From Consulting to Non-Profit CFO: Catching Up with Sommer Clayman

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Sommer Clayman joined Protiviti Dallas as a Consultant in 2004 after earning her Masters of Business Administration in Accounting. In 2008, Sommer left Protiviti as a Sr. Consultant to join the non-profit Family Legacy Missions International where she is now the Chief Financial Officer. Connect with Sommer on LinkedIn.

Sommer Clayman joined Protiviti Dallas as a Consultant in 2004 after earning an MBA in Accounting. 

“Protiviti was the best start to my career. Being exposed to multiple clients and management styles as a consultant was an incredible way to grow as an employee and a person. I value the experiences and tools I gained at Protiviti and use them in my work continually even today.”

In 2008, after almost 5 years with Protiviti, Sommer transitioned into the non-profit world as the Director of Accounting at Family Legacy Missions International.

“I’d always wanted to work for a non-profit. This opportunity was presented to me in 2008 when Family Legacy was still a relatively small organization, about $4M in revenue, and they were looking for an accountant.”

Sommer (middle) with two of her sponsored children and recent graduates, Esther (left) and Elias (right)

Family Legacy Missions International was founded in 2000 with the primary focus of providing education to the disenfranchised orphan population in Zambia.

“Zambia’s population is 15 million people, roughly the same as Texas. And it has the highest orphan rate in the world because of the AIDS crisis they’ve been experiencing over the last 40 years. There are one million orphans in the country of Zambia.

We have a summer camp program where we fly American families to Zambia for one week to meet children who aren’t in school and are available to sponsor. The families get to know the kids, learn their stories and their needs. When the family returns to the States, they’ll sponsor some of the children and find friends or family to sponsor the rest. Every year, we bring over about 800 Americans over the course of seven weeks of camp. For every American in attendance, there are 10 children they will meet and hopefully sponsor.

Sponsored children enter our academy and are educated year-round. We have roughly 14,000 children we’re currently educating in the 22 schools we’ve build in the compounds of the capital city.”

Some of the orphaned children live with family members, like an aunt or an uncle, in the city compounds while attending school. For those without family members who can house them, Family Legacy has built a children’s village on the outskirts of town to provide a home.

“For the orphans in the most vulnerable situations – meaning they don’t have a caretaker or there’s abuse or neglect or some other reason why they can’t live in the city – we provide full-time care. There are about 700 children currently in our full-time care living in 59 homes in the village, which is run by locals we hire as caretakers.”

Roughly 700 Zambian nationals are employed by Family Legacy as teachers, accountants and administrators for the schools and as caretakers in the children’s villages.

“We fund raise to build state-of-the-art schools in each of the compounds we work in. Our teachers receive training from American teachers, but we use Zambian national curriculum.”

The non-profit’s first school opened in 2000, so Sommer and the team are starting to see their first groups of high school graduates.

“This past December, I was in Zambia to see 166 children graduated from the 12th grade. It was electric how excited the kids were! And their families were there cheering them on.


For us to break that cycle of poverty by starting to educate these children is huge. These kids will have a future and it won’t be in poverty. They will be able to raise their families in a different way and truly have a voice in their country.


It’s huge for us to be able to offer education for free. Most of these kids have no opportunities to go to school because even though government schools are technically free, the children have to pay for uniforms, books and other supplies. Most of these families are living on $2 per day. They can’t spend that money on school.

For us to break that cycle of poverty by starting to educate these children is huge. These kids will have a future and it won’t be in poverty. They will be able to raise their families in a different way and truly have a voice in their country.”

So what happens after the students graduate? Over the last two years, Family Beyond has launched their next 50 initiatives, one of which is a program called Excel Beyond meant to combat the 60% unemployment rate in Zambia.

“Through Excel Beyond, we partner with universities in Zambia and the surrounding countries to help students that qualify for university to attend.

We’re also starting to see the relationships we’ve developed over the last 10-15 years benefit our students. If they want to be teachers, we can employ them. If they want to be social workers or electricians, we can get them interviews. This week, for example, a construction company we’ve worked with interviewed four of our graduates. One was hired in the accounting department as an intern and will attend night school.


The only difference between Beatrice and her mother is that Beatrice has more opportunities because she has been educated.


Beatrice- Graduation Day

Beatrice, Graduation Portrait

Another success story is Beatrice. Beatrice is the first ever in her family to graduate from high school and was recently accepted into the African Leadership Program, a prestigious program for the brightest students to take business and leadership courses and intern during the required gap year between high school and university.

I recently met Beatrice at her graduation this past year. Her mother sells fish in the market and does other odds and ends to keep up. The only difference between Beatrice and her mother is that Beatrice has more opportunities because she has been educated.”

As Family Legacy has evolved, so has Sommer’s role. Initially brought on as the Director of Accounting, she has grown into the role of Chief Financial Officer.

“In 2008, we opened our first children’s village and were sponsoring about 1,300 children. Last year, our revenue was $24M. It’s been exciting to see! The training, tools and resources I received at Protiviti have been hugely beneficial to my work now. My experience at Protiviti was fundamental in helping me develop the processes and departments that have enabled us to grow.”

Beatrice, her  mother and Sommer celebrating Beatrice’s Graduation

 

According to Sommer, the way Family Legacy operates is closer to a for-profit than a typical not-for-profit.

“What I love about Family Legacy is that we run it like a business. We are going to squeeze every penny out of every dollar. I have a president and CEO that values my accounting and finance expertise so we can do the most for these kids with the dollars we are provided.”

So what’s next for Family Legacy?

“We joke that we’re just trying to keep up with our mission! We are rapidly growing our schools’ infrastructure and building new classrooms because there is such a need and we have the enthusiasm of our sponsors. We have mostly grown by word-of-mouth – a family will come to our summer camp and bring friends the next year. Our organization is called Family Legacy because we truly believe in connecting families.

And our mission is unique because we’re so focused on Zambia. We will not go into a different country. We are committed to seeing long-term transformation in Zambia.”

 

Please join us for our next i on Hunger meal-packing event on May 17 hosted by Protiviti Dallas. A portion of the meals packed at this event will benefit children sponsored by Family Legacy Missions International.

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