Accountants don’t just sit at a desk all day and punch numbers into a calculator. If they did, Lynn Gardinier probably wouldn’t be one.
“When you say public accounting, people forget the public piece of it,” Gardinier said. “It’s more about relationship building and immersing yourself in somebody’s organization, not just their one singular tax return at the end of the year.”
Gardinier is a partner, CPA and CMA at Baker Tilly in Janesville. She’s also this year’s recipient of the United Way Blackhawk Region’s Geraldine Hedberg Volunteer of the Year Award.
Accounting has helped her be a better volunteer and vise-versa, she said. Both activities require leadership skills, multitasking abilities and people skills.
It also helps to have someone who understands finance on any board charged with handling money, she said.
The accountant, wife, mother of two, grandmother of one and well-versed volunteer has worked with the United Way for about 13 years, she said.
Gardinier wrapped up her last term on the organization’s board of directors in December, but she continues to volunteer as chairwoman for United Way’s Community Impact Council.
In addition, Gardinier volunteers on the finance committee for St. Mary’s church in Milton and on the board of Forward Janesville, she said. In the past, she has volunteered with the Janesville Performing Arts Center, American Red Cross and the Burt Blain Heart Walk.
It’s a lot of work, but Gardinier manages with support from her family, she said. Her husband, Edwin, is a cash crop farmer, and the couple was lucky to have opposite busy seasons while raising their children.
Two United Way projects have been special to Gardinier: The merger between United Way Northern Rock County and the Stateline United Way, and the transformation of the Community Impact Council. The council oversees all grant allocation requests and makes final decisions for awarding money, she said.
The United Way is working to focus more on community impact and reaching out into the community to best determine needs, Gardinier said. In the future, the organization hopes to recruit community specialists to create detailed needs assessments.
Switching from a one-year to a two-year grant cycle will help the United Way reach into the community more, said Gardinier, who plans to stay on the council for at least the rest of the year.
Gardinier says she is passionate about helping the community and is glad to work for Baker Tilly, which has the same mission.
“We encourage everybody to give back to the community and get involved in places they have passion,” she said. “We don’t want them to get on a board just to get on a board.”
Other United Way Blackhawk Region award recipients include:
Emerging Campaign Award: NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, Beloit.
Cornerstone Campaigns: ABC Supply Co., Beloit Health System, Kerry, Mercyhealth and Regal.
Excellence In Advocacy Award: Karen Lisser, executive director of ECHO.
LIVE UNITED Award: Beloit Health System.