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Distinguished Through the Decades: 2006, Alison Barksdale Montanaro

Progress 2022: Distinguished Through the Decades

Alison Montanaro – then Barksdale – said she remembers Junior Miss being a central focus of her senior year at Russellville High School. As president of the National Honor Society, Golden Girl for RHS baseball, a majorette, No. 3 in her class academically and an active member of the North Highlands church of Christ youth group, Junior Miss was another natural outlet for the high achiever to stretch herself.

Like so many, she said she was attracted by the potential scholarship money and the opportunity to meet other young women; she enjoyed meeting her Colbert and Lauderdale peers. She said she still keeps in touch with many of the girls she met through Junior Miss, especially those who live in the Birmingham area, where she now resides with husband Tony, a civil engineer, and children Jackson, 3, and Alaina, 1.

Following high school, Montanaro continued her education at Auburn University. “I wanted to do something a little different. There weren’t any other girls in my high school class who were going to Auburn,” Montanaro explained. She said she saw it as a way to venture outside her comfort zone and spread her wings.

At Auburn Montanaro kept the active school life she had enjoyed at RHS. She worked with the University Program Council, planning events like concerts and open mic nights for her fellow students, and she was also editor of the Glomerata, the school yearbook. With a minor in business engineering technology, she had the unique opportunity to work on a project with engineering students to enhance and create projects and formulate business plans for those projects, including developing an automatic tire re-inflation system in collaboration with the University of Plymouth in England.

Her major, though, was accounting – her mother and grandfather were both accountants – and following her four years of undergraduate work, Montanaro dedicated another year to get her master’s of accountancy. “The MAcc program at Auburn is really great,” said Montanaro, noting a 10-day international trip to Santiago, Chile, to learn about accounting in a different culture was a valuable part of her education. She also graduated with her CPA certification.

She began full time work in July 2011 – first at KPMG and then, five years later, at Dixon Hughes Goodman. “Naturally, I think accounting just made sense to me,” she said. “I enjoy it. It definitely has peak seasons and peak times, but it allows you to have a lot of flexibility and down time in non-peak seasons … I like numbers, and I like things that balance.”

Montanaro said in some ways she’s still figuring out her long-term career goals. “I think my goal is just to continue to move forward,” – whether that means to one day become a partner in a firm or to transition into a different role one day.

She is the daughter of Allen and Donna Barksdale.