Life at DHG Blog

DARE to LEAD – My Experience at the 2017 NABA National Convention & Expo

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JeLisa Smallwood, an audit associate in DHG’s Winston-Salem office, traveled to New Orleans in June with a group from DHG for the National Association of Black Accountants’ National Convention & Expo. Continue reading as JeLisa shares her thoughts on the whole experience and how she’s involved with her local NABA chapter. 


What did you think about your first NABA National Convention and this year’s theme of “DARE to LEAD”?

It was kind of overwhelming at first, just because of the influx of information, but Stacey Ford, our DHG recruiter who manages logistics for DHG at the convention, organized all of the details so team DHG didn’t have to worry about much of anything. When I first got there I took a step back and asked myself what I really wanted to take away from the whole experience. With most conferences like this you expect to sit in a room and listen to someone talk, the whole time thinking, “Ok, I’ve heard this 10 times before,” but I could really relate to everything on a personal and professional level. For that reason, it definitely exceeded my expectations.

What was your favorite part about it?

Meeting all of the other DHG people! I had just come from our office’s DHG Town Hall Meeting where I heard all about working together as ONE DHG, so the convention was a good follow up to that. I had never met the 30+ people and so developing that DHG family relationship was a great experience. I feel so much more connected within the DHG family. Aside from team DHG, everyone was so friendly. I jumped into so many conversations and I took something from each one, just listening to people talk about their experiences and challenges in the industry. Whether a 20-minute conversation or a 20-second conversation, each conversation left me feeling more knowledgeable and more empowered.

What is one surprising thing you learned at the convention?

I didn’t realize that you do not have to be a minority to be a member of NABA. Minorities are the focus of the organization, but the organization is really a great resource for anyone in the accounting industry who desires to make an impact and Lift as you Climb.

Are you involved in your local NABA chapter?

I am, I just started last year with the Greensboro chapter. I helped at Spring Day this year at Wake Forest University. The University hosted 30+ students from other local colleges. The event included various speakers sharing information about interview techniques, best practices for internships, tools you need to go from college to the real world to be successful, and so much more. Although fairly new to NABA, from my first event, I was immediately embraced with open arms. It was truly a great experience to be of assistance to a purpose greater than myself.

Did you have a chance to explore New Orleans while there for the convention?

I did! The architecture is beautiful and you can see all of the diversity and different perspectives everywhere you look. We went to Mardi Gras World where they hosted a performance for us with people dressed in their Mardi Gras attire complete with a mini-parade and a band! It was fun to get a glimpse at something that’s so unique to New Orleans.


JeLisa is an audit associate in the Winston-Salem office. She graduated from Berea College in August of 2016 and she enjoys practicing yoga, spending time with her family (her 10-year-old sister takes all of her energy!) and watching the Pittsburgh Steelers.