Assistant professor Dr. Madeline Trimble describes her time as faculty advisor for the Illinois State University chapter of the national professional organization Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA) as “a truly amazing experience.”
“What I am most proud of is the supportive community we have built; this aligns well with the main tenets of AFWA, which are connect, advance and lead,” she said.
In keeping with these core areas of focus, Trimble is taking on greater responsibility as a leader in AFWA at the national level. She recently started a two-year term on the national board. Her duties include chairing the subcommittee for student member and chapter involvement and acting as the board liaison for the LEAP Advisory Council for young professionals. Previously, she completed a one-year term on the organization’s Foundation Board and served on the donor development and scholarship committees.
Trimble earned her doctorate from the University of Mannheim in Germany. She joined the ISU faculty in 2016, and her research interests are in international accounting with a focus on “the effectiveness of International Financial Reporting Standards adoption around the globe and its impact on globalization.”
The ISU Student Accounting Society voted her the 2018 Professor of the Year, and she will be awarded a Women Who Count Award later this month at the AFWA national conference.
In her new role with AFWA, she hopes to “create an opportunity for students around the country to connect and grow by helping to build them a community of mentors.”
“AFWA already has such a great collection of strong, successful women business professionals,” she elaborated. “I believe their insights and support are an untapped resource to help the next generation of business leaders.”
The ISU chapter was founded in 2017 and received its charter from the national AFWA organization in the spring of 2018. It is one of the country’s only student-led chapters of AFWA and has 15 to 20 members in a typical semester.
“What makes AFWA different from other student organizations on campus is it is aligned with a national, professional-oriented organization,” observed Trimble. “As a result, our students are given access to national networking and technical and professional development programming that is amazing. There are other organizations for women accountants to join, but what makes AFWA unique and important is its inclusiveness. The organization does not focus on one type of accountant, at one stage in their career, but instead is open to perspectives from all parts of the industry. Being exposed to these varied perspectives keeps the group dynamic. It is important to know that our career paths and plans do not have to take one shape. This open and welcoming spirit is what attracted our students and me to join as members. AFWA has a sense of community and empowerment that is simply unmatched. I am glad we can include our exceptional ISU students in that community.”
Involvement in AFWA provides students with the opportunity to connect with women in the accounting industry, deepen their understanding of the field and engage their peers in relevant discussions. Trimble shared she finds it “inspiring” to see students achieve professional growth through the organization and by holding leadership positions within it. She noted that two ISU chapter presidents, alum Michaela Spreier and Bridget Donoghue, currently serve on AFWA’s national LEAP Advisory Council.
In addition to a focus on professional development and creating networking opportunities for students by inviting firms to campus, the ISU AFWA chapter places a strong emphasis on giving back to the community. Chapter members take part in the CPA Day of Service, volunteer their time at the Midwest Food Bank and even hosted a Fiscally Fit program for a local Girl Scout troop.
Speaking of the latter service project, Trimble said, “We met and discussed things like the concept of savings through fun interactive activities using newspaper ads and tokens. This event, among others, led to AFWA winning the COBEC’s (College of Business Executive Council) Outstanding Service/Volunteer Organization for 2020.”
The chapter members also put their accounting knowledge to work on the ISU campus by hosting the AFWA Financial Literacy Series.
“Each semester, AFWA-ISU hosts a night where an industry professional discusses financial topics important to our community: managing student loan debt, understanding benefits packages and explaining the intricacies and importance of credit scores,” the group’s advisor said, adding the event has been well received and earned AFWA the university-level Outstanding Educational Event of the Year award in 2018.
Another event hosted by the College of Business’ AFWA chapter is an annual book club luncheon that brings together students, faculty and accounting professionals. Trimble noted the event has been “wildly successful” and shared this fall’s book discussion will center on Dr. Lois P. Frankel’s “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers.”
As a result of its ongoing focus on outreach and education, the ISU chapter is set to receive an AFWA Chapter Achievement Award at this year’s Women Who Count Conference.