Patricia Vangilder had success in local government as an auditor and comptroller, but she felt something was missing.
A native of Monroe, Louisiana, and a graduate of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Vangilder has been with United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas for 26 years, 21 of them as vice president and CFO. It’s a work home that has “checked all the boxes,” but she had to follow a path to get there.
“I liked it because it’s not all about accounting in what we do here,” Vangilder said. “Our mission is to help people with disabilities live life without limits.”
She loved bookkeeping in high school and got her accounting degree at Louisiana Tech. Vangilder specialized in nonprofit and governmental accounting, working in local government as auditor and becoming comptroller for the city of Ruston.
She married Arkansas native Keith Vangilder and was working in Hot Springs’ city government when she realized she wasn’t entirely satisfied and saw an ad for UCP Arkansas.
“I wanted to find something, using what I’ve got, what God gave me, to make a difference,” she said. It was the match she had been seeking, and Vangilder was pleasantly surprised to earn her promotion just five years in.
“I was kind of proud of that,” she said. “I was thankful that my parents were still alive at the time and could see that I had reached a pretty good goal.”
Working in nonprofits means you’re always worried about revenue streams, Vangilder said, but UCP Arkansas has maintained a healthy balance sheet and, with close to 800 employees, has persevered during the pandemic, despite having to curtail fundraising.
“We didn’t really have the access to the PPP loans that some people had, but we were OK,” Vangilder said. “We were paying our bills and keeping our doors open.”