Meet the MCLA Alumni Accountants at Brazee and Huban, CPAs

MCLA Alumni at Brazee and Huban, CPAs

Brazee and Huban, CPAs, a longtime accounting firm in Pittsfield, knows MCLA’s accounting program is strong. After all, five of the dozen full-time employees there, including Partner Laurie Swint ’92, are alumni. 

Swint, who became an accountant after a few years working in computer science, has been at the firm 26 years. Shirley Hart ’01, who also started as an intern, has worked there for 17 years; another former intern, Katie Torres ’07 MBA ’13, has put in 14 years of work there. Jessica Abbott ’20 and Alison Pansecchi ’19 have both been full-time employees for a year.

“Most years, we try to hire an intern from MCLA,” said Swint. “And if we have a position available at the end of tax season, we’ll hire them, especially the ones interested in staying in the Berkshires.” 

Tax season is a great time for an MCLA business or accounting major to get a sense of what the work entails and gain experience preparing tax returns. Brazee and Huban interns start in January, practicing redoing returns or entering prior year returns for new clients. “All the students we talk with are very well-spoken and know their accounting,” Swint said. “But you need training beyond the fundamentals, and experience with the repetition of preparing returns.”

She recalls one former intern, Ibrahim Wanu ’16, who now works full-time at a Boston firm. He took the bus to his internship at Brazee and Huban, and was never late—even during a snow storm. “That’s an example of the dedication we see from MCLA students,” she said.

Though tax season is busy, it’s a good opportunity to network and get advice from seasoned professionals. Brazee and Huban prepares individual returns as well as corporate taxes and partnerships, nonprofits, trusts and estates—the full accounting gamut.

“They have access to everyone here,” Swint said of the interns who worked at the firm before the COVID-19 pandemic changed workplace and other social norms this year. “The partners (Swint, Austin Brazee, and Marty Huban) aren’t sitting in their offices with doors closed—it’s open, and everyone talks with everyone.” 

Swint keeps in touch with Professor of Business Administration Nancy Ovitsky and Assistant Professor of Accounting Tara Barboza, who often recommend students for internships. “They’re very good workers—and very hard workers,” Swint said. “I’m amazed at how some of them carried a full courseload and would work here 25-30 hours a week on top of school, homework, and whatever other commitments they had. They’re very motivated students.”