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Family Comes First for CEO

Growing up in Alexandria, Virginia, Brian Kearney, BA Integrated Studies ’02, started with his family’s business, Kearney & Company, in the third grade, making copies of tax returns. When it came time to choose a college, he was so involved in the firm that he went looking for a school nearby. “One of the biggest reasons that I went to Mason was so I could work [at the firm] while I went to school. Mason provided me a unique opportunity of balancing school and career-related goals,” Kearney says.

Brian Kearney, BA Integrated Studies ’02.

Since graduating from Mason, Kearney has become chief operating officer at the Alexandria-based certified public accounting firm, which exclusively serves the federal government.

As an executive seeking opportunities to enrich the community, he found his Mason experience to be an inspiration. Kearney knew the challenges and sacrifices that come with working and attending college—he had been there. It was this awareness that influenced Kearney & Company’s strategic gift to Mason and the School of Business, which supports student scholarships and the school’s Center for Government Contracting.

Founded in the 1980s, Kearney & Company has experienced impressive growth and now has more than 800 employees. In addition to supporting an undergraduate student scholarship, the firm regularly recruits at Mason, hiring about 10 graduates in the past year. Kearney also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the School of Business.

Working together as a family presents its own benefits and challenges, Kearney admits, but is certainly rewarding. “My dad is boss, mentor, and friend. It is great to work for him…. When I was starting out he always told me: ‘As long as you work harder than anyone else, you’ll be just fine.’” The business seems to be in good hands, considering that one of Kearney’s two daughters, 13-year-old Emily, likes to say that she plans to run the firm one day.

“We feel that when you are put in a position to help someone, you should,” says Kearney. “Through this partnership with Mason, we will be helping the next generation of business students to succeed.”

Rob Riordan and Whitney Hanlin contributed to this article.