chief financial officer (CFO), was drawn to finance as a career because of her curiosity and desire to understand the financial intricacies and implications of any company she joined. But her career plans might have taken a different turn had her college allowed the double major she wanted to pursue.
Garvin, a financial management executive with more than 20 years in the industry, joined NACAC in 2022 after eight years as director of finance and CFO for the national advocacy organization, Food & Water Watch. She previously was controller for the Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation in Washington, D.C. In these roles, Garvin was responsible for budget development, financial reporting and analysis, benefits and investment portfolio management and regulatory compliance.
At Food & Water Watch, she managed the daily operations and transactional aspects of a global finance office while also working to achieve strategic goals such as increasing operating reserves and reducing the organization’s debt. She also is familiar with grants management and philanthropy and will be bringing to NACAC a body of expertise in these areas.
“Believe it or not, I wanted to be a singer and one of my favorite artists, Angela Winbush, attended the real HU,” she said, laughing as she described the affectionate moniker Howard University (DC) alumni use for the 154-year-old institution. “I wanted to carry a double major, fine arts and accounting, but HU didn’t allow it outside of the School of Business, so accounting won.
“The strange thing is I’ve been out of practice for so long, I probably couldn’t sing to save my life,” she said.
Despite the change in plans, Garvin’s path in accounting suits her.
“I wanted to see and understand the entire financial picture of a company/organization for myself and not just trust what someone is telling me … which is probably why I tend to give folks more info than what’s asked, so they know I’m transparent and can be trusted,” she said.
When Garvin decided on a job change, she said she was determined “not to just go anywhere … it had to be another organization that I could believe in and support by utilizing my talent and skills.”
“I saw the NACAC post and immediately went to the website to see what NACAC was about,” she said. “As I was reading, I discovered a whole other side of college counseling, the counselor’s side (which I admit I never considered) and after reading the stories on the website, my mind immediately tried to think of helpful solutions … that was a sign to me I cared and could totally see myself working at NACAC. Once I met with the leadership team and Angel, it was a done deal for me! To see that a supportive team collaboration in an organization exists was very eye-opening and encouraging to me and I remember saying to myself, ‘Wow! It does exist.’ I wanted to be a part of it.”
Garvin said her philosophy for managing an organization’s fiscal needs in the midst of a pandemic is to “plan as much as possible, even for the unexpected no matter how small because everything has a cost to it. Of course, no one saw COVID coming, but those orgs (that) already had a solid technological infrastructure were more prepared to keep it moving, although on a different path.”
“With 15 years of experience in non-profit financial administration, Marie is quite familiar with grants management and philanthropy, and will be bringing her wealth of knowledge to NACAC in these areas,” NACAC CEO Angel B. Perez said. “She impressed the search firm and leadership team in the interview process with her understanding of finance and non-profit management. However, it was her personality, humor and humility that made us confident she is the right fit for NACAC—especially as we intentionally build a caring, empathetic leadership team.”
Get to know Marie:
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
“Mostly nothing because my mind is constantly going about things, but when it has time to rest, I like to travel and read.”
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
“Detail-oriented, organized, forward-thinking/proactive.”
What do you think others would say?
“Thorough, supportive, helpful, funny.”