Dixon rises to the top as chief financial officer of Jefferson County Commission


Camille Zanders, Alumni Connection Editor

There is a saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but what happens once the child becomes an adult? As a person grows, their village evolves from being just family to a surrounding group of friends, maybe a few instructors or mentors, or even to a team of co-workers. 

Alabama State University Alumna Angela Dixon is the perfect example of the success that can come from surrounding yourself with a strong “village.” Now working as the chief financial officer (CFO) for the Jefferson County Commission, the most populous county in the state of Alabama, Dixon shows what can happen when meaningful relationships and support partner with relentless hard work. 

Originating from Chambers County, Ala., Dixon was raised primarily by her grandmother and aunt, along with other members of her family and community. While her mother worked in upstate New York at a Veterans Hospital, her grandmother decided that it would be best if Dixon was raised in a quieter, more intimate community. 

“I have always been raised by a village of family,” Dixon said. 

Growing up with her three cousins, she fondly remembers the days of playing outside and having to get creative to keep herself entertained. Her favorite pastime as a child was to spend time with older members of her family. 

“I always liked to spend time with my elders, just to get that level of wisdom and maturity that you can only get from people who have done it before,” Dixon said. 

It was these experienced family members that taught Dixon the importance of hard work and encouraged her to further her education. Dixon graduated from Valley High School in Valley, Ala. in 1988. She gained an interest in Alabama State University from observing the success of various people in her community that were alumni. An alumna that was particularly close to her was the mother of one of her high school friends. 

“I was connected to that family well enough to know that that was the path for success… There is a long line of people doing well from ASU in that area,” she fondly remembers. 

After seeing the opportunities that the university granted those individuals, Dixon decided to join the Hornet family with an academic scholarship. While a student of the Hornet’s Nest, Dixon remained focused on her goal of graduating from the College of Business Administration with a focus in accounting. As a child, math always came easy to her. Her natural knack for numbers followed her throughout her college years and even further throughout her career. 

“When I was in high school, we did accounting simulations in one of my classes. It just made sense to me, and I was excited about it,” Dixon said. 

She went all four years without any waiver in her dreams of pursuing a degree in accounting and finance. As a student, Dixon became a member of Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, Inc. and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. From these organizations, she was able to create relationships and connections with individuals that had the same drive and values as she did. She said that many of her classmates have grown into successful adults and she still keeps in touch with them today. 

“It is great to be able to keep in contact with like minds,” Dixon said. “People who want to see you do well and challenge you to be the best version of yourself.”

Along with her fraternity and sorority families, Dixon also recognizes a few professors and university officials who made her Hornet years gratifying. In the classroom, she honors Professor Jean G. Crawford, Ph.D., who taught an intense advanced accounting class and also Dr. Bates who taught government. She especially appreciates the dean for the College of Business at the time, Percy J. Vaughn, D.B.A., who set a standard of excellence that she continues to carry with her every day. 

“He was a terror to us at that time,” she fondly remembers, “but now, recognizing what he was trying to do and the fact that so many people that came out of the college during that time have gone on to do amazing things, was a testament to the expectations and the bar that he had set for us.” 

This blend of counterparts, like-minded classmates and supportive professors served as her Hornet “village” as they encouraged and prepared her for the next phase of her life. 

Soon after her graduation in 1992, Dixon was offered a position by alumna Brenda Brown Hunter in Knoxville, Tenn. where she worked in the financial department of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Though she was doing well in her new position, she found the culture of the work community unappealing and decided to resign two years later. 

Once Dixon returned home to Chambers County, she shifted her focus toward enrolling into graduate school at Auburn University. 

“I knew when I left Tennessee that I needed to have a plan because my folks were going to be like, ‘Um, you really quit a job?’” she said amusingly. 

Every day she commuted from Chambers County to Auburn in her quest to pursue a master’s degree in accounting. During this time, Dixon made sure to free herself of distractions and disturbances. 

“Auburn was about business,” she said. “I was there for a specific reason; to get my master degree in accounting, so I could get a different job.” 

Though she does not have the same sentimental connection with Auburn as she does with Alabama State University, she does credit her graduate school with setting her on the career path of public accounting. Upon Dixon’s graduation from Auburn in 1996, her advisor, Amy Murphy, set her up with an interview with Ernst & Young, LLP in Birmingham, Ala.  

Dixon remains grateful for Murphy as she reminisces. 

“Her connection got me the interview,” she said. “I spent the entire day doing various interviews and at the end of the day, I was offered the job.” 

From that entry level job, she was able to pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA) in 1999, making her a certified public accountant in the state of Alabama and ultimately opened many more doors to come. 

This experience in public accounting led Dixon to many high profile positions and eventually landed her a position as the deputy financial director for Jefferson County in 2017. In this position, she provided accounting work and some control over the Finance Department. This position not only allowed her to become comfortable with the team of workers but also prepared her for her current position. 

“You cannot sit in the second seat without some sort of aspiration for the first,” she humorously said. It was that aspiration that encouraged Dixon to apply for the open position of CFO for the Jefferson County Commission. 

After a nationwide search for viable candidates, Dixon was named the newly appointed CFO of Jefferson County in May of 2020. Though she was once an individual that preferred a behind-the-scenes role, she believes that the culture of the workplace and the timing of it all aided her progression to the new position. 

“Having that level of experience, internally, to know that the culture was something that aligned with what my values were, made the transition easy,” she said. As the CFO, Dixon is responsible for overseeing all of the financial transactions of Jefferson County by supervising and strategically managing a team of accountants and financial experts. 

With her new position and in these trying COVID-19 times, Dixon is working to maximize productivity for herself along with her team. Considering she knows from experience the importance of having a strong unit or “village,” it is vital that she creates a culture of accountability and excellence in the workplace. 

“It takes a whole team to get it done,” Dixon said. “You have to have allies to help you achieve what is needed for the greater good.” She expressed that this is sometimes challenging while dealing with the restrictions of the pandemic. “It is the unknown and coming into a position that matters a lot for overall success, it is a difficult place to be. But I believe we have done very well. Our leadership team has worked very well together in the midst of it all.” 

To keep herself motivated, Dixon remembers the people that her work is impacting, the working class of Jefferson County. 

“You always have to know what you are here for and who you are here to serve,” she said. She acknowledges that with such a high position comes great responsibility and she is touching so many more lives than just her own. 

To Dixon, her job and recognition are more than just titles, but are testaments to her character. 

“You just work and you look up one day and see that you are a notable alumni,” she said. “It is not something that I intended, but the way that I was brought up, you work hard and do what you are supposed to do. You treat people fairly and you stand on integrity and wherever you go, you take those things with you.” 

Outside of her demanding job, Dixon spends much of her time with her family, who is still located in Chambers County. Her mother, Christine Dixon, is now retired and has moved back home with the rest of the family. Though she does not have any children of her own, Dixon considers herself to be “super auntie,” as she enjoys spoiling and tending to her nieces and nephews. She also is an avid traveler, as she has explored places such as Mexico, Jamaica, the Bahamas and more. 

Dixon is still a proud and present member of the Hornet nation, as she is a football season ticket holder and is also involved with the alumni community. She is eager to be of help in any way to the university community and especially the student body. 

To the current Hornets, Dixon advises, “Do the work. It is that simple. There is no formula to success, but as long as you surround yourself with like-minded people, create meaningful relationships and put in the work, the possibilities are endless.”