ACEL's Member Spotlight is a chance for you to meet our members. Throughout the year, Director at Large Kevin Hublou sits down with members of our organization to get to know them and give them a chance to tell their story to our community. Interested in having the spotlight on you? Email Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org!
This Spotlight focuses on Natalie Claggett, Social Committee Chair.
“The IRS is not that scary.” Said no one ever…except maybe Natalie Claggett, accomplished tax accountant, Treasurer for the Hippodrome Theatre, and Chair of ACEL's Social Committee.
She also makes happy hours happen.
Natalie works as a Senior Accountant for James Moore and Co. here in Gainesville. She is the only person I've ever met who truly seems to like taxes.
Kevin: Why do you like taxes?
Natalie: Doing taxes is challenging and it's not the norm; it's another way to use your brain. There are lots of grey areas in other fields, such as auditing. There are grey areas in tax as well, but there is always a way to get to an answer.
Kevin: Tax season is fast approaching. Can you give me any tips?
Natalie: [Emphatically] Make sure you had insurance coverage the whole year! Before you leave a job, talk to someone about your insurance!
Natalie explained that health-insurance coverage isn't just a checkbox anymore; it now functions like a W-2 in that your insurance provider will send documentation to the IRS. There is a substantial penalty for not carrying health insurance, and that penalty scales based on household income.
She added that the IRS “got really funky” with the definition of household. Usually, household is based on your spouse and any dependents, but for health-insurance purposes, household means anyone living under the same roof. So, if your girlfriend makes a lot of money, you might be in for a surprise.
When she's not doing people's taxes, Natalie serves as the Treasurer on the Board of Directors for the Hippodrome Theatre.
Kevin: How did you wind up as treasurer for the Hippodrome?
Natalie: They had a need, and I love the theater and the arts. The past president of the organization worked at James Moore; they were looking for young professionals who wanted to be involved, so I volunteered.
The Hipp is a great organization and they are working hard to attract more young people to the theater. It's not just a little community playhouse; the Hipp is a legit off-Broadway theatre with a real troupe of professional actors who perform all over the country.
Originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Natalie moved to Gainesville about 3 and a half years ago to do taxes at James Moore.
Kevin: What do you like about Gainesville?
Natalie: I really like Gainesville! We have great restaurants (though not better than Chattanooga), and it's a good community. Gainesville has everything it needs without being a huge city.
Everyone's always like, “Don't you have to deal with college students all the time?” but they don't leave campus. Having a large university in town is kind of nice. You have the football games, and it lends [itself] to a lot of things. It's a younger town, which is nice.
Gainesville has a lot to offer; it has a lot of outdoor things too. I do wish we had better shopping though.
Kevin: What's your favorite restaurant?
Natalie: The Top.
Kevin: But how do you get a seat there?
Natalie: You just go and wait. For brunch, you gotta get there 15 minutes before it opens. A lot of times it's like an hour-long wait. Just go get a drink and realize that it's going to be an all-night thing.
We tried to puzzle out The Top's seemingly random schedule to no avail. Apparently, it's easier to figure out the Internal Revenue Code than it is to figure out when The Top will be open.
Kevin: What do you do for ACEL?
Natalie: I'm Chair of the Social Committee—I make happy hours happen.
Natalie explained that the Social Committee plans and runs ACEL's events. There is one major event each quarter, such as the Annual Dinner and the springs trip, and there are happy hours every month.
Members of the Social Committee meet with local restaurateurs and business owners to establish relationships and coordinate venues for ACEL events.
Some members lead events from brainstorming through execution; some just help along the way.
Kevin: What's a day in the life of a Social Committee member?
Natalie: Everyone is involved up to their interest level. If members have an idea for an event, we brainstorm it and let them run with it. One of our members is a bartender, and he puts on a mixology course. Another works for the athletic association, and he helped us get a block of discount tickets to a Gator Basketball game.
Last year, while just a member of the Social Committee, Natalie organized ACEL’s Christmas Party. She explained that the biggest challenge was finding a venue. Vellos bent over backwards to support her, so she chose them to host the event.
Kevin: What's been your favorite event so far?
Natalie: The Christmas Party. It was fun to plan, and Vellos worked with me really well. We had several unplanned attendees show up at the last minute, and Rachel (who runs the private event room) and I had to find a way to seamlessly add chairs to a packed room without looking like we were adding more seats. It was a lot of thinking on your feet.
It taught me a lot about event planning on a large scale—such as deadlines and realizing that no matter how much you respect the deadline, other people may not, and you just have to be flexible.
With Natalie's help, the Social Committee planned a spectacular Christmas party in 2014.
Natalie concluded by expressing that the Social Committee needs new members, as several of the regulars have had conflicts recently. Without new committee members, there can't be any new events.
Kevin: Do you have any advice for young professionals living in Gainesville?
Natalie: Make the effort to meet people. People aren't going to come to you. There are a lot of opportunities out there, but they won't come to you; you have to go out and find them. Get out and become involved in something.
The Social Committee meets at Blue Gill Quality Foods on the third Wednesday of each month at 6:00 PM. Natalie would appreciate new help, and she encourages anyone interested to talk to her at the next happy hour or come to the committee meeting.