Cindy Byrd has been the first to reach several milestones. She is the first graduate of East Central University to be elected as Oklahoma State Auditor & Inspector, an office she has held since 2010. She is the first woman to be elected to the office. And she is the first and only Oklahoma candidate to garner more than 800,000 votes in a state election. But despite her trailblazing accolades, she attributes much of her success to
the support and encouragement of her family, friends and educators.
Byrd grew up in rural Coalgate,
Oklahoma, with a close-knit community of family and friends. When it was time to attend college, Byrd knew she wanted to stay close to home, so she toured nearby ECU in Ada. She immediately fell in love with the beautiful campus and the students and educators whose warm friendliness reminded her of home.
“I loved how rural and small ECU felt while also being a place where I could expand my mind and grow my skills,” Byrd said. “The relationships I made with friends and professors have been some of the most important in my life.”
“The relationships I made with friends and professors have been some of the most important in my life.”
Majoring in accounting, Byrd took several courses from Mickey Cowan, CPA. He would prove to be one of the most influential professors during Byrd’s time at ECU. As a practicing accountant and chair of the accounting department, Cowan explained accounting principles in a clear way where Byrd “got it.” And that enthusiasm helped her continue to grow and seek ways she could be helpful and successful in her career.
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in accounting, Byrd’s first job included auditing property tax receipts. She didn’t know it at the time, but that’s when her interest in government operations was piqued. She observed how even small payments from each individual taxpayer impacted the county.
“My years of education were coming together in a tangible way,” Byrd said. “I started to see real people and organizations, not just numbers to be added or subtracted.”
Now she has more than 20 years of public service under her belt, and she has led and conducted audits of government entities at the city, county and state levels. While Deputy State Auditor for Local Government Services, her team focused their efforts on providing education and training for administrators and finance officers.
“I know how helpful ongoing education can be for those in the field of accounting,” Byrd said. “I’ve always made a point of passing on my knowledge and expertise to others.”
One educator Byrd was never able to take courses from was Dr. Carlos Johnson, CPA. The disappointment turned to delight as Byrd was able to meet Johnson during an election process, and she asked him for advice and insight into serving people while still maintaining trust and confidence.
“Though I wasn’t able to take classes from Dr. Johnson in school, as an adult I was still able to learn from his experience and influence,” Byrd said. “Meeting Dr. Johnson and learning of his impact and value in our profession reminded me that my education doesn’t ever stop. Being a student at ECU was a valuable experience.And it was a jumping off point toward a lifetime of education and service.”