When CCRC’s new Chief Financial Officer was in college, she learned right away about the challenges of raising children alone while attending school and working.
“I had a full-time job during the day and two children I needed to take care of, I was a single mother,” said CCRC VP and CFO Monica Emerson.
Taking classes in the evening and working by day, Monica was stretched thin. When her friend suggested she sit for the CPA exam “for fun,” Monica decided to give it a try. And she surprised herself. “I passed, meaning I didn’t have to complete the Masters degree in accounting,” she recalled.
Monica graduated Magna Cum Laude from The George L Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.
“After I graduated, I went to work at Deloitte, which is a 70 to 80-hour work week. It was difficult because I don’t have family in LA,” she said.
A native of Canada, most of Emerson’s family remained in Montreal. She couldn’t afford child care, so she relied on friends for support.
Her determination paid off and she ultimately went on to work for The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation as Deputy CFO and Treasurer. She obtained her certified public accountant at Deloitte and Touche and served on the board for the Foundation Financial Officer’s Group.
“The harder a job is, the more excited I am,” she said with a laugh.
Monica attributes her work ethic to a strength that may very well be genetic.
“My parents immigrated from Poland and they met in Montreal,” she said. “They were both in Poland during World War II, and my father ended up in Auschwitz, he spent his youth in Auschwitz.”
She revealed a tattoo on her left arm, the same number tattooed on her father when he was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp.
“It has his name here, it’s Moshe, he lost his whole family there,” she explained, adding that she got the tattoo as a matter of respect for her father and what he went through.
During that same time, Monica’s mother and her family were hiding from the Nazi soldiers.
Near the war’s end, Monica said her father was marched to a different camp called Buchenwald. From there, he was taken to an orphanage, then later loaded onto a Canada-bound boat with other Holocaust survivors. In Montreal, he met Monica’s mother and they married at the age of 17.
“It gives me strength to be the daughter of survivors, because I know if my father hadn’t fought to survive, I wouldn’t be here,” she explained.
The product of two Jewish refugees, Monica grew up speaking Yiddish, then learned French in school. She loves to learn, travel, and help others, which is why she accepted the job at CCRC.
“I love the fact that it’s about helping children,” she said of her decision to work at CCRC. “It’s so nice to hear little kids run around in the lobby, you hear them laugh and play. It’s such a great organization, that they make the family life better.”
Beyond her professional career, Monica is dedicated to making a positive impact in the community. She actively supports non-profits that serve animals with disabilities along with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.