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Al-Nesha Jones, CPA ’07 ’13 MBA

Al-Nesha Jones, CPA ’07 ’13 MBA is using her expertise to build up the community, one small business at a time. She is also bringing her positive energy to Montclair as a mentor and a new member of the Montclair State University Black Alumni Advisory Council.

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Al-Nesha Jones

The 200+ clients of West Orange, New Jersey’s ASE Group receive much more than
year-end tax preparation. Al-Nesha Jones, CPA ’07 ’13 MBA, and her all-female team of
financial professionals educate and provide year-round expertise to help business
owners build their enterprises, and their community.

“My firm’s clients work hard and have great ideas,” Jones explains. “What they often
don’t have is good financial know-how. By educating and guiding our clients throughout
the year, we empower them to grow their businesses.”

When Jones formed ASE Group in 2016, she brought considerable corporate
experience as an Associate Manager of Financial Reporting at Prudential Financial and as
an Assurance Senior at EY, where she began her career as an intern from Montclair. The
pivot might have been prompted by the need for flexibility to raise her family, but it also
reflected a personal sense of mission as well as what she observed as a real need in
her community.

“I had a successful career working for very large companies, but I didn’t feel like I was
having an impact,” she explains. “At the same time, I had friends and neighbors who
were struggling to make their small businesses thrive. They knew they had to pay taxes
but didn’t know how to plan for them. They needed more comprehensive guidance. I
saw an opportunity to make a real contribution. I wanted to see them win.”
In addition to tax, accounting, and financial counseling services, Jones educates the
community through free bookkeeping and tax classes and her Tea & Amp; Tax Talk Blog. She also teaches a Quickbooks Online Certification course at Essex County College.

When Jones jumped off the corporate ladder to start her own community-minded
company, it was not the first time she looked at her options and decided to pivot. “First
of all, I was planning to attend college out of state, but when I was offered the Edward J.
Bloustein Scholarship to attend a New Jersey state college, I began touring campuses. I
loved Montclair and liked the idea of staying close to home.”

“My dad worked in programming, so I initially enrolled at Montclair as a computer
science major,” Jones continues. “I knew very quickly that it wasn’t for me, however, so
I switched to business and accounting classes.”

Working full-time in retail and customer service meant taking classes early in the
morning, in the evening, and on weekends. The demanding schedule did not keep
Jones from immersing herself in campus life, however. “I served as a peer leader and
helped with new student orientation,” she says. “I loved meeting the new students and
made a lot of friends.”

Jones’ involvement in Montclair has continued – and grown – since graduation. She
understands the power of mentorship and regularly volunteers her time mentoring
students. “I received such wonderful mentorship from my professors and counselors,
before I even knew it was mentorship,” she says with a laugh. “They were always there
to give advice and answer questions. Recruiting events on campus introduced me to
people I would not have met otherwise, and ultimately led to my first professional role. I
kept in touch with some of my professors over the years and later, when I was starting
my own firm, they continued to inspire and support me.”

When Jones was introduced to the Black Alumni Advisory Council at last year’s
homecoming, she saw another opportunity to give back to her alma mater. “I remember
what it was like, coming to Montclair as a first-generation college student,” she says.
“Montclair is very diverse, but it is also big! It can be a challenge for a new student to
figure out where they fit in.”

“There were so many people at Montclair who helped me create a path to success,” she
adds. “They taught me how to pursue my own definition of success. I want to do the
same for others.”

For Jones, this now includes looking to the Montclair campus when recruiting new team
members for the ASE Group. “I hired a paid intern from the University, who is now an
employee,” she says. “So much good has come out of my involvement with Montclair. It
energizes me.”

The 2022 recipient of the NJCPA Ovation Award – DEI, Jones also participates in the
ProConnect Customer Council for Intuit Inc. and is a member of the Intuit Trainer/Writer
Network, an elite, worldwide group of professionals who teach other accountants how to use Intuit tools. She is an inaugural member of the CHIP Professionals Council, an organization that bridges the gap between consumers of financial products and financial
professionals of color, a member of the National Black Society of CPAs and the
National Association of Black Accountants, and President of the nonprofit organization
Black-Owned Everything. In 2021, Jones was a CPA Practice Advisor 40 under 40

Although her three children are more than a few years away from college, Jones is
hoping they will consider following her footsteps to Montclair. “Montclair put me in such
a good position professionally,” she says. “I met President Koppell recently and learned
about the new programs and majors being added. But as much as the University grows,
you can still feel the strong sense of community here.”