Being a leader is about giving back to the community you live in,” says Terri McKnight (’86). “It’s not always just about yourself — it’s about what you can do for others around you.” A partner at Geldman, Rosenberg & Freedman certified public accountants, she has served several years on the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance board, including tenures as both treasurer and president.
McKnight got involved following her late mother’s diagnosis with the disease. “When I first found out my mother had ovarian cancer, I didn’t even know what ovarian cancer was,” she recalls. “I wanted to [learn more] and try and help other women find out about ovarian cancer because it is the deadliest gynecological cancer for women, and a lot of people don’t know about it.” Unlike other cancers, there is no early detection test for the disease, making late-stage diagnosis common.
The Alliance builds awareness about ovarian cancer and related symptoms, shares updates on the latest research, and connects patients for mutual support. The group also sends members to Capitol Hill to seek funding for additional research.
“This organization is near and dear to my heart. My mother did pass away from this disease, and I still continue to work with them,” McKnight says. She currently serves on the executive committee, and her family also volunteers and supports the Alliance’s work.
McKnight earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting at Christopher Newport, which laid the groundwork for professional success. “The curriculum was fantastic. I came out with the base knowledge I needed in order to take the CPA exam,” she says. “It was always about the relationships I had with my professors.”
Today McKnight directs the audit department at her firm, which is located in the metro D.C. area. “We work with over 500 nonprofits, performing audits and internal control-type reviews,” she notes. “I’ve been working with the nonprofit community for more than 20 years.”
A proud Captain, McKnight maintains close ties with Christopher Newport — from serving on the Education Foundation board, staying active in her alumni chapter and meeting with potential donors. She and her husband, Matt, established a CNU scholarship in honor of McKnight’s mother, and she is a regional leader for the University’s comprehensive campaign.
“I think it’s important to stay involved with CNU,” McKnight says. “We should always give back to the foundation that helped shape and move us into our professional lives. What we do is what makes us leaders.”
Two of the McKnights’ children also have CNU connections: Alexandra (’14) and sophomore Zachary. “I’m a proud parent,” she states enthusiastically.