The Pittsburgh Foundation

Speaking in Numbers: Danitra MasonStaff Profile

Danitra Mason joined the Foundation’s staff last fall as assistant controller.

Kitty Julian

By Kitty Julian
Kitty Julian is a senior communications officer at The Pittsburgh Foundation.

FOR DANITRA MASON, who joined the Foundation’s Accounting department as assistant controller last September, reading a balance sheet is like reading an organization’s biography.

“Some people see only numbers and lines on a page. But when accountants look, they see how healthy an organization is,” says Mason. “Accounting is almost like a language. My second language is numbers.”

For nearly a decade before coming to the Foundation, Mason worked as an auditor for accounting firm KPMG LLP overseeing audit teams for clients in industries ranging from manufacturing to financial services and banking, to high tech. She thrived on the variety of transactions across industries, which gave her a breadth of skills that now serve the Foundation well.

A self-described “math nerd,” Mason grew up on the North Side and graduated from Perry Traditional Academy. At the University of Pittsburgh, she majored in accounting and planned to start a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring young people. She saw how accounting reveals how organizations function. She’s excited to apply those skills to the complex financial life of a community foundation.

“There are intricacies in how the Foundation works, especially through all of its funds. Every time I feel like I’ve learned everything, I come across something new,” Mason says.

Her responsibilities include accounting oversight and assistance for The Forbes Funds and The Pittsburgh Promise, both of which are supporting organizations of the Foundation. She also helps her finance colleagues on large projects.

Mason admires the way the Foundation combines the best aspects of for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

“We have the generosity and heart of a nonprofit serving grantees and donors and the greater good, and we have the bones of a corporation, in part because our leaders and board come from business and banking backgrounds,” Mason says. “That business acumen helps us understand the markets, predict change and adapt to serve a purpose that goes beyond making profit.”

Original story appeared in Forum Quarterly - Spring/Summer 2018