Lorrie Ann Brinson: “If You Are The Smartest One In Your Circle, Find A Better Circle”

Lorrie Ann Brinson


LAKE COUNTY – We celebrate Women’s History Month because it’s important to make sure that people know the achievements made by women in our culture and our society. The 2024 theme of Women’s History Month is “Women who advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion”.

Ms. Lorrie Ann Brinson is one young accomplished Black woman, a mother, author, and a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the State of Florida, who, despite the obstacles, setbacks, and life showing up, kept her faith and made her dream a reality.

Her interview with The Orlando Times newspaper’s (T.O.T.) writer Louis C. Ward tells a story of perseverance, faith, and trust and belief in God.

T.O.T.:  Ms. Lorrie, please tell me with all that you had to deal with, how did you do it?

L.B.:  My mother gave me a bible when I left Leesburg to attend Florida State University in 1992. In that bible she wrote Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.” Even though there were times while studying at FSU that things became really hard for me. Learning to study and how to balance a social life, responsibilities, working, and carrying a full class load. Finding support in friends that became family, we motivated each other and holding on to my faith, that God would give me the knowledge I needed to finish my Accounting degree I was able to finish.

T.O.T.:  What motivated you to continue… Success must really have a down to earth, heartfelt, filled with faith meaning for you. What is real success for you?

L.B.:   Success to me is not about wealth or how much money I can make. Real success to me was achieving my personal goals, living a happy, free, and fulfilled life while serving in my purpose.

T.O.T.:   Ms. Lorrie, you’re a single parent and you’re raising two sons, one 20 and the other 13, and despite life showing up, you’re still working towards your dreams… and achieving them. Please discuss some of those incidents when and where life’s obstacles, restraints showed up. How did you handle it?

L.B.:   I didn’t allow divorce or the stigma of becoming a single parent to define me. Divorce is not a death sentence, but it was an opportunity to start over. During that time, I was able to heal and learn to love myself again. I was able to refocus on my happiness, my relationship with God, the goals that I had for myself, and stability for my children. It was more of a reset and not a setback. I enrolled in counseling, applied to become a CPA candidate with the State of Florida, and began the process of purchasing a home for me and my boys. I looked at it as an opportunity to do something different.

T.O.T:  Where did you find the fortitude, the willingness to persevere?

L.B.:  My parents Freddie and Bessie Brinson, had their own business in Leesburg for over 30 years. I watched my dad go to work sick, in pain, and with no service calls on the books, but yet he still got up every day and opened the doors of the shop. My mother stood by him and worked in that office, swept floors, cleaned bathrooms, washed appliances, and supported him until she finally had to go back to work. My mom is a Pastor and worked for the bank until she retired. But I never saw them quit anything, ever. My dad worked after surviving cancer and still served his community until he could no longer volunteer. That’s where I get my perseverance from, my parents. They were not rich or wealthy, but they were loving, giving people, and successful.

T.O.T.:  What advice do you have for young women, single parents, and others trying to achieve their goals?

L.B.:   For Young women, single parents, and others trying to achieve their goals, find you a mentor and find your tribe. My mentors have been with me throughout my career. I was blessed with some of the best. I have my Pastor, Elder John H Christian who has been my mentor, career counselor, and spiritual guide for over 20 years. I have my CPA mentor, Roderick Harvey, CPA CVA who tutored me while taking my Accounting classes at FSU. He helped me with career decisions and encouraged me as I went through getting my CPA license from the beginning. Mentors are key because you need someone who is smarter than you and believes in you to push you and hold you accountable to those personal goals that you have set for yourself. Then there is this tribe (what I call them). These are my friends, that I consider my sisters and brothers, they love me, they correct me, they support me and want to see me successful. This group is very small and there is no competition, only support, accountability, and collaboration. God sent them in my path at different points in my life when I needed true friends. These people are priceless and have been a key part to my success.

T.O.T.:  What was the most devastating, knock you down life incident that almost made you quit?

