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Alumni News

Joanne Swanson Barry ’77

Executive Director and CEO of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants

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When in doubt, Joanne Barry asks herself, “what if I fail? What if I soar?”

This outlook has become the mantra of her life when at a crossroad or challenge.

“Montclair State gave me the skills, the confidence and the determination to suppress my fears and to set my sights high,” says Barry.

As the Executive Director and CEO of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and its Foundation for Accounting Education, it’s safe to say that Joanne Barry has certainly soared. She oversees the advocacy, regulation, communications, membership, production and the editorial and professional programs of the CPA organization. Additionally, she is publisher of the CPA Journal, a nationally recognized peer reviewed professional journal for accountants.

After graduating from Montclair State, she went on to earn a master’s degree in Non-Profit Management and Urban Policy at the New School for Social Research and attained her certified association executive credential. As an undergraduate student at Montclair State, Barry majored in English and had a concentration in journalism. Through learning how important strong verbal and written communications skills are, she made sure to utilize these skills when the time came to start her career. She became the public relations assistant for the NYSSCPA and ultimately climbed the ladder to her current position as executive director and CEO.

Barry says, “The English department faculty helped me to become a strong creative writer and to express my thoughts well. As a young professional I was hungry for new challenges. I built my career in a profession that was, at the time, male-dominated and I’ve proudly crossed that bridge.”

A successful education and career wasn’t all that she got from her alma mater. During her freshman year psychology course she was asked by a classmate to borrow her text book after he had been absent from class one day. Little did she realize that that act would become one of her fondest memories of Montclair State. She and Edward Barry ’75, ’78 MA have been married since 1982.

Looking back on her time as a student at Montclair State, Barry remembers a campus that she calls an oasis and realizes just how far she’s come.

“I used to sit in the amphitheater and reflect on the big world that was out there for me to make my mark on,” she says. “The world was full of opportunities.”

Barry knows there are even more opportunities on the horizon. More than 30 years later she has kept in touch with her alma mater through serving on the Advisory Board of the Department of Accounting, Law and Taxation and also hopes to expand her volunteer role within the University.