Director of the M.S. in Accounting Program and Associate Professor Andrea Roberts was recently chosen as the inaugural recipient of the McIntire School’s Whit Broome Faculty Service Award for her work with the Charlottesville community. Professor Emeritus Broome was motivated to endow the award because of his own fulfilling experiences serving the community. In conceiving of the honor, he hoped to raise the visibility of faculty members who are worthy of recognition for giving back, and Roberts’ efforts more than fit the bill.
Yet for all of her willingness to give so freely of her time and expertise in the service of others, Roberts is a bit unsure about how to explain why volunteering represents a significant part of her life.
“Maybe it is important to me because I believe the only way to get through this world is with help. I’ve gotten it. We do nothing alone,” she says, considering what drives her to help those in need. “Maybe it is because I fully recognize the privileges I have. Or maybe it’s because I believe those who have anything to give, should.”
Roberts is quick to dismiss her response about what drives her to volunteer, but it reveals an innate empathy that has led her to work with the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation (CACF) and the Grants Portfolio Committee (GPC), where she worked with nonprofit initiatives that addressed structural racism and provided COVID-19 relief.
Although it’s not uncommon for accountants to be recruited for audit committees when doing board work, Roberts says, she believes that being a member of the Commerce School’s Accounting faculty—along with her research expertise focused on nonprofit accounting issues—made her a good fit. That collaboration inspired her to get more involved.
“After a few years on the audit committee, I had gained so much respect for what the Foundation was working to do in our community, I asked to work on the GPC. I have learned so much about the community in which I live by doing grant work and serving on the Board,” she says.
While reluctant to take any credit for directly creating equitable opportunities in the Charlottesville area through her work with CACF, she insists that equity remains top of mind for her.
“I think this most often stems from my lived experiences. But, if I’m being honest, my experiences with the Foundation have pushed and taught me to think about equity in ways that I may not have, if it wasn’t for this work,” Roberts says.
She calls those experiences with CACF nothing short of life changing.
They range from working with the Board and the Foundation staff on its equity journey to serving as a member of a major CACF search committee. The latter she says taught her firsthand “the importance of having ‘people in the room’ with perspectives that differ from the status quo.”
Other standout memories for Roberts include collaborating with the Heal Charlottesville Fund, which was founded in response to the white supremacist attacks in 2017, and partnering with a special committee to provide grants to local nonprofits in response to COVID-19 last summer. This work deeply resonates with her.
“The Foundation’s staff, board, and committee members are so smart, caring, and devoted to making our community better,” she says, inviting anyone interested to do a simple web search. “You will see.”