L.B.:  My most devastating knock me down life incident I thought was when I suffered a Pulmonary Embolism on 12/8/13. I had just been approved to begin studying for my CPA exams only to be told by my primary physician that in order to begin healing if I ever wanted to work again, I could not take on studying for a CPA exam, it would be too stressful and demanding. She was right, it took months to return to work full time in 2014. That made me question whether I would ever be able to accomplish my goal. But I didn’t give up. Once stable, I began studying again in 2015 and passed my first exam only to have to stop again and start over in 2019. But the most devastating blow that almost took me out after starting over again after COVID-19 interrupted life was losing my father to Cancer and Dementia. I was a Daddy’s Girl, I learned bookkeeping in his shop, I learned bank reconciliations in his shop, and I decided in middle school I wanted to be an Accountant working for Brinson’s Appliance Repair. Dealing with anxiety, depression, and trying to study for my exams after losing my father was straining my health and well-being. That almost took me out.

T.O.T.:  What made you go on… How did you move forward?

L.B.:  I never saw my parents quit, I never wanted my boys to ever see me quit. I had my mentors and my tribe praying for me, encouraging me. My mom always told me, “You can do it, you know this stuff.” I knew God told me I could have it and I just could not let that go. It just was not happening the way I wanted or when I wanted. One of my good friends gave me Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This was the scripture I began reading, reciting on a regular basis. I was struggling with my CPA exams after passing 1 of 4 for the 2nd time and could not pass the next exam. I failed that second exam 3 times after my dad passed away. But I held on to that verse that God had a plan for me. I just had to keep going.

T.O.T.:   You took the CPA exam and passed after 19 attempts. What motivated you to keep on moving forward until you were successful?

L.B.: After taking 4 exams multiple times to pass, it was my faith. It was only my faith in God. Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” I believed even with taking 4 different exams multiple times. My scores were always so close. I had to encourage myself some days before walking into those testing centers. I had to be strong and courageous. I wanted my mother and my children to know I was not going to stop till I accomplished my goal.

T.O.T.:  Obviously, you have a relationship with God. Can you discuss why and how you were able to author a personal memoir and a 365-day devotional?

L.B.:  I authored my first book which was my personal memoir titled “FREE” released in 2019. This book detailed my struggles with self-esteem and overcoming shame from the trauma I suffered as a sexual assault and domestic violence survivor. I was able to write this memoir only after healing from events that took place nearly 20 years prior. During my reset I was able to focus on truly getting free of my past and the trauma that stole my happiness for many years. From that book I launched my non-profit Victory Over Violence of FL Inc. A 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to providing resources and a liaison to link survivors to support and education to help them walk in victory one day at a time. During that year I also had the opportunity to co-author in a 365 Day Devotional with over 300 women.

T.O.T.:  How did your Mom, Dad, siblings, children, and others help you stay focused on making it in life?

L.B.:   My Parents are my foundation. They taught me, my siblings, and all their grandchildren to have faith in God. To trust in the Lord with all our heart. To give and serve our community with joy and to help others. To love and to show love to everyone. They taught us to put God first and exhibited this in their lives in addition to teaching us what hard work and sacrifice looks like. My Pastor taught me if I take care of God’s business, he will take care of mine; and that God has done.

T.O.T.:  How do you feel now?
I have a sense of relief since passing all 4 parts. I completed the 4th exam in August of 2023. I received my license as a Certified Public Accountant of the State of Florida on November 2, 2023. This was one of the best days of my life. Historic moment for my family and hometown. I have a bachelor in Accounting, a Master in Accounting, a Master Business Administration/Public Administration. I also became a Certified Government Finance Officer in November of 2011 after passing 5 exams. But nothing compares to achieving the CPA which puts me into the class of less than 2% of female black CPA’s. I feel extremely blessed! I rebranded and launched my new business Your Next CPA, LLC in November 2023.  I am forever grateful. I have worked for government over 23 years. But I am currently the Business Manager/Interim Fiscal Manager for Affordable Housing Services of Hillsborough County.

T.O.T.:  Is the struggle over?

L.B.:   The struggle of studying is over, but the struggle to get more people that look like me into the field is never over. I am currently mentoring a young Black female who desires to be a CPA. We all can do more by pouring into the next generation. Lessons learned, the CPA exam is more about perseverance than anything else. If you want to be successful, you must surround yourself with successful people. Have a mentor, have friends that will challenge you, support you, and encourage you. Finally, I was told many years ago, if you are the smartest person in your circle, find you a better circle.